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DoD News Briefing

Presenters: Mr. Lawrence Di Rita, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
December 08, 2004 1:30 PM EDT

Wednesday, December 8, 2004 1:29 p.m. EST

DoD News Briefing

(Also participating was Brigadier General David Rodriguez, Deputy Director for Regional Operations, Joint Staff Operations Directorate)

 

            DI RITA (Pentagon spokesman):  Good afternoon.  And I'm sorry that we kept you waiting just a little bit.

 

            As you know -- I think most people know the secretary's traveling.  He was at the inaugural of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan on December 7th as part of the vice president's delegation to witness an obviously historic event, and it was one in which he felt very proud to be part of.

 

            From there he has today met with units about to deploy into Iraq who are in Kuwait.  Had a town hall meeting, a very expansive town hall meeting that covered a whole variety of issues.  It was the typical kind of assessment of what's going on in the theater.  And the range of questions from the soldiers, pretty typical for the range of   questions he gets for those things.  And then went on from there and is in India meeting members of -- elements of the Indian government, which has been a very important and growing strategic partner of the United States.

 

            And let me ask General Rodriguez to make a handful comments, and then we'll be happy to take some questions.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Thank you, Mr. DiRita.

 

            And good afternoon.

 

            Three years after military operations began in Afghanistan, the oppressive rule of the Taliban has been replaced with a democratically elected representative government.  Yesterday President Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's first democratically elected president. While U.S. forces are still involved in maintaining security and stability, and of course training Afghan security forces, this single event captures the essence of what the Afghan people and the coalition have been working toward -- a country led by a representative government that is no longer a staging base for terrorist activities and training.

 

            The opportunity in Iraq is much the same.  Multinational forces continue to work with Iraqi security forces to provide a safe and secure environment for the January elections.

 

            Also, in the wake of the typhoon in the Philippines, U.S. and Philippine military and civil authorities are working together to conduct disaster relief operations.  The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force is providing approximately 600 Marines, about a dozen aircraft, and humanitarian supplies to the affected region.  Our primary concern is to rapidly reduce the further loss of life and human suffering, and to enable the Philippine government to conduct sustained disaster relief operations.

 

            And with that, we'll take your questions.

 

            Q:  Larry, General, based on the comments made by the soldier in Kuwait that U.S. forces are having to scavenge through landfills to find scrap metal to attach to their vehicles, why has the Pentagon not provided sufficient numbers of armored vehicles for U.S. troops deploying to Iraq?

 

            DI RITA:  First of all, I'm not certain of the specific situation that the soldier was referring to, nor is the commanders who were there and heard the same comment.

 

            Here are some facts, though, that might be helpful.

 

            First of all, the general context is that the requirement for large numbers of armored vehicles in Iraq was one that began to be identified in August-September of 2003.  Commanders there at that point started to face this growing improvised explosive device challenge and said that they would like to have higher numbers of armored HUMVEES than they had originally projected.  At the time, which was in the fall of 2003, the United States was producing something on the order of 15 armored HUMVEES a month.

 

            So, subsequent to that decision that there was a larger number needed, the Army has done just a superb job of turning around a component of the defense industrial base that was doing different things.  The Army prioritized a much greater need for armored vehicles across the board, including armored HUMVEES.  They improvised with add-on kits that could be used to attach to existing HUMVEES, and then they also went out and sought additional production capability.

 

            And it's one of the great sort of stories of what happens in the United States when the country is at war.  When the country's at war, the war begins and then we start to mobilize, and this is a perfect example of the kind of mobilization that took place.

 

            The president has added probably a billion dollars -- $1.2 billion, I think, and counting -- to the defense budget to specifically pay for armored vehicles since the first fiscal year 2003 supplemental appropriations bill.  That said, we're now producing something on the order of 450 armored humvees a month.  So it's multiples of what we were producing just a year ago, a little bit more than a year ago.

