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 "explosives" ...

  • Easy Targets

    There are some sixty-three thousand licensed gun dealers in the U.S.—nearly twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. But, unlike other businesses that deal in dangerous products, such as pharmacies or explosives makers, most gun stores face no legal requirements to secure their merchandise. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in gun-store thefts. This story focuses on a group of thieves who preyed on gun stores in North Carolina, stealing more than two hundred weapons over a four-month period. The Trace and The New Yorker relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track these guns through a network of black-market profiteers.
  • Exxon Mobil's Near Miss

    CBS News exposes a near miss at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Southern California that could have put 200,000 people at risk. https://vimeo.com/cbseveningnews/review/149886751/86f4329ecd
  • Outlaws Blast Banks

    The Reporter investigated the action of gangs who engage in bank robberies by using explosives. They act with violence, taking hostages and spreading fear in small towns. The investigation found that the outlaws get the explosives in Paraguay, where they are sold freely, and in mining fields as well . The report also revealed exclusive videos showing how the thieves act.
  • Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

    Between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on Laos. Up to 30 percent of those bombs did not detonate, and they remain in the Laotian soil today as UXO—unexploded ordnance—contaminating more than one-third of surface area of the country. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in UXO accidents since the war officially ended. 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of that bombing campaign. Yet every week, more Laotians are hurt and killed. In a rural country largely composed of subsistence farmers, it is dangerous to dig. Coates and Redfern spent more than seven years traveling in Laos, talking to farmers, scrap-metal hunters, people who make and use tools from UXO, and the bomb-disposal teams working to render the land harmless. With their words and photographs, they reveal the beauty of Laos, the strength of Laotians, and the daunting scope of the problem - a problem largely unknown outside the country. Much of the American bombing campaign was carried out in secret, known only to pilots, policy makers and the people on the ground under the flight paths. Coates and Redfern aim to educate readers—especially Americans—about this little-known war and its lesser-known legacy, at a time when Americans are learning about their government's recent efforts to operate in secrecy. Eternal Harvest offers a critical look at the effects on civilians of secret military actions.
  • Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

    Between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on Laos. Up to 30 percent of those bombs did not detonate, and they remain in the Laotian soil today as UXO—unexploded ordnance—contaminating more than one-third of surface area of the country. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in UXO accidents since the war officially ended. 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of that bombing campaign. Yet every week, more Laotians are hurt and killed. In a rural country largely composed of subsistence farmers, it is dangerous to dig. Coates and Redfern spent more than seven years traveling in Laos, talking to farmers, scrap-metal hunters, people who make and use tools from UXO, and the bomb-disposal teams working to render the land harmless. With their words and photographs, they reveal the beauty of Laos, the strength of Laotians, and the daunting scope of the problem - a problem largely unknown outside the country. Much of the American bombing campaign was carried out in secret, known only to pilots, policy makers and the people on the ground under the flight paths. Coates and Redfern aim to educate readers—especially Americans—about this little-known war and its lesser-known legacy, at a time when Americans are learning about their government's recent efforts to operate in secrecy. Eternal Harvest offers a critical look at the effects on civilians of secret military actions.
  • Backfire

    The investigation revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) employed rogue tactics in undercover storefront strings in Milwaukee and across the country, including using those with mental disabilities to promote the operations – and then turning around and charging them with gun and drug crimes. The investigation found ATF agents set up operations near schools and churches, allowing them to arrest people on more serious charges; let felons armed with guns leave the fake storefronts; paid such high prices that people bought guns from stores and then quickly sold them to agents; bought stolen goods, spurring burglaries in the area; arrested and charged the wrong people; and drew in juveniles by allowing them to play video games, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol; failed to employ sufficient security, allowing sting storefronts to be burglarized; carelessly handled sensitive documents containing undercover officer’s names and vehicle information; and left behind damaged rental properties, failing to pay landlords for repairs. In Milwaukee, an ATF agent’s guns were stolen, including an automatic machine gun, which has not been recovered. The sting operations were part of an ATF initiative meant to go after “the worst of the worst” and target areas beset by violent crime. But in the Milwaukee operation and elsewhere, the defendants largely had nonviolent criminal backgrounds. Even a federal prosecutor criticized the ATF for the kinds of people targeted.
  • Backfire

