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Cheney Upset at NSA 911 Leak

National Journal | February 15, 2007

Murray Waas

Early on the morning of June 20, 2002, then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., received a telephone call at home from a highly agitated Dick Cheney. Graham, who was in the middle of shaving, held a razor in one hand as he took the phone in the other.

The vice president got right to the point: A story in his morning newspaper reported that telephone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency on September 10, 2001, apparently warned that Al Qaeda was about to launch a major attack against the United States, possibly the next day. But the intercepts were not translated until September 12, 2001, the story said, the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Because someone had leaked the highly classified information from the NSA intercepts, Cheney warned Graham, the Bush administration was considering ending all cooperation with the joint inquiry by the Senate and House Intelligence committees on the government's failure to predict and prevent the September 11 attacks. Classified records would no longer be turned over to the Hill, the vice president threatened, and administration witnesses would not be available for interviews or testimony.

Moreover, Graham recalled in an interview for this story, Cheney warned that unless the leaders of the Intelligence committees took action to discover who leaked the information about the intercepts -- and more importantly, to make sure that such leaks never happened again -- President Bush would directly make the case to the American people that Congress could not be trusted with vital national security secrets.

"Take control of the situation," Graham recalls Cheney instructing him.

Graham told the vice president that he, too, was frustrated over the leaks. But his attempt to calm Cheney down was unsuccessful.

On that morning in June 2002, Cheney could not have known that his complaints to Graham about the leaking of classified information would help set events in motion that eventually would lead to the prosecution of his own chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, as the result of a separate leak investigation.

Libby, who stands accused of trying to conceal his role in disclosing the identity of an undercover CIA officer, Valerie Plame, in 2003, is now on trial in federal court in Washington on five counts of perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. Testimony and evidence at Libby's trial has raised questions as to whether Cheney himself authorized the selective leaking or declassification of information, including whether Cheney may have encouraged Libby to disclose Plame's CIA identity to reporters.

And when Graham received Cheney's phone call nearly five years ago, he had no idea that the vice president was not acting on impulse or entirely out of anger. Although administration officials have said that the White House was legitimately concerned that the NSA intercept leak could harm the war on terrorism, they also saw the incident as an opportunity to undercut congressional oversight and possibly restrict the flow of classified information to Capitol Hill. Libby, two administration officials recalled in interviews, was among the aides advising Cheney on this strategy of neutralizing the Hill.

After Cheney ended his call with Graham that morning, the White House was far from done.

The private complaint was followed by a very public rebuke.

Later that day, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer read from a prepared statement: "The president [has] very deep concerns about anything that would be inappropriately leaked that could ... harm our ability to maintain sources and methods and anything else that could interfere with America's ability to fight the war on terrorism."

And Bush himself later said, in reference to an entirely different leak, that whoever in government disclosed details of his administration's covert NSA surveillance program had committed a "shameful act" that had the effect of "helping the enemy." Attorney General Alberto Gonzales raised the possibility of prosecuting journalists.

As a result of the White House pressure over the NSA intercept leak in June 2002 -- applied through Cheney's phone call -- Graham and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., asked the Justice Department to investigate whether any members of Congress (including themselves) or their staffs were responsible for the leak. Prosecutors and FBI agents later zeroed in on Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who was then the ranking member on Senate Intelligence, as the person most likely responsible for disclosing the information to the press.

After a lengthy investigation, the Justice Department did not charge Shelby. Later, Justice referred the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee, and in a referral letter dated July 20, 2004, the department said it had "investigated the unauthorized disclosure of classified information" and had "produced evidence and information" concerning Shelby's conduct. In November 2005, the Ethics Committee wrote Shelby to say it had "dismissed the matter referred to it by DOJ."

Shelby insists that he did not leak any classified information, and he in turn decried as prosecutorial abuse the leaks from federal law enforcement officials suggesting that he, Shelby, had done something wrong.

In a statement prepared in response to questions for this story, Shelby said: "At no time during my career as a United States senator and, more particularly, at no time during my service as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have I ever knowingly compromised classified information." He added: "We have provided the investigation with our full cooperation."

Boomerang

Although no charges were brought in the investigation of the leaked NSA intercepts, the probe helped to pave the way for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate leaks out of the White House and, specifically the Office of the Vice President, in the Plame matter, according to administration, congressional, and law enforcement officials interviewed for this story.

"They [the administration] set the prosecutorial machinery in motion themselves, and the public support for it, before it came back to bite them," said a federal law enforcement official.

Graham, for one, believes that Cheney and Libby's strident demands to investigate leakers in Congress made it all but impossible for the White House to do anything less than cooperate fully with any criminal investigation of the Plame leak.

"They [the administration] would have had a certain exposure to hypocrisy if they hid behind executive privilege" when the Plame investigation began, or if they had fought the appointment of a special prosecutor, Graham said. "It made it politically untenable to avoid having a strong investigation, because they had demanded it of us. With us, they said we should call out the meanest, leanest dogs. The example that they set with us became the boomerang that came around and hit them."

At Libby's trial, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has attempted to show that Libby lied about leaking Plame's identity in 2003 because Cheney's office wanted to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was a strong public critic of the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.

Wilson had traveled to Niger in February 2002 on a CIA-sponsored mission to investigate allegations that Saddam Hussein's regime had attempted to procure weapons-grade uranium from the African nation. Wilson reported to the CIA that from what he could learn the allegations were almost certainly untrue. In a July 6, 2003, op-ed in The New York Times, Wilson charged that the Bush administration had "twisted" intelligence information when it cited the alleged Niger-Iraq connection in the president's State of Union address earlier that year.

White House officials had claimed that they were not warned by the CIA that the agency had discredited the intelligence information before the president's speech.

As one part of an effort to counter Wilson's allegations and to discredit him, Libby and other Bush administration officials told reporters that Wilson's wife selected him to go on the CIA mission, suggesting nepotism.

Libby's trial has also brought Cheney's role to center stage. According to evidence and testimony, Cheney selectively leaked and declassified intelligence information to bolster the administration's case for war and later to defend against charges that he had misrepresented prewar intelligence.

Before the trial, both Cheney and Libby denied that the vice president had authorized or even known that Libby had spoken to reporters about Plame. But at the trial, FBI agent Deborah Bond testified that Libby said in an interview with her that on July 12, 2003, Libby might have spoken to Cheney about the possibility of divulging Plame's name to reporters before he actually did so later that day.

Would Journalists Testify?

In the leak investigation of the NSA intercepts, the FBI agent in charge of the probe, Jack Eckenrode, repeatedly complained to senior Justice Department officials that he was stymied because he could not compel interviews or grand jury testimony from the journalists who received the leak. Without obtaining such testimony, Eckenrode said, he stood little chance of identifying the culprit and bringing any charges.