 

            In the theater, there are -- approximately three out of every four HUMVEES is armored.  In this particular unit in which the young man asked the question, the way that that unit is arranging to move into Iraq, that unit will transport its vehicles -- it's a brigade combat team; there's something on the order of 1,000 vehicles on the brigade combat team of all types.  It will fall in on existing armored HUMVEES in its area of responsibility in Iraq for a unit that will be leaving Iraq.  And the commander estimates that there's plus- or minus-200 armored HUMVEES that the unit will be, as I said, falling in on -- in other words, taking responsibility for a departing unit's vehicles.

 

            The commander -- I called him, because I saw the town hall meeting myself and it raised the same question in my mind.  So I called the commander and just tried to get a sense of what the actual circumstances are.  And as -- in addition to the things that I've just told you, what he said was that the policy is that units move into the theater -- vehicles that are driven by soldiers are armored.  If they are not armored, they are not driven; they're convoyed in on other vehicles and they're used in base operations, base camp operations inside of Iraq.  They do not leave the base camp.

 

            So the Army and the combatant commander in the region has a policy.  It's a policy that involves a substantial mobilization of the defense industrial base to provide a need that, for all the other priorities that we were focused on prior to 9/11, was not being filled.  It's now a need that needs to be filled and is being filled.

 

            As to whether an individual unit might be taking advantage of equipment that's about to be returned to the United States and seeing if there's some aspects of that equipment that they can use for themselves before it goes to the United States and maybe taking components out of it, that's a very standard practice to sort of just take advantage of essentially retrograde equipment that's going to return to the United States.  And if a unit -- the policy has been if a unit determines that it would like to use some of that, it goes and gets access to it.  I don't know that that's specifically what the young man was referring to.

 

            But I think the point is that there's a plan for the rotation of forces that involves substantial numbers of production of armored vehicles.  The commanders there recognized that they would want more armored vehicles a year or so ago, and we've gone about the task, including providing the funds to do it.

 

            Let me also just -- you know, the Secretary goes to visit with troops so that he can hear the entire range of things that troops have on their minds.  It is very common for the Secretary to hear from troops about a situation that their family may be having difficulty getting access to continuing education on base or something like they don't have the kinds of programs at their facility that they wish they had for their families.  It runs the gamut.

 

            At this same town hall -- I was watching it this morning, as I said, and it was available on the Pentagon channel and we'll post a transcript here shortly -- the range of questions was quite typical. There was a soldier who asked whether -- for example, the chaplain of one of the units asked if the secretary would be prepared to take his unit to Disneyland on his plane.  There was another soldier who wanted to make sure that his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, were going to -- he was sure was going to go to the Super Bowl, and they wanted to make sure there was going to be television access while they were inside of   Iraq.  There was, I think, a very positive interaction that the secretary had after the event; probably spent 45 minutes shaking hands and taking photos, which is a very typical aspect of these kinds of events.

 

            So I watched it.  I thought it was a very standard event that the secretary does.  He enjoys doing it.  He gets a lot out of it.  He hears an entire range of issues that are on soldiers' minds and frequently comes back asking a lot of pointed questions of this department as a result of what he hears.  There's an old adage that you never issue an order outside the chain of command and you never try and get information inside the chain of command, and there's some truth to that.

 

            So he goes out and he likes to meet with troops because that's what he hears.

 

            Q:  I'd like to ask you two things about that.  First, do I understand correctly from your answer that no soldiers are going into combat without armor on their HUMVEES?  Is that what you're saying?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't think that's what I said.  It certainly wasn't what I intended to say.  What I said -- and General Rodriguez, if you want to step in at any time -- what the policy is -- and I spoke to the officer in Kuwait responsible for ensuring that units in and out of the theater are equipped as appropriate -- the policy is that units that are going into Iraq, if they're going to drive their vehicles into Iraq, they drive in armored vehicles.  If their vehicles aren't armored, they -- the policy is that they are convoyed on other vehicles; they're put on the back of trucks.  And they're used for operations around the base; in other words, not moving around the city, where there may be more of a danger to IEDs.

