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We have developed a model for electromagnetic wave propagation in and scattering from random media. Scattering potentials are introduced to account for the reflections and refractions from boundaries. The differential cross sections for backscatter are calculated in the Kirchhoff approximation. We find that, in single scattering processes, the polarizations of differential cross sections are conserved and the differential cross sections are independent of the polarizations. The cross-polarized differential cross sections are symmetric and solely attributed to multi-scattering processes. Our results are in good agreement with experimental measurements. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.