Here's a hand-picked collection of our best journalism this year. We hope it arms you with the power of information, and inspires you into the new year.
When I founded WhoWhatWhy, I set out to build a news organization with a reputation for high-quality journalism, earned by tackling important issues of public interest and by reporting on topics others don’t—or won’t—cover at all.
In 2014, we’ve worked hard to do just that, and the feedback from our growing and loyal audience is that we’re on the right path.
What has that meant in terms of news coverage?
Consider that WhoWhatWhy is the sole news organization in the world that’s responsibly asking thoughtful questions about inconsistencies in the government’s account of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Why does that matter? Because the bombing is the biggest post-9/11 trauma in America, and a factor in the ever-increasing militarization and surveillance of the nation.
When there’s a big story dominating the headlines, we jump in with the essential historical context and analysis you won’t get anywhere else. Why? So you’re better able to understand the events shaping our world, and get past the relentless propaganda that’s designed to keep the public uninformed, misinformed or distracted.
We always like to emphasize the role that “deep institutions” play in shaping the policy trajectory of the nation, beyond the reach of the electorate. These alliances between the private sector and elements in government are poorly understood and seldom covered, but understanding them is essential to keep democracy honest. Nothing could be more important at a time when corporations are growing more powerful, and citizens are losing more of their freedoms.
By providing a window into events and actors that impact everyone’s lives, our ambition is to arm you with the power of information—to give you a reason to care, hope and act.
From all of us at WhoWhatWhy, we thank you for your support this year and hope this collection of stories inspires you into the next.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
The Boston Bombing
Boston Carjacking Unravels Founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker’s exclusive two-part investigation uncovered serious factual discrepancies between various accounts provided by the mysterious “Danny,” the sole witness to Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s purported confession to the bombing and to an MIT cop’s killing. Since “Danny” is so central to the official narrative, his clashing stories call into account the entire bombing story told by the authorities and passed along uncritically by the media.
The FBI’s Continuing War on Witnesses James Henry doggedly pulled at the strands of the bombing investigation saga with a series of stories throughout the year. Expanding on our 2013 investigation, Henry picked through media reports and court documents and discovered a discomfiting possibility: that the FBI was engaging in witness intimidation. The question is why.
Does New Boston Bombing Report Hint at Hidden Global Intrigue? Russ Baker uncovered some astounding possibilities while poring through the U.S. government’s latest report on the Boston bombing. Among them: a remarkable explanation of why so very many government officials seem afraid to speak the truth, and why it seems possible to pull off an almost impossible cover-up.
The Double Government Secret Gets Out Russ Baker’s popular story underscored the mainstream’s acceptance of something WhoWhatWhy has been writing about from the start: the double government. That is, the set of parallel institutions that really rules things, surviving and thriving amid the comings and goings of presidents and other elected officials.
Peter Dale Scott: The respected author and father of “deep politics” produced a series of excerpts from his latest book, and other stories, exclusively for WhoWhatWhy’s readers. The thoroughly researched and footnoted pieces are essential reading for those who want to understand how integral the role of the “Deep State” has been in modern American history.
The Military-Industrial Complex
What Would Afghan Spending Buy at Home? All good journalism starts with a question. Russ Baker’s simple one about the $20 billion the U.S. will spend after pulling out of Afghanistan produced an eye-opening set of answers. More importantly, this immensely popular story added an essential piece of analysis to the public debate about America’s longest war.
A Trillion Ways to Build a New Military-Industrial Complex Nothing is more crucial to understanding how America is really governed than knowing how the military-industrial complex operates. Veteran journalist Bob Hennelly dove deep into history to explain how the nearly trillion dollars spent on homeland security since the 9/11 attacks built the newest iteration. And how it’s only produced more war, more terrorism, more surveillance and more presidential protection blunders.
The Counterinsurgency War on—and Inside—Our Borders Douglas Lucas unearthed a stunning fact: there is a counterinsurgency war being fought on U.S. soil, under the guise of the drug war. He dug past headlines about helicopter sightings along the U.S.-Mexico border with relentless reporting, Freedom of Information Act requests and access to documents provided by Wikileaks (through its investigative partnership with WhoWhatWhy) to produce this exclusive story.
Does the Ukrainian Crisis Revolve Around This Pipeline? WhoWhatWhy was among the first to identify the inextricable link between global energy supremacy and the Ukraine conflict. While others skimmed the surface with a passing mention of the oil and gas at stake, Sylvia Todorova set the agenda with a look at how the U.S. targeting of a proposed Russian gas pipeline signaled the bigger war afoot: the U.S.-Russian fight over energy dominance and political influence in Europe.
After $40 Billion, America’s Biggest Nuclear Dump Is Still Leaking Some old but important tales are easy to forget after decades. The story of the Hanford nuclear site in Washington State is one. Les Neuhaus refreshed our memories about the still-dangerous waste dump, the endless failures and incompetence in cleaning it up and crucially, the huge price tag so far. Worse, we learned it will take another $100 billion to fix the problem, all while people continue to get sick from it.
Secretive Pro-Corporate Trade Deal Could Endanger Health, Labor, Environment There are few topics as dense and uninviting as international trade negotiations, yet they can affect every single one of us. Alex Stevenson penned a lively, insightful piece that ripped back the curtain shrouding what will be the largest such deal in history—the U.S.-EU free trade agreement. He exposed the potential risks and the corporate lobbying that’s driving the negotiations in a direction that could give corporations more power than nations.
The Police State and Our Rights
Why Does the U.S. Have a Hands-Off List for Certain Terrorist Supporters? James Henry looked carefully at the games being played with terrorist watch lists. Why are some people known to support terrorist groups left unmolested while passing through airport security? We still don’t know the answer, but we will keep asking the question until we get an answer.
The Silencing of Barrett Brown Douglas Lucas exposed one of the most unsettling examples of prosecutorial overreach in recent memory: An attempt to prevent jailed journalist and “hacktivist” Barrett Brown from criticizing the government. Once again, Lucas followed the document trail by getting a transcript of the hearing where it happened. He was in the room then, but the conversation happened out of earshot of those in the courtroom gallery. It was yet another disturbing development in a case that has already damaged First Amendment protections.
New Cyber-Weapon Belies Spy Agencies’ National Security Claims Joshua Kopstein’s timely analysis of a newly-discovered computer virus demonstrated that spy agencies are lying about how far their electronic espionage goes. The Regin virus, Kopstein wrote, was built for spying and has been used against friend, foe and innocent citizen alike. Kopstein also provided crucial context: that the U.S. led efforts to water down a UN declaration against unlawful government surveillance.
Missouri Burning: When the Army Isn’t More Firepower Joe Wagner and Bryson Hull stepped back from the day-to-day controversy over the militarized police response to the Ferguson riots to provide a timely dose of perspective, infused with history. Ferguson, they wrote, will become a watershed moment not only for reasons of race, but also for reasons of firepower. It was the first time that bringing in the National Guard to quell a civil rights riot didn’t represent an escalation of force.