The Times of London UK

Woman Who Recruited Female Suicide Bombers Arrested

A middle-aged woman suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has been arrested in Iraq, a senior officer said today.

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President Barack Obama Moves to Halt Guantanamo Trials

Barack Obama has wasted no time in getting down to the business of government, asking prosecutors to halt controversial military trials at Guantanamo Bay within hours of his inauguration.

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Sarah Palin Linked Her Electoral Success to Prayer of Kenyan Witch Hunter

The pastor whose prayer Sarah Palin says helped her to become governor of Alaska founded his ministry with a witch hunt against a Kenyan woman whom he accused of causing car accidents through demonic spells.

At a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God on June 8 this year, Palin described how Thomas Muthee had laid his hands on her when he visited the church as a guest preacher in late 2005, prior to her successful gubernatorial bid.

In video footage of the speech, she is seen saying: "As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he's so bold. And he was praying "Lord make a way, Lord make a way."

"And I'm thinking, this guy's really bold, he doesn't even know what I'm going to do, he doesn't know what my plans are. And he's praying not "Oh Lord, if it be your will may she become governor," no, he just prayed for it. He said, "Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that's exactly what happened."

She then adds: "So, again, very, very powerful, coming from this church," before the presiding pastor comments on the "prophetic power" of the event.

An African evangelist, Muthee has given guest sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God on at least 10 occasions in his role as the founder of the Word of Faith Church, also known as the Prayer Cave.

Muthee founded the Prayer Cave in 1989 in Kiambu, Kenya, after "God spoke" to him and his late wife, Margaret, and called him to the country, according to the church's Web site.

The pastor speaks of his offensive against a demonic presence in the town in a trailer for the evangelical video "Transformations," made by Sentinel Group, a Christian research and information agency.

"We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place," Muthee says.

After the spirit was broken, the crime rate dropped to almost zero and there was "explosive church growth" while almost every bar in the town closed down, the video says.

The full "Transformations" video featuring Muthee's story has recently been removed from YouTube, but the rest of the story is detailed in a 1999 article in the Christian Science Monitor, as well as on numerous evangelical Web sites.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a "divination" center called the Emmanuel Clinic.

Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town's ills and order her to offer her up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.

Says the Monitor, "Muthee held a crusade that 'brought about 200 people to Christ.'" They set up around-the-clock prayer intercession in the basement of a grocery store and eventually, says the pastor, "the demonic influence -- the 'principality' over Kiambu -- was broken," and Mama Jane fled the town.

According to accounts of the witch hunt that circulated on evangelical Web sites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python they believed to be a demon.

After Mama Jane was questioned by police -- and released -- she decided it was time to leave town, the account says.

Muthee has frequently referred to this witch hunt in his sermons as an example of the power of "spiritual warfare." In October 2005, he delivered 10 sermons at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the audio of which was available on the church's Web site until it was removed around the time Palin's candidacy was announced. The blog Irregular Times has listings and screen grabs of the sermons.

It was during these sermons that Palin, who was then preparing for her gubernatorial run, was anointed by Muthee. His intercession, she says, was "awesome."

Her June 8 speech was to mark the graduation of students from the Wasilla Assembly of God's Masters' Commission, which, as Pastor Ed Kalins explains, believes Alaska will be the refuge for American evangelicals upon the coming "End of Days." After her speech, Palin was presented with an honorary Masters' Commission diploma.

Ecstasy Is the Key to Treating PTSD

At last the incurably traumatized may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And controversially, the key to taming their demons is the 'killer' drug Ecstasy

An Ecstasy tablet. That's what it took to make Donna Kilgore feel alive again that and the doctor who prescribed it. As the pill began to take effect, she giggled for the first time in ages. She felt warm and fuzzy, as if she was floating. The anxiety melted away. Gradually, it all became clear: the guilt, the anger, the shame.

