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Senators question reconstruction oversight in Afghanistan

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Afghan construction oversight group: SIGARFor the third time in less than two years, a bipartisan group of senators has raised alarms bells over problems with reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

Specifically, the four senators — Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Charles Grassley of Iowa — are upset about oversight of the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan and wonder why President Barack Obama has been slow to do something about it.

In a recent letter to the president, they called on Obama to remove Arnold Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general, from his post as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR.

“We have repeatedly raised concerns regarding the performance of the SIGAR,” they wrote. “We are disappointed by your administration’s ongoing failure to take decisive action.”

SIGAR is an independent watchdog over reconstruction spending in Afghanistan. Nearly $66 billion has been appropriated as of Oct. 1.

SIGAR spokeswoman Susan Phalen said Friday that the office has produced 29 audits and 90 recommendations, and has 76 active cases. She said Fields had just completed his eighth trip to Afghanistan and was “aggressively fulfilling the work that the Congress has mandated.”

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