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Browse past projects by The Washington Post's investigative team:

Government & Politics

The Price of Government Contracting

2003-2008 |In the rush to protect the nation, the federal government has handed out billions of dollars worth of security contracts. A Washington Post investigation finds that the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies have failed to properly supervise those projects, with costs climbing above original estimates and some systems not performing as promised. Full Report »

Jack Abramoff Corruption Scandal

Follow Up
Jack Abramoff was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison on March 29, 2006, for his role in a Florida fraud case. On Sept. 4, 2008, Abramoff won a reduced sentence for his cooperation with federal investigators.

2004-2008 |Up until 2004, Jack Abramoff was one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington. He leveraged his close ties to Republican and conservative leaders, including then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), to collect tens of millions of dollars from clients such as casino-rich Indian tribes.
Full Report »

Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency

2007-2008 |Dick Cheney is the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president. This special report examines Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies on national security, the economy and the environment. Full Report »

Sweetheart Deals: Prince George's Land Sales

2008 |Prince George's County development deals worth millions of dollars went to people with ties to County Executive Jack B. Johnson, several of whom received the land at cut-rate prices, had little or no development experience or were given no-bid contracts. Full Report »

Smithsonian Shakeup

2007 |An examination of salaries at the Smithsonian Institution revealed that 19 top-tier executives earned more than Vice President Cheney in 2006 and three earned more than President Bush. The institution's two-tier pay system allows for about 90 executives and top scientists to be paid with money raised privately for a special trust fund. An audit also found lavish spending by Smithsonian secretary Lawrence M. Small. Full Report »

The Loudoun Network: Political Ties Pay Off in Virginia

2007 |A Washington Post investigation revealed routine coziness among some Loudoun officials and a group of politically connected developers, landowners and others in the real estate industry. This network of development advocates was able to influence land-use decisions in one of the country's fastest-growing and richest counties. Full Report »

Harvesting Cash: How to Spend an Extra $15 Billion

2006 |In the past five years alone, the U.S. government has handed out more than $95 billion in agricultural subsidies. Post reporters criss-crossed the country in 2006, identifying more than $15 billion in wasteful, unnecessary and redundant spending. Full Report »

Jack Johnson and Friends

2006 |A Washington Post investigation found that hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money designated for community projects in Prince George's County went to organizations directly connected to the people doling out the money or with ties to County Executive Jack B. Johnson. Full Report »

The Race to Reconstruction in Afghanistan

2005 |After the routing of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Bush administration launched a $73 million program to construct schools and clinics. But design flaws and other problems soon plagued the effort. Full Report »

Big Green: Inside the Nature Conservancy

2003 |The Arlington-based Nature Conservancy has blossomed into the world's richest environmental group, amassing $3 billion in assets by pledging to save precious places. Yet the Conservancy has logged forests, engineered a $64 million deal paving the way for opulent houses on fragile grasslands and drilled for natural gas under the last breeding ground of an endangered bird species. Full Report »

Business & Finance

The Crash: What Went Wrong?

2008-2009 |How did the most dynamic and sophisticated financial markets in the world come to the brink of collapse? The Washington Post examines how Wall Street innovation outpaced Washington regulation. Full Report »

Inside Bet

2008 |Unlike brick-and-mortar casinos that undergo rigorous security checks, many Internet gambling sites operate in a shadowy world of little regulation and even less enforcement. Dozens of these sites are located in countries with no reporting requirements. The licensing agencies there essentially operate as pay-as-you-go boutiques, generating millions of dollars in fees while showing little interest in policing rogue sites. Full Report »

The Price of Government Contracting

2003-2008 |In the rush to protect the nation, the federal government has handed out billions of dollars worth of security contracts. A Washington Post investigation finds that the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies have failed to properly supervise those projects, with costs climbing above original estimates and some systems not performing as promised. Full Report »

Anatomy of a Meltdown: The Credit Crisis

2008 |How the biggest American housing boom since the 1950s turned into the biggest bust: When subprime lenders imploded, the contagion quickly spread to Wall Street, which had packaged risky mortgage loans and sold the securities around the world. Investors panicked (rightfully) that the housing collapse would reverberate through the rest of the economy. Full Report »

Criminal Justice

Who Killed Chandra Levy?

