Daily Archives: October 30, 2011

Prosecution for war zone crime a “boom industry”

Prosecutions going up for war zone crime

More people are being indicted and convicted by the US for bribery, theft and other reconstruction-related crimes

MSNBC | Oct 30, 2011

By PAULINE JELINEK

WASHINGTON — A Marine in Iraq sent home $43,000 in stolen cash by hiding it in a footlocker among American flags. A soldier shipped thousands more concealed in a toy stuffed animal. An embassy employee tricked the State Department into wiring $240,000 into his foreign bank account.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the number of people indicted and convicted by the U.S. for bribery, theft and other reconstruction-related crimes in both countries is rapidly rising, according to two government reports released Sunday.

“This is a boom industry for us,” Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in an interview.

“Investigators and auditors had a productive quarter,” said a report on the theft of Afghanistan aid by Steven Trent, who holds the same job for Afghanistan. His report covered August through October.

In the past 13 months U.S. investigators in Iraq secured the indictments of 22 people for alleged aid-related offenses, bringing to 69 the total since the SIGIR office was created in 2004. Convictions stand at 57. Several hundred more suspects are under scrutiny in 102 open investigations and those numbers are expected to climb.

The rise in caseloads derives partly from spinoff investigations, where suspects facing prosecution lead investigators to other suspects, said Jon Novak, SIGIR’s assistant inspector general for investigations.

“More and more people are ratting out their associates,” he said, turning in conspirators who helped launder money after it was stolen, others who were aware of it and others implicated in the crimes.

As investigators gain experience, they’re received better information from a growing network of sources in Iraq, said Dan Willkens, Novak’s deputy. Development of an automated data-mining system for investigations has helped, he said, as did a decision two years ago to speed prosecutions by hiring three former assistant U.S. attorneys and detailing them to the Department of Justice.

At the inspector general’s office for Afghan reconstruction, created in 2008, officials report only nine indictments and seven convictions so far. They say they’re trying to ramp up after years of upheaval and charges the office was mismanaged. Trent was named acting inspector general after his predecessor left in August and is the third person to hold the job.

Still, Trent reported that during the last quarter, an investigation initiated by his office netted the largest bribery case in Afghanistan’s 10-year war. A former Army Reserve captain, Sidharth “Tony” Handa of Charlotte, N.C., was convicted, sentenced to prison and fined for soliciting $1.3 million in bribes from contractors working on reconstruction projects.

Most crimes uncovered by U.S. investigators in the two war zones include bribery, kickbacks and theft, inspired in part by the deep and pervasive cultures of corruption indigenous to the countries themselves.
Story: US is planning buildup in Gulf after Iraq exit

Among some of the cases listed in the reports were those of:

Gunnery Sgt. Eric Hamilton, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in what prosecutors say was a scheme to help Iraqi contractors steal 70 generators that were meant to supply electricity for fellow Marines. He sent some of their payments home in a footlocker and had other money wired, the report said.

Several U.S. government employees, who received kickbacks for steering contracts to local conspirators and providing inside information to people competing for contracts. A former army sergeant, who was not identified, is charged with pocketing more than $12,000 in cash that a contractor never picked up after the money was allegedly stolen by another army sergeant and mailed to California inside a stuffed animal.

Jordanian national and U.S. Embassy employee Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh, who was convicted in April for stealing nearly $240,000 intended to cover shipping and customs charges the State Department incurs when it moves household goods of its employees. The money wound up in Ayesh’s bank in Jordan.

Money stolen from reconstruction projects also has been shipped off of U.S. battlefields tucked into letters home and stuffed in a military vest. Tens of thousands of dollars were once sewn into a Santa Claus suit.

Prosecutors have retrieved some of the money. More than $83 million will be returned to the U.S. from Iraq cases completed in the budget year that ended Sept. 30, bringing the total recovered over the last seven years to nearly $155 million, Bowen’s office said.

As well as stolen cash, the total includes court-ordered restitution, fines and proceeds from the sale of merchandise seized from those convicted, including Rolex watches, luxury cars, plasma TVs and houses.

