(1970-) is an investigative writer and the author of a book on former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Feasting on the Spoils.
He has reported on possible abuse by Navy SEALs in Iraq and the death of a CIA prisoner in a position known as a "Palestinian hanging." He is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University
and The Columbia University School of Journalism.
Hettena began his reporting career at two newspapers in eastern Iowa, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald
and the Quad-City Times
in Davenport. He joined The Associated Press
in 1997 in Detroit, and went on to work in Sacramento and Baltimore before coming to San Diego in 2001. In 2005, Hettena was promoted to correspondent in charge of the San Diego bureau. He has specialized in covering military affairs and water resources issues.
Navy SEAL Photos
On December 3, 2004, Hettena and The Associated Press distributed a series of photographs that showed Navy SEALs
in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head. Hettena had found the photos in 2004 during a search on the Internet while reporting on another case of alleged prisoner abuse by SEALs. The Navy launched its own criminal investigation after Hettena alerted them to his discovery.
In 2005, several unnamed SEALs and one of their wives sued Hettena and The Associated Press in federal court over the photos, claiming The Associated Press violated copyright and privacy laws and endangered the servicemen's lives by publishing photographs of them with Iraqi prisoners.
The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, who concluded that the claims lacked merit and that the AP did not violate any law by distributing the photos.
CIA Interrogation Death
On February 17, 2005, Hettena disclosed for the first time that an Iraqi prisoner named Manadel al-Jamadi
had died after a fruitless half-hour interrogation, during which he was suspended from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. The position is known as a "Palestinian hanging
," due to the alleged frequent use of this technique by Israeli troops on Palestinian prisoners.