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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition
January 04, 2004 12:00 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

(Participating was Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations and Daniel Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Good evening.  I just have a brief item on Ambassador Bremer's schedule.  Then General Kimmitt will make an opening statement and provide a short video presentation, and then we will be happy to take your questions.

 

            As far as Ambassador Bremer is concerned, earlier today he traveled down to Basra for a meeting with Prime Minister Blair, in which he briefed Prime Minister Blair on recent CPA activities and an update on the political process and other matters.  Prime Minister Blair, as has been earlier reported, was in Iraq to visit British troops.  He toured a local police station and, I believe, is heading back later today, if he's not already departed.  And Ambassador Bremer is returning to Baghdad.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yes.  The last time we did a press conference, we had talked about the operation that was conducted at the mosque.  What   we'd like to do is provide you some combat camera video of the actual mosque operation to give you a better sense beyond the words that we gave last time.

 

            (To staff)  So let's go ahead.

 

            We found out just as we walked in here that the video wasn't working, so we're going to have to give you an idea from the podium of what's being said.

 

            (Begin video.)

 

            Now, at this point you would have heard over the loudspeakers in Arabic, "Attention.  Attention to all individuals inside the Un-Tabul (ph) Mosque.  The coalition forces order you to lay down on your stomach with your hands stretched out and to stay away from any weapons."  And that was constantly being broadcast throughout the extent of the operation.  That was for the benefit of both the personnel inside the mosque as well as the ICDC and the IPS personnel who led the attack into the mosque -- or the operation into the mosque.

 

            (Pause.)

 

            At this point we've got the first couple of weapons being captured.  Now, we had some intelligence -- let's go ahead and pause at this point -- we'd had some intelligence that there were some tunnels underneath the mosque.  And so the soldiers were rolling up the rugs to see if they could discover those tunnels.  They did not discover any tunnels within the mosque during the operation.

 

            (To staff.)  Go ahead.

 

            (Pause.)  You'll see throughout the operation that it was a fairly calm operation.  There wasn't a lot of activity going back and forth, no shots fired.  Everybody was very compliant during the entire operation -- no weapons being fired at the mosque, no weapons being fired inside the mosque.

 

            STAFF:  (Off mike.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  (To staff.)  Stop here for a moment.

 

            You can see here the involvement of the ICDC soldiers.  They were they ones that not only went in, but also they're the ones that are guarding the people that we detained outside the mosque.

 

            (To staff.)  Please continue.

 

            This is -- there are some questions about whether we had mistreated     Sheikh Mahdi Sumaidai.  As you can see, he was treated just like the rest of the detainees, no special attention being placed towards him, and certainly was not, as some reports have indicated, that he was, quote, "pummeled" or physically assaulted in any manner.

 

            (To staff.)  Go ahead and continue.

 

            What we're going to start seeing now, as they work their way through the rest of the video, is the significant amount of explosives.  This is gunpowder.  These are ICDC soldiers who went back into the mosque for the purpose of bringing out the weapons, bringing out the explosives, bringing out the gunpowder that was captured.

 

            (To staff.)  Go ahead.

 

            (Pause.)  These are hand grenades, blocks of TNT, det cord used to activate.

 

            (To staff.)  Just stop here for a moment.  Significant amount of weapons found, clearly beyond those that were necessary for self- protection.  Tremendous amount of weapons found, filled a couple of truckfuls.

 

            (To staff.)   Please continue.  Let's go ahead and put it full- screen now, since we're not going to stop.

 

            These were the detainees being brought out, again, both U.S. and ICDC soldiers handling them, as they typically do.  Try to maintain as much dignity and respect with the detainees, consistent with the force protection requirements.  We'll talk about that in the question-and-answer period, if you'd like to ask any questions about the operation.

 

            Let me go ahead and give the normal evening update.  The area of operations remains relatively stable.  Over the past week, there have been an average of 22 engagements per day against coalition military forces and slightly more than one attack daily against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians.

