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Project on Government Oversight

John Crewdson

Senior Investigator

Areas of expertise: Medicine, Intelligence, Aviation, Terrorism, Risk

John Crewdson has worked as a journalist for over 40 years. Following his graduation from the University of California with a degree in economics, awarded with Great Distinction, Crewdson spent 13 years at The New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, followed by 28 years as a writer and editor at the Chicago Tribune and, most recently, as an investigative reporter at Bloomberg News.

Among Crewdson’s many exclusives at the Times were stories detailing the Nixon Administration’s so-called “Huston Plan,” which sanctioned the use of illegal burglaries, electronic surveillance and mail openings targeted at anti-Vietnam protestors and domestic radicals, and the first account of the White House’s illegal wiretapping of 17 journalists and members of the National Security Council staff. Both the Huston Plan and the “Kissinger wiretaps” helped form the basis for the bill of impeachment issued by the House Judiciary Committee that prompted Nixon’s resignation. Following the Watergate scandal Crewdson covered the House and Senate investigations of the FBI and CIA that resulted in reforms of both agencies. Among his stories was a widely read three-part Times series on the CIA’s use of journalists to gather intelligence, which led to the CIA’s prohibition of such practices. At the Tribune, Crewdson began reporting on the AIDS epidemic, using his investigative skills to unravel the ongoing dispute over whether the AIDS virus, known as HIV, had been discovered at the Pasteur Institute of Paris or the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). In a 16-page, 55,000-word history published in the Tribune, Crewdson showed that the claimed discovery of HIV by NCI researcher Robert C. Gallo was bogus, a conclusion later borne out by several government investigations. Crewdson’s rewriting of scientific history garnered the George Polk Award for Medical Reporting, and resulted in the award of the Nobel Prize in medicine to the Pasteur researchers. In 1990 Crewdson returned to Washington as the Tribune’s senior correspondent. His exclusive report of fraud in a major breast cancer trial was picked up by newspapers around the world. The story prompted the resignation of the trial’s leader, famed breast cancer researcher Dr. Bernard Fisher, and led the NCI to create a new division devoted to monitoring clinical trials. Crewdson was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Explanatory Journalism for his 10-page Tribune report on inadequate medical equipment aboard commercial airliners, which led major commercial airlines to begin carrying emergency medical kits and portable defibrillators, credited with saving more than 300 lives thus far. Following 9/11 Crewdson devoted more than two years to unearthing the stories behind the attack, including links between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi intelligence service. Crewdson’s extensive reporting on the CIA’s kidnapping of a Milanese Imam named Abu Omar, nominated for yet another Pulitzer by the Tribune, resulted in Abu Omar’s release from an Egyptian prison and contributed to the convictions of more than two dozen CIA personnel on kidnapping charges. Crewdson’s awards include the Sigma Delta Chi bronze medallion, the New York Deadline Club’s Goldberg award, the New York Newspaper Guild’s Page One Award, the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor award, and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel award. At Bloomberg, Crewdson led a team of reporters that produced a ground-breaking report on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. That story won the National Press Foundation’s Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress, the National Press Club’s Lee Walczak Award for Political Analysis, and honorable mention for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. Crewdson and his wife Prudence have two sons and live in Bethesda, Maryland.