Before, she'd been frozen, unable to feel anything but fear for 10 years. Touching her own arms was, she says, "like touching a corpse." She was terrified, unable to respond to her loving husband or rock her baby to sleep. She couldn't drive over bridges for fear of dying, was by turns uncontrollably angry and paralyzed with numbness. When she spoke, she heard her voice as if it were miles away; her head felt detached from her body. "It was like living in a movie but watching myself through the camera lens,"she says. "I wasn't real."

Unknowingly, Donna, now 39, had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And she would become the first subject in a pioneering American research program to test the effects of MDMA otherwise known as the dancefloor drug Ecstasy on PTSD sufferers.

Some doctors believe MDMA could be the key to solving previously untreatable deep-rooted traumas. For a hard core of PTSD cases, no amount of antidepressants or psychotherapy can rid them of the horror of systematic abuse or a bad near-death experience, and the slightest reminder triggers vivid flashbacks.

PTSD-specific psychotherapy has always been based on the idea that the sufferer must be guided back to the pivotal moment of that trauma the crash, the battlefield, the moment of rape and relive it before they can move on and begin to heal. But what if that trauma is insurmountable? What if a person is so horrified by their experience that even to think of revisiting it can bring on hysterics? After hysterics, the Home Office estimates that 11,000 clubbers take Ecstasy every weekend. Could MDMA the illegal class-A rave drug, found in the system of Leah Betts when she died in 1995, and over 200 others since really help? Dr Michael Mithoefer, the psychiatrist from South Carolina who struggled for years to get funding and permission for the study, believes so. Some regard his study approved by the US government as irresponsible, dangerous even. But Mithoefer's results tell a different story.

MDMA was patented in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck. To begin with, it was merely an intermediate chemical used in creating a drug to control bleeding. In the 1920s MDMA was used in studies on blood glucose as a substitute for adrenaline. The Merck chemist Max Oberlin concluded that it would be worth "keeping an eye on this field." Still, no further studies were carried out until 1952, when the chemist Dr Albert van Schoor tested the toxicity of MDMA on flies. "Flies lie in supine position, then death," he recorded.

MDMA's therapeutic potential wasn't realised until 1976, when the American chemist Alexander Shulgin tried it on himself. He noted that its effect, "an easily controlled altered state of consciousness with emotional and sensual overtones," could be ideal for psychotherapy, as it induced a state of openness and trust without hallucination or paranoia. It quickly became known as a wonder drug, and began to be used widely in couples therapy and for treating anxiety disorders. None of these tests was "empirical" in the scientific sense no placebos, no follow-up testing but anecdotally the results were almost entirely positive.

Word, and supplies, of the new "love drug" got out, and in the early 1980s it became popular in the fashionable clubs of Dallas, LA and London, where it was known as Ecstasy, X or "dolphins." As use became widespread, the US authorities panicked, and by 1985 MDMA was an illegal, schedule-1 drug. UK laws were even tighter: MDMA, illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, was categorised class A in 1977, carrying a sentence of up to seven years for possession.

Criminalization put paid to MDMA research almost overnight, at least until Mithoefer's current program began. But it didn't stop the ravers. The drug was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s for its energizing, euphoric effects. There are no official figures for that period, but the UK Home Office estimates that in 2006/7, between 236,000 and 341,000 people in the UK took Ecstasy. Experts say the drug is far less fashionable now than in its heyday in 1988, the second so-called "summer of love."

The MDMA used in the studies the drug Dr Mithoefer gave Donna and other patients was the pure chemical compound, not the black-market Ecstasy bought by recreational users. " A lot of Ecstasy pills aren't MDMA at all," says Steve Rolles of the drug-policy reform group Transform. "They may be amphetamines, or unknown pharmaceuticals, or they can be cut with almost any drug in pill or powder form. That's when you magnify risks associated with taking a drug that's already toxic. Plus, people use it irresponsibly, mixing it with other drugs, not drinking enough water or drinking too much."

The images of Leah Betts and Lorna Spinks lying in hospital on life-support, bloodied and bloated, are familiar to all of us we know drugs cost lives. But has MDMA's reputation been tarnished so badly that its potential medical value has been overshadowed? That question is the reason that Donna agreed to speak to The Sunday Times about her MDMA treatment. "It's so important people know what it did for me, what it could do for others," she says. Her voice trembles: it isn't easy to talk about what she went through.

