A long-term blank check for 'war' spending

By Julia Harte

In the federal budget, emergency spending for combat operations is the new normal.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… he OCO portion of the separate omnibus appropriations bill for 2015, which Congress is trying to pass before the holidays, another $1.2 billion is set aside f …"

"… a public hearing, based merely on written assent from the four chairmen of Congress’s defense-related committees. Their letters are rarely made public. On …"

"… tter that his panel was concerned that OCO funds, “which are provided by Congress specifically for ongoing combat operations and related efforts,” were be …"

"… gs like these are technically allowed only if some of the OCO funding that Congress has already approved suddenly turns out to be greater than necessary. And …"

NATO suddenly classifies ratings of Afghan military and police capabilities

By Julia Harte

NATO abruptly classifies assessments of Afghan army and police, which the U.S. spent billions building up.

Excerpts from this story referencing "International Security Assistance Force":

"… eir current withdrawal from Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan abruptly classified its assessment of the fighting a …"

Investigators find Islamic State used ammo made in 21 countries, including America

By Julia Harte and R. Jeffrey Smith

A new report from an arms tracking group highlights how easily munitions shipped to the Middle East shift from one owner to another.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pentagon":

"… t respond to questions about the company’s ownership or its work for the Pentagon. But he said, “There are many United States businesses, including wholes …"

"… nse goods and services — weapons and training — are coordinated by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. When a weapon is sold or given by …"

"… om 2003 to 2008, said that during this period, he struggled to catalog all Pentagon-funded arms shipments, which arrived in the country in a disorganized stat …"

"… that full capacity." Islamic State fighters may have anticipated that the Pentagon will make a renewed effort to track whether its future arms shipments stay …"

Afghan government can’t account for billions of dollars in Pentagon aid

By James Arkin

Military officials did not hold Afghanistan accountable for mismanaging the disbursement of funds to the army and police.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… ovided $3.3 billion in such aid between October 2010 and October 2013, yet Afghanistan’s government “lacked basic controls to provide reasonable assurance th …"

"… han’s security forces, known as the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, hasn’t penalized the local government for poor oversight or improper ha …"

"… ost workers.” Three years ago, the acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction first complained that the Afghan Ministry of Interior could …"

"… eign aid. In February of this year, current Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko reiterated those concerns in a letter to the com …"

Why Republican control of Congress hinges on nine big-money Senate races

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Nine big-money Senate races will determine whether Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate races":

"… Obama’s final two years in office squarely depends on a handful of U.S. Senate races now entering their final phase. So far in all Senate races, candidates, p …"

"… andful of U.S. Senate races now entering their final phase. So far in all Senate races, candidates, parties and other political power players have aired more tha …"

Activists say gun debate overlooks gun-related deaths of children

By Kate Murphy and Jordan Rubio

An investigation found that at least 28,000 children and teens 19-years-old and younger were killed with guns in America over 10 years

Excerpts from this story referencing "Vermont":

"… at if they do make an attempt it will be a lethal attempt,” Frank said. Vermont, another rural New England state, also is facing the problem of youth suic …"

U.S. now faces threat of U.S.-made weapons in Iraq

By Douglas Birch

Islamic State fighters seize U.S. military equipment in Iraq, become targets for U.S. warplanes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… back to a conflict that many Americans wanted to forget. In battles from Afghanistan to Iraq, the United States defeated conventional forces equipped mainly wi …"

U.S. loses track of weapons shipped to Afghanistan

By James Arkin

Three separate systems are used to track the arms sent to Afghanistan, but they are riddled with errors and not linked up.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… hotguns. One is a Defense Department listing of all those shipped from the United States. The second is a Defense Department listing of all those received in Afgha …"

Afghans don’t like soybeans, despite a big U.S. push

By Alexander Cohen and James Arkin

Washington ignored warnings that Afghans were unlikely to embrace protein-rich soy products.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Obama":

"… d be nearly a third of the total. A special auditor appointed by President Obama the following year said he discovered nearly $7 billion worth of Afghanist …"

"… ministrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service, who signed it. She’s an Obama political appointee and former registered lobbyist for the International D …"

25 years, countless investigations and 935 lies

By Charles Lewis

Founder Chuck Lewis tells how the Center for Public Integrity came to be in this excerpt from his new book.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Journalism":

"… hamster wheel,” as Dean Starkman so insightfully put it in the Columbia Journalism Review. The advent of the Internet, which makes publication so much easier …"

"… ite devoted to international exposés,” according to the Encyclopedia of Journalism. One mark of an enduring institution is the ability to survive one or more …"

"… orms of litigation. To provide such a shield, the Fund for Independence in Journalism, a 509 (a) (3) endowment and legal defense support organization, was creat …"