2008 |The murder of Chandra Levy remains Washington's most famous unsolved crime. Many people, including police and prosecutors, suspected that a congressman was responsible. But a year-long Washington Post investigation reveals new information showing that critical leads were ignored and the killer may never be brought to justice. Full Report »

Silent Injustice

2007 |Hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that was discarded more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has yet to take steps to alert the affected defendants or courts, even as the window for appealing convictions is closing, according to findings of a joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes." Full Report »

A Blue Wall of Silence

2001 |A Washington Post investigation found a pattern of excessive force in the Prince George's Police Department, with officers miscalculating the threat they faced dozens of times. Moreover, the department defended shootings by issuing reports riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and half-truths. In many cases, official police accounts were at odds with witness statements and other official records. Full Report »

False Confessions in Prince George's County

2001 |While Keith Longtin spent eight months in a Prince George's County jail for the 1999 slaying of his wife, the real killer allegedly sexually assaulted seven women. A Washington Post investigation found that in four cases, Prince George's homicide detectives took suspects into their interrogation rooms and extracted confessions to murder that later proved false. The confessions put the wrong men behind bars while the killers remained free to commit other crimes. Full Report »

Fatal Flaws: Unsolved Killings in the District

2000 |A Washington Post investigation uncovered fundamental flaws in D.C. homicide cases: poor supervision of detectives scattered in districts across the city, hundreds of missing and incomplete case files, and dozens of cases closed without arrests under unclear circumstances. The disarray has persisted despite repeated promises of fixes, a precipitously dropping homicide rate and the arrival of a police chief brought in to reform a troubled department. Full Report »

Deadly Force: D.C. Led Nation in Police Shootings

1998 |The District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department shot and killed more people per resident in the 1990s than any other large American city police force. Many shootings by Washington police officers were acts of courage and even heroism. But internal police files and court records reveal a pattern of reckless and indiscriminate gunplay by officers sent into the streets with inadequate training and little oversight, an eight-month Washington Post investigation found. Full Report »

Military

Walter Reed and Beyond

2007-2008 |The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable institution into a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 have been released, but still need treatment or are caught amid bureaucracy. Full Report »

The Road to Abu Ghraib

2004 |The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man's neck in an Iraqi prison. The graphic images provide visual evidence of the chaos and unprofessionalism by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Full Report »

National Security

Secret Prisons

2005 |A Washington Post investigation of the CIA's use of secret prisons to hide and interrogate some of its most important al Qaeda captives. The hidden global internment network depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions. Full Report »

The Aftermath of 9/11

2001 |On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists unleashed an astonishing air assault on America's military and financial power centers, hijacking four commercial jets and then crashing them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. The Washington Post's investigation of the deadliest terrorist plot in U.S. history. Full Report »

Immigration

Careless Detention

2008 |A Washington Post investigation reveals tragedy within an unseen network of special prisons for foreign detainees across the country. The most vulnerable, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen. Full Report »

Healthcare

Chronic Conditions

2005 |An examination of the economics of Medicare and how it monitors the quality of its services -- reviewing thousands of documents and interviewing hundreds of researchers, regulators and patients -- revealed that while Medicare is highly valued by 42 million elderly and disabled members, it wastes an enormous amount of money on inefficient medicine. Full Report »

Special Treatment: Disciplining Doctors

2005 |A Post investigation found scores of physicians in the Washington area and across the country who had been given repeated chances to practice, despite well-documented drug and alcohol problems. They stayed in business with the permission of state medical boards and hospitals, even when many have relapsed multiple times and posed a danger to patients, records revealed. Full Report »

A Dangerous Place: Assisted Living in Virginia

2004 |A Washington Post investigation found a troubled and worsening record of care at Virginia's assisted living facilities, including avoidable injuries and deaths, and a system of state oversight that often failed to identify or correct problems. In 51 deaths over the previous eight years, records raised questions about the quality of care or show that the homes bore some responsibility for the death. Full Report »

Pharmaceutical Roulette

2003 |For half a century Americans could boast of the world's safest, most tightly regulated system for distributing prescription drugs. But a 2003 Washington Post investigation found a system undercut by a growing illegal trade in pharmaceuticals, fed by criminal profiteers, unscrupulous wholesalers, rogue Internet sites and foreign pharmacies. Full Report »

