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PENTAGON

Billions in waste, fraud reported in war spending

The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.

The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put into place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.

“What you’re asking for is more of the same,” said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and the Pentagon comptroller during President George W. Bush’s first term. “More waste. More fraud. More abuse.”

The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade as a result of lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. “I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion,” Mr. Zakheim said.

Yet new legislation incorporating the changes could prove difficult with Republicans and Democrats, who are divided over the best way to reduce the deficit.

SENATE

Brown undergoes Guard training in Afghanistan

Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, is winding up a weeklong training session in Afghanistan as a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Brown spokesman Marcie Kinzel said Mr. Brown will return Thursday after spending most of his time in Kabul, where he lived, ate and trained with other troops.

The senator is a lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He asked to conduct his annual training overseas, and it was his first time serving in a combat zone.

Mr. Brown serves on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees. He is up for re-election this year. Democrats hope to regain the Senate seat long held by Edward M. Kennedy, but have yet to field a major candidate. Speculation has centered on consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren.

FEC

OK expected for Giffords to use funds for security

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