Saturday, June 09, 2007


There's more to the Advertiser story on Bob Awana than appeared in the paper

I've often wondered how investigative reporters get their leads on a story. Do they have an army of tipsters? Is there a special radio channel they tune to?

It seems that the Advertiser's Rick Daysog and Peter Boylan were on to a story about an alleged extortion plot involving Governor Lingle's chief of staff, Bob Awana. Blogger and investigative reporter Ian Lind was working on the same story and could have scooped the Advertiser had he posted something on his popular blog, but Ian was hoping to run it in the Honolulu Weekly. So the daily beat out the weekly.

However, Ian's story is much more complete and satisfying. Check out both: the Advertiser story, Gov. Lingle's top aide helped FBI sting, is here, and Ian's post, international intrigue, is here.

I read the Advertiser story first, and it left me with nothing but question marks. Hey--if someone was trying to extort money from Awana, what was that about? There's no hint in the story. Now, people can always give you a phone call and demand money, or, they may know something about you and demand money to keep the secret. I can't help it, I just wanted to know more. I planned to hit up Google for some info later, since the Advertiser was obviously holding out. Or maybe they were planning to run more details tomorrow, to sell some more papers.

But Ian's blog revealed the missing information, which Google easily confirmed. Ian blogged:
An Indian software professional from Japan and a top state official are at the center of an international criminal case involving allegations of sex and blackmail.

Rajdatta Patkar is being held in the federal detention center in Honolulu on charges that he threatened to injure the reputation of a Hawaii resident identified by the initials “R.A.”, according to an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Honolulu in April 2006.
The Advertiser hides the details clumsily by reporting:
People familiar with the investigation said the alleged extortion was in connection with a trip to the Philippines.
Ian's article, supported by reports from Indian websites, describes the intrigue:
According to the Indian publications, Patkar contacted Awana and demanded cash after reading his girlfriend’s e-mail and discovering she was allegedly the victim of "sexual exploitation" involving the governor’s top aide. The federal indictment makes no mention of this sex allegation and no evidence has been made public that would support the charge.
Now, I really don't care what went on or didn't in the Philippines between two consenting adults, even if one of them is a government official. Except possibly that if government officials mess around, they expose themselves, and any state secrets they may have, to blackmail by spies or opportunists. But the details are sure to come out, as they did pretty quickly. So this raises the question for me of the Advertiser omissions.

If Ian had not posted the background, I or another blogger or reporter would quickly have discovered it. The background would likely have come out during the legal proceedings to follow. So I can't understand why the Advertiser constructed its article so as to "cover up" the detail that the extortion followed an alleged sexual situation involving Awana. It's only an allegation, and Awana isn't the one who will be on trial for extortion.

Disappeared news has a habit of coming forward eventually. In this case, the two Advertiser reporters might have told us more. I wonder why they did not?


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