Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review won an IRE Award this week for his project “Rules of Engagement”, which traced the events of March 6, 2007, when U.S. soldiers shot three unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.
Prine, a military veteran, got a tip about the killings, which he "relentlessly pursued in the face of enormous obstacles and personal peril," facing threats to him and his wife, the contest judges wrote. Prine spent two years tracking down the story and ultimately documented an ongoing Army cover-up of the killings, false battlefield decorations and the accused gunman’s promotion.
Poynter's Al Tompkins spoke with Prine about the project, who said he didn't know it was up for an award. Prine told Tompkins about a story that took two years and sent him all over the country:
After traveling to Washington State, Texas, Massachusetts and North Carolina to interview other witnesses to the shooting, Prine realized he would have to make one more trip: He would have to travel to Iraq to talk with the boys’ parents and tribal leaders.
“By December 2011, the Americans were gone from Iraq,” Prine said. “I could not embed with anyone, and I could not get a visa to get in the country legally. But it turns out when you get to Kurdistan, they stamp an Iraq visa on your passport, but you are not supposed to actually use it.”