Two senior Justice Department officials at the time, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and Criminal Division head Michael Chertoff, refused to approve subpoenas for the journalists. They also argued that Eckenrode's case was circumstantial, according to sources close to the investigation. It is unclear whether then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was involved in decisions on whether to subpoena journalists. Chertoff, now secretary of Homeland Security, declined to comment for this story. Thompson, who is no longer at Justice, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Eckenrode and other investigators kept pressing the argument that they could not know whether they had a good case unless they compelled the testimony of journalists. Some investigators voiced concerns that two GOP political appointees -- Thompson and Chertoff -- had turned them down on subpoenas for a probe whose chief suspect was a Republican senator.

Later, when Eckenrode was placed in charge of the Plame investigation, he privately complained that once again he was coming close to cracking the case, only to have prosecutors fail to bring any charges because of their inability to question journalists.

Eckenrode scored an early success in the Plame investigation by convincing NBC Washington bureau chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert to speak to him. The FBI agent worked Russert the same way Russert might work a news source: Eckenrode mentioned that he had met Russert when his church group had taken a tour of NBC's Washington studios, and he spoke about how both of them came from Irish-Catholic backgrounds.

What Russert had to say to Eckenrode was central to the Plame probe because Libby was telling the FBI that when he talked to reporters about Plame working at the CIA, he was merely repeating rumors that Russert had told him about Plame during a July 10, 2003, telephone conversation.

Russert responded that Libby was lying -- that, in fact, he and Libby had never discussed Plame at all.

But when Fitzgerald attempted to take Russert's testimony under oath, Russert initially refused and NBC sought to quash a subpoena from prosecutors. For Eckenrode, it was a replay of the NSA leak case, when a Fox News correspondent had identified Sen. Shelby as his source to the FBI, only to refuse to testify under oath.

For several months in 2003, the Justice Department oversaw the Plame leak investigation. As evidence mounted that Libby and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove might have played roles in leaking information about Plame, two senior Justice Department officials -- Christopher Wray, who was then head of the Criminal Division, and James B. Comey, who had just been named deputy attorney general -- persuaded Ashcroft to recuse himself from the matter and to allow Comey to appoint a special prosecutor. (Rove had earlier served as a consultant to three of Ashcroft's political campaigns.)

Senate Democrats were also pressing for a special prosecutor. Because Cheney had personally pushed for a criminal investigation of senators and their staff over the NSA intercepts, the Democrats insisted that the White House endure similar scrutiny over the leak of Plame's identity, according to several senior congressional staffers involved in the process.

With Fitzgerald's appointment as special prosecutor, Eckenrode found a sympathetic ear for his complaint that leak probes often went nowhere because suspects knew that reporters would never be forced to testify. Although the men agreed that reporters should be compelled to testify only as a last resort, Fitzgerald assured Eckenrode that he would demand such testimony if necessary.

Fitzgerald's resolve was displayed later in the Plame case when he pursued contempt charges against then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller. She refused to testify after being subpoenaed and ended up spending 85 days in jail. Miller finally agreed to testify about her conversations with Libby about Plame -- after Libby called her in jail and encouraged her to do so.

The irony that Libby, once the vice president's top aide, was accused of concealing his role in leaking information to the press has not been lost on some. Graham said in an interview: "It's hard to believe that the chief of staff to the vice president was acting as a rogue agent. What we have learned from the trial validates the suspicion that Libby was not just operating as a lone ranger. He was carrying out what the vice president wanted him to do, which was to besmirch Joe Wilson. I think Libby has been a conspirator in one of the most reprehensible and damaging breaches of American security in modern history."

Craig Schmall, who was a CIA briefing officer for both Cheney and Libby, has testified at Libby's trial that on the morning of July 14, 2003, when journalist Robert Novak outed Plame's covert identity in his newspaper column, Schmall commented to Cheney and Libby, "I thought there was a grave danger leaking the name of a CIA officer. Foreign intelligence services where she served now have the opportunity to investigate everyone whom she had come in contact with. They could be arrested, tortured, or killed."

Huge Stakes By 7:30 in the morning on that June day in 2002 when Cheney called Graham, the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees met in a secure room in the Capitol. They discussed how to prevent fallout from the administration's threat that they could not be trusted with classified information. Present at the meeting were Graham, Goss, Shelby, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, then the ranking Democrat on the House panel. Senior aides were excluded.

The four lawmakers emerged from their meeting and told their staffs that they had decided to take the unprecedented step of requesting the Justice Department to conduct a criminal inquiry into whether they, any other members of their committees, or their aides were responsible for leaking the NSA intercepts to the media.

A key participant in the events recalled in an interview: "It was a hastily made decision, made out of a sense of panic... and by people with bleary eyes."

Another person involved recalled: "There was a real concern that any meaningful oversight by Congress was very much at stake. The political dynamic back then -- not that long after September 11 -- was completely different. They took Cheney's threats very seriously."

Graham said, "Looking back at it, I think we were clearly set up by Dick Cheney and the White House. They wanted to shut us down. And they wanted to shut down a legitimate congressional inquiry that might raise questions in part about whether their own people had aggressively pursued Al Qaeda in the days prior to the September 11 attacks. The vice president attempted to manipulate the situation, and he attempted to manipulate us." Graham added: "But if his goal was to get us to back off, he was unsuccessful."

Graham said that Goss shared his concerns. In 2003, according to Graham, he speculated to Goss that the White House had set them up in an effort to sabotage the joint September 11 congressional inquiry. Graham says that Goss responded: "I often wondered that myself."

Goss, who would later serve as CIA director under President Bush, declined to comment for this article. Graham, citing a lifelong friendship with Goss, refused to say anything else regarding his private discussions with Goss.

Megan McGinn, a spokeswoman for Cheney, said that the vice president would not comment on his conversations with Graham and Goss. But she added, "As president of the Senate, the vice president has discussions with members on various issues." She also said there would be no comment on the Libby case because it "is a matter before the courts."

At the time of Cheney's phone call in June 2002, Graham and other lawmakers on the Intelligence committees suspected that the vice president viewed the leaking of the NSA intercepts as an opportunity to try to curtail what he believed were nettlesome congressional inquiries.

If that was, indeed, the vice president's main purpose for his angry call to Graham, it was not the first time that Cheney had sought to use a press leak as a pretext for constraining a congressional probe.

A recently declassified memo handwritten by Cheney more than 30 years ago when he was an aide to President Ford shows him considering whether to press the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against The New York Times and reporter Seymour Hersh after the newspaper published an article revealing a highly classified espionage program against the Soviet Union. The memo was uncovered for a soon-to-be-aired documentary by the PBS program Frontline.

When the Justice Department balked at prosecuting anyone, Cheney adroitly tried to exploit the news report for other ends. He wrote under the heading "Broader ramifications": "Can we take advantage of it to bolster our position on the Church committee investigation? To point out the need for limits on the scope of the investigation?"

At the time, a select committee headed by then-Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, was investigating the CIA -- an unprecedented and historic inquiry that revealed everything from CIA-sponsored coups against foreign governments to attempted assassinations of foreign leaders, to illegal domestic spying.

