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Cold Water Kayaker
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updated 5:40 p.m. ET, Sun., June 7, 2009

WASHINGTON - This is one Christmas gift U.S. taxpayers don't need. Construction of a $30 million dining facility at a U.S. base in Iraq is scheduled to be completed Dec. 25. But the decision to build it was based on bad planning and botched paperwork.

The project is too far along to stop, making the mess hall a future monument to the waste and inefficiency plaguing the war effort, according to an independent panel investigating contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In its first report to Congress, the Wartime Contracting Commission presents a bleak assessment of how tens of billions of dollars have been spent since 2001. The 111-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, documents poor management, weak oversight, and a failure to learn from past mistakes as recurring themes in wartime contracting.

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