 

            That being said, the IED threat is a real threat.  It's one in which we're spending an enormous amount of time and energy to try and understand better and develop countermeasures to.  You know, there are other things than IEDs.  There are mortars and there are other things that might be a danger, and mortars can certainly come into a base camp in which an unarmored vehicle could be destroyed.

 

            So I didn't say what you may have thought I said.  What I said was that the policy is that for the most part, armored vehicles are used outside the base camp, and for the most part, unarmored vehicles are retained to the base camp.  The general can answer.

 

            Q:  The second thing I wanted to ask you about that.  You said that the need for large numbers of armored vehicles was identified in, I think you said, August 2003.

 

            DI RITA:  Well, that was when the tactics started to develop that they started to notice that the enemy was using -- as the secretary has talked about many times, we're going to school off each other.  And the enemy in the summer of August 2003 started deploying in large numbers -- and there could have been earlier, but that's how the Army sort of dates the beginning of this understanding that suddenly the combatant commanders are asking for large numbers of things that we don't have.  And so what we have to do is what armies have had to do throughout the history of man, which is go out and get those things.  And that's about the time at which we started to apply a lot of additional resources and change priorities to get those.

 

            Q:  Well, I wanted to give you an opportunity to reply to -- a member of Congress I interviewed about this today said this is just more evidence that they had no clue what they were getting into when they went into Iraq, they were totally unprepared for what followed the combat.

 

            DI RITA:  At the time that this additional tactic started to be used, what everybody was talking about -- and I would encourage you to go back and look at transcripts -- was, "Dismount.  Get off and patrol.  Don't you guys understand you have to be out there with the community and patrol?"  I was there in the May-June time frame, when the whole business was dismounted patrols.  "You guys sent all the wrong stuff.  It's all the heavy stuff, and what you really need is the light stuff."

 

            As I said, we -- the enemy -- the adversary's going to school on us, and what it does is take advantage of seams, and we address those seams, and they find other seams.  And we're going to keep doing that, and we -- it's a test of wills, but it's also a test of the capabilities of the United States to be flexible and respond to those. That's what combat planning is.

 

            Combat planning is not a crystal ball.  It's not predictions. It's being able to project some -- sufficient flexibility in the plan to react to the kinds of things that are going to happen once you get there.

 

            The same time frame, there was a great deal of concern that we were going to have to have a lot of capability to handle mass flows of people.  And oh, by the way, at the same time, they're going to not be able to eat, because the food distribution system in the country is broken.  None of those things happened.  We were very equipped to do that.

 

            So the same member might wonder whether we were equipped for the wrong things by being equipped for something that didn't happen. That's just -- that's what planning is all about.  It's not a prediction.  It's a plan.

 

            Q:  Larry, you said that the Secretary essentially welcomed the frank and pointed questions from members of the military during these meetings.  Nevertheless, this soldier's question has provided ammunition to some of the critics of the Secretary.  Is there -- do we know if this soldier will come under any admonishment or get a talking-to by his commander or in any way be sanctioned for speaking out?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know.  General, maybe that's something that's more appropriate for you to answer.

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No.  No, that doesn't happen.  You know, they're going to continue on.  And you know, the soldier's going to do the same job he was before.  We don't take action against those -- things like that.

 

            Q:  (Off mike) -- in trouble --

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No, not for asking a question.

 

            Q:  -- for possibly embarrassing the secretary?

 

            DI RITA:  No.

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No.

 

            DI RITA:  I don't think he felt embarrassed.  I think he answered the question as appropriate, based on his understanding of the question that the gentleman asked.

 

            Q:  Also, some of the accounts specifically quote Rumsfeld as saying, "You go to war with the Army you have."  And the implication seemed to -- he seemed to be saying there, sort of, "Well, suck it up; that's life."  Can you tell us what he meant by --

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah.  No, that's certainly not -- I think what he means is a sort of shorthand of what I just described.  In other words, in September of 2001, the United States Army was planning for things that in some cases were radically altered by what happened on 9/11.  We were planning for -- we were building an aircraft that we've now decided we don't need anymore -- the Comanche.  We were building a very large armored vehicle that we decided we don't need anymore, called the Crusader.

