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[Black Ice] Teammate: John "Cheeze" Branchizio, from TEXAS, dies in GAZA (go here for pictures)

Subject: "Cheeze" was a member of the 'Black Ice List' dies in GAZA

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I am very sorry to report that John "Cheeze" Branchizio (SEAL) from Texas was killed in
the line of duty by Palestinian terrorists in the northern Gaza strip at
approximately 1015 local time this morning.

Initial reports indicate that his Fully Armored suburban was destroyed
instantly by a large bomb planted in the road.

"Cheeze" was sitting in the right front seat of the lead vehicle of a
three car diplomatic protective motorcade and was the shift leader of
the Counter Assault Team (CAT) at the time of the attack.

John was an accomplished operator and former DevGru Navy SEAL, but more
importantly he was a tireless and true friend.

I knew John as one of my best friends and had the opportunity to work
with him on a daily basis for much of the past five years. I rode in
the car he died in on a daily basis as his team mate. Without
reservation I can say he was one of the most absolutely fearless, total
team players I have ever met and he had a contagious personality that
could lighten up even the most gruesome of situations.

He will be sorely missed by many, many people.


15 October 2003

State Department Briefing, October 15, 2003

Israel/Palestinians, Syria, Bolivia, Iraq, refugees, Secretary Powell's upcoming travel, Azerbaijan, China, Indonesia, Pakistan

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed.

Following is a transcript of the briefing:

U.S. Department Of State
Daily Press Briefing
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
1:45 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Mr. Boucher: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you all know, we have a lot of things to deal with today. I have just spoken with the Secretary and he asked me to make a statement on his behalf about the killing in Gaza. And so let me start with that, and then we can go to questions about that or other topics.

This is from the Secretary and we'll get you exact words and text later in the day, once we've produced the written version.

"I'm outraged by the murder of three Americans and the wounding of one other today in the Northern Gaza Strip. The innocent Americans who died, John Branchizio, Mark Parson and John Linde, Jr., were on a mission of peace as part of our Embassy team going to interview Palestinians for Fulbright scholarships to study or teach in the United States.

They were helping the Palestinian people. They were murdered by terrorists, the same terrorists who have killed so many others and who are killing the dreams of the Palestinian people.

Earlier today, I spoke with both Foreign Minister Shalom and Prime Minister Qureia and made clear to them, in the strongest possible terms, the need to move urgently to end terrorism.

With Prime Minister Qureia, I made absolutely clear that we cannot move forward to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without eliminating violence and terrorism. I also made clear that we expect full cooperation in investing this heinous act and in bringing these murderers to justice."

Now I would be glad to take your questions.

Question: The President's statement referred to the lack of Palestinian security as the -- I don't know if you should call it the biggest reason, but he certainly underscored that as a serious part of the problem. I assume the Secretary agrees with that, but you know, what is the outlook for shoring up security? You still have disarray among the Palestinian leadership. You don't have a government to deal with. Doesn't this make you uneasy?

Mr. Boucher: It certainly does. The continuation of the violence was directed against Israelis, Americans or Palestinians, and particularly in this case, when it's directed at people who were actively working to promote a positive relationship with the Palestinian people. Continuation of that violence is because of the failure of the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorist groups and to end their activities.

We've said all along, this is the major problem at this juncture. It's the next step in trying to move forward on the peace process and the need to take action, take swift action, is evermore present in our minds and I think it's much clearer on the agenda.


Question: Do you have any reason to believe that this convoy was targeted as an American target? Do you think that Americans and officials are now being targeted by Palestinians, and what does this do to your effort to secure peace between the two parties?

Mr. Boucher: Well, the investigators will have to decide -- try to find out who did it and what they were aiming at and whether the convoy itself was specifically targeted. I think, you know, internal he absence of information to the contrary, that's the assumption one has to make given the nature of the attack.

Question: Richard, also in the absence of any claim or any credible claim of responsibility, are you quite certain that this was carried out by Palestinian terrorists -- militants -- whatever term you want to --

Mr. Boucher: Well, there are a variety of groups --

Question: Yes, there are. But there are also non-Palestinian terrorist groups with -- who are operating, say, in Iraq -- groups that have expanded their reach beyond where they normally have. Obviously we're -- I mean, do you have any reason to believe it was anything other than a Palestinian group?

Mr. Boucher: I have no reason to believe it was any particular group at this moment. As you point out, these kinds of attacks have been carried out in Israel, in the Gaza Strip, in the West bank, and in other countries in the region by various groups who are opposed to the peace process; who have made it harder for the Palestinians to achieve a state; and who, unfortunately, have killed many, many civilians of a lot of different nationalities.

Question: But what --

Mr. Boucher: But no, I don't have any indication of which particular group might have carried this out.

Question: Right. But I guess you are saying that the continuation of violence, such as this, is the fault of the Palestinian Authority for not cracking down on it. And yet, you know, you had people linked to al-Qaida who were operating next door in Jordan planning to blow up hotels and buildings, and you don't say that that's -- that their operations there are -- have any -- are the responsibility or the fault of the Jordanian Government. In fact, you have high praise for their government. So I guess I'm just wondering --

Security company workers Killed in Gaza

Kurtzer said those killed on Wednesday were U.S. citizens working on contracts to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The State Department identified the slain Americans as John Branchizio, 36, from Texas; Mark T. Parson, 31; and John Martin Linde Jr., 30 - all employees of DynCorp, a Virginia-based security firm. The wounded American was initially treated at a Gaza hospital before being transferred to a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.