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A Busy Summer Week at ProPublica

A review of the investigative reports ProPublica published the week of Aug. 23, 2010.

It may still be summer, but ProPublica had one of its most word-dense (and picture-dense, and video-dense) weeks ever. Each day we published an in-depth story or notable development in our ongoing investigations. Here’s a rundown in case you missed some of our work.


Monday, Aug. 23

BP ClaimsOverseeing the Gulf Spill Claims Overseer: BP handed control of the spill claims process over to independent paymaster Kenneth Feinberg. We’re watching to see if Feinberg’s promises are enacted, and whether or not they improve on BP’s management.



Tuesday, Aug. 24

“Do What You Have To Do”: In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans police were told they could shoot looters, according to former and current members of the force. We co-reported this story with the Times-Picayune and PBS Frontline as part of our ongoing investigation into the post-Katrina breakdown of law and order, including 11 officer-involved shootings of civilians.



Wednesday, Aug. 25

A Modification Denial, Modified: Last week, we profiled Suzanna Wertheim, a California homeowner recently diagnosed with terminal cancer who said a series of mistakes by Wells Fargo had prevented her from getting her mortgage modification. After our story, and Wertheim’s appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show", Wells Fargo offered her a modification.

ReadSuzanna Wertheim’s profile and the update to her situation.



Thursday, Aug. 26

The German Connection: For nearly two years, a German company has argued that it can’t be sued for the defective drywall shipped by one of its Chinese subsidiaries. But our investigation with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune found documents showing that the German umbrella company was closely involved in managing its subsidiaries, including quality control and raw materials procurement.



Friday, Aug. 27

Welcome to CDO World: Reporters Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger, in partnership with NPR’s Planet Money, reveal how Wall Street bankers “perpetrated one of the greatest episodes of self-dealing in financial history.”

Their analysis shows for the first time how much banks, primarily Merrill Lynch, created a demand for otherwise hard-to-sell collateralized debt obligations by buying up their own product.

Tainted Trials: The New York Times editorialized that torture had jeopardized the government’s ability to convict accused terrorists, based on our report (co-published with the National Law Journal) on how the government has lost eight of the 15 cases in which Guantanamo inmates alleged mistreatment.

Rethinking Fracking : PBS's "Need to Know" will feature our reporting on hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking"), a method of natural gas drilling that may pose risks to our water supply.

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