About PEC

About PEC

The Public Education Center (PEC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) charitable organization staffed by award-winning investigative reporters whose mission is to investigate previously overlooked news stories about significant issues—chief among them the environment and national security—and brings them to the attention of national and international audiences. Our goal is great journalism that produces definitive stories that result in public awareness through all media platforms.

For almost 20 years, PEC’s two news services have worked with journalists around the world to identify, research, and disseminate important investigative stories, which have won every major award in journalism, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for David Barstow’s New York Timesstory on the Pentagon’s use of retired officers to sell the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Major media at home and abroad – among them the Wall Street JournalNew York TimesLos Angeles TimesBusiness Week, Bloomberg, USA TodaySunday Times60 MinutesNightline20/20Dateline, BBC, NHK, NPR, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and hundreds of others – have found in PEC’s news services a reliable partner in getting the most difficult and provocative stories to the public.

If you have seen, heard or read major stories on national security and natural resources issues, you have probably seen our work. Among the noteworthy stories we have broken are the Pentagon’s use of “message force multipliers” (former military officers on major television and radio outlets spreading Pentagon propaganda while pretending to be unbiased, authoritative analysts), the problems at TSA and its “No-Fly List,” arsenic standards, environmental toxins, TCE, perchlorate, water runoff, military contamination, ship breaking, mercury, “clean coal,” environmental extortion, factory farms, improper influence at EPA, fish kills, endocrine disruptors , and the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.

If you have not heard of us, it is because we have always worked in the background. Editors and reporters who have worked with us will tell you our reporting standards are high and our work is often groundbreaking. We believe the most cost effective and efficient way to accomplish our mission of public education is through reporting distributed via all news venues.

By doing upstream reporting on underreported issues and identifying the right elements – a key interview, document, video, or other story element – we have successfully convinced the biggest news media outlets around the world to join us in these investigations.

Our reporters work with all media platforms from our DC Bureau (www.DCBureau.org): newspapers, magazines, television networks, local television, radio, publishers – Web and print – movies and documentaries.

PEC’s National Security News Service (NSNS) was founded in 1989 and staffed with career journalists. It was the first nonprofit journalism organization that worked in the public interest covering the intelligence community and the Pentagon. The success of NSNS led to the creation of the Natural Resources News Service (NRNS) in 1993 to cover the environment.

The purpose of DCBureau.org is to provide bloggers, individual reporters, editors, news directors and others involved in all media platforms a new resource for stories, ideas and help. We want our colleagues at the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors to take story ideas on this site and run with them. We also welcome contributions to the site. If you have a story idea for us, please call or email us. If you need help with a story, we want to help you. We can help you find a reputable expert or source or help you find the right document or accurate data. We can advise you on where to dig. If you need help with a local story with Washington connections, call us. We will protect your exclusivity and make your reporting more effective.

You are invited to take ideas from the DCBureau.org Web site or our archives. We only ask that you credit our work and not edit or change its meaning and you let us know what you do with the information. If you have tip for a story, we want to hear from you.

Two Decades of Reporting

Our history is filled with major scoops. We were the first to expose the secret relationship between Saddam Hussein and the Reagan and Bush Administrations by arranging exclusive interviews with the arms dealer who supplied Saddam Hussein on behalf of the United States. We exposed how the son of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher profited from selling restricted night vision devices to Saddam’s military.  We revealed the George H.W. Bush Administration’s involvement in policies that came to be known as Iraqgate.

Our first Prime Time Live story was on homeless veterans from the first Gulf War. Our story “Conduct Unbecoming” by Sam Donaldson revealed how the Pentagon hunted down and destroyed the lives of gay men and women in the military. Our investigation of the Pentagon’s School of The Americas revealed that U.S. tax dollars were being used to train torturers and death squad leaders.

Our reporters exposed massive security weaknesses at the Rocky Flats plutonium processing facility outside Denver in a multi-part Nightline investigation. They tracked down and succeeded in getting the first American Islamic terrorist to confess to an assassination on 20/20. We also played a major role in preventing terrorist attacks on the American Embassy in Albania and an attack on President Clinton and U.S. troops in Bosnia in 1996. These stories earned the PEC and ABC’s 20/20 international Emmys.

In 2000, our work with La Republica exposed an arms scandal that brought down the government of Peru and showed how the CIA’s top front man in Latin America was, in fact, on the payroll of Marxist rebels. That story resulted in the arrest and conviction of both the head of Peruvian intelligence service and the president of Peru.

