Cut the Millitary budget first and foremost.

The following news article detailing the exorbitant waste, fraud and abuse in the Pentagon budget strongly makes the case for why cutting military spending needs to be the centerpiece for all deficit reduction efforts in Congress. Contact your Federal Elected Officials to urge them to cut the Millitary budget first and foremost.

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Sen. Ben Nelson
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Representative Jeff Fortenberry - 01
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Representative Lee Terry - 02
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Representative Adrian Smith - 03
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AP Exclusive: Panel says as much as $60 billion lost to waste, fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan

Associated Press
Posted August 30
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving both countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars.

Much of the waste and fraud could have been avoided, the commission said. Government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones so they don’t repeat the mistakes made in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission said. Among the report’s 15 recommendations are the creation of an inspector general to monitor contracting during contingency operations and the appointment of a senior government official to improve planning and coordination.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the commission’s 240-page report in advance of its scheduled public release on Wednesday.

Created by Congress in 2008, the eight-member commission held more than two dozen hearings, interviewed hundreds of military and civilian officials and traveled multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel’s final report is the most comprehensive examination so far of the U.S. dependence on contractors and the government’s ability to manage them in combat areas.

The commission said calculating the exact amount lost through waste and fraud is difficult because there is no commonly accepted methodology for doing so. But using information it has gathered over the past three years, the commission said at least $31 billion has been lost and the total could be as high as $60 billion. The commission called the estimate “conservative.”

Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total, the report said.

Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the commission was vested with broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. But the law creating the commission also dictated that it would cease operating at the end of September 2011, even as the U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be heavily supported by contractors.

Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and James Webb, D-Va., introduced the legislation to establish the commission. Webb is scheduled to speak when the report is unveiled Wednesday.

McCaskill, who chairs the Senate’s contracting oversight subcommittee, said in a statement emailed Tuesday that “it is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud.” She said she will begin to work immediately to implement the commission’s recommendations.

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