 

            I mean, it -- what -- I think what the Secretary was acknowledging -- for example, you know, throughout history, this has been the case -- when the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor 63 years ago yesterday, we probably had small handfuls of landing craft.  Four years later, we had tens of thousands of landing craft that we needed to prevail in that conflict.  And that's just -- that's what history is about.  It's about adapting, and the mobilization capability of this country is second to none.  And we're doing the same thing when it comes to armor in Iraq.

 

            Jim?

 

            Q:  Yeah, what is the requirement now for armored vehicles, and where are you, how far --

 

            DI RITA:  I would say that anybody who thinks they understand that requirement is making a guess.  It is a requirement that is going to continue to change as the situation changes.  At the moment -- I'm hesitant to use these numbers because they're numbers that are undoubtedly going to change.  But there is a total of -- the CENTCOM validated requirement, according to the data that we've established, is for 13,000 armored -- add-on armor kits, and up-armored is at 8,000.  And we're at a total of 19,000 in theater of the combination of those two, so we're short by some few thousand.

 

            But it's a -- those numbers are soft because the requirement changes.  Remember, on September 3rd -- or September of 2003, the requirement was 15 a month, and that's obviously a requirement that had virtually no meaning.  So requirements are what the commanders say today:  based on what I've learned and what I'm seeing, I need something different.  And we're going to do our best to respond to that, and there's a process by which we try and do that faster all the time.

 

            Q:  You said that the commanders this morning told you that the troops going into Iraq would be falling onto equipment of troops going out.  But I understand that there's going to be a delay of the troops going out by an order of 10,000 service members in order to have more personnel for the elections.  It's probably a better question for the General.  Will these -- with this overlap and bubble of people, will there be enough combat equipment for them?

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  The commanders on the ground say there is.  And they have adjusted their plan accordingly.  You got to understand that there's a tremendous flow going in with the -- for example, the 450 armored HUMVEES that are getting produced, and everything.  So probably what is happening on the ground, instead of increasing in certain things they're probably staying the same while, you know, the extra ones go to the other units.  But they have a plan to do that, to spread them throughout evenly throughout all the forces that need them for that extra 10,000.

 

            DI RITA:  And I think that both are certainly capable of being true.  I mean, the commander mentioned to me simply the unit that the young man was in, he is aware that that particular unit is falling in on the unit -- a unit that is leaving.  That's a disaggregated assessment -- your number's an aggregated assessment.  So --

 

            Q:  But just to be clear, the soldiers that were in this unit, is it your understanding that they are not currently involved in missions, for instance, transporting things from Kuwait into Iraq?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know.  I don't know what their current mission is.  I think this is a unit that's about to move into Iraq.

 

            Q:  But your understanding is that if they do go into Iraq and they're driving, they're in armored vehicles?

 

            DI RITA:  My understanding is what I told you, which is that if they are driving a vehicle, according to the policy that they intend to execute and they've been executing, if they're driving they're in armor; if they're not in armor -- if the vehicle is not armored, it gets convoyed in.  And armored doesn't necessarily mean a HUMVEE.  I mean, there's a lot of other armored vehicles.

 

            Q:  Do you know who the commander is?

 

            DI RITA:  Major General Spears, who was with the secretary. And so I saw him on the video with the secretary, and I thought, well, let me just find out from him what they're saying.

 

            Yeah?

 

            Q:  One numbers question.  Do you have any numbers on how many of these HUMVEES, armored and unarmored, that have been destroyed?

 

            And second, are these soldiers -- from the town hall -- are these soldiers' complaints and the pointed questions representative of a wider perception among the troops that the military isn't taking care of them?

 

            DI RITA:  The first question we'll take because I don't know that we have that answer.

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No, I don't have that answer on destroyed humvees.

 

            DI RITA:  And I think it would be hard to draw that conclusion based on looking at the entire event, the conclusion that you've postulated.  It was an upbeat event.  It was one in which there was a lot of cheering.  There was a lot of kind of lighthearted moments. There was a heck of a gaggle at the end of it in which the soldiers wanted to get their picture made with the secretary, and he loves doing that and is happy to spend as much time -- and I think some of you in the room have been with us when he's taken an awful lot of time to do that.