 

            The coalition remains offensively oriented, to proactively kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people, and to conduct stability operations to rebuild a free Iraq.

 

            To that end, today the coalition conducted 1,560 patrols, 26 offensive operations, 17 raids and captured 83 anti-coalition suspects in the past 24 hours.

 

            In the northeast zone of operations, forces conducted a cordon- and-search in the southern portion of Nineveh province, capturing a target believed to be responsible for the 24 July ambush that killed three coalition soldiers, as well as numerous other attacks in the area of operations.

 

            In a cordon-and-knock operation in Mosul which targeted an associate of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, 11 personnel were detained, to include the associate of al-Douri.

 

            Upon leaving the area, the unit was attacked by six personnel, but the coalition unit, while returning fire, broke contact in order to safeguard the lives of the detainees.

 

            In a routine patrol in Mosul, forces discovered a rocket launch site containing 14 rockets, with batteries and wires nearby.  In an additional patrol, three artillery rounds and 30 rockets were found, and three men were detained after 20 small rockets were found inside the trunk of their car.

 

            Former Ba'ath Party officials in the region will make a public denouncement of violence and will turn in additional weapons tomorrow in downtown Tall Afar.  A media advisory has been issued with directions to the location.

 

            In the north central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 207 patrols, nine raids, and captured 22   individuals.  Forces conducting a raid near Had Masqar (sp) targeted an anti-coalition cell leader, along with eight of his lieutenants. The raid captured 15 individuals, including five targets.

 

            Coalition soldiers were returning to base yesterday evening when they  came under RPG and automatic weapons fire near the Baqubah police station.  During the engagement, five Iraqi police officers were wounded.  Four of the officers' injuries were minor.  One officer was evacuated to a battalion aid station and currently is in stable condition.

 

            In another operation, coalition forces captured a target and three additional personnels with links to a cell in Mosul.  The target is suspected of leading a cell that shot down a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Mosul on 15 November.

 

            In Baghdad, coalition forces continued Operation Iron Grip. Three offensive operations were conducted, resulting in the capture of 26 personnel.

 

            Two brothers, Walid and Zuhair al-Douri (sp), turned themselves in to a command post for coalition forces in Baghdad.  The two brothers are high-ranking individuals in what we believe is one of Baghdad's anti-coalition cells.  Coalition forces conducted a raid and captured F. Takar Ayub al-Samara (sp), Saddam Hussein's personal photographer.

 

            In the western zone of operation, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted five offensive operations, 167 patrols, and cleared four weapons caches.  During these operations, three enemy were killed and 73 were captured.  Additionally, entry into Iraq was denied to 225 people at the Trabil (sp) border-crossing point, all due to insufficient documentation.

 

            Tips from Iraqi locals continue to increase in the western zone, providing information that has resulted recently in the capture of 65 individuals.  Coalition soldiers conducted a cordon and search of two target locations in Ar Ramadi, and the mission was to execute a to- kill-or-capture weapons dealers and confiscate illegal weapons and munition.  The operation resulted in the capture of six enemy personnel.

 

            To assist in the reduction of captured enemy equipment, coalition forces employed 104 Iraqis and used five contracted trucks yesterday. The combined efforts resulted in the demilitarization of 25 short tons of munitions.

 

            Coalition soldiers in the west began teaching a new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps class at Junction city in the Navea Training Center. Additionally, coalition military police soldiers began training a police academy class today with 240 new recruits.  That class is scheduled to graduate on the 22nd of January.  Coalition soldiers continue border police training at al Asad, and those recruits will graduate in the next few days.

 

            Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces executed their first independent operation in the west along Highway 10 yesterday, setting up multiple traffic control points to prevent bomb emplacement and black-market fuel operations.  Coalition soldiers conducted Operation Market Sweep, a cordon and search aimed at capturing weapons dealers and confiscating weapons in a suspected arms market in Fallujah.  The operation resulted in the capture of 55 sellers and buyers, including five targets.

