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 "Afghanistan":

"… S. Marines and British military forces began their current withdrawal from Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force …"

"… d province, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan abruptly classified its assessment of the fighting abilities of the Afghan …"

"… reconstruction effort that the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction by email that the latest ratings now are classified in thei …"

"… r an explanation. The change was flagged by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko in his Oct. 2014 quarterly report released today …"

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 "bank statements":

"… unts from other government money, and that the Ministry of Finance provide bank statements for these accounts so that the aid’s disbursement can be accurately trac …"

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 "Washington":

"… during the primary, and she gained nation attention for promising to make Washington “squeal” in one notable campaign ad that touted her background castrat …"

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 "M1 Abrams":

"… the three heaviest pieces of U.S.-built equipment in the Iraqi arsenal — M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M109 self-propelled howitzers. Prege …"

"… ave captured. The jihadis claimed to have captured at least one abandoned M1 Abrams tank, and have posted photographs of flatbed trucks hauling Humvees to unk …"

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 "Pakistan":

"… Michael Dumont, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, said his department is now merging the two databases in …"

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 "Food":

"… special expert review and would be reexamined before it is extended. But Food for Progress, the USDA program financing the soybean project, has a broade …"

"… as “significant … management control weaknesses,” Harden wrote about Food for Progress. His audit did not encompass the soybean project. But 10 of 1 …"

"… tical appointee and former registered lobbyist for the International Dairy Foods Association, where she was general counsel and vice president for interna …"

"… reasons she signed off on the funding. But Ron Croushorn, director of the Food Assistance Division at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, said in an i …"

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 "California":

"… profit organizations (including the Center for Investigative Reporting, in California), we named our new group the Center for Public Integrity. Although this t …"

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 "Air Force":

"… eir analysis,” said Col. Patrick Ryder at CENTCOM. Eventually, however, Air Force Col. Edward W. Thomas, Jr., a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chie …"

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 "U.S. government":

"… s … for a few hours per week.” This meant, the audit report said, that U.S. government funds were “exposed to a risk of waste.” Moreover, no effort was made …"

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 "gross domestic product":

"… increased 50 percent, and it now accounts for 15 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Poppy cultivation has reached record levels, with acreage now three times …"

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 "San Francisco":

"… sell Pulver insists he wasn’t ready to retire. Pulver, until recently a San Francisco-based administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Labor, says he r …"

"… for this.’ ” His departure pared the number of judges in the OALJ’s San Francisco office to four. In 1999 there were nine, not to mention two in a satellite …"

"… et it back.” Mapes, who stepped down in 2007 after hearing cases out of San Francisco for 16 years, has become an advocate for his former colleagues, representi …"

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 "Iraq":

"… s. Terry Dean Ratliff left his home in Arizona in 2009 to drive a truck in Iraq for Service Employees International Inc. (SEII). He did it for the money …"

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 "Cargill":

"… half of its food aid locally. Big agriculture was mostly indifferent, with Cargill and the National Farmers Union endorsing the broad strokes of reform. The …"

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 "John F. Sopko":

"… orders,” said the report, which was signed by special inspector general John F. Sopko. Nor could the office provide any documentation confirming that the Afghan …"

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 "Tennessee":

"… of U.S. warfare. The sprawling military base, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border, was home to the special forces unit that helped raid Osama bin Lad …"

"… t established the cuts. In the borderland of western Kentucky and central Tennessee, those federal dollars flow into local businesses and provide jobs: Fort C …"

"… en as national jobless figures have improved steadily. In the Clarksville, Tennessee, metropolitan area the jobless rate has risen to 9.4 percent from 9.1 perc …"

"… t, as did Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, the two Republican senators from Tennessee. Marsha Blackburn and Ed Whitfield, Fort Campbell’s two members of Congr …"

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 "Pakistan":

"… ugglers along the 5,000 miles of border the landlocked country shares with Pakistan, Iran, China and three Central Asian states. Among other initiatives, the …"

"… the State Department’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, wrote that the embassy’s three working groups “provide the targeted a …"

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 "America":

"… l Revenue Service, paid for mass mailings soliciting more money and urging Americans to volunteer at veterans’ hospitals and become pen pals with patients. …"

"… me pen pals with patients. In the years that the country has been at war, Americans have given over $12 billion to veterans’ and military charities. Donat …"

"… make a lot of money know that these are categories of charities where the American public is gravitated, it pulls at the heartstrings and they know that the …"

"… ravitated, it pulls at the heartstrings and they know that the tendency of Americans is to give impulsively, emotionally with that pull,” said Ken Berger, …"

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 "Pakistan":

"… istant to the administrator in the agency's office of Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs, acknowledged that the health ministry “does not have capacity t …"

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 "Florida":

"… he also comforted families who lost soldiers in the war. But back home in Florida, de Leon found no comfort with therapists at the West Palm Beach VA. They …"

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 "Air Force":

"… n 2009, women made up 19.5 percent of officers and enlisted members in the Air Force, but only 6.4 percent of all Marines, according to the Pew Research Center …"

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 "Iraq":

"… said. …"

"… g, and faculty research and scholarship. Green, who served three tours in Iraq before leaving in June 2012, balances a seasonal job as a high school foot …"

"… care about accomplishing anything. After returning home from two tours in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain …"

"… d by traditional four-year graduation rates. Corwin Cherry, who served in Iraq in 2003, enrolled in what then was Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College after h …"

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 "Barack Obama":

"… ing for veterans in compliance an executive order last year from President Barack Obama. This is only part of the solution, Utah researcher Bryan said, because …"

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 "Air Force":

"… few people die because of hearing loss,” said Theresa Schulz, a retired Air Force audiologist who now works in a similar capacity for Honeywell Safety Produ …"

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 "Leon Panetta":

"… em to another when they get out of the military,” then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the time. “It doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense.” Inste …"

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 "Seattle":

"… nything more or anything less. It’s up to them.” Fran Lynch, a former Seattle claims processor and exam consultant, said the VA built a “wall of separ …"

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 "America":

"… o deploys overseas … there’s a disconnection.” …"

"… veterans, said Mike Salois a regional executive director the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, which provides housing for homeless veterans in Ohio. “ …"

"… m … they are not knowing how to cope with putting that off any more.” America’s post-9/11 veterans are the most diverse group of soldiers in the natio …"

"… f the population.” “That means,” he told News21, that 99 percent of Americans “don’t know what a family is going through, don’t know what a mili …"

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