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Picks of the Week: Afghan Cell Phone Images and Cleveland Firms Siphoning Public Cash

POSTED: 01:59 PM ET, 09/12/2008 by Derek Kravitz

In a regular feature of Post Investigations, our editors have combed through the in-depth and investigative reports from news outlets across the nation and selected the notable projects of the week.

Get the complete list (in no particular order) after the jump.

Cell Phone Images Dispute Military Account of Aghan Attack

Two videos apparently recorded with a cell phone and obtained by several news agencies show the bodies of women and children after a U.S.-led attack last month that Afghan and United Nations officials say resulted in the deaths of 90 civilians, a much higher number than the 42 deaths, including seven civilians, that was reported by U.S. officials.

U.S. officials had originally said that the Aug. 22 operation in Azizabad killed some 30 militants. A review found that up to 35 militants and seven civilians were killed. CNN reports that the initial assessment was "based largely on comparisons of satellite imagery" before and after the attack.

But the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan conducted its own investigation into the killings and found that tribal leaders and local residents were able to confirm the number of casualties, including names and ages of the victims

A senior military official has been sent to the country to review the findings.

Carlotta Gall, a reporter for The Times, wrote that cell phone images she saw (video) showed at least 11 dead children, "some apparently with blast and concussion injuries, among some 30 to 40 bodies laid out in the village mosque."

Two Cleveland Companies Hatched Plan To Siphon Public Money

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Sandra Livingston and Joel Rutchick found that one of the city's major road companies and one of Ohio's largest black-owned businesses built relationships that gave both companies a "distinct advantage in bidding on government contracts," the newspaper reported as part of its two-part series.

Public records showed that the companies hatched an "elaborate plan to take advantage of a system that earmarks public money for companies that have been certified as small businesses or those controlled by owners who are minorities, female or disadvantaged."

As a result of its work on public contracts, one of the companies, McTech Corp., went from netting about $360,000 in revenues in 1997 to grossing $34.6 million in 2006.

The Plain Dealer went ahead with the story despite being told by a lawyer representing the firms that they should "back off."

By Derek Kravitz |  September 12, 2008; 1:59 PM ET Top Picks
Previous: Days Before Scandal, Interior Got Ethics Award | Next: Editor's Note

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