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Friday, December 28, 2012

Norman Schwarzkopf’s Lionization Ignores a Dark Gulf War Legacy: Untreated Vets


Source:  The Daily Beast
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/29/norman-schwarzkopf-s-lionization-ignores-a-dark-gulf-war-legacy-untreated-vets.html

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Norman Schwarzkopf’s Lionization Ignores a Dark Gulf War Legacy: Untreated Vets


The late general and the Pentagon have never conceded that chemicals unleashed during the Gulf War did damage to U.S. military personnel, despite mounting evidence, writes Jamie Reno.

The nation is mourning the loss of retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who died Thursday at age 78. But in its mostly fawning coverage this week of the man dubbed Stormin’ Norman for his ferocious temper, the press is overlooking a lot.

STORMIN' NORMAN
AP

The New York Times called Schwarzkopf “the nation’s most acclaimed military hero” since Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. And Gen. Robert Scales Jr., who served with Schwarzkopf and wrote a book about the history of the Gulf War, told Fox News, “His epitaph should read that he was a soldier who loved soldiers.”

But some Gulf War veterans and veteran advocates interviewed for this story assign an altogether different narrative to Schwarzkopf’s life and legacy. No one disputes the general’s military prowess, but these veterans say the question people should really be asking now is: will his passing reignite interest in why so many Gulf War veterans remain untreated?

“Why do none of the obituaries of Schwarzkopf mention that there are still 250,000 Gulf War veterans who still urgently need treatment?” asks Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War Army scout and longtime veterans advocate who now works at Bergmann & Moore, a law firm that represents veteran disability cases.

Anthony Hardie, a disabled U.S. Army special operations veteran who served in the Gulf War and serves on all three existing federal advisory bodies related to Gulf War Illness, says, “It was an honor to serve under General Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War. However, for the estimated one-third of us Gulf War veterans who remain debilitated from one of the war’s most lasting legacies, Gulf War Illness, the lack of leadership and deafening silence from General Schwarzkopf and other U.S. generals and admirals remains deeply disappointing.”

There is some cruel irony to Schwarzkopf’s passing just days after the release of two new peer-reviewed scientific studies that confirm that Gulf War Illness, also referred to as Gulf War Syndrome, is related, in part, to chemical warfare agents released into the atmosphere by U.S. bombings at the start of the air war against Iraq in January 1991.

The Pentagon has repeatedly insisted that most of the ailments suffered by Gulf War veterans, which include acute and chronic muscle pain, fatigue, diarrhea, rashes, cognitive problems, and more, are the results of stress and several other factors, but not exposure to toxic chemicals.

In 1996, Schwarzkopf said that there was “no chemical exposure [to Gulf War veterans] at all that I know of.”

Schwarzkopf did at least suggest in 1997 that there was a possibility that Gulf War veterans were exposed to chemical agents. But he never followed up on it or pursued it, despite mounting evidence that there was exposure, and despite the fact that his own “Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical” desk officer logs maintained in his office every day reportedly confirmed chemical alarms, detections, and exposures—although most of these chemical exposure records were destroyed or “lost.”

Two new studies show that American troops were contaminated by chemical weapons in Iraq, and they raise troubling questions about Schwarzkopf’s legacy as a ‘soldier who loved soldiers.’

These logs contained such passages as this one on March 3, 1991, at 15:16 hours: “Lt. Colonel Wade advised that Col. Dunn has confirmed that the soldier of the 3rd Armored Division does have blisters characteristic of h. mustard chemical agent on his upper and lower left arm.”

Mysteriously, there were many missing pages in these logs, including an eight-day period in March 1991 in which the U.S. blew up the Kamisiyah ammunition depot, which was later determined to have contained chemical weapons. Schwarzkopf told The New York Times that he had “absolutely no idea why there are missing parts from [the log].”

The New York Times also reported that the CIA possessed dozens of classified documents showing that tens of thousands of Gulf War soldiers may have been exposed to chemical weapons during the 1991 war. Veterans advocates at the time asked for a special prosecutor to investigate the misplacement, concealment, or destruction of Gulf War military logs showing that soldiers were exposed to chemical warfare.