Body Hunters: Overseas Medical Testing

2000 |A Washington Post investigation into corporate drug experiments in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America reveals a booming, poorly regulated testing system that is dominated by private interests and that far too often betrays its promises to patients and consumers. Full Report »

Invisible Lives: D.C.'s Neglect of Mentally Retarded

1999 |In 1991, the District government carried out a celebrated rescue of some of its most vulnerable citizens with the closure of the Forest Haven asylum in Laurel, Md. But a Washington Post investigation into D.C.'s subsequent reform efforts revealed a system marked by municipal ineptitude and private profiteering: a system that fostered abuse and even death. Full Report »

D.C. Region

Fixing D.C.'s Schools: The Charter Experiment

2008 |In a city struggling to repair its reputation as one of the country's most troubled school districts, the emergence of a thriving charter system has altered the dynamics. Full Report »

Forced Out: Landlords Profit From Decay

2008 |Over the last four years, D.C. landlords emptied more than 200 buildings, most of them rent-controlled, thwarting the intent of one of the nation's toughest tenant rights laws with the approval of the city government. Full Report »

Who Killed Chandra Levy?

2008 |The murder of Chandra Levy remains Washington's most famous unsolved crime. Many people, including police and prosecutors, suspected that a congressman was responsible. But a year-long Washington Post investigation reveals new information showing that critical leads were ignored and the killer may never be brought to justice. Full Report »

Sweetheart Deals: Prince George's Land Sales

2008 |Prince George's County development deals worth millions of dollars went to people with ties to County Executive Jack B. Johnson, several of whom received the land at cut-rate prices, had little or no development experience or were given no-bid contracts. Full Report »

Fixing D.C. Schools

2007 |As Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) prepared to become the first Washington mayor with direct control of D.C. schools, his team promised a clean slate and a rapid turnaround. A detailed assessment of the school system, based on extensive public records, suggested an enormous challenge: The system is among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation. Full Report »

The Loudoun Network: Political Ties Pay Off in Virginia

2007 |A Washington Post investigation revealed routine coziness among some Loudoun officials and a group of politically connected developers, landowners and others in the real estate industry. This network of development advocates was able to influence land-use decisions in one of the country's fastest-growing and richest counties. Full Report »

Jack Johnson and Friends

2006 |A Washington Post investigation found that hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money designated for community projects in Prince George's County went to organizations directly connected to the people doling out the money or with ties to County Executive Jack B. Johnson. Full Report »

Off the Rails: D.C.'s Aging Metrorail

2005 |Washington's world-class subway system, which for three decades has shaped the metropolitan region and delivered thousands of commuters to work on time, has fallen into a decline -- and mismanagement has been a key factor, records show. Trains break down 64 percent more often than they did three years ago, and the number of daily delays has nearly doubled since 2000. Full Report »

A Dangerous Place: Assisted Living in Virginia

2004 |A Washington Post investigation found a troubled and worsening record of care at Virginia's assisted living facilities, including avoidable injuries and deaths, and a system of state oversight that often failed to identify or correct problems. In 51 deaths over the previous eight years, records raised questions about the quality of care or show that the homes bore some responsibility for the death. Full Report »

Zoo Deaths Reveal Pattern of Mistakes

2003 |A Washington Post investigation revealed that neglect, misdiagnosis or other mistakes marked the deaths of 23 animals at the National Zoo during a six year period. A review of thousands of pages of zoo reports showed that records were changed or were incomplete in files on eight animal deaths -- including the deaths of an orangutan, a lion and a giraffe. Full Report »

The District's Lost Children

2001 |Between 1993 and 2000, 229 boys and girls perished after their families had come to the attention of the District's child protection system, a network of social workers, police officers, judges and other city employees. The circumstances of the deaths -- and the District's culpability in many of them -- have been hidden for years. Full Report »

Invisible Lives: D.C.'s Neglect of Mentally Retarded

1999 |In 1991, the District government carried out a celebrated rescue of some of its most vulnerable citizens with the closure of the Forest Haven asylum in Laurel, Md. But a Washington Post investigation into D.C.'s subsequent reform efforts revealed a system marked by municipal ineptitude and private profiteering: a system that fostered abuse and even death. Full Report »

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