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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

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  • Secrets of the SEALs

    The secretive and heralded Navy SEAL units, heroes of operations such as the killing of Osama bin Laden and now called upon more frequently to wage shadow wars, often operate with brutality and impunity, sometimes sabotaging the very missions they were sent to control.
  • Cruel and Unusual: The Texas Prison Crisis

    A WFAA investigation found that pigs are treated better than inmates inside Texas' prison system, where inmates are dying painful and preventable deaths and guards are also sickened by the stifling heat inside un-air conditioned units, prompting calls by critics at the United Nations and elsewhere for reform. https://vimeo.com/wfaa/review/151846234/686ead36ea
  • Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command

    Relentless Strike is the first full-length history of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the secret military organization that, away from the public eye, has become the military’s main effort in the wars of the 21st century. JSOC runs many of the United States’ most sensitive missions and commands its most secret “special mission units,” including SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and the even more secret “Army of Northern Virginia.” The book contains dozens of scoops and sheds new light on every period of JSOC’s history and virtually every major mission it has conducted. http://www.amazon.com/Relentless-Strike-History-Special-Operations/dp/1250014549/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452551893&sr=1-1&keywords=Relentless+Strike
  • The Tender Soldier: A True Story of War and Sacrifice

    "The Tender Soldier" is the first deeply reported narrative nonfiction account of the Human Terrain System, a controversial, experimental Army program that embeds civilian social scientists, including anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists, with front line combat units to provide cultural knowledge and intelligence to soldiers and marines. The program was developed in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and launched its first field team in Khost, Afghanistan in 2007.
  • An Impossible Choice

    inewsource exposed and documented a world where thousands of people, tethered to tubes and machines, are kept alive in places called “vent farms.” The state of California pays for all of their care, more than $600 million in 2013. A reporter and videographer secured unprecedented access to one of these units, producing an unvarnished portrayal of a system that keeps people alive at all costs. inewsource told the stories of families who refuse to let go of their loved ones when there’s no hope for recovery. And it became the first to compile and analyze California’s data on this population, learning that if the government wasn’t footing the bill for this care, this population wouldn’t exist.
  • Injured Heroes, Broken Promises

    This six-month-long investigation uncovered complaints from hundreds of injured, active duty soldiers who say they were mistreated, harassed and verbally abused by commanders of the U.S. Army’s Warrior Transition Units, or WTUs, which were created to improve care for injured soldiers after the 2007 Walter Reed scandal. Through interviews with wounded soldiers and hundreds of pages of Army records obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request, our reports showed how soldiers at three WTUs in Texas, particularly soldiers with mental wounds, were subjected to harsh treatment from unit leaders who were supposed to guide them through the healing process. Soldiers describe commanders using drill sergeant style threats, intimidation and demeaning language in an apparent attempt to motivate the injured. Video link: https://vimeo.com/116104924
  • Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

    This multi-part print and online investigation, including an extensive, interactive database of incidents involving the deaths of Afghan civilians at the hands of U.S and allied forces, provides the first comprehensive look into collateral damage in the war in Afghanistan over the years 2001 through 2013.* Approximately 30,000 words in all, the package of articles uncovers faulty and profoundly inadequate efforts to count the dead and to keep track of civilian casualties, the gaps and missteps involved in efforts by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and its office for protection of civilians to account for civilian casualties, serious flaws in the U.S. military’s (classified) database called the Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell (and parallel units), and the lack of any serious effort by the Pentagon to create an Office of Civilian Protection for “lessons learned.” The package examines the practice of lethal profiling of so-called “military age males” throughout the U.S. chain of command and exposes its pernicious effect on American rules of engagement in Afghanistan. It also reports on studies, including those performed by the U.S. military itself, on the measurable and quantifiable effect of civilian casualties in “creating insurgents.” In additional features published online, we report on the haphazard record-keeping and lack of a coherent policy when it comes to payment of reparations for civilians killed in Afghanistan. And we closely examine three mass-casualty incidents involving Afghan civilians, tracing how they resulted from changes in the Pentagon’s own commander directives and guidelines to the troops in the field. *The interactive database concludes at the end of 2012, the last year for which a full data set was available at the time of publication.
  • Police Cell Phone Surveillance

    The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. The joint USA TODAY Network investigation found that local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations across the U.S. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. We also found that at least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants. Police mostly didn’t want to talk about the tactics, though privacy advocates and state and federal lawmakers expressed serious concerns about the ability of local police to scoop up large amounts of data on people who weren’t under investigation and typically without the same protections, and checks and balances, afforded by a search warrant.
  • Lost to History: When War Records Go Missing

    "Lost to History: When War Records Go Missing" revealed that military field records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were never kept, destroyed or simply could not be found, leaving veterans with combat injuries or disability claims unable to prove they saw action. The widespread failure by the military to keep and preserve these records - records that have been kept since America's Revolutionary War - leaves war historians in the dark about the granular details that, when woven together, tell larger stories hidden from participants in the day-to-day confusion of combat. “Lost to History" showed that dozens of Army units and U.S. Central Command lacked adequate war records, how Pentagon leaders had years of warnings but never sufficiently addressed the problem, and how commanders failed to take record keeping orders seriously. The stories vividly narrate the personal costs of this failure. The lack of field records forced Spc. Christopher Delara to struggle for years before receiving treatment he was entitled to for post-traumatic stress syndrome. And the missing material deepened the grief of Jim Butler, who searched for years to find the truth about his son’s death in combat.
  • Wounded Warriors

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review began following up on tips worldwide from military personnel inside the Warrior Transition Units, the special military-medical wards constructed in the aftermath of the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. After months of gathering leaked documents and compiling numerous interviews at bases nationwide, especially with soldiers, the Tribune leaked reams of secret reports detailing the Pentagon's own inspection of medical wards.