Sullivan, who was one of the first veterans to discover that these logs showing that soldiers were exposed to chemicals were missing, as well as advocates such as Charles Sheehan-Miles and Patrick Eddington, now a Capitol Hill staffer, have been shining a light on this issue for years. Producers at 60 Minutes used information first obtained by these advocates in their March 12, 1995, broadcast on Gulf War Illness and chemical weapons.
Despite all this, Schwarzkopf somehow managed to stay above the fray. He remains a war hero in the eyes of most Americans. But, says Sullivan, not to many of the Gulf War veterans who are still suffering from an illness that the government has tried to deny exists for two decades.

While Schwarzkopf publicly called for the caring for our sick Gulf War veterans, some veteran advocates insist his lack of action, and the fact that most of his logs showing veterans were exposed to chemical weapons were lost or destroyed, speak louder than his words.

The two new studies showing that American troops were contaminated by chemical weapons in Iraq as a result of U.S. bombings are probably the best evidence yet that Gulf War Illness is real. And they raise new and troubling questions about Schwarzkopf’s legacy as a “soldier who loved soldiers.”

The first study confirms what many veterans already believed: weather patterns carried a massive toxic chemical cloud resulting from the U.S. bombing of Iraqi chemical weapon storage facilities a long distance before these chemicals ultimately fell on U.S. troops.

This is being dubbed by some as the largest example of “friendly fire” in American history, because the so-called nerve and blister agents that dropped on American troops were supplied to Iraq by the U.S. before the Gulf War. These chemicals were then bombed by U.S. forces, which lifted them into the atmosphere and dropped on our troops.

The second study confirms that Gulf War Illness reports were higher at the places where the chemicals fell.

“Our peer-reviewed scientific findings bring us full circle by confirming what most soldiers believed when they heard the nerve gas alarms. The alarms were caused by sarin fallout from our bombing of Iraqi weapons sites,” James J. Tuite, who led the first study, said in a statement two weeks ago.

But neither the national press nor President Obama appear too eager this week to point out Schwarzkopf’s unfinished legacy.

A statement from the White House this week reads, “With the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf, we’ve lost an American original. From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved. Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.”

Australia to Reexamine Gulf War Syndrome Denials



(91outcomes.com) - According to a news report in Australia's largest selling national newspaper, the Australian government is set to relook at whether Gulf War Syndrome is a unique health condition and its veterans due governmental assistance for their longstanding health issues.

According to the small piece in a broader news report about veterans benefits, Australia's government will reexamine its past decisions of whether Gulf War Syndrome meets, "the requirements of a unique disease or injury warranting government support."

In November 2008, a U.S. government report found that Gulf War Illness is a unique condition that affects between one-fourth and one-third of all veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and was likely caused by chemical exposures, with a long list of other factors not entirely ruled out.

In April 2010, a report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, part of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, found that chronic multisymptom illness affects an estimated 250,000 of the 697,000 Gulf War veterans, as well as other U.S. forces.  The report went on to say that it was physiological and not psychological in nature, and that it likely resulted from the interplay between environmental and genetic causes.  

According to the Australian War Memorial, "over 1,800 Australian Defence personnel were deployed in the Gulf War from August 1990 to September 1991. The force comprised units from the Army, Navy and RAAF. In addition Army and RAAF provided personnel to Operation Habitat."

The new review is being performed by Australia's Repatriation Medical Authority.

Australian Gulf War veterans have a Facebook page where news and information is shared, located at:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Australian-Gulf-War-Veterans/107101696021694

-Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com


Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf dies at 78

On Thursday, December 27, Gulf War veterans have lost their commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the Coalition military operations in 1990-91 to militarily force Iraqi troops out of illegally occupied neighboring Kuwait.  Schwarzkopf died at age 78 in Tampa, his death reportedly the result of complications from pneumonia.  

Like many Gulf War troops, I met General Schwarzkopf only once, in my case on a military compound outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Christmas Day 1990.  He was coming out of a mess tent, having been there to greet U.S. troops having a Christmas dinner, and a friend and I were just entering.  His security nearly bowled us over, and I remember thinking how odd it seemed he was apparently being protected from us, his own troops.  