 

            That being said, there's always going to be issues that soldiers want to raise and sailors and airmen when he goes to these various installations that are quality-of-life issues or, indeed, warfighting issues.  And as I said, he is aware that those issues are on the soldiers' minds, that they're on their families' minds.  He -- it is a part of the range of things that he -- it is very common for him to address.

 

            I remember going to a base installation here in the United States where members of families were asking very pointed questions about health care coverage and very -- that's the kinds of things he gets asked.  And he takes a lot of notes and he issues a lot of notes afterwards, asking people to get back to him on what we're going about those kinds of things.  So that's what he does.

 

            Pam?

 

            Q:  On the armored policy, just to be clear, it was my understanding that, particularly when you had the unit that was wary about going out on the road, what they were complaining about is that their trucks weren't armored.  So not all the -- not all the vehicles on the road are armored.  You're only talking -- this policy only applies to HUMVEES, right?  Because trucks over there ride in convoys and they're not armored, but they're guarded by armored --

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  For example, in the flatbed trucks, okay -- and what happens on the unarmored humvees that Larry's talking about that are going from Kuwait all the way up into -- they put the unarmored HUMVEES on the top of the flatbed trucks.  The flatbed trucks are not armored, that's correct.

 

            Okay.

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah, and I would -- I'm glad you raised that because I'm not trying to overstate.  The point is that the young man apparently asked about armored HUMVEES, and there was a policy on HUMVEES that if you're driving in a HUMVEE it's going to be armored, and if you're -- or you're going to be operating in the vicinity of a base camp.

 

            Q:  And that's -- a comment on what you said because I think when we make some phone calls we're going to hear about it.  When you compared this situation to Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor obviously was a sneak attack and the United States wasn't expecting it, but in this case this was a war that the United States planned and went into.  And so I think -- you might have critics saying that you should have had that stuff beforehand.

 

            DI RITA:  We did not plan -- it reflects an understandable but unfortunate misunderstanding on your part of what the war in Iraq is, which is part of the global war on terror.  And that is not a war that we started.  It is a war that was begun when we were attacked on 9/11.

 

            Q:  But the Iraq part of it was something that you started.

 

            DI RITA:  Right --

 

            Q:  Whatever the value of attacking Iraq or not, I'm not arguing that --

 

            DI RITA:  Right.

 

            Q:  -- but I mean, I think it's hard to argue that we didn't start that war.

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah.  Okay.

 

            Q:  Okay.

 

            Q:  I have a follow-up on that first part there.  Is there any plan -- I understand that for some of the older trucks, like the 5-ton truck, there's no official up-armor kit right now, and that's the vehicle that you see a lot of homemade steel plates welded onto the side.  Are there any plans to create like an official armor kit for that, so there's bullet proof --

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know, but we can get some information on that.  Or I would just refer you to the Army, which is responsible for this, and see if they've got some information on that.

 

            Yeah?

 

            Q:  General Speer told the A.P. later that he was unaware that his troops were gathering the scrap metal, and yet the Tennessee National Guard, the adjutant general there, has issued a statement saying that he had talked to the general and that the units from the 273rd were helping in obtaining these materials from the scrap yards.

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah.  I don't know -- I've told you what -- I've given you some speculation on that point, and I just don't have anything more to say on it.  And we'll let it sort out in theater. And when we have some information, we'll be happy to try and provide it.

 

            Q:  Can I ask you a question about the ACLU documents and the Jacoby letter and all that?

 

            DI RITA:  Sure.

 

            Q:  Can you describe for us the orders or what activities this task force, as mentioned in the Jacoby letter, was engaged in and what realm of latitude they were given, who were they targeting --

 

            DI RITA:  Let me --

 

            Q:  And the fact that this letter came out in June, months after the Abu Ghraib news was publicized -- doesn't it concern you that events like this could still be happening in light of all the Abu Ghraib stuff?