Our reporters exposed SAFEGUARD C, a secret multi-billion program to resume atmospheric nuclear testing that was canceled after our stories appeared in theNew York Times and on the CBS Evening News. OPERATION Midnight Trail on ABC’s 20/20, revealed the details of nuclear training operation on Guam that killed a young woman and was so botched that a live nuclear weapon was lost. We exposed the fact that the Chief of Naval Operations was wearing combat medals he had not earned. PEC’s reporting on terrorism financing prior to 9/11 provided a roadmap for many news organizations after the attacks.  Our reporters have traveled the world interviewing Islamic terrorists and arms dealers for several books and dozens of major documentaries.

We exposed the mistreatment of cadets at the Air Force Academy  in  “rape scenario training” and wrong-doing by an Air Force General who flew his mistress and cat home on a special Air Force plane equipped to accommodate flag officers or cabinet members that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have told the story of the sexual molestation of an enlisted woman by a superior officer on a commercial flight and the cover-up that followed.

We were responsible for obtaining and releasing to the media the first video of the ill-fated “Black Hawk down” rescue attempt in Somalia.

We obtained and distributed to the world the first close-up photographs of the terrorist attack on the USS Cole.

Our 2001 book, The Secret History of The CIA (Perseus), chronicled the history of counterintelligence failures at the CIA and explained why the agency could not deliver useful intelligence to presidents on a regular basis.

Our 2005 book, Prelude To Terror, laid open the relationship with Saddam Hussein and the privatization of U.S. intelligence. The book also brought George W. Bush face to face with his father’s legacy at the CIA.

Our 2007 PEC/Steerforth/Random House book, The Islamic Bomb, led the way in exposing the Pakistan nuclear proliferation network by providing news organizations like the Washington Post and NBC with secret documents and firsthand sources exposing meetings between Pakistan’s scientists and Al Qaeda and detailed accounts of how the proliferation network had expanded and continues to operate to this day. It was published to critical acclaim. The New York Review of Books called it one of the most important books ever written about the nuclear age. Documents obtained show that the United States and United Kingdom had assisted the Pakistani nuclear proliferation network as part of intelligence operations.

Our reporting on Homeland Security secured a copy of the 44,000-name “No Fly List,” and in a joint investigation with 60 MinutesUnsafe At Any Altitude, an award-winning book which chronicles the history of aviation security and exposes the U.S. relationship with terrorists groups that put air passengers in danger starting in the 1980s. It resulted in scores of follow-up stories and Congressional probes trying to improve TSA. we demonstrated that it was filled with errors and poor intelligence. That work originated from

We exposed a secret deal to drop a government case against a savings and loan scam artist in order to stave off his threat to chop down much of the California redwoods.

PEC’s Natural Resources News Service was the first to release a government report suppressed by coal interests showing the effects of mercury on child development.

Our environmental stories exposed in April 2001 the Bush Administration’s reliance on junk science as justification for preventing the tightening of arsenic standards in drinking water. Our work exposing issues involving toxins and their effects on everyday Americans ran in an award-winning multi-part front page series in the Wall Street Journal.  Our work on how the Pentagon covered up poisoning the drinking water of its own soliders and their families with a cancer causing solvent became a national scandal and resulted in hearings in Congress and legislation to require a massive cleanup.

Stories about water shortages reached the public through Portfolio and the Bloomberg wire service. A February 2008 Portfolio story focused on rampant commercial development in Nevada aided by Senator Harry Reid, who co-sponsored a law clearing the way for a water pipeline stretching hundreds of miles between the Great Basin and Las Vegas, putting the desert ecosystem at risk.

The Bloomberg story was transmitted on November 6, 2007 and described speculator interest in an emerging water rights market. These stories created interest in how water is allocated.

Our goal is to encourage you to do the best work possible and to help you if we can.

Board of Directors


The stories to which PEC contributed have earned numerous awards, including:

2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for The New York Times’s series on the Pentagon’s military analysts program

1998 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for the Baltimore Sun’s“Shipbreaking”

1997 CINE award for 20/20’s “The Assassin”

1997 Emmy Award for Frontline’s “Navy Blues”

Who Supports Us

For a list of our current funders, please contact us at info@publicedcenter.org.