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Senators probe unused $34 million building

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Updated: 7/16/2013 5:36 pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. senators questioned a Defense Department official Tuesday about a vacant military command post in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers didn't get many answers.

The building cost taxpayers $34 million and was built to support a troop surge in Afghanistan in 2010.

Later that year, military commanders realized there was no need for the facility and submitted a request to cancel the project.

But construction went forward and the Pentagon purchased chairs, cubicles and other equipment as early as this year, according to a federal audit.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., questioned how the facility could be built "when the people on the ground were saying 'stop, stop... we don't need this and it won't be used.'"

Department of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy Director Richard Ginman said he did not have an explanation.

"Clearly we now have a building that's not needed and I don't know how it will be disposed of," Ginman told McCaskill.

He told the senators he would have answers within 60 days.

After the hearing, in an exclusive interview with the Cox Washington Bureau, McCaskill said construction of the unnecessary building was not a surprise.

"I wish I could say I was shocked," McCaskill said. "We wasted $6 billion in Iraq ... We were building things that just got blown up."
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said the headquarters cost $531 per square foot.

The average price of a single-family home in the United States is $86.30 per square foot, according to the U.S. Census figures.

The state-of-the-art command center cannot be given to Afghanistan because it was built to U.S. electrical code, McCaskill said.

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