5 investigative stories of 2016 that brought me joy

Bringing some Diwali cheer from the newsroom.

 |  3-minute read |   28-10-2016
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1) Act against militants or face isolation, civilians tell military

Dawn, October 7, 2016

Pakistan is one of the toughest places in the world to be an independent journalist. This is because independence is only relative to your distance from the 3 Ms: the Military, the Mullahs and the Militants.

As some gallant journalists have discovered to their peril, each has the potential to cause you grievous harm.

In this story, the brave Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida detailed the rift between Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership post the September 18 terrorist attack on a military camp in Jammu and Kashmir. The government reacted with a denial and then, an admission of guilt — it prevented Almeida from leaving the country.

2) Lunch with the FT: Edward Snowden

Financial Times, September 12, 2016

This September, the world’s most famous whistleblower Edward Snowden gave an insightful interview in a Moscow hotel. This was his first meeting in person with a journalist since that epochal press conference in a Hong Kong hotel in 2013, where he laid bare a Stasi-like global surveillance programme by the US’ National Security Agency (NSA).

That the interview was timed with the release of a Snowden biopic by eternal government conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone, may have been a coincidence. The movie opened to somewhat disappointing reviews.

Really, this interview is the movie Stone should have based his movie on.

3) The siren song of radar-evading stealth aircraft

Military Aerospace, July 5, 2016

You had to be living under a rock in the 1990s if you hadn’t heard about stealth planes. Stealth, we were told, was the future.

The US had fielded the B-2 “Spirit” and F-117 “Nighthawk” radar evading planes that sneaked past radars to drop their deadly payloads on Iraq and Serbia. Cut to 2016, stealthy aircraft are in a death-dive.

Why? Rapid advances in passive radar technology have rendered them mostly useless, as this story tells us.

4) Our French submarine builder in massive leak scandal

The Australian, August 29, 2016

The Thunder From Down Under is a very popular group of Australian strippers. This year, it was this story from The Australian that laid Indian military secrets out in the open.

The newspaper published a story about a massive leak of classified documents on India’s Scorpene submarine project by French shipbuilder DCNS. The story outraged India’s defence ministry and severely embarrassed the shipbuilder and proved how laxity in data protection can result in leaks.

The expose was courtesy a journalist, who was once a spy with Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate. Hmm. 

5) Crossing a Red Line

India Today, October 5, 2016

And finally, a bit of hubris. My own piece on the Indian Army’s surgical strikes of September 29.

I would like to think the account that most closely matches the events of the night of September 28/ September 29 when Indian Special Forces crossed the Line of Control and attacked terrorist launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

I put this story together on a stiff deadline after speaking to credible sources.

Writer

Sandeep Unnithan Sandeep Unnithan @sandeepunnithan

The writer is Executive Editor, India Today.

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