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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing from Iraq

Presenters: Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt and Dan Senor
February 24, 2004 8:05 AM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing from Iraq

(Participating were Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force 7, and Dan Senor, senior advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority.)

 

     Senor:  Good afternoon.  I have a few announcements to make and then General Kimmitt has an opening statement, after which we will be happy to take your questions.

 

     A few administrative items.  Tomorrow at 11:30 and then at noon there will be a roundtable for the press at the Ministry of Health, the Iraqi Ministry of Health, at which Dr. Khudair Abbas, who is the Iraqi minister of Health, will be conducting the roundtable.  Also in attendance will be Jim Haverman, CPA senior advisor to the Ministry of Health.  But Dr. Abbas will be leading the roundtable.  Again, it's at the Ministry of Health; 11:30 a.m. for Iraqi press in Arabic, and then at noon for the English-speaking press.

 

     The Iraqi Ministry of Health will be one of the first ministries that the coalition formally hands over to the Iraqi Governing Council and cabinet.  This will be happening and we will have further announcements about this in the days ahead, but it is the first -- one of the first on our schedule to be handed over.  And we've been saying for some time that each day we are handing over more and more authority to the Iraqi people for the day-to-day operations of their government.  And this is -- the ministries are sort of the next set of big steps that will be happening over the next couple of months.

 

     The purpose of the roundtable tomorrow is to discuss Iraq's health care system, the ministry's accomplishments and the significant events leading up to transition related to the ministry's agenda, not the least of which is the formal hand-over, as I mentioned.  If you would like to attend the backgrounder, you have to get formal access to the ministry ahead of time.  Please let Jared or Susan know, preferably today right after the press briefing.  They are -- they will be around here today or over in the international press center.

 

     Secondly, on Thursday -- sorry, tomorrow as well -- at 9:00 a.m., there is a backgrounder here at the international press center for the -- hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.  This is regarding the upcoming International Olympic Committee meeting, which is taking place in Athens between February 26th and February 29th, and it is expected at any time during that period in Athens the formal suspension on Iraq's participation in the international Olympics will be lifted.  And so there's going to be a backgrounder tomorrow by the experts from our end who have been working on that issue to sort of give you the chronology, the history of what's led up, what was the basis for the suspension, which many of you know; what's leading up to this meeting in the days ahead; how Iraq will be represented at the IOC meeting; and what we hope the next steps will be.

 

     And finally, the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy is hosting a conference on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. on the role of women in the new Iraq, focusing on the role of women during the transition period, and it will relate in large degree to the political process. This is at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday at the Alwiyah (ph) Club in the Firdos Square in Baghdad.   It is scheduled to finish at approximately 3:00 p.m.  And if you want more details on that, please see Jared or Susan as well, after this.

 

     General Kimmitt.

 

     Kimmitt:  Thanks.  The area of operations remains relatively stable.  Over the past week there have been an average of 20 engagements against coalition military, four attacks daily against Iraq security forces, and just under three attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.

 

     In the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,412 patrols, 29 offensive operations, 10 raids, and captured 36 anti-coalition suspects.

 

     In the northern zone of operations yesterday coalition forces detained Ayed Hameed Nouri (ph), a known associate of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, at the Niewan (ph) Hotel in central Mosul.  A human tip led the unit to this hotel where he was apprehended without incident.  Two days ago coalition forces conducted seven offensive operations in Mosul.  All the targets were members of an organization known as the al-Rawfa al-Watani (ph) movement.  Seventeen individuals were detained as a result of these raids, including two targets.

 

     On 21 February, an Iraqi police officer was walking to his station in northern Mosul when unknown persons driving a maroon Opel fired approximately 20 to 30 AK-47 rounds at him and the police officer was not injured.  Two days ago, a white Jeep Cherokee with three personnel armed with AK-47s conducted a drive-by shooting of a northeastern Mosul police station.  Two Iraqi policemen were wounded and taken to a local hospital.  Today, an Iraqi police service student was wounded while en route to the Mosul Public Safety Academy.  The student is currently in a Mosul hospital.

 

     In the north central zone of operations, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces captured Shahab Al-Hawas.  He is a suspected financier of coalition attacks and a cousin of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri.

 

     In Baghdad, one mortar round impacted near the Attamiyah police station on Sunday, missing the police station but striking a house behind it, fatally wounding two Iraqi civilians.

 

     Two days ago, coalition forces supported an Iraqi police special combat unit raid on Nasir Mashur, a suspected murderer, who was captured without incident.

 

     In the western zone of operations, coalition forces and Haswa police officers conducted a joint cordon-and-search to capture or kill members of a criminal gang that had been impersonating coalition forces while committing criminal activities.  Eighteen enemy personnel, including the target individuals, were detained.

 

     Two days ago, the Mahmudiyah police department and coalition forces conducted a joint cordon-and-search against individuals suspected of using local mosques as weapon markets and safe houses.  Five targets were detained, and these individuals are believed to have facilitated the car bomb attack in Iskandariyah on 10 February.