 

            DI RITA:  Let me try and answer the question differently. That memo was written, I think -- a DIA -- a memo from Admiral Jacoby that people have seen now to Dr. Cambone.  It went through that channel because the people involved happened to work in the DIA.  Dr. Cambone has no responsibility for Special Operations forces or any kind of guidance to Special Operations forces.

 

            Admiral Jacoby, as you know, is the director of the DIA.  The complaints came via DIA people and it went to Admiral Jacoby, who then forwarded the concerns to Dr. Cambone on the 25th of June, I believe it was.  On the 26th of June, Dr. Cambone asked that -- initiated guidance within his own organization to get to the bottom of it immediately.  He expressed his own discomfort with the information, said it was unacceptable, wanted a full report on the action taken, et cetera.

 

            The memo was -- the allegations were -- there were two things that then began, some of which were ongoing, and this thing was combined with that.  This was June of '04.  We already had a number of investigations going on as a result of the Abu Ghraib revelations.  Admiral Church's inspector general team was already reviewing similar allegations, and some of this information was provided to that team.

 

            The elements of these charges were referred to both the Criminal Investigation Division and elements of the U.S. Special Operations Command.  The upshot is that over the course of time, the task force commander had already initiated an investigation, the same task force, into potential detainee abuse, and so he widened his investigation to include these allegations.  Now this is all within a period of time after they've surfaced.

 

            Based on the results of this specific investigation, four individuals received administration punishments for excessive use of force.  In particular I'm advised that it was the unauthorized use of Taser.  Additionally, all four were reassigned within the -- all four were reassigned to other responsibilities, and two were removed from the unit.

 

            So I mention this because this is what we've been able to compile over the course of the last several hours when this memo came to light via the ACLU website.  It's something we're going to do our best to do to try and pull the string on when these disconnected memos get presented and do our best to put the information out when we're capable of understanding exactly what happened after that.

 

            Our policy is one of disclosure.  We have disclosed thousands of documents already.  There will be thousands more.

 

            So to get to your question, will there be more of these happening, I'm in no position to predict whether other people will violate rules and procedures in this department of 2.4 million people, but I am prepared to postulate that it's possible.  And if that happens, we will do our best to pursue them aggressively and disclose it as appropriate.  And in this case, we've learned that these were in some cases channeled off into an ongoing investigation that had already been initiated inside the unit and in some cases channeled off to an investigation that we had initiated, the Admiral Church investigation.

 

            Q:  Why was there already an ongoing investigation?

 

            DI RITA:  That I don't know.  That I don't know.  And as we get more information -- I mean, these kinds of allegations occur.  And that's what commanders do.  They respond to allegations.  They don't respond to websites, they don't respond to newspaper articles; they respond to allegations.  They do it all the time.  The unit has issued overall 10 letters of reprimand relating to all allegations of detainee abuse, other allegations that have arisen as well over time.

 

            The Navy Special Warfare Command has two special courts-martial pending.  Two personnel have already received non-judicial punishment. There are four other non-judicial punishments pending.  And there are two investigations of a -- what we call Article 32 nature ongoing. And that's just one command with respect to one set of Special Operations teams.

 

            We've got -- I think we've already talked about eight or nine other of our own separate investigations going on; three more are pending -- the Church report, the Formica report.  The Formica report specifically deals with Special Operations.  The Helmley report on Reserves is pending.  There have been 18 congressional hearings. We've done almost 40 briefings on the Hill.  One general officer has already been suspended from command.  These are detainee abuse around -- you know, globally.  Twenty-six soldiers have been referred to trial by court-martial; 46 have received non-judicial punishment; 13 memoranda of reprimand have been issued.  That's in the Army alone. There have been 14 convictions by court-martial in the Marines.

 

            This is something that the department takes very seriously.  It's something that commanders take very seriously.  It's something that for the most part has been revealed because we've revealed it.  We will continue to reveal it.  Part of the revelation will be us putting something out, somebody taking what we put out, putting it on their website and saying, "Hey, we got something!"  And then we're going to go through that sort of breathing each other's exhale for a while.