In 1993, Donna was brutally raped. She was a single parent living in a small town in Alaska, working as a dental nurse for the Air Force. She was due to work an early shift the next day and her two-year-old daughter was staying with a friend for the night. She was alone at home. At midnight she opened the door to a stranger who said he was looking for his dog. He asked if her husband was at home, and a second's hesitation was enough. He burst in, backing her up against the fireplace in the living room. Donna picked up a poker to defend herself. He said: "If you co-operate, I won't kill you. I've got a gun." And he reached into his jacket.

"I dropped the poker and that was it,"she says. "I thought, this is how I'm going to die. No life flashed before my eyes, I didn't think about my daughter. Just death. I left my body and I stayed that way. The next thing I remember, the cops were coming through the door with a dog."

She endured the rape with her eyes squeezed shut. That she hadn't physically struggled would later form a large part of the guilt and shame that contributed to her PTSD. "I guess a lot of women would say, Someone would have to kill me before I'd let that happen.' Well, I did what I thought I had to do to survive," she says. When she heard a shuffle of feet outside the door she screamed for all she was worth. Her attacker beat her. Two policemen, probably alerted by a neighbor, broke down the door and arrested the man, then drove Donna to the Air Force hospital where she worked. "Of course it was full of people who knew me," she says. "It was completely embarrassing. And after that, nobody knew what to say. People avoided me, they looked at me funny. It was miserable."

Afterwards, convinced that getting on with life was the best thing for herself and her child, Donna carried on as usual. She was embarrassed that people who knew her also knew about the rape, particularly as she was still working at the hospital. But she couldn't remember much of the attack itself, and didn't try. So she was surprised when, four years later, her symptoms started to kick in. "I had no idea it was PTSD. I couldn't understand why I was so angry, why I was having nightmares, flashbacks, fainting spells, migraine, why I felt so awful, like my body was stuffed with cotton wool. Things had been going so good."

She started drinking heavily and went from relationship to relationship, finding men hard to trust and get close to. Convinced that she was dying and wouldn't live to see her next birthday, she went to the Air Force psychiatrist. " And that's where it started take this pill, that pill. I've been on every kind of antidepressant Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil. Wellbutrin made me feel suicidal. Prozac did the same. The pills were just masking the symptoms, I wasn't getting any better."

Yet she met her "soul mate," Steve, and married him in 2000. "When I first saw him I thought, This is the man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.' We were like one person, finishing each other's sentences,"she says. They muddled along, with Donna putting on a brave face. She had two more children. But getting close wasn't easy: "The longer we were married, the worse I got."

Once, Steve and Donna were watching TV when she had a vivid flashback to the night she was raped. "I looked at the door, I saw it open, and that feeling came over me all over again.

I thought, My God, why won't this go away?' Steve tried to understand, but unless you've been through this, you don't know what it's like."

Donna moved to South Carolina in 2002 when Steve also in the services was posted there. She began seeing a psychiatrist called Dr Marcet, who diagnosed her with PTSD and attributed it to the rape. It helped to know that whatever it was had a name and a cause: "I was like, why hasn't anybody told me this before?"It was Marcet who referred her to the Mithoefers.

Donna had never taken Ecstasy before. "I was a little afraid, but I was desperate. I had to have some kind of relief. I didn't want to live any more. This was no way to wake up every morning. So I met Dr Mithoefer. I said, Doctor, I will do anything short of a lobotomy. I need to get better.' "That's how, in March 2004, Donna became the first of Mithoefer's subjects in the MDMA study. Lying on a futon, with Mithoefer on one side of her and his wife, Annie, a psychiatric nurse, on the other, talking softly to her, she swallowed the small white pill. It was her last hope.

"After 5 or 10 minutes, I started giggling and I said, I don't think I got the placebo," ' she recalls. "It was a fuzzy, relaxing, on-a-different-plane feeling. Kind of floaty. It was an awakening."For the first time Donna faced her fears. "I saw myself standing on top of a mountain looking down. You know you've got to go down the mountain and up the other side to get better. But there's so much fog down there, you're afraid of going into it. You know what's down there and it's horrible.

