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Senators work to keep Iraq audit agency

Nov. 3, 2006 at 10:59 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Democratic and Republican senators are working on legislation to reverse a provision killing the U.S. agency overseeing reconstruction money spent in Iraq.

According to The New York Times, the provision closing the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction as of Oct. 1, 2007, was tacked on at the last minute to a complex military authorization bill by staffers of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, said it's a "mystery" how the provision became part of the final conference committee version.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who leads the oversight agency, had no comment on the issue. His audits resulted in charges of bribery and conspiracy for some officials, and revealed shoddy construction work by companies like Halliburton and Parsons. Bowen also disclosed that the military failed to track the number of weapons sent to Iraqi security forces.

California Democrat Rep. Henry A. Waxman said, "It appears to me that the administration wants to silence the messenger that is giving us information about waste and fraud in Iraq."

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