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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Magazine investigative reporting


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Friday, June 30, 2006
SDX Awards: Magazine investigative reporting

Winner: Time Staff

By Chris Speckman

11 December 2002, 01:00 — Detainee was reminded that no one loved, cared or remembered him. He was reminded that he was less than human and that animals had more freedom and love than he does. He was taken outside to see a family of banana rats. The banana rats were moving around freely, playing, eating, showing concern for one another. Detainee was compared to the family of banana rats and reinforced that they had more love, freedom and concern than he had. Detainee began to cry during this comparison.


In June 2005, Time’s Adam Zagorin and Michael Duffy unearthed the U.S. Military’s classified log of the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, better known to most Americans as the man who Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dubbed the “20th hijacker.”

The importance of their report, “Inside the Interrogation of Detainee 063,” cannot be understated.

“The log, described by one official as the kind of document that was never meant to leave the base, remains to this day the only extensive internal record of how interrogations of alleged terrorist and terrorist sympathizers are conducted,” said Time in its letter to judges.

But this account of the degrading questioning of al-Qahtani was far from the only contribution from the writers essential to America’s understanding of terrorist treatment. Zagorin, a senior correspondent for Time in Washington, and Duffy, an assistant managing editor of the magazine, were responsible for two other related pieces, “The Abu Ghraib Scandal You Don’t Know” and “Haunted by ‘The Iceman,’ ” during 2005.

The judges praised Zagorin and Duffy for exposing the army at its worst.

“This was a revolting look at misdirected leadership in the U.S. Army today,” said the judges. “In its honest but disgusting portrayal of documented accounts of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, Michael Duffy and Adam Zagorin’s transparent reporting uncovered how a long-censored story happened.

“The reporters pulled out the drawer of life and exposed us to the dissonance, festering schizomycete and rancid smell inside to show readers what they were missing.”

Time stressed the positive consequences that came out of reporting the negatives.

“Time’s disclosure of the interrogation log and its investigations of the treatment of suspected terrorists in U.S. custody made an important contribution to a debate that continues to engage Americans, a national conversation that at year’s end led to the endorsement by President Bush of a law sponsored by John McCain placing restrictions on the treatment of prisoners in U.S. facilities,” the magazine said.

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