Weighing the Costs

In the NSA leak probe, the FBI focused primarily on news reports from June 2002 that on the night before September 11, 2001, the National Security Agency had intercepted two Arabic-language messages suggesting that terrorist attacks against the United States were imminent. The messages that were overheard said, "The match is about to begin" and "Tomorrow is zero hour." But they were not translated until September 12.

The messages were discussed at length by Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who was NSA's director, during a joint closed-door session of the House and Senate Intelligence committees on June 19, 2002. Not long after the hearing concluded, CNN aired a report disclosing the two messages. The next morning, The Washington Post and USA Today published more-detailed reports. It was then that Cheney called Graham, and that Graham then met with Goss, Shelby, and Pelosi.

Senior intelligence officials have insisted that even if the messages had been translated immediately, authorities most likely could not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. But they said that the leak revealed possible sources and methods of intelligence-gathering, and therefore was a major security breach.

The FBI swarmed over Capitol Hill, interviewing virtually every senator and House member who served on the Intelligence committees, as well as the staffs of both panels. Before long, investigators began to focus on Shelby. And as they did, Shelby, who had initially supported the investigation, took to denouncing it.

In August 2002, when the FBI inquired about having members of Congress and their staffs take polygraph examinations, Shelby began to pointedly voice opposition to the investigation, telling the press: "I don't know who among us would take a lie detector test. First of all, they're not even admissible in court, and second of all, the leadership [of both parties] has told us not to do that." More broadly, he complained: "Here we are investigating the FBI for huge failures, and now we're asking them to investigate us."

Among those who provided information to the FBI incriminating Shelby was Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron. He told investigators that Shelby shared information about the intercepts shortly after the June 19 hearing, according to sources close to the investigation.

Immediately after Shelby spoke with him, Cameron told the FBI, he watched as Shelby walked down a Senate office building hallway and conversed with Dana Bash, then a producer, and now a correspondent, for CNN. Cameron was not privy to the Shelby-Bash conversation, but CNN later ran a story about the intercepts based on information that was almost identical to what Shelby had told Cameron. Cameron, who indicated that he was irked that Shelby shared the information with a competitor, also told investigators that he delayed a broadcast of his story because he wanted to make sure that he was not compromising intelligence sources and methods, according to these sources.

A congressional staff member, the sources said, recounted to the FBI that Shelby told the staffer about the NSA intercepts -- that Al Qaeda was about to attack the United States, but that the intercepts were not translated until after September 11. Shelby indicated to the staffer that the issue should be brought to the press's attention, although the staffer said that Shelby did not provide specific details of the information that the senator wanted divulged, the sources said.

The investigation stalled when investigators were unable to compel Cameron, Bash, and other reporters to provide evidence or to testify before a federal grand jury on the sources for their stories.

One senior Justice Department member familiar with deliberations on the case said that some Justice officials were not convinced that the leak probe rose to the level of importance of issuing subpoenas or jailing journalists. This official said: "You have to weigh the costs... versus the benefits. We could have ended up with a reporter going to jail, and still ended up without the ability to make the case -- either because the reporter would refuse to testify or because, even with their testimony, we were unable to make a case."

Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in an interview that she agreed with the decision. "The public is better served when reporters are not required to act as investigative agents for the government," she said.

Dalglish asserted that although the Libby trial has demonstrated that some "leaks are done in the service of slimy political dirty tricks," there are a vastly greater number of "journalists working heroically... in the service of the public good" and "who are at risk of going to jail or are already in jail."

In the case of the NSA intercepts leak, CNN indicated that it would not cooperate with the federal criminal inquiry. Reporters for The Washington Post and USA Today probably would not have cooperated either. And although Cameron voluntarily provided information to the FBI, Fox News executives balked at allowing him to testify before a grand jury.

Graham says that even if Shelby had leaked information about the intercepts to the press, Graham believes with some degree of certainty that certain executive branch officials did so as well. Although CNN broke the story, the next-day stories in The Post and USA Today contained details that Hayden had not disclosed to the Intelligence committees, Graham said. "That would lead a reasonable person to infer the administration leaked as well, or what they were doing was trying to set us up... to make this an issue which they could come after us with."

War of Leaks

Regarding the Plame investigation, in sharp contrast to the NSA leak case, Fitzgerald and Eckenrode were able to obtain the voluntarily testimony of a score of journalists, most importantly columnist Robert Novak, who told Fitzgerald who his sources were. In other instances, when journalists refused to comply, Fitzgerald and his prosecutors pursued contempt charges.

Evidence presented by prosecutors during Libby's trial has detailed Cheney's role in directing Libby and others to selectively leak or declassify intelligence information to discredit Wilson, other administration critics, and the CIA, while defending the Bush administration's actions.

One such instance was when Cheney -- with the direct approval of President Bush -- instructed Libby to leak to the press portions of a still-classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Such a disclosure, Cheney and Libby hoped, would prove that the CIA had provided the White House with erroneous intelligence. Later, Cheney directed Libby to leak portions of a highly classified CIA debriefing of Wilson upon his return from Niger -- which Cheney and others mistakenly thought was a CIA cable.

The Times' Miller testified that during a June 23, 2003, meeting with Libby -- the first time that she said Libby had shared information with her about Plame -- he "appeared to be agitated and frustrated and angry" about what he described as a "perverted war of leaks" initiated by the CIA against the White House.

The main justification for invading Iraq had been that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. But with inspectors unable to find any evidence of an Iraqi WMD program, the White House blamed the CIA for faulty intelligence. Senior CIA officials, in turn, said that the White House had often misrepresented accurate intelligence information.

It was during that volatile time, on July 6, 2003, that Wilson wrote his New York Times op-ed alleging that the administration had distorted intelligence information about Iraq's purported attempt to procure uranium. When Cheney and Libby learned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, and might even have played a role in selecting him for the Niger mission, they perceived his allegations as one more effort by the CIA to shift blame away from the agency.

Four days later, on July 10, 2003, Mary Matalin, a senior aide to Cheney at the time, warned Libby that Wilson was a "snake" and that his "story has legs," Deputy Special Prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said in court at Libby's trial.

Matalin then suggested a course of action, according to Zeidenberg: "We need to address the Wilson motivation. We need to be able to get the cable out. Declassified. The president should wave his wand."

Two days later, on July 12, 2003, Cheney and Libby flew together to the Norfolk naval base in Virginia, where they attended ceremonies to christen the USS Ronald Reagan.

On the way home on Air Force Two, the two men sat alone in a front compartment as Cheney counseled Libby on what to say to the press. One bit of advice: Provide reporters with details of the CIA debriefing of Wilson's Niger mission.

The vice president told Libby that the president had waved his wand.

Upon landing at Andrews Air Force Base, Libby and Cathie Martin, a press aide to Cheney, searched for a private room so that Libby could call Time magazine's Matthew Cooper and other reporters. Later from home, he also spoke to Judith Miller.