 

     In the central south zone of operations yesterday, local Iraqis reported a possible bomb in Annan Nan, a small village north of Al Hillah.  A coalition quick reaction force and explosive ordnance team were dispatched, and Iraqi police arrested three men carrying explosives in a car.

 

     In the southeastern zone of operations, a coalition force convoy southwest of Az Zubayr was fired upon with small-arms fire from a white four-door Caprice.  There were no casualties.  The convoy did not return fire and continued on its mission south.

 

     And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.

 

     Mark?

 

     Q:  Thank you very much.  Mark Stone, ABC.  General or Dan, can you comment on a newspaper report in the Iraqi press this morning that Nital Arabiyat (ph), who is apparently an associate, a close associate, of Zarqawi, was captured a few days ago?  And if true, can you also comment on how close his proximity to al Qaeda was?  The paper suggests he was very close.

 

     Kimmitt:  I'm not familiar with that report.  I can give you a report of another Zarqawi associate who we killed two nights ago.  I think there might be some confusion on those two reports.

 

     Q:  I think actually the paper did say killed.

 

     Kimmitt:  Yeah.  Okay.  Right.  On the evening of 19 February, coalition forces received small-arms fire from a house in the Al-Jazeera area of Habbaniya, approximately 90 kilometers west of Baghdad.  Coalition forces returned fire, resulting in one enemy killed in action.  Inside the house, the unit discovered a large quantity of bomb-making materials, explosives and electronic components, pro-Saddam literature, pictures of Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. The enemy killed has been identified as Abu Muhammed Hamza, an explosives expert and believed to be one of Zarqawi's lieutenants.

 

     While assessed as a blow to the Zarqawi network, he and his group remain a threat to the security and stability of Iraq.  And the coalition renews its offer for a $10 million reward for information leading to Zarqawi's apprehension.

 

     Senor:  I would just add that the information that the general referred to in the overall picture we are continuing to piece together about Mr. Zarqawi's network and his activities inside Iraq -- obviously this is consistent with what we have been seeing and certainly what we have been reading about in the Zarqawi letter in which he talks about the 25 operations -- specifically bombings, really -- that he's been involved in here in Iraq -- he has orchestrated.

 

     We obviously have reason to believe that this individual that was killed two evenings ago was a part of that overall network, a part of that overall effort.  And we view this as a significant step forward. Still much work to do; obviously we are still in hot pursuit of Mr. Zarqawi.  But this does fit with the overall puzzle that we've been piecing together on the activities of the Zarqawi network, what we believe to be the Zarqawi network, inside Iraq.

 

     Yes, Ned?

 

     Q:  I was just wondering, there were some people captured in that raid as well.  I was wondering what you could tell us about them.

 

     Kimmitt:  What I can tell you is that those personnel are providing information that are leading to further operations in the region.

 

     Q:  And how many people were captured?

 

     Kimmitt:  That's all I'm prepared to say at this time.

 

     Senor:  Yes?

 

     Q [Through interpreter.]:  (Name and affiliation inaudible.) -- my first question to Mr. Dan Senor.  Yesterday the secretary-general of the U.N. has made a statement regarding conducting the election at the end of this -- by the end of this year.  How do the coalition forces view these operations and is there a possibility for conducting this operation for the election?

 

     The second question is for General Kimmitt.  Today there has been an accident at the front gate in the convention palace.  Can you give us detailed information about this accident?

 

     Senor:  On the first question, we have obviously received word and have received a report from the secretary-general.  It highlights a number of issues, one of which we believe is very important is the importance of keeping June 30th sacrosanct; that the June 30th sovereignty handover date must remain fully intact.  We feel quite strongly about that.  Clearly the U.N. does as well, based on its meetings and fact finding here.

 

     It also talks about the importance of direct elections as soon as possible.  We share that view.  At the same time, however, we believe that direct elections must be as credible and legitimate as possible in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and in order to accomplish that in a country with no electoral infrastructure, with no political party laws, no voter roles, no constituent boundaries in a country that hasn't had a census in some 20 years, it will take some time.  Now, the secretary-general, as you said, estimates sometimes toward the end of this year or the beginning of next.  That seems to be consistent with the independent analysis we've received from others.  We've consulted other NGOs in the recent months as we are wrestling with the issue of how to implement direct elections in this country as soon as possible.

 

     So we are now going to look closer at it now that the U.N. has made a formal recommendation.  There is a number of issues that this report raises that we need to look at, and we are hoping that the U.N. will now come back and spend more -- continue to spend meaningful time here.  We thought that Mr. Brahimi's visit was a very good start as we can get -- take a closer look at how to implement some of the recommendations in the report.

 

     Kimmitt:  With regards to the convention center at the palace site, we had heard some minor reports that there was some activity going on, but it would certainly not appear that there was any activity significant enough either to close the convention center -- obviously, we're here -- nor impact operations going on inside the palace.  But for the specific details, we'll have them for you right after this.

 

     Senor:  Okay.  Yes?

 

     Q:  Thanks.  Larry Kaplow with Cox Newspapers.  On the census, is there any infrastructure being put together for that?  I guess that would be important no matter what kind of plan is being looked at.  Is there anything in place, or one of the ministries that's got people ready who could hire people to do that, or any sort of plan for getting that going?

