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Email shows effort to shield bin Laden photos

According to the Associated Press, "A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military's top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder's corpse or turn them over to the CIA."

When the AP initially asked for emails to and from Adm. William McRaven, the document ordering the removal or destruction of the bin Laden photos was not included. The conservative legal group Judicial Watch recently received the email under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read the full story here.


After 9/11, the New York Police Department built in effect its own CIA  and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA. The appointments of David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer, and Larry Sanchez, a CIA analyst, represented a major shift in mind-set at the NYPD. Cohen and Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. To catch the few, the NYPD would spy on the many.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Based on an internal audi and other top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports that most infraction involved unauhtorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets, ranging from "significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls." 

Read the documents at The Washington Post.

"The Tulsa World reports that nearly 18 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, more than $12 million in donated funds remains but survivors say the foundation in charge of most of it has denied requests for surgery, tuition and other needs donors intended to be funded."


Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend's many enterprise stories -- the last one of 2012 -- from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast. Did we miss something? Email tips to web@ire.org.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Do teachers’ absences affect student learning?
Seventy-three Western Pennsylvania public school districts paid nearly $25 million for substitute teachers to cover classes when full-time educators were not in the classroom during the last school year, according to records for 17,000 teachers reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

Bloomberg News
For-Profit Nursing Homes Lead in Overcharging While Care Suffers
“Thirty percent of claims sampled from for- profit homes were deemed improper, compared to just 12 percent from non-profits, according to data Bloomberg News obtained from the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via a Freedom of Information Act request.”

The Miami Herald
How Florida limits care for disabled kids
“A private company boasts it has saved Florida tens of millions — by helping ration care for families with severely disabled children. Here’s how the process works.”

The Washington Post
Rising painkiller addiction shows damage from drugmakers’ role in shaping medical opinion
“A closer look at the opioid painkiller binge — retail prescriptions have roughly tripled in the past 20 years — shows that the rising sales and addictions were catalyzed by a massive effort by pharmaceutical companies to shape medical opinion and practice.”

The Los Angeles Times
Dying for Relief: Reckless doctors go unchecked
“Law enforcement officials and medical regulators could mine the data for a different purpose: To draw a bead on rogue doctors. But they don't, and that has allowed corrupt or negligent physicians to prescribe narcotics recklessly for years before authorities learned about their conduct through other means, a Times investigation found.”

The New York Times
Drone War Spurs Militants to Deadly Reprisals
“For several years now, militant enforcers have scoured the tribal belt in search of informers who help the C.I.A. find and kill the spy agency’s jihadist quarry. The militants’ technique — often more witch hunt than investigation — follows a well-established pattern.”

The Salt Lake Tribune
Driven by suicide, gun deaths are increasing in Utah
“Data from the Utah Department of Health show gun deaths from 2007 to 2011 were 23 percent higher than from 2001 to 2005.”

The New York Times
Ruthless Smuggling Rings Put Rhinos in the Cross Hairs
“Driven by a common belief in Asia that ground-up rhino horns can cure cancer and other ills, the trade has also been embraced by criminal syndicates that normally traffic drugs and guns, but have branched into the underground animal parts business because it is seen as “low risk, high profit,” American officials say.”

The Oregonian
Medical marijuana: A few high-volume doctors approve most patients
“The Oregonian's examination of high-volume marijuana doctors -- including interviews with physicians and clinic operators as well as a review of state documents, medical licensing reports, court records and caseload data -- paints a picture of a highly specialized industry.”

Spencer Ackerman, of WIRED.com Danger Room, has acquired dozens of FBI training materials on counter terrorism and Islam. The training material argues that it does not matter whether or not American Muslims are law abiding citizens, “the Islamic “insurgency” is all-encompassing and insidious. In addition to outright combat, its “techniques” include “immigration” and “law suits.” So if a Muslim wishes to become an American or sues the FBI for harassment, it’s all just part of the jihad.” The documents claim (using DocumentCloud) that “Islam ‘transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.’”’

When Ackerman pressed the FBI as to why training material would make such outrageous claims, the FBI responded that the documents obtained were out of date. However, one briefing titled,  “Strategic Themes and Drivers in Islamic Law” took place on March 21, 2011.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001 President George Bush told the nation that he would make certain that the food we eat would be safe from chemical terrorist threats from the ‘farm to the fork’. However, with no single agency in charge of policing our farms, factories, warehouses, or grocery stores, this multi-headed bureaucracy appears to be a huge money drain. In the past ten years, it has managed to spend nearly 3.5 billion dollars with little to show.

Nevertheless, “top U.S. food defense authorities insist that the initiatives have made the food supply safer and say extensive investments have prepared the country to respond to emergencies. No terrorist group has threatened the food supply in the past decade, and the largest food poisonings have not arisen from foreign attacks but from salmonella-tainted eggs produced on Iowa farms that sickened almost 2,000 people.”

“The Sept. 11 attacks prompted almost every nation to adopt or toughen anti-terror laws. Until now, no one followed up to see who was impacted. In an unprecedented 9-month investigation, journalists in more than 100 countries found that at least 35,000 people have been convicted on terror charges since 2001, from bombers to bloggers.AP National Writer Martha Mendoza, aided by colleagues on six continents, reported the story beyond the numbers, how the war against terror is shifting to courts, and how some countries misuse their laws to curb dissent.

Caren Bohn, Mark Hoseball, Tabassum Zakaria, and Missy Ryan from Reuters report on the grueling, and sometimes questionable, plan to kill Osama bin Laden. The 13-year quest to find and eliminate bin Laden, from the November 1998 day he was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in the East Africa embassy bombings, was filled with missteps, course adjustments and radical new departures for U.S. security policy. It ultimately led to a fortified compound in a little known Pakistani city named after a long-dead British major.

The name of the only known fatality from a secret prison network that the CIA operated overseas after the 9/11 attacks is finally known, due to an Associated Press investigation of his imprisonment and death. Gul Rahman, a suspected militant imprisoned in a CIA compound code-named the Salt Pit near Kabul, was found dead in his cell in 2002. AP writers Adam Goldman, Kathy Gannon, Robert H. Reid and investigative researcher Randy Herschaft teamed up in the investigation.

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