2009 SAMUEL AUSTIN MERRILL — Samuel Austin Merrill’s Letter from Timbuktu, an article on U. S. military training of West African troops in a counterterrorism program, was published on Vanity Fair‘s website in September 2007. It was an interesting look at a preventive Special Forces program that includes medical and humanitarian assistance for impoverished villagers as well as Malian soldiers. It produced mixed results in local attitudes, from gratitude to al-Qaeda-inspired antagonism.