I was struck by how tall and big of a man he was, his presence genuinely commanding, and how deep and booming his voice was as he greeted us, chatted for a moment, and wished us a merry Christmas.  

During the war, I would have occasion to regularly brief several of his staff officers by satellite phone, but never again encountered the legendary general himself.  


Schwarzkopf emerged from the 1991 Gulf War a national hero, with a liberated Kuwait and relatively low U.S. and Coalition casualties for a war of such scale.  

However, his silence and denials regarding Gulf War Syndrome -- the enduring legacy of the war -- were disappointing for many among the estimated 250,000 affected Gulf War veterans, or roughly one in three among Schwarzkopf's 697,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 Gulf War.  (Read more here)

The USA Today obituary, below, provides a synopsis of General Schwarzkopf's life in memoriam.

May his wife and loved ones find peace and comfort in their, and our, loss.

-Anthony Hardie


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General Colin Powell's public post on Facebook regarding the passing of General Norman Schwartzkopf:

With the passing of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, America lost a great patriot and a great soldier. Norm served his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years. The highlight of his career was the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. "Stormin' Norman" led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government. His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation. He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy. I will miss him. My wife Alma joins me in extending our deepest condolences to his wife Brenda and to her family.

*****

Source:  USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/27/norman-schwarzkopf-obit/1795095/