    The investigation revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) employed rogue tactics in undercover storefront strings in Milwaukee and across the country, including using those with mental disabilities to promote the operations – and then turning around and charging them with gun and drug crimes. The investigation found ATF agents set up operations near schools and churches, allowing them to arrest people on more serious charges; let felons armed with guns leave the fake storefronts; paid such high prices that people bought guns from stores and then quickly sold them to agents; bought stolen goods, spurring burglaries in the area; arrested and charged the wrong people; and drew in juveniles by allowing them to play video games, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol; failed to employ sufficient security, allowing sting storefronts to be burglarized; carelessly handled sensitive documents containing undercover officer’s names and vehicle information; and left behind damaged rental properties, failing to pay landlords for repairs. In Milwaukee, an ATF agent’s guns were stolen, including an automatic machine gun, which has not been recovered. The sting operations were part of an ATF initiative meant to go after “the worst of the worst” and target areas beset by violent crime. But in the Milwaukee operation and elsewhere, the defendants largely had nonviolent criminal backgrounds. Even a federal prosecutor criticized the ATF for the kinds of people targeted.
  • The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal

    When Republicans, Democrats, and the media agree that a series of events occurred, it must be true, right? That was the situation Katherine Eban faced when she began investigating the Fast and Furious scandal. As portrayed by congressional Republicans and conceded by a Democratic U.S. attorney general, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives had allegedly adopted a disastrous policy of intentionally allowing weapons to be illegally trafficked to Mexican drug lords. Those allegations were the basis for a major congressional investigation and a national scandal. They ultimately led to the first instance in U.S. history in which a cabinet member, Attorney General Eric Holder, was deemed in contempt of Congress (because he refused to turn over documents relating to Fast and Furious). But Eban’s reporting in “The Truth About the Fast and Furious Scandal” showed that, in fact, the ATF never had a policy to permit gun trafficking. Yes, weapons made their way to Mexico, but it occurred because of lax laws and prosecutors who interpreted those laws so strictly as to make gun seizures almost impossible. To uncover the truth, Eban combed through 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven agents involved in the case. In six months of exhaustive investigation, Eban persuaded the ATF agents at the heart of the case—including the leader of the team at issue, who had never spoken to the press before—to give their accounts. She then crafted a riveting narrative that exposed the hypocrisy of the political maneuverings around the business of selling and using guns. Most important, the article explained exactly why our system fails to stop weapons from being trafficked. Befitting the charged subject, Fortune’s article provoked an unprecedented wave of response on its website, national media attention, considerable fury from gun advocates—the FBI investigated threats made to Eban after the article appeared—and angry objections from figures who came in for criticism in the story. Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, both leading figures in the congressional investigation, devoted a 49-page appendix to a congressional report, with an additional 140 pages of allegedly supporting documents, to try to rebut the story. And an ostensible ATF whistleblower whose allegations were challenged by Eban’s reporting filed suit against Fortune’s publisher. In the end, the best stories—and the ones that contradict a universally held view—often stir up the most anger.
  • Fast and Furious: Arizona Crime Ties

    When a Border Patrol agent was shot to death near the Arizona/Mexico border in Dec 2010, KNXV-TV quickly learned that guns found at the murder scene were linked to a controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives case called Fast and Furious.
  • Fast and Furious: Arizona Crime Ties

    When Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot to death near the Arizona/Mexico border in December 2010, we quickly learned the guns found at the murder scene were linked to a controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives case called Fast and Furious. Phoenix ATF agents testified in front of Congressional leaders about the flawed gun case and the strategy in which they knowingly allowed criminals to obtain deadly assault weapons. The agents admitted to watching straw buyers purchase weapons on behalf of criminals. The agents said they did nothing to stop the purchases or to track the guns in a meaningful way after they were purchased. As a result of the Fast and Furious case, approximately two thousand weapons went missing. They are presumed to be on the streets somewhere in the United States, near the border, or in Mexico. The agents' testimonies sparked a slew of Congressional hearings and a major shuffle within the leadership ranks of the ATF and other areas of the Department of Justice.