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Waste and fraud found in war reconstruction contracts, watchdogs say

February 02, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Poor planning, weak oversight and greed combined to soak U.S. taxpayers and undermine American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, government watchdogs tell a new commission examining waste and corruption in wartime contracts.

Since 2003, the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have paid contractors more than $100 billion for goods and services to support war operations and rebuilding.

There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging and theft stemming from the wars, said Thomas Gimble, the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general.

The Associated Press obtained the prepared testimony of Gimble and Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in advance of today's first hearing by the Commission on Wartime Contracting.

Congress created the bipartisan panel a year ago over the objections of the Bush administration, which complained that the Justice Department might be forced to disclose sensitive information.

The panel has until August 2010 to produce a final report.

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