Prosecutions by Trent’s office recovered $51 million over the past year, his report said.

But the amount recovered is believed to be a tiny fraction of what’s been stolen in the two war zones, a figure that will probably never be known for certain. Far more money is believed to have been lost through waste and abuse that resulted from poor management and the often-questioned U.S. strategy of trying to rebuild nations that are still at war.

The U.S. has committed $62 billion to rebuilding Iraq and $72 billion for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The independent Commission on Wartime Contracting estimated in August that at least $31 billion has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, adding that the total could be as high as $60 billion. It studied not just reconstruction spending, but $206 billion for the logistical support of coalition forces and the performance of security functions.

The commission found that from 10 to 20 percent of the $206 billion in spending was wasted, while fraud accounted for the loss of another 5 to 9 percent.

Bowen called the cost of fraud “egregious.”

“This is open crime occurring in a war zone,” he said. “And the purpose of a lot of these expenditures is to win hearts and minds. Obviously we lose hearts and minds” when local populations see foreigners steal money meant to help rebuild their country.

The inspectors general are only two of the U.S. government offices looking into fraud, waste and abuse. Others include State Department inspectors and Army criminal investigators.

Norway massacre: Why ferry rescued future prime minister hopeful leaving victims stranded now under investigation


The movements of the ferry “MS Thorbjørn” have come under investigation in the aftermath of the massacre on the island of Utøya. The island can be seen in the background. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

On board was Eskil Pedersen, leader of Labour’s youth organization AUF (Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking), which owns Utøya and the ferry. He and eight others escaped the shooting, and after taking what’s been described as an unusual route, the ferry landed at the farm of a friend of its captain.

Utøya ferry’s role now under probe

newsinenglish.no | Oct 27, 2011

Mainstream media outlets in Norway are finally tackling a highly sensitive question that many Labour Party officials and survivors of the massacre on the island of Utøya would rather ignore: Why did the lone ferry serving the island sail away when the shooting started, with only nine persons on board? Among them was the leader of Labour’s youth organization, who many view as a future candidate for prime minister.

The question has actually circulated for months, ever since gunman Anders Behring Breivik shot and killed 69 persons, wounded scores more and traumatized hundreds of others. Breivik had taken the ferry over to the island, disguised as a police officer. Shortly after he started firing upon arrival, the ferry called MS Thorbjørn backed away from the island and sailed off.

On board was Eskil Pedersen, leader of Labour’s youth organization AUF (Arbeidernes ungdomsfylking), which owns Utøya and the ferry. He and eight others escaped the shooting, and after taking what’s been described as an unusual route, the ferry landed at the farm of a friend of its captain. VG Nett reported on Friday that it allegedly grounded there, with the captain’s friend now saying the grounding hindered the ferry’s ability to help pluck massacre survivors out of the water as they desperately tried to swim to shore.


Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (C) hugs the leader of Labour Party’s youth organization Eskil Pedersen (2nd R) during a memorial gathering, organized by the Norwegian Labour party and its youth organisation AUF for the victims of last Friday’s attacks, in Oslo July 29, 2011. Flags around the nation flew at half mast to mark a day of memorial one week after Anders Breivik set off a bomb in central Oslo that killed 8 people. He then shot 68 people at a summer camp for youths of the ruling Labour Party. Reuters Pictures

The ferry thus wasn’t used to help others get off the island while the shooting went on, and this week, the head of the state commission probing the terrorist attacks said its movements would be investigated. “We’re working very hard to track what happened when, and who had the opportunity to make the decisions taken,” commission leader Alexandra Bech Gjørv told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The commission will also evaluate AUF’s evacuation plans and plans for securing buildings on Utøya, reported NRK, adding that the nine persons on board the ferry included six AUF leaders and three crew members.

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“We’re looking at all the boats that were available, to what degree they were involved or could have been involved,” she said. “Thorbjørn was in the area, and it’s natural to see it as part of the whole.”