It was toward the end of conversations with both reporters that Libby told them that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, Miller and Cooper testified.

Before the trial, Cheney denied that he ever authorized anyone to provide information about Plame to the media -- or that he even suggested such a thing. But FBI agent Deborah Bond testified that on the return trip from Norfolk, the vice president might indeed have talked with Libby about revealing Plame's CIA connection to the press. "Mr. Libby told us he believed they may have talked about it but he wasn't sure," Bond told the court.

As Bond testified, Libby furiously scribbled notes on a yellow legal pad. If he looked like one of the accomplished attorneys at the defense table, it was because Libby is one, too. A graduate of Phillips Academy Andover, Yale University, and Columbia Law School, Libby had been, just before going to work for the vice president in 2001, the managing partner of the Washington office of an international law firm then named Dechert, Price, and Rhoads.

But as Graham points out, Libby, who as the vice president's chief of staff had vigorously demanded leak investigations of others, became a victim of his own "boomerang that had come around."

Scooter Libby was not just another lawyer at the defense table anymore. He was in the dock. http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/waas.htm-- Previous coverage of pre-war intelligence and the CIA leak investigation from Murray Waas. Brian Beutler provided research assistance for this report.

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Delphi method

Link

The Delphi technique is a method for obtaining forecasts from a panel of independent experts over two or more rounds. Experts are asked to predict quantities. After each round, an administrator provides an anonymous summary of the experts’ forecasts and their reasons for them. When experts’ forecasts have changed little between rounds, the process is stopped and the final round forecasts are combined by averaging. Delphi is based on well-researched principles and provides forecasts that are more accurate than those from unstructured groups (Rowe and Wright 1999, Rowe and Wright 2001).

The technique can be adapted for use in face-to-face meetings, and is then called mini-Delphi or Estimate-Talk-Estimate (ETE). Delphi has been widely used in business.

Free software to support Delphi forecasting and references are available on the Principles of Forecasting site.

Contents

  1. 1 History of the Delphi method
  2. 2 Role of the facilitator
  3. 3 The Delphi method and forecasting
  4. 3.1 Structuring of information flow
  5. 3.2 Regular feedback
  6. 3.3 Anonymity of the participants
  7. 5 Acceptance
  8. 6 Delphi applications not aiming at consensus
  9. 7 Directing the flow to a predetermined goal
History of the Delphi method

The Delphi method was developed, over a period of years, at the Rand Corporation at the beginning of the cold war to forecast the impact of technology on warfare. [1] A number of events influenced the development.

In 1944, General Arnold ordered the creation of the report for the U.S. Air Force on the future technological capabilities that might be used by the military. Two years later, Douglas Aircraft company started Project RAND to study "the broad subject of inter-continental warfare other than surface".

Different approaches were tried, but the shortcomings of traditional forecasting methods, such as theoretical approach, quantitative models or trend extrapolation, in areas where precise scientific laws have not been established yet, quickly became apparent. To combat these shortcomings, the Delphi method was developed in RAND Corporation during the 1950-1960s (1959) by Olaf Helmer, Norman Dalkey, and Nicholas Rescher.[1]

The Delphi method was used by Rand Experts when they were asked to give their opinion on the probability, frequency and intensity of possible enemy attacks. Other experts could anonymously give feedback. This process was repeated several times till a consensus emerged.

Role of the facilitator

The person co-ordinating the Delphi method can be known as a facilitator, and facilitates the responses of their panel of experts, who are selected for a reason, usually that they hold knowledge on an opinion or view. The facilitator sends out questionnaires, surveys etc. and if the panel of experts accept, they follow instructions and present their views. Responses are collected and analysed, then common and conflicting viewpoints are identified. If consensus is not reached, the process continues through thesis and antithesis, to gradually work towards synthesis, and building consensus.

The Delphi method and forecasting

The Delphi method is a systematic interactive forecasting method based on independent inputs of selected experts.

The name "Delphi" derives from the Oracle of Delphi. The authors of the method were not happy with this name, because it implies "something oracular, something smacking a little of the occult", whereas in reality precisely the opposite is involved. The Delphi method recognizes the value of expert opinion, experience and intuition and allows using the limited information available in these forms, when full scientific knowledge is lacking.

Delphi method uses a panel of carefully selected experts who answer a series of questionnaires. Questions are usually formulated as hypotheses, and experts state the time when they think these hypotheses will be fulfilled. Each round of questioning is followed with the feedback on the preceding round of replies, usually presented anonymously. Thus the experts are encouraged to revise their earlier answers in light of the replies of other members of the group. It is believed that during this process the range of the answers will decrease and the group will converge towards the "correct" answer. After several rounds the process is complete and the median scores determine the final answers. From that the road-map or timetables of future developments can be derived.

The following key characteristics of the Delphi method help the participants to focus on the issues at hand and separate Delphi from other methodologies:

Structuring of information flow

Regular feedback

Anonymity of the participants

Structuring of information flow

The initial contributions from the experts are collected in the form of answers to questionnaires and their comments to these answers. The panel director controls the interactions among the participants by processing the information and filtering out irrelevant content. This avoids the negative effects of face-to-face panel discussions and solves the usual problems of group dynamics.

Regular feedback

Participants comment on their own forecasts, the responses of others and on the progress of the panel as a whole. At any moment they can revise their earlier statements. While in regular group meetings participants tend to stick to previously stated opinions and often conform too much to group leader, the Delphi method prevents it.

Anonymity of the participants

Usually all participants maintain anonymity. Their identity is not revealed even after the completion of the final report. This stops them from dominating others in the process using their authority or personality, frees them to some extent from their personal biases, minimizes the "bandwagon effect" or "halo effect", allows them to freely express their opinions, encourages open critique and admitting errors by revising earlier judgments.

Applications

First applications of the Delphi method were in the field of science and technology forecasting. The objective of the method was to combine expert opinions on likelihood and expected development time, of the particular technology, in a single indicator. One of the first such reports, prepared in 1964 by Gordon and Helmer, assessed the direction of long-term trends in science and technology development, covering such topics as scientific breakthroughs, population control, automation, space progress, war prevention and weapon systems.

Later the Delphi method was applied in other areas, especially those related to public policy issues, such as economic trends, health and education. It was also applied successfully and with high accuracy in business forecasting. For example, in one case reported by Basu and Schroeder (1977), the Delphi method predicted the sales of a new product during the first two years with inaccuracy of 3–4% compared with actual sales. Quantitative methods produced errors of 10–15%, and traditional unstructured forecast methods had errors of about 20%.

Acceptance

Overall the track record of the Delphi method is mixed. There have been many cases when the method produced poor results. Still, some authors attribute this to poor application of the method and not to the weaknesses of the method itself. It must also be realised that in areas such as science and technology forecasting the degree of uncertainty is so great that exact and always correct predictions are impossible, so a high degree of error is to be expected.

