Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "Oil" ...

  • Pentagon secretly struck back against Iranian cyberspies targeting U.S. ships

    In the middle of June, tensions were rising between the United States and Iran. Iran had attacked oil tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, and then downed an expensive, high-tech Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone flying over the Strait, upping the ante of the conflict. Given previous rhetoric from Trump administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against the Iranian regime, the decision to exit the Iran deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the increasingly heavy sanctions on Iran, the Yahoo News team was monitoring for chances to report in more depth on specific Iranian capabilities as well as U.S. plans to counter them. Following the attack on the U.S. drone, Yahoo News began communicating with sources who had extensive detail on a specific unit within the Iranian military in the cross-hairs of the U.S. military, a unit that had advanced its cyber capabilities to the point that it was able to track nearly all ships traveling through the Strait through both social engineering, or pretending to be attractive women engaging with service members traveling on the ships, to actually compromising ship GPS data websites in order to digitally monitor their paths. In the course of reporting, Yahoo News discovered a key, news breaking event—that just hours prior, the U.S. Cyber Command had launched a retaliatory strike aimed at limiting the capabilities of the specific Iranian cyber group the team had already been investigating. Yahoo was the first to break the news of the retaliatory strike, leading dozens of major news outlets to race to match the story. However, given the fact Yahoo News was investigating details into the cyber unit, our story was not only first but best and most detailed. The story demonstrates our ability to jump into the news cycle, provide key breaking news to our readers, as well as dig deep into illuminating new details. The story also revealed that Iranian capabilities to intercept and down drones to study them for espionage purposes was highly advanced, a fact previously unknown. Given President Trump’s recent decision to authorize a strike to kill IRGC Commander Qasem Suleimani, our reporting will continue to provide value to readers, analysts, and other interested parties hoping to better understand Iranian capabilities and how the U.S. might respond to them.
  • Unchecked Power

    After losing hard-fought reelection campaigns, Alabama’s sheriffs often turn their attention to undermining their successors in ways that abuse the public trust. On his way out the door, one sheriff drilled holes in government-issued cell phones, while another pocketed public money intended to feed inmates. The ousted leaders dumped jail food down the drain and burned through tens of thousands of sheriff's office dollars by purchasing thousands of rolls of toilet paper. These are among the findings of my six-month investigation into these practices for AL.com and the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. In June 2019, I chronicled the actions of nine defeated Alabama sheriffs, seven of whom allegedly destroyed public property, stole public funds and/or wasted taxpayer money after their electoral defeats. These stories were made possible by my realization that incoming sheriffs were often more willing to talk on the record about the bad behavior and criminality of predecessors who had taken advantage of them than they would be under other circumstances.
  • Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America

    Through insider accounts, Justice Department documents and research in four countries, Citizen 865 chronicles the setbacks, failures and great successes of a small team of federal prosecutors and historians that spent decades working to expose a brutal group of Nazi war criminals living in the United States. In 1990, in a basement archive in Prague, two American historians made a startling discovery: a Nazi roster from 1945 that no Western investigator had ever seen. The long-forgotten document, containing more than 700 names, helped unravel the details behind the most lethal killing operation in World War Two. In the tiny Polish village of Trawniki, the SS set up a school for mass murder and then recruited a roving army of foot soldiers, 5,000 men strong, to help annihilate the Jewish population of occupied Poland. More than 1.7 million Jews were murdered in fewer than 20 months, the span of two Polish summers. After the war, some of these men vanished, making their way to the U.S. and blending into communities across America. Though they participated in some of the most unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust, “Trawniki Men” spent years hiding in plain sight, their secrets intact. In a story spanning seven decades, Citizen 865 details the wartime journeys of two Jewish orphans from occupied Poland who outran the men of Trawniki and settled in the United States, only to learn that some of their one-time captors had followed. A team of prosecutors and historians pursued these men and, up against the forces of time and political opposition, battled to the present day to remove them from U.S. soil.
  • Bombs In Your Backyard: Investigating One of America’s Greatest Polluters

    The military might of the United States has come at an extraordinary environmental price. The nation’s defense technologies and armaments have been developed, tested, stored, decommissioned and disposed of on vast tracts of American soil, where they have polluted fields and rivers, contaminated drinking water and put legions of people’s health at risk. For the first time, this project examined the full extent of the damage — 39,000 sites adding up to an area larger than the state of Florida, affecting millions of people. Our stories exposed the Pentagon’s routine practice of open burning of hazardous waste; its reliance on incompetent or fraudulent contractors that dump waste or fake cleanups; its four-decade campaign to make a dangerous and pervasive chemical explosive appear safe and avoid regulation; and its explicit refusal to comply with federal environmental laws even when the exposure of young children to lead poisoning from munition was at stake. We gained exclusive access to the Pentagon’s complete environmental dataset, and created a news application which for the first time mapped searchable data about contaminated sites across U.S. territories.
  • Drilling Down: Big Oil’s Bidding