 

            In the central south zone of operations, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers captured four Iraqis attempting to steal ordnance from   the ammunition supply point near Mahawal (sp). Iraqi police informed coalition forces that attackers threw two hand grenades at the house of Ahbed Baraq (sp), an Al Hillah city councilman.  No one was injured, but there was some slight damage to the house.

 

            The Iraqi oil minister visited An Najaf and took extraordinary measures to improve the fuel situation.  First he fired the fuel depot manager, and followed it up with implementing a new policy allowing private gas stations to replenish their stocks from the local fuel depot rather than the refineries at Basra.  He also instructed the fuel depot staff to study the potential benefits of instituting a limit of 30 liters of fuel per day per consumer.

 

            Last, in the southeastern zone of operation, a demonstration took place in front of the governor's house As Samawa.   Coalition forces were sent to respond after shots were fired.  Upon responding, additional shots were fired into the crowd by an unknown individual, who fled into a building thought to belong to a local political party.  The building was isolated and surrounded by coalition soldiers, and Iraqi police entered the building and arrested 20 to 30 individuals and confiscated numerous weapons.

 

            In southeast Basra, four enemy opened fired and killed Zakhi Muhammed (sp), a town council member of Abu Al Kasif (sp).  The drive- by shooting occurred outside the town council building, and the shooters were pursued by Iraqi police.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Before we take questions, I'd just add, on the video presentation, that as you see there, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, an Iraqi security force, is fully integrated into this operation.  The Iraqi police were also involved, which wasn't clear from the video, but you should know.  And the operation was based -- was launched based on intelligence provided from Iraqis.

 

            What you are seeing now, what you will be seeing over the next six months is increasing hand-over authority to Iraqi officials and Iraqi bodies, and especially to Iraqi security forces.  Today in Iraq, there are more Iraqis in security forces, more Iraqis defending their own country than there are Americans in Iraq.

 

            Happy to take your questions.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Peter Spiegel with The Financial Times.  Also on this mosque operation, in your briefing a couple days ago, you said that there are about 34 people detained.  You mentioned the possibility that there were foreign fighters amongst them.  The last we heard, I think most of those people, or at least two-thirds, had been released. And can you sort of give us an update on who's left and whether there are indeed foreign nationals in that group or not?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We're still trying to ascertain the nationalities of the remaining detainees.  We did release about two-thirds of the people that we initially captured as part of the mosque raid, after they provided credible information of their being at their mosque and demonstrating that they had not been part of the anti-coalition activities coming out of the mosque.

 

            Q     So the remaining third -- you still don't know whether those are foreign fighters or not?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  That's being determined by intelligence sources at this time.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder.  (Inaudible) -- how many detainees in all are in custody of coalition forces?  And could you talk a little bit about nationalities and the reason for that detention?

 

            And the second question is levels of troops in the ICDC right now.  How many are in it currently, and how much do you see that growing?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We've got just over 9,000 detainees currently in coalition custody.  As to their specific nationalities, we can take that question afterwards and take you down through the whole list of them.

 

            MR. SENOR:  As to Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, there are between 14(,000) and 15,000 right now deployed.  And the goal is to get to approximately 40,000.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Sam Dagher, AFP.  Could you please update us on the Fallujah incident and the fate of the Reuters journalists being held?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Sure.  We are conducting an investigation at this time.  That investigation is being conducted by the 82nd Airborne and General Swannick.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Matt Rosenberg from AP.  Just to follow up on that, it's still unclear.  Are the four people who are being held -- are those -- are there additional four, or is it just these people from Reuters and NBC?  Is it Reuters and NBC plus four more, or is it just four people who were held?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Four people.

 

            Q     All right.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Steve Frank with The Chicago Tribune.  Two questions.  One, a follow-up on the detainees.  Iraqi human rights groups said there are 20,000 persons being detained, and they've had significant troubles in contacting them and finding out who is being held.

