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McCaskill marks the departure of troops from Iraq

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 16, 2011 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who helped set up the congressional panel monitoring spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, today marked the departure by the end of this month of all U.S. troops remaining in Iraq.

In a statement, McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was among those "congratulating our troops on a job well done and thanking them and their families for their sacrifice."

"I've always supported the plan to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by this year, and I'm glad to see this day finally arrive," she added.

"Since it began, I've viewed this war through the eyes of a proud American but also those of a former auditor. We made progress in our efforts to stop rampant waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in wartime contracting -- but the end of this conflict will allow us to turn our attention and our resources toward strengthening our own nation. I cannot think of the end of this war without thinking particularly of the thousands of service members who gave their lives or were seriously wounded in Iraq -- men and women we will honor forever."

In 2007, after arriving in the U.S. Senate, McCaskill teamed up with a fellow freshman senator, Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia to set up an independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting that McCaskill has said was "modeled after the 'Truman committee' which investigated government waste and fraud during World War II."

McCaskill has credited the panel with uncovering billions of dollars in waste and questionable spending.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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