Another particular weakness of the Delphi method is that future developments are not always predicted correctly by iterative consensus of experts, but instead by unconventional thinking of amateur outsiders.

One of the initial problems of the method was its inability to make complex forecasts with multiple factors. Potential future outcomes were usually considered as if they had no effect on each other. Later on, several extensions to the Delphi method were developed to address this problem, such as cross impact analysis, that takes into consideration the possibility that the occurrence of one event may change probabilities of other events covered in the survey. Still the Delphi method can be used most successfully in forecasting single scalar indicators.

Despite these shortcomings, today the Delphi method is a widely accepted forecasting tool and has been used successfully for thousands of studies in areas varying from technology forecasting to drug abuse.

Delphi applications not aiming at consensus

Traditionally the Delphi method has aimed at a consensus of the most probable future by iteration. The Policy Delphi launched by Murray Turoff instead is a decision support method aiming at structuring and discussing the diverse views of the preferred future. The Argument Delphi developed by Osmo Kuusi focuses on ongoing discussion and finding relevant arguments rather than focusing on the output. The Disaggregative Policy Delphi developed by Petri Tapio uses cluster analysis as a systematic tool to construct various scenarios of the future in the latest Delphi round. The respondent's view on the probable and the preferable future are dealt with as separate cases.

Directing the flow to a predetermined goal

The Delphi Technique can also be abused to give an appearance of community input when in reality the facilitator is directing the flow to a predetermined goal.

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The U.S., Not Iran,

is Wrongfully “Meddling” in Iraq

by Randy Shaw

Global Research, February 17, 2007 beyondchron.org - 2007-02-16

The United States has 140,000 troops occupying Iraq, a country thousands of miles from its borders. Iran borders Iraq. Which nation has the greater interest in Iraq’s future?

According to the U.S. media, the Bush Administration, and many Democrats, the answer is the country whose borders are thousands of miles away. And while America is free to invade, bomb, and kill thousands of Iraqis, many believe that Iran’s “meddling” in the affairs of its neighbor justifies the United States bombing Iran as well. International law does not grant America the unilateral right to intervene everywhere, but it does give other nations the right to protect their borders. The fact that so many Americans believe otherwise explains why we are now mired in Iraq, and why Iran is a potential target.

The American media’s focus on whether there is evidence of Iran “meddling” in Iraq---while describing America’s 140,000 troops there as necessary to prevent violence---is a tribute to the idea that America has the God-given right to operate by its own set of international rules. The notion that Iran, which shares a border and common religion with Iraq, has less of a right to be involved in that nation’s affairs than the United States could only be accepted by those steeped in “America is always right” propaganda from an early age.

Recall the controversial presidential election in Mexico in 2006. Let’s assume that Iran decided that the PAN Party’s admitted violation of Mexican election laws, and the resulting subversion of democracy, required military intervention to install Lopez-Obrador as President in place of the official winner, Felipe Calderon.

After bombing and invading Mexico, assume Iran used its military might to not only install Lopez-Obrador as President, but to maintain an occupying force to protect the democratic process from insurgents.

And assume that Iran not only kept this force in Mexico for nearly four years, but was now increasing its presence as part of its “surge” strategy to reduce violence.

Can anyone imagine America not “meddling” in Mexico in order to prevent Iran’s action?

And if we “meddled” in our neighbor Mexico’s affairs, would Americans’ think that gave Iran the right to bomb us?

America’s “Monroe Doctrine” unilaterally declared in 1823 that European nations should stay out of the affairs of the American continents. The Doctrine applied not just to North America, but to South America as well.

But while America opposes interventions in our hemisphere, U.S. troops have traveled the world invading other countries and overthrowing their governments. Our CIA even helped overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government in 1954---think that might explain why America is not real popular in Iran?

The rest of the world already thinks that America poses the greatest threat to world peace. Our election of George W. Bush in 2004---knowing full well that he lied about WMD’s in Iraq and that he was a dangerous psychopath---is viewed throughout the world as a harsh indictment of the American character.

Now the world looks on as the American media debates whether Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, and whether such meddling warrants U.S. military intervention. The fundamental question of why America has a greater legal or moral right than Iran to “meddle” in Iraq is virtually never addressed.

Nor has the media reminded Americans that the U.S. installed regime in Iraq is aligned with Iran, as this would destroy the narrative that has Iran undermining American efforts to bring regional stability. I know Americans are an ahistorical people, but have millions already forgotten that Sadaam Hussein was Iran’s chief enemy, and that Iran was thrilled when he was toppled from power?

As much as a US bombing of Iran seems insane, Dick Cheney has already proved himself delusional. Since he recently stated that we are making great progress in Iraq, he could also believe that bombing Iran would shift attention from the Iraq debacle, and be the only way to save the Bush Presidency.

One thing we know for sure. If Bush ordered the bombing of Iran, all Republicans, some Democrats, and nearly all DC pundits would be warning that Congress cannot cut off funding for the Iran war out of loyalty to our troops.

This is the level of psychosis that George W. Bush’s presidency has brought back to America. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove has gone from satire to reality.

Send feedback to rshaw@beyondchron.org

Global Research Articles by Randy Shaw

Welcome to Thetruthnews.info

Middle East Heading for a New Cold War?

Lawrence Pintak, Arab News

CAIRO, 20 January 2007 — Bush administration efforts to forge a US-Arab alliance against Iran are threatening to produce a new Middle East Cold War, with dangerous implications for regional stability, US interests and American lives.

Condoleezza Rice was in the region this week to lay the foundations for a united front with key Arab states based on “the perception of a common threat posed by Iran and other forces of extremism and violence in the region,” according to State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

But by creating yet another “with us or against us” scenario, the Bush administration is fueling a growing schism between Sunni and Shiite Arabs.

On the surface, a US-Arab alliance against Iran makes sense. Line up the “good guys” against the “bad guys.” But nothing in the Middle East is simple. We should know that by now. governments in Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states, where Sunni Muslims are in the majority, may perceive Shiite Iran as a threat, but their ideas on how to respond and who they consider “other forces of extremism” are not necessarily in synch with those of the US

One example: For the past two months, an Egyptian satellite has been hosting a channel run by Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, which airs non-stop footage of attacks on American troops. It’s a reminder that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s desire to reassert Egypt’s leadership of the Sunni Arab world may clash with his erstwhile role as “dependable” US ally.

The sectarian spectacle of Saddam Hussein’s execution was the catalyst for the harsh new anti-Iranian and anti-Shiite rhetoric being heard in the region. Columnists have written of “the Iranian plan” to crush Iraq’s Sunni minority. Mubarak himself warned Tehran, “Don’t touch Iraq.”

Recent weeks have seen hints of possible Saudi military support for Iraq’s Sunnis, frequent references to the threat of a “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran to Lebanon, and even suggestions that “oppressed” Sunni Arab minorities in Iran should be funded to stir up trouble there. A top general in Iran’s Basij militia hit back with a threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz and stop the flow of oil.