Gjørv’s attention to the issue is what seems to have unleashed the flurry of media coverage this week about the flight of the ferry. Until now, the subject has mostly only been covered in online news services like Nettavisen and among bloggers who have been highly critical of Pedersen’s role. One local editor said there’s been a form of taboo around the issue, and he described some of the online debate as showing a lack of compassion and understanding for the extraordinary situation the AUF leaders were in.  Nettavisen itself attracted some harsh criticism when it raised questions back in August, with the editor of Stavanger Aftenblad later claiming that survivors of Utøya shouldn’t have to answer for what could have been done differently.

Others disagree, suggesting Pedersen and his AUF colleagues should explain why they sailed away and failed to take part in rescue efforts. It wasn’t until later that night, after the shooting was long over, that the ferry was put into service to transport survivors back to the mainland.

Pedersen, who made several public speeches and was widely viewed as a hero in the days immediately following the terrorist attacks,  hasn’t wanted to answer questions or comment on the issue. Newspaper Aftenposten, which devoted a full page to a story on the ferry questions Thursday, noted that Pedersen earlier has referred to the “shock” of the shootings and feelings of paralysis on board the ferry. Its captain had just seen his own wife shot and killed, and had two children left on the island.

Some AUF members have said there were fears Pedersen himself was a target, that more gunmen may be waiting at the ferry pier on the mainland (hence the detour to the farm) and that everyone had to think about saving themselves. “We understand why they did what they did,” Lars Vidar Brendeland of AUF told Aftenposten. He thinks Pedersen has been cast in a bad light, and AUF doesn’t want that.

It doesn’t help, though, that Pedersen and AUF colleagues have tried to suppress some media coverage of the aftermath of the attacks, and also didn’t want media to accompany the commission when its members visited Utøya recently. Many are advocating the openness that Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg himself has urged, and contend AUF must answer questions. “The truth must come out even if it can be uncomfortable,” survivor Jorid Holstad Normelan, age 20, told Aftenposten. She was surprised the commission leader brought up the issue in the media this week.

“Regardless, this is a topic that’s been difficult and uncomfortable for AUF to talk about,” Normelan said. “We haven’t been able to bear it.”

Higher prices boost Big Oil profits as production slows


This May 5, 2011 file photo shows gasoline prices of $5.09 USD displayed at an Exxon station in Washington, DC. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy company, on October 27, 2011 posted a 41 percent profit jump for the second consecutive quarter as sales soared. Net earnings rose to $10.33 billion, or $2.13 per share, in the July-September period, the company said. Sales increased 31.5 percent from a year ago to $125.33 billion, outstripping analyst forecasts of $113.56 billion. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Associated Press | Oct 29, 2011

By CHRIS KAHN

Higher oil prices have masked a slowdown in production among the biggest oil companies.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP reported a surge in quarterly profits this week even though they’re producing less oil from fields around the world, including a combined 7 percent decline in the third quarter that just ended. Each company has devoted billions of dollars to finding new petroleum deposits, but it could be years, even decades, before those investments translate to more oil and natural gas.

Experts say smaller companies will need to step up to satisfy growing world demand. China, India and other developing nations are expected to push the global appetite for oil to a record 90 million barrels per day next year, enough to outstrip supplies.

Three years ago, a severe drop in oil supplies helped push oil prices to above $147 per barrel, saddling airlines and shipping companies with high fuel costs. Gasoline prices soared above a national average $4 per gallon.

“We’re not at the point where oil prices are going to go bananas” and spike like they did in 2008, said Ken Medlock, an energy expert at Rice University. “But if we saw production declines like this for five or six years, then it’s time to worry.”

Big Oil’s third-quarter financial results highlight a growing problem within the industry. New petroleum sources are increasingly tough — and expensive — to find. The best new deposits are found more than a mile under the ocean, or in vast layers of sticky Canadian sand, or in the frigid Arctic.

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Oil Industry Hums as Higher Prices Bolster Quarterly Profits at Exxon and Shell

Costs have increased dramatically as the industry digs deeper.

A decade ago, tapping a new well used to cost about $10 to $20 for every barrel of oil produced. Now it’s estimated at about $50 or $60 for wells in the Gulf of Mexico and $70 or $80 in the Canadian oil sands.