 

            But it's important.  We'll do it.  We're going to keep putting stuff out.

 

            New topic -- is that what I'm supposed to say?

 

            Q:  Actually it's an old topic --

 

            Q:  Yes, new topic.

 

            DI RITA:  Great.  What have you got?

 

            Sorry, Mark.

 

            Q:  On the elections, the Iraqi officials -- some are suggesting they're considering holding the elections over a couple of weeks as opposed to one day.

 

            General, from a security standpoint, can you talk about the pros and cons of that, of having it over several days as opposed to one day?

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No.  That's being developed in consultation with the Iraqi interim government right now.  And, you know, we just got word of that just like you did here recently.  And they're working it out, but I don't have the details on that at this point in time.

 

            But, you know, the short story is that, you know, if you have only part of the country, you know, going to the election booth each time, you can better secure that area and then spread that around as you go.  But that's the detail we know at this point.  But like I said, it's being developed in consultation with the interim Iraqi government at this point in time.

 

            DI RITA:  I'm not sure that any decisions have been made.

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  No, nothing has, they're just --

 

            DI RITA:  Just speculative.

 

            Q:  I was just asking from a security standpoint, though, what are the benefits of that, of spreading it out?

 

            RODRIGUEZ:  Right.  And that's the only thing that I've understood so far at this point, okay?

 

            Q:  On the task force mentioned in the Jacoby letter, can you tell us what the role of that task force was, and?

 

            DI RITA:  I cannot.

 

            Q:  Okay.  Were there CIA?

 

            DI RITA:  I do not know.

 

            Q:  Okay.  What's the name of the commander of that task force, since he -- obviously -- he apparently took some actions --

 

            DI RITA:  If we've got more to provide on that, we will.

 

            Q:  I mean, can you something?

 

            DI RITA:  I just don't know.  I mean, I don't -- I can't.

 

            Q:  On the investigation, though, the result of the disciplinary action, did they find any larger problems with the command climate in that unit?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know, but I know that that's one of the specific things that the Formica investigation is going out for, which is to take a look at Special Operations -- Special Operations have to some degree a unique role.  Obviously, we know what their unique role is, but they also have different sets of challenges when it comes to detainee management.  And it's one in which we've -- I think we've briefed on it.  General Harrell briefed to some extent about three or four months ago on their procedures.  They have just a range of activities that make this question one that deserves special attention.  It has gotten it by General Formica, and when we're prepared to discuss those kinds of broader policy questions, we certainly will, and consistent with classification and everything else.

 

            Q:  Yeah, but what's odd about this situation is that it didn't come to light until DIA people from a different -- you know, from a different organization, you know, basically raised the charges.

 

            DI RITA:  Well, I don't know what "come to light" means. There are courts-martials all the time in the United States military. There are non-judicial punishments every day.  It came to light after all of that had already happened.

 

            Now I don't know if we should start -- I mean, you know, how we could better tally up for people that there's a court-martial going on, and it's based on the following things -- I don't know.  There's always ways that you want to be more transparent, as transparent as possible.  But I think there are probably tens of thousands of judicial and non-judicial punishments that take place in the United States military every year, and it's one in which -- to say it didn't come to light suggests that nothing was done, and it's really not true.  I know that's not necessarily your intention, but a lot of things -- by the time this thing came to light, people had been held accountable; people had been, in some cases, removed from duty; letters of reprimand issued.

 

            So you know, you wanted all that to happen and also there to be sort of a public tally every day, and I guess we'll do our best to make sure that as this stuff becomes available, we'll put it out.

 

            Q:  Larry, let me ask, on the Formica report --

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah.

 

            Q:  -- there's been some speculation that when that report is finally completed, that will remain a classified report because of its subject matter.

 

            DI RITA:  Sure.

 

            Q:  You've said that, you know, when these things come to light, we finish investigating them, we'll bring them forward.  Can you say to us that that report will be made public, at least --

 

            DI RITA:  What I have always said is, we will bring them out, consistent with classification.  And I've said it in particular with the Formica report.  In fact, I said it about a minute ago, with the Formica report.