 

            And secondly, can you talk about Iraqi -- news reports today about an incident where a tank ran into a car.  There were several injuries.  This was yesterday.  There was a report of four persons who were shot near Tikrit when their car was passing a military vehicle, and we're told that the Iraqi police are investigating this.  Details on all those incidents and also if you could (respond ?) on the detainees.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Do you want to take the first five or should I take the first five?

 

            MR. SENOR:  (Inaudible.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Okay.  Go ahead.

 

            MR. SENOR:  On the detainees, I have not seen the human rights report that you're referring to.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  (Inaudible.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  But the number does not sound accurate.  General Kimmitt has the exact number.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  No, I think that number that we're talking about is somewhere in the area of 8(,000) to 9,000.  Now that does not include some of the MEK personnel that are being held as well.  But the number does come anywhere near 20,000.

 

            As to the Tikrit incident, I have some information on that.  Just give me a moment, please.  (Pauses to consult materials.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Do you want to come back to it?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, let's come back.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Okay.  Why don't we just take other questions and then come back to you?

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Hi.  Neela Banerjee from The New York Times.  I have a question for each of you.

 

            We were reading in one of the local newspapers -- I think it was PUK newspaper -- that Ambassador Bremer had a meeting with the two top Kurdish leaders over this whole issue of federalism in the north.  And I was wondering when that meeting occurred and the position that -- if you can talk about it at this point -- that's evolving within CPA about the stance of the Kurds.

 

            And a question for General Kimmitt.  This operation in Ramadi by the ICDC to go after black marketeers and fuel smugglers -- we've been hearing from American military and the Oil Ministry about a link between the proceeds of smuggling and attacks on soldiers, Iraqis and so on.  I'm wondering whether that notion has credence to it and whether you could flesh it out.

 

            Thanks.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Since the coalition's agreement reached with the Governing Council on November 15th, Ambassador Bremer has had a series of meetings.  He's meeting with members of the Governing Council almost on a daily basis working on the implementation of the November 15th agreement.  Effectively, the November 15th agreement was a framework, and now we've just got to work on the implementation details.

 

            Q     I'm sorry, they said it was a meeting in Irbil, but they just didn't give the date.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah.  And so they've been having a number of meetings.  He's met with the Kurdish leaders on multiple occasions. And this Irbil meeting which was just the other day was with Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani, that's correct, in which they discussed overall implementation of the November 15th agreement.

 

            It wasn't specifically on one issue, but there were a number of principles that we agreed with the Governing Council would be enshrined in this administrative law, and those include freedom of speech, equal rights, civilian control of the military, separation of powers, a recognition of the Islamic identity of a majority of Iraqis while at the same time respecting and protecting freedom of worship and religious rights, and federalism.  Federalism is one of the principles that is to be enshrined in this interim administrative law.   How that manifests itself is to be worked out between Ambassador -- between  the coalition and the Governing Council, and those are details that they are working through right now.

 

            There is no -- there has been no statement issued.  There has been no specific sort of guidance issued at this point.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And as to the discussion about the link between smuggling and attacks against American forces, we certainly have said throughout and believed throughout that all the attacks on American fores, all the attacks on coalition forces have to be funded through some process.  We don't think that -- we think that many of the criminal activities that we see in the region in general and in Iraq specifically are providing funds for former-regime elements, terrorists, to take -- to carry out attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi people as well.

 

            As for the question about Tikrit, I apologize.  The information we had is as follows:  Coalition forces found three people deceased in a vehicle on the Tikrit western bypass in the morning of January 3rd. A man, a woman and a child were discovered, the victims of apparent gunshot wounds.  It was learned there was a fourth occupant in the auto at the time of the incident who was wounded and was taken to Tikrit hospital for treatment prior to the soldiers' arrival.  There have been no reports of coalition forces firing on anyone or any vehicle in the area.  The Iraqi National Police and the coalition forces are investigating.

 

            And we're hoping that the wounded soldier -- the fourth occupant, the wounded occupant, will provide some information as to what in fact happened.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  In the back.

