TIME: Reporters' Notebook


MICHAEL WARE has been in Afghanistan for TIME since December. Based in Kandahar, he has been at the Shah-i-Kot front for the past two weeks.

"If I'm traveling into the Taliban heartland, I normally join a vehicle full of soldiers, about eight or nine men armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and heavy machine guns to deter any unwanted attention. The trick I've adopted lately is wearing an Afghan costume and speaking a little Pashtu. It's allowed me to sneak in and out of the front lines with Afghan troops. But it has its downside. Soldiers think I'm Afghan and treat me like an Afghan. I've been manhandled and roughed up, and then I've had to reveal my identity.

"As it is, I spend much of my time hanging out with Afghans, watching Indian movies with the local mujahedin in Kandahar, eating what they eat, sleeping where they sleep, now dressing as they do. In Kandahar, I live in the Noor Jahan hotel, room number two. It's the one where a lot of local commanders, their bodyguards and other dubious characters come looking for Mick. Michael is too difficult for them to remember. A month ago, when I was quite ill with a stomach flu, they were constantly there, believing that it was good manners to visit with a sick friend. I was continually excusing myself to throw up. They prescribed hash and opium, saying they would cure anything. I politely declined."

CATHY BOOTH THOMAS, our Dallas bureau chief, has chased after the Pope, Fidel Castro, Hollywood celebs and Enron. Last week she was after the hottest consumer-electronics company in the world.

"I'd just been through accounting arcana to cover the Enron and Andersen stories, so I thought Samsung was a blessing in disguise. Then I started running into terms like DRAMS and SRAMS, TFT/LCD and DLP, CDMA and TDMA, GSM and GPRS. So in two days I had to be up to snuff on enough of the lingo to find out why Samsung was so hot in chips, TV monitors, computer monitors and cell phones. Now I know what a DLP TV is. (Hint: it's thin, looks good on a tabletop and makes Saturday-sports fanatics ecstatic.) Samsung Telecommunications America opened the doors to its rather unglamorous headquarters in Richardson, Texas, and showed off the phones that will be debuting this week at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association trade fair in Orlando, Florida. (Note to my editor: I'd like the Q105 with the one-button Web-access feature that delivers info at 546 KBPS, as fast as dial up at home.)"

JAMES CARNEY, half of our White House team, was with the Vice President on his highly scrutinized diplomatic mission last week.

"Traveling with Dick Cheney through the Middle East was like being in the eye of a hurricane: chaos loomed in the distance, but overhead the skies were clear. At least the Vice President and his aides kept insisting they were. Day after day, Cheney doggedly maintained that the explosion of Israeli-Palestinian violence wasn't interfering with the goal of his mission: persuading Arab allies that the next target in the war on terror should be Iraq. But like the rumble of far-off thunder, the evidence suggested otherwise. Everywhere he went--Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia--Cheney encountered blunt opposition to the idea of ousting Saddam Hussein by force. Before they would consider joining such a campaign, Arab leaders demanded, the U.S. would have to use its influence to restart the peace process, preferably by leaning on Israel's Ariel Sharon. After Cheney got an earful from so many presidents, kings and sultans, it's no wonder he spent the day Friday among less obstreperous friends aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. 'This is the highlight of my trip,' he told the cheering crew. No doubt he was telling the truth."