U.S. military describes its mistakes in Afghanistan

By R. Jeffrey Smith

A report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff says that both military and civilian officials failed to tackle corrosive corruption.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Obama":

"… co-published with Slate, Business Insider, and Globalpost. …"

"… no oversight or alignment with other … [U.S. government] efforts.” Obama heard some of this bad news directly in an exit briefing a year ago from t …"

"… o Afghanistan.” Allen’s assessment was in some ways unsurprising: The Obama administration is considering an accelerated drawdown of forces there — …"

"… Western authority assuming overarching responsibility for the problem. As Obama administration officials flirted with taking a more aggressive stance, Afg …"

U.S. literacy program for Afghan military comes up short

By Mattie Quinn and R. Jeffrey Smith

Auditor says a program in Afghanistan costing hundreds of millions of dollars has been undermined by poor contracts and weak monitoring.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… ates. These conclusions conflict with claims by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan to the auditor last October that the U.S.-led alliance was on tr …"

"… oops to read and write in either Dari or Pashto, the official languages of Afghanistan. Officials with the training program told the auditor last October that 2 …"

"… total of $200 million over four years. Two of the contractors are based in Afghanistan and one, headquartered in Florida, is led by retired U.S. Army officers. …"

"… spond to the report, Major Doug McNair, a training mission spokesperson in Afghanistan, wrote in an email that “literacy training must be balanced against …"

Afghanistan's narcotics problems grow worse

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Mattie Quinn

A costly and ambitious U.S. effort to curtail Afghanistan's poppy production falters as U.S. forces draw down.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… urther to official corruption — essentially threatening much of what the United States has tried to accomplish there over the past decade, at a total cost of mor …"

"… oke to during his visit all “told me that they are very worried that the United States and its coalition partners are not sufficiently focused on counternarcotic …"

"… . He said that while he cannot promise success this year or next year, the United States and its partners have put in place “a sustainable and adaptable” progr …"

Dwindling number of judges burdens workers

By Jim Morris

The number of judges overseeing a federal worker compensation program has fallen, even as worker caseloads rise.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Merit Systems Protection Board":

"… ocate for his former colleagues, representing them in an appeal before the Merit Systems Protection Board challenging the legality of 5½-day furloughs imposed on the judges this y …"

Rising caseload, fewer Labor Department judges triggers painful mix for suffering laborers

By Jim Morris

A federal worker compensation program once viewed as a model now suffers rising caseloads — but fewer judges, triggering frustration.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Law":

"… ago. Yet new cases filed with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges have risen by 68 percent in the past five years, with a 134-percent …"

"… tired Labor Department Lawyer who runs the Longshore Claimants’ National Law Center in Washington. “They can’t hold out for another year or two or …"

"… medical care he needed, Bouhout believes. “He might be alive today.” Lawyer Dupree, representing Ratliff’s estate, and Chartis — now known simp …"

"… rallels the underfunding” of the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. When insurers don’t pay, claimants’ medical costs are transfe …"

How shipping unions sunk food aid reform

By Sasha Chavkin

Maritime unions, shipping industry block reform to U.S. food aid distribution with campaign contributions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Africa":

"… yria, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sahelian region of Africa.         Humanitarian aid groups say t …"

"… at is shipped from America. It found that local procurement in sub-Saharan Africa cost 34 percent less than in-kind food aid, while aid in Latin America cos …"

Exporting mismanagement to Afghanistan

By R. Jeffrey Smith

Auditors cannot account for many spare parts purchased for the Afghanistan Army.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pentagon":

"… crews and widgets kept in storerooms. It is also a notoriously sloppy one. Pentagon auditors have found that, due to poor bookkeeping, the military services r …"

"… oller wheel for an aircraft ramp worth a bit more than $7 is billed to the Pentagon at $1,678. “Commander” seats for Stryker armored vehicles are purchase …"

"… episodes earlier this year. “Yes.” Now, in an act of generosity, the Pentagon has successfully exported its spare parts mismanagement to Afghanistan. It …"

Sequestration nation: military communities feel nation's budget stress

By James Politi

Civilian Pentagon workers hit hard by sequestration-related cuts to federal budget.

Excerpts from this story referencing "White House":

"… t cuts — known as sequestration — set in motion after Congress and the White House failed to agree on other ways to shrink U.S. deficits. This summer the va …"

"… his military town, that the cuts will become permanent as Congress and the White House prepare for another budget battle this fall. A possible government shutdow …"

Audit: U.S. lacks anti-corruption plan for Afghan aid

By Douglas Birch

Audit says U.S. lacks blueprint to assure Afghan assistance is well-spent

Excerpts from this story referencing "Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction":

"… ermined those efforts and alienated the Afghan public. John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, released a report Wednesday warning that absent aggressive anti-corruptio …"

Some charities claiming to support veterans spend heavily on overhead instead

By Chad Garland and Andrew Knochel

News21 investigation finds that some charities supposedly supporting veterans actually spending more to keep their program alive.

