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Commission: ‘We still don’t know’ how many contractors US employs in Iraq, Afghanistan

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The US government has no precise figure for how many contractors are employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, inviting the risk of fraud and security threats, a US commission warned on Monday.

“It is both peculiar and troubling that eight years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, in Afghanistan, and more than six years since the overthrow of Baathist regime in Iraq, we still don’t know how many contractor employees are working in the region,” said Michael Thibault, co-chairman of the commission on wartime contracting.

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The independent commission found that “there is no single source for a clear, complete and accurate picture of contractor numbers, locations, contracts and cost,” Thibault said at a commission hearing.

“How can contractors be properly managed if we aren’t sure how many there are, where they are and what are they doing?”

The Pentagon had a data base for contractors but it did not take into account the large number of foreign nationals performing contract work, while a data base kept by US Central Command did not count employees with the State Department, he said.

The Pentagon in April counted about 160,000 contractors mainly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait but Central Command recorded more than 242,000 contractors a month earlier, he said.

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The lack of precise numbers for contractors “permits and invites waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money and undermines the achievement of US mission objectives,” he said.

The problem also raises concerns over security, he said.

Although most contractors were doing valuable work, often at personal risk, Thibault said “it takes only one foreign national contractor employee smuggling explosives into a dining facility, headquarters, hospital or barracks to create a mass casualty disaster,” he said.

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The bipartisan commission on wartime contracting was created last year by Congress to examine government contracting for reconstruction, logistics and security operations and to recommend reforms.


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‘Don’t tell me’: Trump says he hated it when his kids would tell him what they learned in school

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At his rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday, President Donald Trump launched into a furious tirade about Democrats using public schools to "indoctrinate" children. In the process, he implied something deeper: He hated it when his kids told him what they learned in school.

"The radical Democrats want to destroy America as we know it," said Trump. "They want to indoctrinate our children. And teach them that America is a sinful, wicked nation. You see that happening all the time."

"I know it from personal experience," Trump added as the crowd booed. "What they want to teach your kids. Not good. They come home. This is what I learned. You are going, no. Don’t tell me. Let’s get them into another school fast."

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CNN

‘Mulvaney lied’: CNN panel breaks down ‘incredibly damning’ White House confession

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," a panel discussed how White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's press briefing was a disaster for President Donald Trump.

"Can I just point out why this matters?" said CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. "I mean, this is not just some gotcha thing because we all want to get something on the chief of staff. Here we have congressionally appropriated money. Congress says give this money to the Ukrainians. Taxpayer money. And what the White House has done and what they admitted today was, you only get the money if you help us win the election. Not because you help us [with] national security, international relations. The only thing we want from you is help to defeat Democrats. That is wrong. That’s why this matters."

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2020 Election

WATCH LIVE: Beto O’Rourke holds ‘Rally Against Fear’ to counter Trump’s re-election rally

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While supporters of President Donald Trump gathered on Thursday in the American Airlines Center Dallas, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke held a "Rally Against Fear" less than 15 miles away in Grand Prairie.

O'Rourke's presidential campaign said the rally was to "directly confront Donald Trump’s dangerous hatred and division on the night he tries to spread it across the battleground state of Texas."

"We will not be defined by this president’s fear, his hate, or the differences between us that he tries to exploit but instead by a renewed sense of hope and a unified vision for the future of our country. In this moment of smallness, paranoia, and division, Texas is going to lead the way with our strength, our courage, our diversity, and the big, bold, ambitious things we want to achieve together," the campaign said.

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