All this against the backdrop of increased sectarian tensions across the region, from Shiite charges of Sunni vote-rigging in last month’s elections in Bahrain to a Saudi cleric’s fatwa declaring Shiites “infidels.”

A recent Zogby survey found that the public in Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco consider a nuclear Iran the greatest threat to political stability in their own countries.

Along with increasing the danger to American troops, Arab support for Iraq’s Sunni Muslim insurgents in their civil war against the Shiites — whether psychological or military — could easily cause the conflict to spill beyond Iraq’s borders, with anti-Sunni violence carried out by Shiite militants in neighboring Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

An all-out regional conflagration is unlikely, but the potential for military incidents in the Gulf, to which President Bush just dispatched another carrier battle group, is very real.

Meanwhile, the implications for Lebanon are grim. The feuds of the Middle East have long been fought through proxies on the streets of Beirut. So far, the political confrontation between Shiite Hezbollah and its Sunni and Christian rivals has remained peaceful, but it wouldn’t take much provocation to send Lebanon spiraling back into violence. Hezbollah earned the respect of Sunni Arabs in last summer’s war with Israel, but it is ultimately the face of Shiite militancy.

And for a host of religious, historic and family reasons, the Shiites of Iraq and Lebanon share a close bond.

Then there is Palestine, where Iranian funding for Hamas increases Tehran’s ability to undermine the Bush administration’s newfound desire to broker an Israel-Palestine settlement.

In his speech last week, President Bush warned that failure in Iraq would put Al-Qaeda and its allies “in a better position to topple moderate governments” and “create chaos in the region.” The danger is that by encouraging a regional Cold War through a policy of confrontation rather than engagement, the Bush administration will — once more — feed the forces of terror, not contain them.

— Lawrence Pintak is director of the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism at The American University in Cairo and author of Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam & the War of Ideas. E-mail: lpintak-AT-aucegypt.edu.

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Harring Report: The National Young Men’s Meat Grinder

‘God and Soldiers we implore…

In times of need, but not before’

by Brian Harring, Domestic Intelligence Reporter brianharring@yahoo.com

Note: Viewers of TBR News who would like a copy of the original DoD Supplementary Casualty lists, showing the actual military deaths from March 2003 through July, 2005 as taken from their official site (now deleted) and showing over 10,000 actual deaths, can obtain these facsimiles directly from Mr. Harring by sending him an email message at: brianharring@yahoo.com ( As of February 16 , 2007, Mr. Harring has sent out over 24,501 lists. Ed )

George Orwell, ‘1984’

“Whether war is a necessary factor in the evolution of mankind may be disputed, but a fact which cannot be questioned is that, from the earliest records of man to the present age, war has been his dominant preoccupation. There has never been a period in human history altogether free from war, and seldom one of more than a generation which has not witnessed a major conflict: great wars flow and ebb almost as regularly as the tides. This becomes more noticeable when a civilization ages and begins to decay, as seemingly is happening to our world-wide industrial civilization. Whereas but a generation or two back, war was accepted as an instrument of policy, it has now become policy itself.”

General J.F.C. Fuller, 1954

The Bush/Cheney Butcher’s Bill: Officially, 45 US Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan from 1 February –16 February 2007- Official Total of 4,029 US dead in Iraq and Afghanistan to date (and rising)

(It will take the obedient American media at least three months to ‘discover’ that the reported official death toll has topped 4,000. )

The actual total of dead American military personnel is now over 15,000 and also rising, and the number of seriously wounded is now ca 50,508.* It is interesting to note that the Department of Defense claims that of these seriously wounded, less than a hundred have died in hospital from their wounds over a three year period!

It should be noted that the death toll in October, 2006, 112, was the highest to date. The previous highest number since the beginning of the war was 108 in 2005. It has now been matched.

An insurgent mortar attack on Camp Falcon in southern Baghdad on October 11-12, 2006 caused stored ammunition to explode and initial reports indicate over 300 officially unreported casualties, dead and wounded.

*NY Times, Jan. 30, 2007, p A-17

Mr. President, why don’t you pull out…like your father should have? Brian Harring

Note: There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The actual death toll is in excess of 10,000. Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded (and a published total of 47,657 wounded overall,), this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 3,000+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources In addition to the evident falsification of the death rolls, at least 5,500 American military personnel have deserted, most in Ireland but more have escaped to Canada and other European countries, none of whom are inclined to cooperate with vengeful American authorities. (See TBR News of 18 February for full coverage on the mass desertions) This means that of the 158,000 U.S. military shipped to Iraq, 30,000 deserted, were killed or seriously wounded. The DoD lists currently being very quietly circulated indicate over 12,000 dead, nearly 50,000 seriously wounded and a large number of suicides, forced hospitalization for ongoing drug usage and sales, murder of Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers, rapes, courts martial and so on –

The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military hospitals. Their families are certainly notified that their son, husband, brother or lover was dead and the bodies, or what is left of them (refrigeration is very bad in Iraq what with constant power outages) are shipped home, to Dover AFB. This, we note, was the overall policy until very recently. Since it became well known that many had died at Landstuhl, in Germany, the DoD began to list a very few soldiers who had died at other non-theater locations. These numbers are only for show and are pathetically small in relationship to the actual figures.

You ought to realize that President Bush personally ordered that no pictures be taken of the coffined and flag-draped dead under any circumstances. He claims that this is to comfort the bereaved relatives but is designed to keep the huge number of arriving bodies secret. Any civilian, or military personnel, taking pictures will be jailed at once and prosecuted. Bush has never attended any kind of a memorial service for his dead soldiers and never will. He is terrified lest some parent might curse him in front of the press or, worse, attack him. As Bush is a terrible physical coward and in a constant state of denial, this is not a surprise.

Official Casualty List for February, 2007

1

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gunnery Sgt. Terry J. Elliott, 34, of Middleton, Tenn., died Feb. 1 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Elliott was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hospitalman Matthew G. Conte, 22, of Mogadore, Ohio, died Feb. 1 while his unit was conducting combat operations against enemy forces in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Conte was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii serving as a hospital corpsman in Iraq under the command of I Marine Expeditionary Force (forward).

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Maj. Michael C. Mettille, 44, of West St. Paul, Minn., died Feb. 1 at Camp Adder, Iraq, from a non-combat related injury. Mettille was assigned to the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, Brooklyn Park, Minn. The incident is under investigation.