 

            Q     (Name and affiliation inaudible.)  Early on, the coalition created and promulgated some guidelines for the media here, for the local media, to restrict the use of inflammatory or violent speech in the press.  I was wondering if there are any rules for other forms of media in terms of restricting violent or provocative messages in other forms of media, and whether there is any kind of monitoring mechanism?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah, Ambassador Bremer issued a decree several months ago that sought to strike a balance between the freedom -- protecting freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Iraq, while also protecting against violence and the incitement of violence and using the media as a tool to incite violence against coalition troops and the Iraqi people.  That is a decree that was modeled after similar policies and similar standards and guidelines in the United States, in the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere.  That continues to be the policy in Iraq.  It is something the Governing Council strongly supports.  And it is focused on television, radio, newsprint.  I don't know what other forms of media you're speaking to specifically.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'm sorry?

 

            Q     Music.

 

            MR. SENOR:  It does not reference music specifically.  But I could talk to our lawyers and find out if music would apply.  You can   follow up with me after that.  But I would think that any sort of public expression used in sort of an institutionalized sense, in some sort of institutionalized media that would incite violence against the coalition, incite violence against the Iraqis, would be subjected to this decree.  But I can check on that.

 

            Someone who hasn't asked a question.  Yes?

 

            Q     Julie McCarthy from National Public Radio.  General, today you ticked off, in the beginning briefing, the number of people who have been detained.  And just as sort of an approximation, more than 100 people have been detained by -- I think what you were saying -- the past 24 hours.  You spoke of 25 tons of munitions destroyed.

 

            First, what is the rate normally now of those who are detained and released versus those who are detained and kept in detention, and what do those numbers suggest to you about the broad-based nature of the resistance?  What is that telling you?  What should it be telling us in terms of those who are captured and those who you are keeping held and the numbers who are being released?  It seems like an awful lot of people are being captured and set free.  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, we'd like to release everyone we capture, very simply because if they can establish the fact that they were not conducting anti-coalition activities or attacks against the Iraqi people, we'd all be better off.  But in fact, some do.  And the security detainees we'll hang onto, and the criminal detainees we'll pass on to the Iraqi civil courts.

 

            There are 27 million people in Iraq.  There are around -- under 10,000 people under coalition custody at this point.  I would suggest that 10,000 divided by 25 million is a very small number of the population, and that the vast majority of the population is trying to live a good life, a proper life here in Iraq.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And I would just add that the policy has been that we try to make a determination about whether or not the classification of the detainees is a security detainee or a civilian detainee within approximately 72 hours, which is far faster than it is required under international law.  We try to make the decision within 72 hours, after which the detainee is either retained as a security detainee; if they're classified as a civilian detainee they are sent into the court system or they are released altogether.

 

            Yes?        Q     Patrick McDonald with the Los Angeles Times.  It's been several weeks now since the capture of Saddam Hussein.  It seems that the number of attacks has maintained relatively stable.  Any indication of a diminution in either the funding, the number of attacks, the intensity of attacks, the anti-coalition forces; any indication that they've decreased at all or there's been any kind of a psychological blow or a material blow to those forces due to the detention of Saddam Hussein?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'll speak to the psychological element and let General Kimmitt talk to the details on sort of the impact on the operational side and intelligence.

 

            What we have seen is this: a rapidly increasing number of Iraqis providing intelligence, providing actionable intelligence.  The   quality is definitely improved since the period leading up to the capture of Saddam Hussein, even though we were on an upward scale, but there really has been a substantial increase.

 

            Now, it is premature to establish whether or not it is actually a trend; we're not that conclusive yet.  But it is a positive initial sign.  More Iraqis willing to cooperate; more Iraqis knocking on the doors of humvees, knocking on the doors of military, you know, facilities, approaching soldiers, approaching CPA officials and just wanting to cooperate more in the reconstruction.  And we attribute that to a whole new group of Iraqis that we believe are now in play.

