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Senate committee not convinced by SIGAR's testimony
Friday - 12/3/2010, 12:48pm EST
"The U.S. official charged with combating corruption in the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Afghanistan failed Thursday to convince his congressional critics that he's qualified to handle his watchdog job.
"In a packed Senate hearing room, Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, gave an impassioned opening statement, saying he built the oversight office from nothing to an organization of 123 people in just two years. Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general, said his leadership skills have never been called into question. Until now.
"Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs the Senate contracting oversight subcommittee, said repeatedly that Fields has failed to aggressively investigate allegations of fraud and waste involving the nearly $56 billion the U.S. has committed to improving schools, roads, electricity and medical facilities in Afghanistan.
"Fields' organization - known as SIGAR - has completed only a few audits of Afghanistan reconstruction contracts even though thousands of contracts worth billions of dollars have been awarded for rebuilding work in the war-torn country.
"McCaskill and several Republican senators have called on President Barack Obama to fire Fields for incompetence and mismanagement. Only the president can dismiss an inspector general.
I played highlights of the hearing on my show today. You can watch the hearing by clicking on the video player.