"What MDMA did was clear the fog so I could see. Down there was guilt, anger, shame, fear. And it wasn't so bad. I thought, I can do this. This fear is not going to kill me.' I remembered the rape from start to finish those memories I had repressed so deeply."Encouraged by the Mithoefers, Donna expressed her overwhelming love for her family, how she felt protected by their support and grateful for their love.

MDMA is well known for inducing these compassionate, "loved-up"feelings. For Donna, the experience was life-changing.

So what happened when she went home? Was she cured? She sighs. "I don't know if there's such a thing as a cure. But after the first session I got up the next day and went outside, and it was like walking into a crayon box everything was clear and bright. I did better in my job, in my marriage, with my kids. I had a feeling I'd never had before hope. I felt I could live instead of exist."

What makes MDMA so useful, Mithoefer believes, is the trust it establishes. "Many people with PTSD have a great deal of trouble trusting anybody, especially if they've been betrayed by someone who abused their trust, like a parent or a caregiver,"he says. "MDMA has this effect of lowering fear and defences. It also allows more compassion for oneself and for others. People can revisit the trauma, feel the original feelings but not be retraumatized, not feel overwhelmed or have to numb out to cope with it."

Before they can take part in Mithoefer's study, every participant undergoes rigorous testing. There are 21 participants per phase and the study is now in its second phase. First, they must be diagnosed with PTSD. Then its severity is measured on the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (Caps) it must be at least "moderately severe." They must be "treatment-resistant," meaning they have failed to respond to at least one other type of psychotherapy and also drug treatment with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant. They must sign a 20-page document giving informed consent; they cannot have an addiction, psychosis or bipolar disorder, because these conditions affect the ability to give consent. Then they have a physical examination, a full medical-history check and lab tests for cardiovascular disease.

After the screening, the patient has two 90-minute "preparatory sessions" with the Mithoefers, to begin to build trust and get an idea of what may lie ahead. "We make sure they understand that symptoms will be stirred up, that painful feelings will come before they feel better and that they should experience them as fully as they can, and express them, rather than blocking them out," Mithoefer says. "We have one rule: during the session they don't have to talk at all if they don't want to, or they can talk about anything they feel like. But if, after an hour, the trauma topic hasn't come up, we can bring it up. But it always does come up," he chuckles.

The patient lies on the futon in the Mithoefers' living-room-style office in Charleston, South Carolina. They wear eye shades to encourage introspection, and headphones through which relaxing music is played. Annie keeps an eye on the blood-pressure cuffs and temperature gauge. Mithoefer sits opposite, taking notes. Each patient is given a recording of their session afterwards.

The patient takes either a 125mg tablet of MDMA or a placebo pill, followed by a 62.5mg dose about two hours into the therapy session. The study is double-blind, so only the emergency nurse who carries the drugs from the safe to the office knows whether the patient is getting the drug. "We can always tell whether it's real or placebo. The patient can't some people thought they got MDMA when they didn't,"says Mithoefer. "But we're seeing very encouraging results. There's a real difference between placebo patients and patients who got MDMA, in terms of their ability to relive the trauma."

Michael and Annie Mithoefer "aren't your typical kind of therapists," says Donna. She was dubious about Michael's ponytail and sandals when they first met, but she is emotional as she talks about him now. "I don't think I've ever met two people who cared so much about people getting well. I'd see tears in their eyes when I told them what I went through."Three other former patients of the Mithoefers who contacted me about this article described them as "heroes," "pioneers," even "life-savers".