    When the government awards energy companies the rights to drill for offshore oil and gas, it’s supposed to make sure the American public, which owns the resources, doesn’t get screwed. The government is required by law to use “competitive bidding” and to ensure that taxpayers receive “fair market value.” However, decades of data suggest that the government has been falling down on the job, a Project On Government Oversight analysis found. Among POGO’s discoveries: Instead of taking the trouble to estimate the value of individual offshore tracts, the government has simply labeled many of them worthless and has awarded drilling rights on that basis. Energy companies have invested billions of dollars in tracts the Interior Department categorized as “non-viable”—in other words, worthless. Over the past 20 years, more than two-thirds of the leases that ultimately became energy-producing had been deemed worthless by the Interior Department.
  • Bombs In Your Backyard

    The military might of the United States has come at an extraordinary environmental price. The nation’s defense technologies and armaments have been developed, tested, stored, decommissioned and disposed of on vast tracts of American soil, where they have polluted fields and rivers, contaminated drinking water and put legions of people’s health at risk. For the first time, this project examined the full extent of the damage — 39,000 sites adding up to an area larger than the state of Florida, affecting millions of people. Our stories exposed the Pentagon’s routine practice of open burning of hazardous waste; its reliance on incompetent or fraudulent contractors that dump waste or fake cleanups; its four-decade campaign to make a dangerous and pervasive chemical explosive appear safe and avoid regulation; and its explicit refusal to comply with federal environmental laws even when the exposure of young children to lead poisoning from munition was at stake. We gained exclusive access to the Pentagon’s complete environmental dataset, and created a news application which for the first time mapped searchable data about contaminated sites across U.S. territories.
  • WKMG News 6 Gets Results for Drivers during SunPass Upgrade Meltdown

    In June of 2018, The Florida Department of Transportation and its state vendor, Conduent, underwent a massive upgrade to the state’s tolling system known as Sunpass. It failed miserably, causing the SunPass computer system to crash and led the entire billing process into turmoil. For more than 2 months, drivers were not billed for their toll charges, leading to a backlog of nearly 330 million transactions. That created a consumer nightmare, with customers dealing with a deluge of backlogged tolls, computer glitches, duplicate billing, questionable and erroneous toll charges, and long wait times for help both on the phone and in person. WKMG News 6 kept viewers informed on every problem, every development, and even offered solutions and an interactive tutorial on how to check their accounts for duplicate or erroneous toll charges. We also created a timeline of events, exposed when the SunPass Website failed to allow customers to turn off auto-pay online, had the wrong date and time stamp on millions of toll transactions, and delayed sending out toll by plate invoices due to continued issues with toll data accuracy.
  • The Weather Channel Digital and Telemundo with Efran Films: Hidden Cost

    In “Hidden Cost,” The Weather Channel and Telemundo with Efran Films conduct an immersive investigation of the lives of America’s migrant farmworkers, exploring in particular the impact of climate change on the children who toil in our country’s fields.
  • The Center for Public Integrity, The Texas Tribune, The Associated Press and Newsy: Blowout

    “Blowout: Inside America’s Energy Gamble” is the result of four newsrooms joining forces for the better part of a year to produce a multi-part investigation — seven stories, one full-length documentary — examining the vast scope, shadowy impetus and sweeping health and climate impacts of America’s largest oil and gas boom. Following key rule changes during the Obama administration that opened the floodgates for oil and gas exports, producers are looking to meet a growing global demand for fossil fuels — and, critics note, to inflate the need. We gave readers a cradle-to-grave look at this phenomenon, starting where the fossil fuels are pulled from the ground and ending in countries where they’re being consumed. Our series exposed the role of the U.S. government as a marketing agent for the fossil-fuel industry at a perilous time in the world’s history, with worsening climate change threatening lives, property and entire communities.
  • National Observer: First Nations and the Trans Mountain Pipeline

    National Observer’s reporting revealed how the Canadian government made a politically-motivated decision to approve a major west-coast pipeline expansion project, knowingly violating its legal duty to consult affected Indigenous communities. The reporting has contributed to significant delays in the project, followed by the withdrawal of energy company Kinder Morgan, and a government takeover of the project. The reporting has largely left the project in limbo, and will force federal officials to improve its efforts to accommodate First Nations if it wants to proceed with the pipeline expansion. Meanwhile, a key federal cabinet minister has been reassigned and oil companies have scaled back plans to expand production in Alberta either directly or indirectly related to the investigation by National Observer.