To boost production, oil companies not only must find new sources of oil, they need to make up for production losses at aging fields. Exxon’s fields, for example, are declining by 5 to 7 percent each year, Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit said.

“They need to add 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day of production just to break even,” Gheit said. “That’s huge.”

Overall, analysts think oil producers can still increase supplies in coming years, thanks to smaller companies and increased contributions from OPEC. But it may not be enough to keep up with demand.

Morgan Stanley analyst Hussein Allidina expects supplies to rise by about 1 percent to 2 percent every year until 2016. That assumes “flawless execution,” Allidina said in a research note. Even if that happens, demand will grow 1.5 percent every year over the same period.

It raises the possibility of price spikes. A surge in oil not only means higher fuel prices, it also poses problems for the industry. The record jump in oil prices in 2008 may have led to record profits for Exxon that year, but it weakened the economy so much that prices eventually plunged. That sapped profits in later quarters and forced the industry to table many projects.

Smaller companies are expected to ramp up in fields that are too tiny for Big Oil. For example, Occidental Petroleum said it has increased oil production about 4 percent so far this year. Saudi Arabia and a handful of other OPEC members have the ability to put more oil on the market, if needed. And Libya is expected to start exporting oil again later this year following an eight-month rebellion.

Exxon Mobil on Thursday said profits jumped 41 percent in the third quarter to $10.33 billion, or $2.13 per share, as higher oil and natural gas prices made up for lower production. Profits doubled for Shell and BP for the same reason. Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, is expected to report its financial results on Friday.

Exxon sold oil in the U.S. for an average of $95.58 a barrel, up 35.2 percent from a year earlier. Internationally, it charged $107.32 a barrel, up 45.4 percent. It also charged more for natural gas.

The higher prices propped up earnings at Exxon’s exploration and production business, which finds and pumps oil and natural gas.

Exxon’s U.S. refineries also benefited. Their profits quadrupled as demand for gasoline and other fuels soared around the world, enabling them to charge more.

Exxon shares rose 81 cents, or 1 percent, to $81.88. BP shares climbed 78 cents to $45.43.

Oil prices also jumped 4 percent to end the day at $93.96 per barrel in New York.

Aristocratic Order of St John to Hold Knighthood Investiture in San Francisco


The Order’s Grand Prior, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO, acting on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, will dub two Members as knights, and invest new and recently promoted Members with their insignia of grade.

Over the years, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, President Nelson Mandela, the late King Hussein of Jordan and his wife Queen Noor, Edwina Mountbatten, Florence Nightingale, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. have been active in the Order, as have many members of the British Royal Family.

Historic Order of St John to Hold Investiture in San Francisco

PRNewswire-iReach | Oct 28, 2011

HRH, Duke of Gloucester to Preside over Services

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — At 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, the fifty-first annual Investiture Service of the Priory in the USA of The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem will be held in San Francisco at Grace Cathedral.  The Order’s Grand Prior, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO, acting on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, will dub two Members as knights, and invest new and recently promoted Members with their insignia of grade.

The Order of St John, with its roots in the 11th century, is an international order of chivalry led by  Her Majesty The Queen as Sovereign Head of the Order.  The Investiture Service is rich in pageantry and tradition and is part of the Priory’s annual Investiture weekend, which is held in a different city each year.  The last time the Investiture was held in San Francisco was in 2004.

At the Investiture Service, three Members of the Order from California will be promoted, including one at the high level of Knight, and 11 new Members from California will be invested into the Order.  In all, there are 126 Members in California and over 1100 Members in the United States. The highly traditional, colorful Service is open to the public and the media.

The medieval Order of St John began as a monastic hospital in Jerusalem in the 11th century and evolved into a chivalric order known as the Knights Hospitallers, offering medical care and security to pilgrims.  The Order’s present-day mission continues to focus on its roots of caring for poor and sick people of all races and creeds in over 40 countries.

The Order of St John is headquartered in London and has over 25,000 Members worldwide.  Membership in the Order of St John is open to men and women, is highly selective and is based on a record of dedicated commitment to local, national and/or international charitable work.  Over the years, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, President Nelson Mandela, the late King Hussein of Jordan and his wife Queen Noor, Edwina Mountbatten, Florence Nightingale, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. have been active in the Order, as have many members of the British Royal Family.