At the time the Mithoefers treated Donna, in March 2004, their study had been a long time in the pipeline. Convinced of MDMA's potential, Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), had been in and out of the courts seeking permission from the Food & Drug Administration for clinical research since 1984. Maps, a group set up to fund psychedelic research, agreed to fund Mithoefer's study in 2000. The next year the FDA approved it. Then approval was withdrawn because of research by the neurologist George Ricuarte, at Johns Hopkins University, claiming that MDMA was lethally toxic. Even a single use, he reported, could cause brain damage and possibly Parkinson's disease. Ricaurte retracted his findings in 2002 when it turned out that bottles had been mixed up and the monkeys used as subjects had received lethal doses of methamphetamine (speed), rather than MDMA. "It was incredibly frustrating,"Mithoefer says.

Mithoefer's study, which looks set to cost $1m by the time it finishes in four years' time, is scrupulously monitored. Doblin had 1,000g of MDMA made specially, each gram costing $4. Mithoefer had to obtain a licence from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which keeps track of exactly how much MDMA each license-holder has, and periodically checks the stocks for purity. A defibrillator must be kept in the building at all times in case of cardiac arrest, and an emergency nurse must be present during the treatment session. Once the study is complete, it will be subject to peer review. Then, all being well, Mithoefer hopes to see MDMA therapy available on prescription, administered in controlled surroundings, in 5 to 10 years.

Interest is growing in the UK too, but scientists admit it will take time to change hearts and minds. Dr Ben Sessa of Bristol University's Psychopharmacology Unit has been writing papers on MDMA therapy for two years. "The Mithoefers' struggle has been ludicrous," he says. "There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that it could be really useful in psychotherapy. There they are, qualified doctors with experience and medical backup, giving people this tiny dose of MDMA with safeguards in place. It took them 20 years for Maps to get it off the ground and it costs $1m. The irony is that thousands of people are taking this stuff every weekend and there's a 15-year-old on the street corner who'll sell it to you for a tenner."

Sessa would like to set up a program of research in the UK, pointing to the thousands who could benefit: "For severe, unremitting PTSD sufferers, it could be a lifeline. What they're seeing in the US is people who have suffered for years suddenly saying, Wow, for the first time in my life I can talk about this, I can live with it.' And these are not young ravers. They're people in their thirties, forties, fifties who have never taken drugs. It's quite remarkable."

But what about the potential for post-study abuse? Might someone who felt deflated after the elation of their MDMA session find the urge to self-medicate irresistible and pop to that 15-year-old on the corner for a quick fix? Not at all, says Sessa. "I prescribe Valium all the time, and when the course is finished the patient could go and buy Valium on the street, but they don't. Very few people are interested in recreational drugs."

I ask Donna the same question. "Would I take the drug again? Yes, definitely,"she says. "But not without a therapist. It's illegal."

Another former patient of Mithoefer's, a 42-year-old woman, had severe PTSD after being repeatedly and horrifically beaten and locked in a basement by her father during childhood. She wished to remain anonymous because she is still in contact with her parents. When I asked her the question, she replied: "I did it to get better, not to get high. Before the treatment, I would drink to hide my symptoms. But I don't want to get drunk now, let alone take drugs. I just don't need it any more."

The harmful effects of MDMA are still under investigation. The type of research that is carried out normally with animals or with recreational users who also take other drugs means that the exact levels of toxicity it causes are unknown. In 2006 Dr Maartje de Win of the University of Amsterdam published research showing that Ecstasy could cause depression, anxiety and long-term memory damage after one small dose. "We really don't know how much Ecstasy affects the brain in the long term," she says. "I would be very cautious about giving it therapeutically. We need to conduct much more research. And even then it should only be given as a last resort, after weighing the benefits against the risk of harm."

Sessa is adamant that research into MDMA is justified. "Look at heroin. It's a class-A drug that's dangerous when used recreationally, but it's used widely in medicine, and so it should be it's a very useful drug. Can you imagine saying to the UK Royal College of Anaesthetists, You can't use morphine or diamorphine [heroin] or pethidine or codeine or any opiate-based drugs because heroin is dangerous and people abuse it?' It's culturally bound. MDMA has been demonized."

In 2004, the most recent year for which there are records, 46 people died after taking Ecstasy, as against 8,221 alcohol-related deaths. And most of those who die with MDMA in their system have mixed it with substances such as alcohol or cannabis, which confounds the picture.

