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Federal News Digest — July 1, 2011

Washington Post

Pentagon costs rising fast, CBO warns – Walter Pincus reports that according to the Congressional Budget Office, increases in the cost of the Military Health Care System and military weapons will result in a Defense Dept. budget $25 billion higher in 2016 than previously projected, and costs will continue to rise considerably if no action is taken

Justice Department to investigate deaths of two detainees in CIA custody – Peter Finn and Julie Tate report that after looking into 101 instances of harsh interrogation of detainees, the Justice Dept. is opening a criminal investigation in two cases – the deaths of an Iraqi who died at Abu Ghraib prison and an Afghan who died at Salt Pit in Afghanistan, a prison that the U.S. didn’t officially acknowledge existed; CIA Director Panetta sees the limited number of investigations as a vindication of the agency

SEC lax in monitoring exempted firms’ compliance, inspector general says – David S. Hilzenrath reports on a finding that the Securities and Exchange Commission has no formal procedure for enforcing conditions imposed on firms exempted from SEC rules, and often takes no action when it finds non-compliance; SEC staff defended exemptions as necessary in a complex and fast-changing industry; the SEC Chairman has asked Congress for more funds so that the agency can do its job

Gates departs Pentagon with Medal of Freedom – Jason Ukman reports on the farewell ceremony for outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who ended a 40-year career in public service and was awarded the highest civilian honor by the president

Treasury Secretary Geithner considering leaving post after debt talks – Zachary A. Goldfarb reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the last remaining original member of the president’s economic team, and an architect of the Wall Street bailout in response to the 2008 financial crisis, is weighing whether to leave his office after the negotiations on the debt ceiling are concluded this summer

New York Times

Plan issued to save northern spotted owl – William Yardley reports that after two decades, the Fish and Wildlife Service has come up with a plan to protect the endangered owl that became a symbol of the environmental debate in the U.S.

Thousands of prison terms in crack cases could be eased – John Schwartz reports that as a result of the decision by the United States Sentencing Commission to “apply retroactively a new law that brings penalties for crack cocaine offenses more closely in line with those for powder cocaine” approximately 12,000 prisoners could be eligible for parole

Wall Street Journal

The peril of deep defense cuts – Former Defense Dept. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld advises incoming Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not to make large cuts to the Defense budget in a post-war period, although he supports cutting wasteful spending, including reducing the number of civilian personnel in the department

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