The Priory in the USA is one of eight Priories of the Order internationally.  It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.  The primary mission of the U.S. Priory is to support The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem.  For 129 years, the Hospital has provided screening, treatment, and health programs for patients of all ages without regard to creed or ability to pay.  For decades, American Members have raised funds, donated medical supplies, recruited volunteer doctors, specialist surgeons and nurses, and volunteered their own time and expertise to the Hospital.

The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group is the only charitable provider of eye care in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where rates of blindness are ten times higher than in the West, 80% of which is preventable.  In 2010, the Hospital Group treated 102, 382 outpatients and performed 4,184 operations in East Jerusalem and Hebron, and its clinics in Gaza and Anabta with additional outreach provided by mobile vans which reach thousands in remote villages.

Diabetes, corneal opacity, glaucoma, cataracts and severe allergic eye diseases that cause vision loss are widespread, as are congenital eye conditions such as strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), binocular vision and diplopia (double vision).  St John Eye Hospital advocates strong interfaith relationships and its supporters include Jewish, Christian and Muslim individuals and institutions.

FBI Says Gangs Infiltrating the US Military

Military.com | Oct 24, 2011

by Bryant Jordan

The U.S. military is facing a “significant criminal threat” from gangs, including prison and biker gangs, whose members have found their way into the ranks, according to an FBI-led investigation.

Some gang members get into the military to escape the streets, but then end up reconnecting once in, while others target the services specifically for the combat and weapons training, the National Gang Intelligence Center says in a just-released 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment/Emerging Trends.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a bad mix.

“”Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of  their distinctive weapons and combat training skills and their ability to transfer these skills to fellow gang members,” the report states. Gang members have been reported in every branch of the armed forces, though a large proportion of them have been affiliated with the Army, the Army Reserves or Army National Guard, it says.

The gang report is the third by the NGIC since 2005 and includes the most information yet on gangs in the military. The 2005 report made no mention of gang members in the armed forces, while the 2009 report devoted two paragraphs to the problem and listed 19 gangs said to include military-trained members.

The NGIC is a multi-agency operation — federal, state and local – headed up by the FBI to bring together intelligence on gangs and gang activity.

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FBI calls gang members in military ‘significant criminal threat’

The latest report devotes four pages to the problem and lists about 50 gangs with members with military backgrounds.

In the past three years, it states, law enforcement officials in more than 100 jurisdictions have encountered, detained or arrested a gang member who was on active-duty or a former servicemember.

Younger gang members, who do not have arrest records, are reportedly making attempts to join the military, and also attempting to conceal any gang affiliation, including tattoos, during the recruitment process.

And given the large U.S. military footprint overseas, gangs and gang dependents have found their way onto bases from Japan to Germany and Afghanistan and Iraq, where the center recorded instances of gang graffiti on military vehicles.

The report also specifically relates the 2010 cases of three former Marines arrested in Los Angeles for selling illegal assault weapons the Florencia 13 gang, and a U.S. Navy SEAL charged in Colorado with smuggling military-issued machine guns and other weapons from Iraq and Afghanistan into the U.S.

“Gang members armed with high-powered weapons and knowledge and expertise acquired from employment in law enforcement, corrections or the military may pose an increasing nationwide threat, as they employ these tactics and weapons against law enforcem4nt officials, rival gang members and civilians,” the NGIC report says.

The NGIC assessment is not the first to look at the rising problems of gang members in the military. The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division has done a number of them over the years. It found the number of investigations of gang-related violent crimes rising to 9 in 2005, after several years of decline, with just 3 the year before.

Most Soldiers found linked to gangs are junior enlisted members, CID found.

“Overall, military communities continue to be a more stable, secure and lawful environment than their civilian counterparts, especially given recent access control and other security enhancements,” Army CID concluded.