Earlier this year, the police chief for North Wales, Richard Brunstrom, called for the drug to be reclassified, claiming it was "safer than aspirin." He was widely shouted down, but Steve Rolles of Transform believes he may have a point. "It's not appropriate to have Ecstasy in class A. In terms of indicators of harm toxicity, mortality, addictiveness and antisocial behavior it's not comparable to heroin or cocaine. But the government won't reclassify it. Reclassifying cannabis [from class B to C] in 2004 caused years of grief from opposition parties and the media."

The UK minister for drugs policy, Vernon Coaker, declined to comment on reclassification for medical purposes, but a spokesman said: "The government has no intention of reclassifying Ecstasy. It can and does kill unpredictably; there is no such thing as a safe dose. We firmly believe it should remain a class-A drug. In addition, the government warns young people of the dangers of Ecstasy through the Frank campaign."

It does. But it also gives advice on safe Ecstasy use or "harm minimization." This is precisely the mixed message that Rolles believes is damaging. "Harm reduction is reducing the harm that's created by illegal supply in the first place,"he says. "So you have harm-reduction information within a legal framework that maximizes harm. It's a clear contradiction."

Then there is the problem of funding. MDMA therapy is based on the idea of a single treatment, or a course of treatment sessions, rather than long-term prescriptive use. This presents little or no benefit to drug companies that have huge budgets for research as long as there's a saleable product at the end. And if MDMA does prove effective, companies could stand to lose millions from lost sales of long-term antidepressants prescribed for PTSD.

Sessa says: "There's no financial incentive for the pharmaceutical companies to look into it. Psychotherapy is notoriously underfunded and discredited by the drug companies. It could benefit the government to look into MDMA, but their funding is a drop in the ocean next to a company like Pfizer's research budget. So who's going to pay for a multi-centre psychotherapy trial for 10,000 people the couch-makers?"

PTSD therapy currently costs the UK's National Health Service $28 million a year, and with more veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, that figure is set to rise. Last year, 1,200 new veterans sought treatment for PTSD from the organization Combat Stress, compared with 300 in the year 2000. But realistically, would the government ever sanction MDMA research? "It's not impossible, but it's improbable,"says Sessa. "It takes a very brave politician to look at the evidence and say, Well, there might be positive aspects to this class-A drug. Let's look into it.' It's a conceptual, social battle which won't be easy to win."

The Three Trillion Dollar War

The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.

The cost of direct US military operations -- not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans -- already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.

And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion. With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.

Most Americans have yet to feel these costs. The price in blood has been paid by our voluntary military and by hired contractors. The price in treasure has, in a sense, been financed entirely by borrowing. Taxes have not been raised to pay for it -- in fact, taxes on the rich have actually fallen. Deficit spending gives the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed, that we can have both guns and butter. But of course the laws are not repealed. The costs of the war are real even if they have been deferred, possibly to another generation.

On the eve of war, there were discussions of the likely costs. Larry Lindsey, President Bush's economic adviser and head of the National Economic Council, suggested that they might reach $200 billion. But this estimate was dismissed as "baloney" by the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. His deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, suggested that postwar reconstruction could pay for itself through increased oil revenues. Mitch Daniels, the Office of Management and Budget director, and Secretary Rumsfeld estimated the costs in the range of $50 to $60 billion, a portion of which they believed would be financed by other countries. (Adjusting for inflation, in 2007 dollars, they were projecting costs of between $57 and $69 billion.) The tone of the entire administration was cavalier, as if the sums involved were minimal.

Even Lindsey, after noting that the war could cost $200 billion, went on to say: "The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy." In retrospect, Lindsey grossly underestimated both the costs of the war itself and the costs to the economy. Assuming that Congress approves the rest of the $200 billion war supplemental requested for fiscal year 2008, as this book goes to press Congress will have appropriated a total of over $845 billion for military operations, reconstruction, embassy costs, enhanced security at US bases, and foreign aid programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the fifth year of the war draws to a close, operating costs (spending on the war itself, what you might call "running expenses") for 2008 are projected to exceed $12.5 billion a month for Iraq alone, up from $4.4 billion in 2003, and with Afghanistan the total is $16 billion a month. Sixteen billion dollars is equal to the annual budget of the United Nations, or of all but 13 of the US states. Even so, it does not include the $500 billion we already spend per year on the regular expenses of the Defense Department. Nor does it include other hidden expenditures, such as intelligence gathering, or funds mixed in with the budgets of other departments.