2

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cpl. Stephen D. Shannon, 21, of Guttenberg, Iowa, died Jan. 31, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was hit by a rocket during combat operations Jan. 30 in Ramadi, Iraq. Shannon was assigned to the 397th Engineer Battalion, Wausau, Wis.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. William M. Sigua, 21, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., died Jan. 31 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire during combat operations. Sigua was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

5

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Eric R. Sieger, 18, of Layton, Utah, died Feb. 1 at Buritz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over. Sieger was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan. 30 at Ramadi, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Killed were: Sgt. Corey J. Aultz, 31, of Port Orchard, Wash., Sgt. Milton A. Gist Jr., 27, of St Louis.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 1 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a vehicular accident. They were assigned to the 57th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Pacific, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Killed were: Pfc. David C. Armstrong, 21, of Zanesville, Ohio., Pfc. Kenneth T. Butler, 21, of East Liverpool, Ohio. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 2 in Ramadi, Iraq, of injuries sustained when they came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire.Killed were: Spc. Alan E. McPeek, 20, of Tucson, Ariz. He was assigned to the 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Giessen, ,Germany ,.Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18, of Glendive, Mont. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Staff Sgt. Ronnie L. Sanders, 26, of Thibodaux, La., died Feb. 3 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

6

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cpl. Richard O. Quill III, 22, of Roswell, Ga., died Feb. 1 from a non-hostile cause in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Quill was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Randy J. Matheny, 20, of McCook, Neb., died Feb. 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1074th Transportation Company, Sidney, Neb.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 2 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their Apache helicopter was forced to land during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed were: Chief Warrant Officer Keith Yoakum, 41, of Hemet, Calif. , Chief Warrant Officer Jason G. Defrenn, 34, of Barnwell, S.C. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 2 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. Killed were: Capt. Kevin C. Landeck, 26, of Illinois. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., Staff Sgt. Terrence D. Dunn, 38, of Houston. He was assigned to the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

7

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Van Parys, 20, of New Tripoli, Pa., died Feb. 5 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

8

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier, 24, of Spotsylvania, Va., died Feb. 6 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Frazier was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, 20, of Bel Air, Md., died Feb. 7 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Parcell was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

9

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two sailors who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Minjares Jr., 31, of El Paso, Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Manuel A. Ruiz, 21, of Federalsburg, Md., died Feb. 7 in a helicopter crash in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Minjares was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, N.C., and Ruiz was assigned to 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom .Sgt. Maj. Joseph J. Ellis, 40, of Ashland, Ohio, died Feb. 7 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Ellis was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

12

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Capt. Jennifer J. Harris, 28, of Swampscott, Mass., 1st Lt. Jared M. Landaker, 25, of Big Bear City, Calif., Sgt. Travis D. Pfister, 27, of Richland, Wash., Cpl. Thomas E. Saba, 30, of Toms River, N.J., Sgt. James R. Tijerina, 26, of Beasley, Texas All five Marines died Feb. 7 when the helicopter they were flying in crashed while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Harris, Landaker, Pfister, and Tijerina were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Saba was assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Matthew P. Pathenos, 21, of Ballwin, Mo., died Feb. 7 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Pathenos was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Bridgeton, Md.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Feb. 8 in Karmah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit while on combat patrol. The soldiers were assigned to the 321st Engineer Battalion, Boise, Idaho. Killed were:Sgt. James J. Holtom, 22, of Rexburg, Idaho., Spc. Ross A. Clevenger, 21, of Givens Hot Springs, Idaho., Pvt. Raymond M. Werner, 21, of Boise, Idaho.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. James J. Regan, 26, of Manhasset, N.Y., died Feb. 9 in northern Iraq of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on combat patrol. Regan was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Sgt. Long N. Nguyen, 27, of Portland, Ore., died Feb. 10 in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related wound. Nguyen was assigned to the 141st Brigade Support Battalion, Portland, Ore. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Russell A. Kurtz, 22, of Bethel Park, Pa., died in Fallajah, Iraq, Feb. 11 of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Kurtz was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Robert B. Thrasher, 23, of Folsom, Calif., died Feb. 11 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire during combat patrol. Thrasher was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

13

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Tarryl B. Hill, 19, of Shelby Township, Mich., died Feb. 7 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Hill was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Mount Clemens, Mich.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Capt. Donnie R. Belser Jr., 28, of Anniston, Ala., died Feb. 10 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Cavalry Division. Belser was a member of the 524th Transition Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pvt. Clarence T. Spencer, 24, of San Diego, died Feb. 4 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire in Baqubah, Iraq. Spencer was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Dennis L. Sellen Jr., 20, of Newhall, Calif., died Feb. 11 in Umm Qasr, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 185th Infantry Regiment, Fresno, Calif. The incident is under investigation.

14

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Petty Officer 2nd Class Laquita Pate James, 23, of Orange Park, Fla., died Feb. 12 of apparent natural causes while deployed aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship the USS Bataan. The cause of death is under investigation. James was a Navy master-at-arms supporting operations off the Horn of Africa aboard the USS Bataan.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Nickolas A. Tanton, 24, of San Antonio, died Feb. 13 in Kirkuk, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The incident is under investigation.

15

The Department of Defense announced today the classification of five Marines that died Feb. 7 in a helicopter crash to killed in action. The crash was determined to be a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Capt. Jennifer J. Harris, 1st Lt. Jared M. Landaker, Sgt. Travis D. Pfister, and Sgt. James R. Tijerina were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Cpl. Thomas E. Saba was assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

16

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Branden C. Cummings, 20, of Titusville, Fla., died Feb. 14 in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle during combat operations. Cummings was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Military grants more waivers to recruits

February 13, 2007

by Lolita C. Baldor

AP

WASHINGTON - The Army and Marine Corps are letting in more recruits with criminal records, including some with felony convictions, reflecting the increased pressure of five years of war and its mounting casualties.

According to data compiled by the Defense Department, the number of Army and Marine recruits needing waivers for felonies and serious misdemeanors, including minor drug offenses, has grown since 2003. The Army granted more than double the number of waivers for felonies and misdemeanors in 2006 than it did in 2003. Some recruits may get more than one waiver.

The military routinely grants waivers to admit recruits who have criminal records, medical problems or low aptitude scores that would otherwise disqualify them from service. Overall the majority are moral waivers, which include some felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic and drug offenses.

The number of felony waivers granted by the Army grew from 411 in 2003 to 901 in 2006, according to the Pentagon , or about one in 10 of the moral waivers approved that year. Other misdemeanors, which could be petty theft, writing a bad check or some assaults, jumped from about 2,700 to more than 6,000 in 2006. The minor crimes represented more than three-quarters of the moral waivers granted by the Army in 2006, up from more than half in 2003.

Army and Defense Department officials defended the waiver program as a way to admit young people who may have made a mistake early in life but have overcome past behavior. And they said about two-thirds of the waivers granted by the Marines are for drug use, because they- unlike the other services-k requires a waiver if someone has been convicted once for marijuana use.

Lawmakers and other observers say they are concerned that the struggle to fill the military ranks in this time of war has forced the services to lower their moral standards.

"The data is crystal clear. Our armed forces are under incredible strain and the only way that they can fill their recruiting quotas is by lowering their standards," said Rep. Marty Meehan (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., who has been working to get additional data from the Pentagon. "By lowering standards, we are endangering the rest of our armed forces and sending the wrong message to potential recruits across the country."

Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Tuesday he is concerned because the Pentagon data differs from Army numbers. But overall, he said, "anything that is considered a risk or a serious infraction of the law is given the highest level of review."