 

            The diehards, the top tier, people like Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of the -- you know, the remaining deck of -- the deck of 52, the remaining 13 within the deck of cards -- those individuals are probably not going to be won over at this point, other than to be captured or killed.  But there are a number of mid-level opponents of the reconstruction, and even lower-level opponents, people who were mid-level Ba'athists, people who just want their jobs back in the ministries, want their cars back, want a stake in Iraq and were hoping that Saddam Hussein would return because they believe that's how they would get the Ba'athist largess sprinkled upon -- showered upon them once again.  They were hopeful that Saddam would return.  They can no longer be hopeful.  And we find among those individuals in certain parts of the country, certainly between Baghdad and Tikrit, less of a reticence to cooperate.

 

            A whole other group of Iraqis, also in that area, who we believe were fearful of cooperating with us, and they were fearful because the rumors and the buzz were out in the shuks and in the markets that Saddam Hussein would return, and when he would return, so would the mass graves and the torture chambers and the rape rooms.  Well, those who were fearful also are finding that they no longer have to be fearful.

 

            So there's sort of two groups that we call the hopefuls and the fearfuls, in a critical part of the country between Baghdad and Tikrit, that are suddenly in play.  And it's from those individuals that we are seeing new intelligence, increasing willingness to cooperate.  It's a good sign.  It's too early to determine whether or not it's a trend, but the momentum has been quite helpful.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think Mr. Senor summed it up quite well.  What I would say is that the quality of intelligence that is cascading as a result of the Saddam capture is very much a virtuous cycle:  higher quality intelligence provided us -- gave us the capability to go out and find sort of a higher level of captures than before.  Before, we were getting the foot soldiers.  Now, to some extent, that's helping   us get some of the mid-level financiers and the organizers.  When you capture them, they provide more information.  More information, more intelligence allows us to conduct more operations.  And it's a virtuous cycle that we see going on right now, and we hope that continues over the days and weeks ahead.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And just one other area in which it's manifested itself is we've seen new enthusiasm for sort of street support for the various Iraqi security services, and an interest in the number of Iraqis who want to participate and volunteer in the services.  I'll give you one data point as an example.  The day after Saddam Hussein was captured, we had a record day in terms of the number of Iraqis wanting to join the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.  And actually, the concentration of that spike was in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.  So we'll see where that goes.  Again, too early to establish whether or not it's a trend line, but they are certainly early good signs.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And frankly, we see the capture of Saddam as not an end post or goal post, but as a milestone.  We've still got a lot of work to do here, both in the security sector and in all the CPA areas, and the capture of Saddam is not taking us or changing our resolve to continue the mission at hand.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Someone who hasn't -- John?

 

            Q     John Donvan from ABC News.  In the showing of the mosque video, it's clear why you did that in order to bolster your credibility of the American version of what happened there.  I'm wondering, in the decision to show that video, was there any argument made against showing it, on the grounds that by portraying booted soldiers walking on the carpets of a mosque, carrying weapons in a mosque, you have given enemies a crystal image of the kind of offense that could play very badly across the Muslim world?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I would say the image that struck me was not the fact that we had soldiers in the mosque, but the fact that a holy site, a holy mosque, which is a place for free expression of religion, was being used as an arms cache.  That is the picture that I think is -- that strikes one when they take a look at the video.

 

            MR. SENOR:  If there was anyone disrespecting the religious sanctity of a mosque, it was the individuals who were using it as a safe house for weapons and organizing of attacks.  And I will say that we consulted with a number of Iraqis before we released the video, not the least of which is General Ahmad Ibrahim, who is one of the top law-enforcement officials in Iraq, with the Ministry of Interior. He was strongly supportive of releasing the video.  And in fact, at a press conference in Arabic specifically for the Iraqi journalists, for the Iraqi press, yesterday, he presented the video, along with two members of the coalition forces.  They felt strongly that this bolstered their case.