Because there are so many costs that the Administration does not count, the total cost of the war is higher than the official number. For example, government officials frequently talk about the lives of our soldiers as priceless. But from a cost perspective, these "priceless" lives show up on the Pentagon ledger simply as $500,000 -- the amount paid out to survivors in death benefits and life insurance. After the war began, these were increased from $12,240 to $100,000 (death benefit) and from $250,000 to $400,000 (life insurance). Even these increased amounts are a fraction of what the survivors might have received had these individuals lost their lives in a senseless automobile accident. In areas such as health and safety regulation, the US Government values a life of a young man at the peak of his future earnings capacity in excess of

$7 million -- far greater than the amount that the military pays in death benefits. Using this figure, the cost of the nearly 4,000 American troops killed in Iraq adds up to some $28 billion.

The costs to society are obviously far larger than the numbers that show up on the government's budget. Another example of hidden costs is the understating of US military casualties. The Defense Department's casualty statistics focus on casualties that result from hostile (combat) action -- as determined by the military. Yet if a soldier is injured or dies in a night-time vehicle accident, this is officially dubbed "non combat related" -- even though it may be too unsafe for soldiers to travel during daytime.

In fact, the Pentagon keeps two sets of books. The first is the official casualty list posted on the DOD website. The second, hard-to-find, set of data is available only on a different website and can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. This data shows that the total number of soldiers who have been wounded, injured, or suffered from disease is double the number wounded in combat. Some will argue that a percentage of these non-combat injuries might have happened even if the soldiers were not in Iraq. Our new research shows that the majority of these injuries and illnesses can be tied directly to service in the war.

From the unhealthy brew of emergency funding, multiple sets of books, and chronic underestimates of the resources required to prosecute the war, we have attempted to identify how much we have been spending -- and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions. They are conceptually simple, even if occasionally technically complicated. A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.

From the beginning, the United Kingdom has played a pivotal role -- strategic, military, and political -- in the Iraq conflict. Militarily, the UK contributed 46,000 troops, 10 per cent of the total. Unsurprisingly, then, the British experience in Iraq has paralleled that of America: rising casualties, increasing operating costs, poor transparency over where the money is going, overstretched military resources, and scandals over the squalid conditions and inadequate medical care for some severely wounded veterans.

Before the war, Gordon Brown set aside £1 billion for war spending. As of late 2007, the UK had spent an estimated £7 billion in direct operating expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan (76 percent of it in Iraq). This includes money from a supplemental "special reserve", plus additional spending from the Ministry of Defense.

The special reserve comes on top of the UK's regular defense budget. The British system is particularly opaque: funds from the special reserve are "drawn down" by the Ministry of Defense when required, without specific approval by Parliament. As a result, British citizens have little clarity about how much is actually being spent.

In addition, the social costs in the UK are similar to those in the US -- families who leave jobs to care for wounded soldiers, and diminished quality of life for those thousands left with disabilities.

By the same token, there are macroeconomic costs to the UK as there have been to America, though the long-term costs may be less, for two reasons. First, Britain did not have the same policy of fiscal profligacy; and second, until 2005, the United Kingdom was a net oil exporter.

We have assumed that British forces in Iraq are reduced to 2,500 this year and remain at that level until 2010. We expect that British forces in Afghanistan will increase slightly, from 7,000 to 8,000 in 2008, and remain stable for three years. The House of Commons Defense Committee has recently found that despite the cut in troop levels, Iraq war costs will increase by 2 percent this year and personnel costs will decrease by only 5 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of military operations in Afghanistan is due to rise by 39 per ent. The estimates in our model may be significantly too low if these patterns continue.

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