WASHINGTON (AP) — Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991 but kept a low public profile in controversies over the second Gulf War against Iraq, died Thursday. He was 78.
A sister of Schwarzkopf, Ruth Barenbaum of Middlebury, Vt., said that he died in Tampa, Fla., from complications from pneumonia. "We're still in a state of shock," she said by phone. "This was a surprise to us all."
A much-decorated combat soldier in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was known popularly as "Stormin' Norman" for a notoriously explosive temper.
He served in his last military assignment in Tampa as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, the headquarters responsible for U.S. military and security concerns in nearly 20 countries from the eastern Mediterranean and Africa to Pakistan.
Schwarzkopf became "CINC-Centcom" in 1988 and when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait three years later to punish it for allegedly stealing Iraqi oil reserves, he commanded Operation Desert Storm, the coalition of some 30 countries organized by President George H.W. Bush that succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.
"Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises," Bush said in a statement. "More than that, he was a good and decent man — and a dear friend."
At the peak of his postwar national celebrity, Schwarzkopf — a self-proclaimed political independent — rejected suggestions that he run for office, and remained far more private than other generals, although he did serve briefly as a military commentator for NBC.
While focused primarily in his later years on charitable enterprises, he campaigned for President George W. Bush in 2000 but was ambivalent about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying he doubted victory would be as easy as the White House and Pentagon predicted. In early 2003 he told the Washington Post the outcome was an unknown:
"What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That's a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan," he said.
Initially Schwarzkopf had endorsed the invasion, saying he was convinced that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had given the United Nations powerful evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After that proved false, he said decisions to go to war should depend on what U.N. weapons inspectors found.
He seldom spoke up during the conflict, but in late 2004, he sharply criticized then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon for mistakes that included inadequate training for Army reservists sent to Iraq and for erroneous judgments about Iraq.
"In the final analysis I think we are behind schedule. … I don't think we counted on it turning into jihad (holy war)," he said in an NBC interview.
  • U.S. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf stands near a tank during Operation Desert Storm on Jan. 12, 1991, in Saudi Arabia. Schwarzkopf, 78, died on Dec. 27.
  • When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Schwarzkopf commanded Operation Desert Storm, a coalition force of 30 countries organized by President George H.W. Bush that succeeded in driving the Iraqis out.
  • Schwarzkopf points to photos of Kuwait's Ahmadi Sea Island Terminal after a U.S. attack on the facility on Jan. 27, 1991.
  • Schwarzkopf answers questions during an interview on Sept. 14, 1990, in Riyadh.
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, left, confers with Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 8, 1991.
  • Schwarzkopf talks with Saudi Arabian Lt. Gen. Khalid Bin Sultan, area commander of multinational forces, on Dec. 19, 1990, in Riyadh.
  • Schwarzkopf points to a chart showing bomb damage at Iraq's  Al Taqaddum Airfield during a press conference in January 1991.
  • Schwarzkopf speaks at a press conference.
  • Schwarzkopf and President Bush watch the National Victory Parade on June 8, 1991, from a viewing stand in Washington.
  • President Bush congratulates Schwarzkopf on July 4, 1991, after presenting him with the medal of freedom at the White House in Washington.
  • Schwarzkopf waves to the crowd on April 22, 1991, after a military band played a song in his honor at a welcome home ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Schwarzkopf was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, N.J., where his father, Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police, was then leading the investigation of the Lindbergh kidnap case, which ended with the arrest and 1936 execution of German-born carpenter Richard Hauptmann for stealing and murdering the famed aviator's infant son.
The elder Schwarzkopf was named Herbert, but when the son was asked what his "H'' stood for, he would reply, "H." Although reputed to be short-tempered with aides and subordinates, he was a friendly, talkative and even jovial figure who didn't like "Stormin' Norman" and preferred to be known as "the Bear," a sobriquet given him by troops.
He also was outspoken at times, including when he described Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, as "a horse's ass" in an Associated Press interview.
As a teenager Norman accompanied his father to Iran, where the elder Schwarzkopf trained the country's national police force and was an adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the young Shah of Iran.
Young Norman studied there and in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, then followed in his father's footsteps to West Point, graduating in 1956 with an engineering degree. After stints in the U.S. and abroad, he earned a master's degree in engineering at the University of Southern California and later taught missile engineering at West Point.
In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army's Americal Division. He earned three Silver Stars for valor — including one for saving troops from a minefield — plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and three Distinguished Service Medals.
While many career officers left military service embittered by Vietnam, Schwarzkopf was among those who opted to stay and help rebuild the tattered Army into a potent, modernized all-volunteer force.
After Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Schwarzkopf played a key diplomatic role by helping to persuade Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to allow U.S. and other foreign troops to deploy on Saudi territory as a staging area for the war to come.
On Jan. 17, 1991, a five-month buildup called Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as allied aircraft attacked Iraqi bases and Baghdad government facilities. The six-week aerial campaign climaxed with a massive ground offensive on Feb. 24-28, routing the Iraqis from Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.
Schwarzkopf said afterward he agreed with Bush's decision to stop the war rather than drive to Baghdad to capture Saddam, as his mission had been only to oust the Iraqis from Kuwait.
But in a desert tent meeting with vanquished Iraqi generals, he allowed a key concession on Iraq's use of helicopters, which later backfired by enabling Saddam to crack down more easily on rebellious Shiites and Kurds.
While he later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of Gulf War I and its impact on Gulf War II, he told The Washington Post in 2003, "You can't help but… with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, 'Look, had we done something different, we probably wouldn't be facing what we are facing today.'"
After retiring from the Army in 1992, Schwarzkopf wrote a best-selling autobiography, "It Doesn't Take A Hero." Of his Gulf war role, he said, "I like to say I'm not a hero. I was lucky enough to lead a very successful war." He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and honored with decorations from France, Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
Schwarzkopf was a national spokesman for prostate cancer awareness and for Recovery of the Grizzly Bear, served on the Nature Conservancy board of governors and was active in various charities for chronically ill children.
"I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I'm very proud of that," he once told the AP. "But I've always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I'd like to think I'm a caring human being. … It's nice to feel that you have a purpose."
Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, had three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.
———
Pyle reported from New York. Associated Press writer Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Fibromyalgia, a Gulf War Presumptive, Often Missed in Men Says Mayo Clinic Study

Fibromyalgia, a health condition with chronic widespread pain at its core, is a presumptive condition for the purposes of VA service-connection for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf (Southwest theater of operations) between August 2, 1990 and the present.

For veterans beginning VA disability claims, remember that going through the VA claims process without an accredited service officer is like going through a complex court case without a lawyer.

Accredited service officers are available from veterans service organizations (VSOs), state veterans agencies (see NASDVA) and, in about half the states, County Veterans Service Officers (CVSOs).


VA disability due to fibromyalgia can be claimed by including VA Form 21-0960C-7 - Fibromyalgia Disability Benefits Questionnaire (Fillable) and substantiating medical evidence with the VA claim. 