Excerpts from this story referencing "GuideStar":

"… etter about pointing to impact,” said Lindsay Nichols, a spokeswoman for GuideStar USA, which provides information about charities. The IRS’s exempt organ …"

U.S. agency rejects internal warnings about potential waste in Afghanistan aid program

By R. Jeffrey Smith

USAID commissioned two reports that raised red flags about aid to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health but decided to keep spending millions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction":

"…  described in general terms in a Sept. 5 audit by John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — have warned agency officials that the aid was at risk of being mi …"

One-fifth of female veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan show signs of sexual trauma

By Caitlin Cruz and Asha Anchan

News21 investigation reveals that the VA is struggling to deal with female vets who have been sexually assaulted.

Excerpts from this story referencing "California":

"… aid Ann LeFevre, MST coordinator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California. “They think they’re alone and they don’t want to talk about it,” …"

Women veterans face stereotypes on and off the battlefield

By Asha Anchan, Kelsey Hightower and Caitlin Cruz

News21 investigation finds that more than a quarter-million post-9/11 veterans are women, but fair treatment is lacking.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… en historic, with more than 280,000 returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. A News21 demographic analysis shows that 17.4 percent …"

"… News21 demographic analysis shows that 17.4 percent of post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are women. More than a quarter of those women are black, almo …"

"… he 25-year-old single mother served as an E-5 supply sergeant in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2012 and is home to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill to get her degree and jo …"

"… nter the Army and continue her military career. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), many women carry the burden of caring for chil …"

GI bill covered tuition for nearly a million post-9/11 veterans without tracking their progress

By Meg Wagner, Anthony Cave and Hannah Winston

News21 investigation finds that despite billions spent, no federal agency keeps track of veterans who use the GI Bill.

Excerpts from this story referencing "New York":

"… that students in five states — California, Texas, Virginia, Florida and New York — have been granted the most GI Bill funds since August 2009: at least $ …"

"… 9: at least $7.8 billion, according to a News21 review. California, Texas, New York and Florida are the top four states with the most for the number of school …"

"… averaging about $3,418 a student, according to VA data. Private schools, New York University and George Washington University among them, received $416 mill …"

"… ing on their school’s location, from $768 in Alpena, Mich., to $3,257 in New York City. Allowances average between $1,000 and $1,400, while students whose s …"

Suicide rate for veterans far exceeds that of civilian population

News21 investigation finds that veterans are taking their own lives more than twice as often as civilians.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Montana":

"… cording to News21 analysis, compared to a civilian rate of 20 per 100,000. Montana had an average annual veteran suicide rate of 55.9 per 100,000 people and …"

Hearing loss widespread among post-9/11 veterans

By Kay Miller

News21 investigation finds that 414,000 post-9/11 veterans have returned home with hearing loss or "ringing in the ears."

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… ety Products. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a telephone interview tha …"

"… Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a division of the National Institutes of Health. Loud noises destroy the ear’s special cells, called “hair cells.” T …"

Health care costs will mushroom as injured veterans age

By Jessica Wilde

News21 investigation finds injured veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan will need costly care for decades.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… th care for the large number of post-9/11 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with life-lasting wounds. But it is certain to be high, with the veterans …"

"… ing to the VA budget. Like Hancock, many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have survived multiple combat injuries because of military medicine’s hi …"

"… analyzed the medical costs of war through 2035. More than half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are between the ages of 18 and 32, according to 2011 American Com …"

"… eir numbers are growing at the fastest rate. Fifty-six percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans use the VA now. and their numbers are expected to grow by 9.6 per …"

Veterans Affairs, Defense Depts. spend billions in effort to coordinate records

By Hannah Winston

News21 investigation finds Veterans Affairs, Defense departments dropped at least $1.3B on failed records system.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Afghanistan":

"… 000 service members who will make their way home within the next year from Afghanistan. Nor does it include veterans who have yet to file disability claims. Tho …"

"… or chronic back pain. All are common among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, the average time a claim waited for evidence to be processed …"

Claims processors received bonuses while backlog more than doubled

By Mary Shinn, Daniel Moore and Steven Rich

Veterans Affairs processors shared millions in awards while claims piled high, News21 investigation finds.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Agent Orange":

"… th conditions that veterans could claim as a result of the toxic chemical, Agent Orange. In addition, more than 830,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returnin …"

Post 9/11 veterans come home to a nation that cannot address their needs

By News21 Staff

News21 team investigates problems facing Iraq, Afghanistan veterans.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Montana":

"… ,000 people, according to News21 analysis, compared to 22.8 for civilians. Montana had an average annual veteran suicide rate of 53 per 100,000 compared to 1 …"

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