 

            Q:  Right.  So --

 

            DI RITA:  So we'll do that, consistent with classification. It is our desire that as much that can be understood about what is going on with respect to detainee management be understood -- be understood by the public, be understood -- and you got to understand the tension and the balance that we've got to measure all the time on that.  I mean, about three or four months ago, we released to the world our interrogation techniques, because we thought that was the right thing to do.

 

            Well, the world includes al Qaeda terrorists.  So they now know what our interrogation techniques are, for better or worse.  I think for worse.  On a day when we're rightly proud that we've passed this legislation in Congress to make the intelligence reforms better -- and they were needed, and it's a major legislative victory for the president -- nonetheless, in the same climate, we're telling al Qaeda, "Just in case you're curious, here's our interrogation techniques." And that's something that we've got to measure and balance against every day how we operate.  So we are going to be transparent, consistent with classification, and I just can't do any better than that.

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            DI RITA:  I got maybe time for one.  Jim, what do you got?

 

            I'll come back to you.

 

            Q:  When do you expect these reports to come out?  Do you got a ballpark time for these reports?

 

            DI RITA:  Well, it's my understanding that the Church report -- I think I've talked about the Church report.  It's moving around this department for comment.  Admiral Church very much wants people's comments.  It's a comprehensive report.  He tried to take a comprehensive approach.  Remember, his task was gaps and seams.  He wanted to make -- his job was to look at all the other reports and see if there were any gaps and see if there were seams that we may need to go back and look.  So he tried to write a very comprehensive report, and it's quite substantial.  It's a substantial document, and so it takes time for people to review it and understand it and offer suggestions.  That's the long way of saying I don't know in terms of Church.

 

            I am told that the Formica report is -- the Formica report had to be reviewed by the Central Command.  General Casey has apparently had the opportunity to review it at the multinational command level, but has been obviously managing quite a wide range of tasks in the last couple of months and has only recently been able to turn his attention to the report and understand it and make sure he captures what he needs to capture from it.  So these things are moving along with all the stately elegance of reports that move through the Pentagon, but everybody's -- everybody very much wants to get the information out there and get on with life.

 

            I got time for one more.

 

            Q:  Larry, you said that four of these people had received administrative punishment for what you believe was inappropriate use of the taser.

 

            DI RITA:  I am given to understand that was one of the specific charges or one of the specific transgressions.

 

            Q:  Would you agree with critics who would say that the inappropriate use of a taser would be tantamount to torture?

 

            DI RITA:  I have nothing to say on that.  I just don't know. I mean, I don't know that I would agree with that.

 

            Q:  Potentially inflicting pain.

 

            DI RITA:  I think police departments use taser, if I'm not mistaken, so there's a way to do that.

 

            Q:  It's non-lethal, but it's not -- it's not non-feeling.

 

            DI RITA:  Yeah, and I got nothing for you on that.

 

            Q:  What does administrative punishment mean in this case?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know in this case.  Administrative punishment typically means a fine or a reduction in rank, but there's a whole range.  There could be restriction.  There's a whole range of things that can be handled through the non-judicial proceedings of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

            Thank you very much.

 

            Q:  No criminal charges at all, though?

 

            Q:  Aren't you excited to be doing these?

 

            DI RITA:  I am.  I'd -- (inaudible) --

 

            Q:  I wish you did more.

 

            Q:  Any criminal charges resulting from it?

 

            DI RITA:  I don't know the scoop on that.  We're trying --

 

            Q:  But some of these things did go to -- (inaudible) --

 

            DI RITA:  I just don't have an answer --

 

            Q:  (?)  Some of these are governed by privacy -- (off mike) --

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            Q:  So we don't know if there are criminal charges?

 

            DI RITA:  Don't know.  I don't know.  Some of the initial -- some of the initial references were to the Criminal Investigation Division, and in the 12 hours since this has come to light, I haven't been able to get hands on it.

 

            Thank you.

 

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