 

            There is also sense we get from a number of Iraqis who are in the Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police, some of whom participated in this operation.  They are proud that they are on the front lines in securing their own country.  They are proud that they are contributing to efforts that will capture or kill people who are trying to undermine the reconstruction and turn the clock back on Iraq.  And any opportunity we propose to highlight that, they are always encouraging us more and more to show Iraqis that they are integrately involved in this effort.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  But at the end of the day, those considerations were brought up.  That is one of the filters that we always apply whenever we demonstrate this kind of combat camera footage, because -- for obvious reasons.

 

            MR. SENOR:  In the back.

 

            Q     General, can you comment on an incident in Tikrit today when a foot patrol was shot at and a soldier was wounded?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I would say the comment I would make on that is that is something that we experience every day here in Iraq as we send our soldiers out from 35 different nations to provide a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq.  Our soldiers go out knowing they could be shot at, but they still understand that that is their mission.  And they understand their mission, and they're carrying out their mission.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  You haven't asked a question.  Right there.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            MR. SENOR:  Can you turn on your microphone?

 

            Q     It's a question regarding the downing of the helicopter the other day, including the four people detained.  Do you have any details on their identities and the organizations they worked with?  And secondly, were they suspected or in relation to the attack?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Again, as we said earlier, there is an investigation ongoing, and the investigation will ascertain those facts.  But we will tell you that we have a tremendous respect for the Fourth Estate.  We want to resolve this as quickly as you want it resolved, and we're pushing forward as fast as we can to come to a resolution on this investigation.

 

            MR. SENOR:  There's time for one more question.  Go ahead.  Yes? Sorry, you go ahead in front, you haven't asked a question.

 

            Q    James Blue with ABC News.  Given that there is such a tense relationship between some of the troops and some of the Iraqi people, what is the process in which people deliver tips?  How do they get information to the Coalition Authority and to ICDC?  What's the process?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, I would challenge your given. There are cases where there is a tense relationship between Iraqi people and American soldiers and coalition forces; however, if you were to walk down most of the areas where we have coalition forces, who walk those streets every day and spend weeks and weeks trying to break down those cultural barriers between the two, after a while they realize that down deep they're all human.  And once they realize that they're human and realize that we're here for a purpose which is to help them, then they start trusting us.  And then when they start trusting us, they start confiding in us.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And I would just square the premise of your question up again.  All the survey data, statistical survey data that we have been compiling and researching out in the field -- we've been conducting a number of polls -- not only our own -- independent polls, Gallup, some British organizations have had polls which tracks with the sort of anecdotal information that we hear in the field too.  And three things come out over and over, no matter what poll we look at. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis say, "We're grateful for the liberation"; Don't leave" -- because they are terrified that the situation will be destabilized and the security situation will become an enormous problem if the coalition leaves; and then the third is, "Improve the security situation."

 

            So while there are, as you said, anecdotal -- you can cite anecdotal incidents that you've probably interacted with, where some people have complaints, by and large, we find the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people, whatever their frustrations, certainly do not believe that the solution is our withdrawal.  They want us here. They want to finish the job.  They want a secure, stable environment. And in fact, not only are they supporting our presence here, but in their own numbers, they are participating in raids and operations like General Kimmitt presented this evening.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And to finish up, I would just say that they also -- if they don't have that faith and confidence yet in the coalition forces, we have a significant number of Iraqi security forces out there that they can use as intermediaries.  So whether they provide it to their own Iraqi police, who then provide it to us, or provide it to us directly, there are many ways in which we can get tips from local Iraqis.

 

            MR. SENOR:  We'll take one more right there, and then we got to run.

 

            Q     Basamal Falpli (sp), Al-Iraqiyah TV.  Did the information Saddam has given lead the CPA to arrest -- (inaudible)?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We use significant and numerous sources of intelligence for our operations, and we typically don't disclose the sources nor the methods of that information.  Where that information came from is probably not necessarily as important as the fact that that information is turned into intelligence, that intelligence is turned into operations run by our soldiers, and that gets people off the street.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Thanks, everybody.

 

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