Related conditions may include Chronic Fatigue SyndromeIrritable Bowel Syndrome, and others.  A review of your medical conditions and records with an accredited service officers can help you to decide what specifically to claim and how to justifiably claim it.   

-A.H.

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Source:  HealthDay
http://news.health.com/2012/12/27/fibromyalgia-diagnosis-often-missed-in-men-study/

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Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Often Missed in Men: Study

December 27, 2012
maninpain Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Often Missed in Men: Study
THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) — Many people with fibromyalgia, especially men, go undiagnosed, according to a new study.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes symptoms such as pain and tenderness, fatigue, and sleep and memory problems. Many of these symptoms can overlap or be mistaken for other conditions, the Mayo Clinic researchers noted.
They examined data from people in Olmsted County, Minn., and estimated that 6.4 percent of people aged 21 and older had fibromyalgia but only 1.1 percent of them had been diagnosed with the condition.
The researchers also found that 20 times more men had fibromyalgia symptoms than had been diagnosed, while three times more women had fibromyalgia symptoms than had been diagnosed.
The study was published online Nov. 30 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
More research is needed to determine why many people with fibromyalgia, particularly men, go undiagnosed, said lead author Dr. Ann Vincent, medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic.
“Health care providers may not think of this diagnosis when face to face with a male patient with musculoskeletal pain and fatigue,” she said in a clinic news release. “These findings need to be explored further.”
There is no diagnostic test to determine if a person has fibromyalgia. Although there is no cure for the condition, there are effective treatments. Research has shown that diagnosing people with fibromyalgia — which is far more common in women than in men — reduces health care costs because they need fewer tests and referrals to determine the cause of their symptoms.
More information
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about fibromyalgia.

Friday, December 21, 2012

HVAC Majority Leadership Announced

Source:  U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs (HVAC)
http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/committee-leadership-announced




Committee Leadership Announced

DEC 20, 2012 Issues: Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement recommending the Committee Subcommittee Chairs for the 113th Congress:
“The selections I am recommending for the Committee’s Subcommittee Chairmanships represent a diverse group who has served, who are doctors, and who has advocated for veterans throughout their careers. I am confident these Members will work with the Committee to improve the lives of America’s veterans, their families, and survivors, as well as to continue the Committee’s work in the previous Congress to provide oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I am also delighted to announce my colleague and friend, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, will continue to serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee. His dedication has been unparalleled, and I look forward to his continued leadership.”  
  • Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs: Rep. Jon Runyan (New Jersey)
  • Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity: Rep. Bill Flores (Texas)
  • Subcommittee on Health: Rep. Dan Benishek, M.D. (Michigan)
  • Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations: Rep. Mike Coffman (Colorado)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sen. Sanders, VSOs Oppose Fiscal Cliff Cuts to VA Disability Payments

Source: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2012/12/19/sanders-and-vet-groups-warn-against-cuts-to-disability-benefits/


Sanders and vet groups warn against cuts to disability benefits

The incoming chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined by the leaders of a number of veteran groups, attacked proposals that would cut disability benefits for veterans as part of a budget deal during a news conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
“We must do deficit reduction, but not by cutting programs for people who lost arms, legs and eyes defending our country,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), who is replacing Sen. Patty Murray as chairman of the Senate committee. “We must not balance the budget on the backs of men and women who already sacrificed for us in Iraq and Afghanistan.” 
Among the plans being considered by the White House and Congress as budget deficit negotiations continues are ones that would change how annual cost-of-living adjustmentsare calculated for most federal entitlement programs, including the 3.2 million veterans receiving disability compensation.
A change in how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated could mean that veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Leaders from four veterans organizations spoke out against the proposal at the news conference, and representatives from 15 other groups also attended the event.
“The men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are the ones who have done the sacrificing,” said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The proposal “will only hurt American veterans and their families,” said Dean Stoline, deputy legislative director for the American Legion.
Sanders said the deficit can be reduced by increasing taxes on corporations that he paid little or no taxes. “What about asking those guys to pay a little more,” he said.