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McCaskill wraps up trip to Middle East

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Sen. McCaskill, with troops from the Missouri 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry (photo from McCaskill's office)

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is wrapping up a three-day tour of the Middle East, including stops in Iraq and Kuwait.

The Missouri Democrat wants a special Senate Delegation to investigate defense department spending practices.

McCaskill says the military has made some improvements toward curbing the kind of "cost-plus" contracts she blames for rampant overspending.

Still, she says the concept of fiscal accountability is a relatively low priority among military leadership. "I didn't realize until I got over here that the inspector generals within the different branches of the military really aren't inspector generals-they're like assistants to the command," McCaskill said, in a phone call from the Middle East.

"In the rest of government an inspector general is supposed to be independent."

McCaskill notes that the military has started drafting more flat-fee contracts. A Pentagon census estimates the United States is employing at least 120,000 civilian contractors in Iraq.

"If we are going to continue to utilize contractors in this fashion, which I believe is the most likely thing that's going to occur over the coming years, we've got to figure out how to do this better--because our country can't afford to waste this money," McCaskill added.

While in Iraq McCaskill also met with Army General David Patraeus and conducted a town hall meeting with Missouri troops.

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