www.observer.com -- Let’s just get this out of the way: The CIA doesn’t hire working journalists. Not American ones, anyway. It stopped in 1976 after an embarrassing investigation by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) revealed that infiltrating news teams was just one of several bad habits dating to the 1950s. But we can’t help imagining the clinking of glasses at a certain Langley, VA, office suite over last week’s provocative Time cover story, the one treating NATO’s Afghanistan war as synonymous with standing up for maimed 18-year-old beauty Bibi Aisha. A “straightforward reported piece,” Time’s spokesman protested after an Observer investigation explored whether the shocking cover story constituted a questionable strain of advocacy journalism, compromised by bureau chief Aryn Baker's likely profits from NATO-enabled war contracts and ties to an Afghan minister's $100 million investment project. Last week Time's defense of its work as cooly objective seemed at odds with editor Richard Stengel's concession, in an Aug. 2 interview with CBS's Katie Couric, that the no-nose piece carried a “strong point of view.”
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