TSA screener fired after leaving a note telling passenger to ‘get your freak on, girl’


A TSA screener was fired after leaving a note telling passenger to ‘get your freak on, girl’.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Oct 28 2011

BY Nina Mandell

The Transportation Security Administration has gotten bad vibrations from one of its screeners, who slipped a creepy note into a passenger’s bag after finding a sex toy inside.

The screener’s flippant note – “Get Your Freak On, Girl” – was a weird shoutout at lawyer and editor Jill Filipovic, who was toting around a vibrator in her bag as she boarded a flight at Newark Airport Sunday.

But the note proved to be quite a buzzkill – TSA officials said Thursday that the screener would be canned.

Filipovic, an editor at Feministe.com, was passing through the airport on her way to a conference in Ireland. After she made it through security, she noticed the note, written on a paper with TSA identification on it, in her bag.

She Tweeted about the note Monday, sending the TSA scrambling to identify the writer of the risque missive.

The agency got to the bottom of it, but has refused to unmask the employee.

The agency “has initiated action to remove the individual from federal service,” a TSA spokesperson said in a statement emailed to the News.

“Like all federal employees, this individual is entitled to due process and protected by the Privacy Act. During the removal action process, the employee will not perform any screening duties.”

Filipovic has also blogged about how shocked she was over the amount of attention the incident has gotten – and said she didn’t want the employee to get the boot.

“I am still fairly shell-shocked (and not in a good way) by the amount of attention this has gotten, especially since it’s turned from what I thought was ‘funny anecdote with bigger political point’ into a very different animal,” she wrote.

“I realize when you put things on Twitter they are certainly public and out of your control, and I’m not going to act brand-new here, but I had no idea this would hit such a nerve. It’s very overwhelming, and I want it to go away.”

She said she went public with the letter because she wanted to bring attention to the issue of privacy concerns in the United States today.

“The note was inappropriate; the agent in question acted unprofessionally when s/he put it in my bag; there should be consequences and I’m glad the TSA takes these things seriously,” she wrote.

“But I get no satisfaction in hearing that someone may be in danger of losing their job over this. I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake.”

The incident came just days after two former TSA screeners pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal $40,000 from a cash-laden bag that had been checked onto an American Airlines flight at Kennedy Airport.

Panel endorses testing anthrax vaccine on children

sfgate.com | Oct 29, 2011

Rob Stein, Washington Post

Washington — A key panel of government advisers Friday recommended that the federal government sponsor a controversial study to test the anthrax vaccine in children to see whether the inoculation would protect young Americans against a bioterrorist’s attack.

The National Biodefense Science Board, which advises the federal government on issues related to bioterrorism, voted 12-1 to recommend that the Health and Human Services Department move forward with a study aimed at determining whether the vaccine is safe and effective in children and identifying the best dose. Patricia Quinlisk of the Iowa Department of Public Health, who chairs the panel, was the only dissenter.

“We need to know more about the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine as we develop plans to use the vaccine on a large number of children in the event of a bioterrorist’s attack,” said Ruth Berkelman of Emory University, a panel member.

The panel adopted Berkelman’s suggestion that the study undergo further review by another panel to specifically examine the difficult ethical concerns it would raise.

Nicole Lurie, the assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response who requested the panel’s review, said officials would consider the panel’s recommendation, but she did not give a time frame for a decision.

While an overwhelming majority of the panel endorsed conducting a study, several critics said such tests would be unethical, unnecessary and dangerous.

“The trial would expose healthy children to substantial harm with no possibility of benefit,” said Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York advocacy group.

Anthrax is a life-threatening infection caused by a toxin-producing bacteria. It long has been considered a bioterrorist’s likely choice because it is relatively easy to produce and distribute over a large area.

The federal government has spent $1.1 billion to stockpile the vaccine to protect Americans in the event of an attack. While antibiotics would help protect those immediately exposed, the vaccine would defend against lingering spores.

In 1998, the Pentagon began a controversial immunization program for military personnel that was challenged in court over questions about the vaccine’s safety and reliability.

The vaccine has been tested extensively in adults and has been administered to more than 2.6 million people in the military. But the shots have never been tested on or given to children, leaving it uncertain how well the vaccine works in younger people and at what dose, and whether it is safe.