"Our goal is to make certain that we recruit quality young men and women who can keep America defended against its enemies," Boyce said.

The data was obtained through a federal information request and released by the California-based Michael D. Palm Center, a think tank that studies military issues.

"The fact that the military has allowed more than 100,000 people with such troubled pasts to join its ranks over the past three years illustrates the problem we're having meeting our military needs in this time of war," said Aaron Belkin, director of the center.

Belkin said a new study commissioned by the center also concludes that the military does not have any programs that help convicted felons adjust to military life.

In recent years, as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have dragged on, the military has also relaxed some standards in order to meet recruitment demands. The Army, for example, increased its age limit for recruits from 35 to 42, and is accepting more people whose scores on a standardized aptitude test are at the lower end of the acceptable range.

In its report, the Pentagon said, "The waiver process recognizes that some young people have made mistakes, have overcome their past behavior, and have clearly demonstrated the potential for being productive, law-abiding citizens and members of the military."

According to the Pentagon, nearly a quarter of new military recruits needed some type of waiver in 2006, up from 20 percent in 2003. Roughly 30,000 moral waivers were approved each year between 2003 and 2006.

The military in its report divides moral waivers into six categories: felonies, serious and minor non-traffic offenses, serious and minor traffic offenses and drug offenses. Because many states have different crimes categorized as a felony or misdemeanor, the groupings are more general.

About one in five Army recruits needed a waiver to enlist in 2006, up from 12.7 percent in 2003. In addition, the report showed that the Army granted substantially fewer waivers for drug use and serious traffic violations last year than in 2003.

More than half of the Marine recruits needed a waiver in 2006, a bit higher than in 2003, and largely due to their more strict drug requirements. Felony waivers made up about 2 percent of the Marine waivers, while other lesser crimes made up about 25 percent, both up slightly from 2003.

About 18 percent of Navy recruits required a waiver, up only slightly from 2003. Two-thirds of the waivers granted by the Navy were for misdemeanor-type crimes and about 5 percent were for felonies.

Just 8 percent of Air Force recruits had waivers, down a bit from 2003. Nearly all of the waivers were for the misdemeanor-type crimes.

Iraq's Death Toll is Far Worse Than Our Leaders Admit

The US and Britain have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide

February 14, 2007

by Les Roberts

Independent

On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq.

The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have pointed out the absurdity of this statement.

There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous.

Secondly, there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000 deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population of Iraq. The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not consistent with a 10 per cent rise in death rate above the baseline.

And finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The Lancet, Europe's most prestigious medical journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10.

There are several reasons why the governments involved in this conflict have been able to confuse the issue of Iraqi deaths. Our Lancet report involved sampling and statistical analysis, which is rather dry reading. Media reports always miss most deaths in times of war, so the estimate by the media-based monitoring system, Iraqbodycount.org (IBC) roughly corresponds with the Iraq government's figures. Repeated evaluations of deaths identified from sources independent of the press and the Ministry of Health show the IBC listing to be less than 10 per cent complete, but because it matches the reports of the governments involved, it is easily referenced.

Several other estimates have placed the death toll far higher than the Iraqi government estimates, but those have received less press attention. When in 2005, a UN survey reported that 90 per cent of violent attacks in Scotland were not recorded by the police, no one, not even the police, disputed this finding. Representative surveys are the next best thing to a census for counting deaths, and nowhere but Iraq have partial tallies from morgues and hospitals been given such credence when representative survey results are available.

The Pentagon will not release information about deaths induced or amounts of weaponry used in Iraq. On 9 January of this year, the embedded Fox News reporter Brit Hume went along for an air attack, and we learned that at least 25 targets were bombed that day with almost no reports of the damage appearing in the press.

Saddam Hussein's surveillance network, which only captured one third of all deaths before the invasion, has certainly deteriorated even further. During last July, there were numerous televised clashes in Anbar, yet the system recorded exactly zero violent deaths from the province. The last Minister of Health to honestly assess the surveillance network, Dr Ala'din Alwan, admitted that it was not reporting from most of the country by August 2004. He was sacked months later after, among other things, reports appeared based on the limited government data suggesting that most violent deaths were associated with coalition forces.

The consequences of downplaying the number of deaths in Iraq are profound for both the UK and the US. How can the Americans have a surge of troops to secure the population and promise success when the coalition cannot measure the level of security to within a factor of 10? How can the US and Britain pretend they understand the level of resentment in Iraq if they are not sure if, on average, one in 80 families have lost a household member, or one in seven, as our study suggests?

If these two countries have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide, and have actively worked to mask this fact, how will they credibly be able to criticise Sudan or Zimbabwe or the next government that kills thousands of its own people?

For longer than the US has been a nation, Britain has pushed us at our worst of moments to do the right thing. That time has come again with regard to Iraq. It is wrong to be the junior partner in an endeavour rigged to deny the next death induced, and to have spokespeople effectively respond to that death with disinterest and denial.

Our nations' leaders are collectively expressing belligerence at a time when the populace knows they should be expressing contrition. If that cannot be corrected, Britain should end its role in this deteriorating misadventure. It is unlikely that any historians will record the occupation of Iraq in a favourable light. Britain followed the Americans into this débâcle. Wouldn't it be better to let history record that Britain led them out?

The writer is an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

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The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., February 16, 2006: “There may be a concept of freedom of the press but the American media is certainly a controlled entity. As much of the print and television media is controlled by Jewish interests we never see criticism of Israel but we do see attacks on their enemies, such as Iraq and Iran. If a Palestinian sets off a bomb in Israel, the press is filled with it but if the IDF is thrashed in battles with the Hezbollah or sets fire to an Arab day care center, it never sees the light of day on this side of the Atlantic.

Members of AIPAC stealing secrets? Back page if at all. But “evil Iran” (who might bomb Israel with an atomic weapon) is constantly on the front page.

There was an AIPAC, ADL plan to get Congress to establish a national U.S. holiday dedicated to “Holocaust Remembrance” but it has been decided to put that one on ice for awhile.

Israel is pestering the White House and its co-religionists in Congress to support an attack on Iran but the public, the final arbiter after all, won’t buy the rationale invented by the Neocons, championed by the lunatic Cheney and mouthpieced by an increasingly hysterical and nasty president.

Our first president, George Washington, suggested that America maintain strict neutrality, keep out of foreign quarrels and sell to everyone. That never went anywhere, did it?

If you want to know what is really going on in the world, read the foreign press internet sites: British, French, Canadian and even Russian (and Arabic as well) give you a truly balanced and well-informed view that you never get from the domestic media.

This toeing the official line is not an accident but it is obvious why subscriptions to the once-mighty newspapers have tanked. Trailer park people love to watch the repulsive and shrill Nancy Grace shrieking for hours or Bill O’Reilly acting as a poster boy for euthanasia but for news, go elsewhere. And besides, it’s entirely free!”