 

     Senor:  A census can certainly -- is an invaluable tool in any environment in which you want to hold direct elections.  But it is not the only tool or is not a required tool in order to lay the groundwork for the legitimacy of the elections.

 

     And we have questions about whether or not Iraq should jump into a census with the hope of getting to direct elections quickly, because to do a full, comprehensive census takes time.  And in the process of compiling a census, you gather a lot of information that actually you don't need in order to hold direct elections.  Remember that a census can collect information on every citizen, effectively, in the country. For purposes of direct elections, you only need information on those citizens that are eligible to vote.

 

     So therefore the census can be time-consuming -- the census process.  If there was already a legitimate census here in place, it could -- we could use it.  It would be a great fallback tool for us. But to launch a census now in order to get us to direct elections -- we have questions about whether or not that's the way to go.  There are other steps we want to look at in how we can get the information we need to make sure nobody is disenfranchised.

 

     Yes?

 

     Q:  Ivan Watson, NPR.  I wanted to ask about the status of forces agreement.  Do you think it's going to be completed by the end of March, as per the original deadline, or are some of the Governing Council members are saying that that's not even on the table right now, and they don't think that they have the authority or the mandate to negotiate that.

 

     Senor:  When we negotiated the November 15th political agreement with the Governing Council, they obviously felt strongly about establishing some sort of agreement by the end of March that would address the role of U.S. forces post-June 30th.  They are now saying, as many of you know and it was recently reported in the press, that, as you said, they don't think they should do it before March -- the end of March; in fact, they shouldn't do it before the end of June; they should do it once there's a sovereign Iraq.

 

     We're open to -- I mean, if the governing Council, which was a strong advocate of addressing the role of U.S. forces by the end of March, now says -- they're taking the lead on this -- they're now saying they would prefer to have it done by a sovereign government, we respect that and are open to it.

 

     I think the important point here is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis recognize that there is a role for U.S. forces after June 30th.  In fact, this viewpoint is consistent with the polling we've seen. And I preface that by saying that most of the polling in this country is primitive.

 

     But that said, as you've often heard me say from this podium before, there are three themes we see over and over in all the polling that we conduct.  One is, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful for the liberation -- 95 percent, 96 percent, 98 percent, in those ranges.  Those numbers tend to be the foil, if you will, to the election results Saddam used to get.  They're glad Saddam is gone, in large numbers.

 

     The second theme we see over and over is that the majority of Iraqis don't like to be occupied.  And that's understandable.  We don't like to be occupiers.

 

     But the third theme we hear over and over, which is sort of paradoxical, given the second, is they don't want us to go.  When I say "us," I think they mean the U.S. security forces.  At least that's what the data indicates.  That they believe there's a role for U.S. forces in the long run going forward; they're worried about the security situation destabilizing if we depart.

 

     And so whether it comes out in the polling, whether it comes out in discussions with Iraqis on the street or whether it comes out in discussions with the Governing Council or political leaders or religious leaders across the country, most of those individuals indicate that they want U.S. forces here.  How it manifests itself, whether it's an agreement at the end of March, whether it's a discussion that we have with the new sovereign government, that can be worked out.  But the important point is the U.S. security forces will be here, assuming the viewpoint we've heard from a majority of Iraqis continues to hold.

 

     Yes?

 

     Q:  This Saturday February 28th is supposed to be the deadline for the approval of the basic law, the interim constitution.  Can you tell us how things stand, whether you think the deadline will be met and what are the standing issues -- that maybe there is no agreement yet?  And what do you expect to happen?

 

     Senor:  I would refer you to the Governing Council on that. They have been working pretty hard to meet this deadline.  They have indicated to us that they think they will meet the deadline.  Dr. Pachachi, who's the chairman of the committee within the Governing Council in charge of drafting the transitional administrative law, the interim constitution, has indicated that they're making a lot of progress.  So we're hopeful that the deadline will be met.  The Governing Council has given us every indication that it will.  But in terms of minute-to-minute progress, I would refer you to the Governing Council.

 

     Yeah?

 

     Q:  Hi, I'm Patrick McDonald with the Los Angeles Times. This Zarqawi associate who was killed, can you tell us, number one, what nationality he was?  Number two, if he was affiliated at all with Ansar?  And number three, there were also some reports, I think, of a Zarqawi passport being found up there.

 

     Kimmitt:  I think that was a bad report about the passport. I believe what was actually being reported was the passport that we had found on him, identifying him as under a different alias. However, we believe, because of his passport -- well, the passport was Jordanian; we believe he has some association with Ansar, not as a member.  But as we've seen with Zarqawi and some of his associates, they have an affiliation with different terrorist groups, but I don't think we would consider Abu Mohammed Hamza a card-carrying member of Ansar al-Islam.  And I believe the third question about the passport being Zarqawi's -- and I believe it was actually Hamza's and the alias that he was using when he was shot and killed.

 

     Q:  So do we believe Hamza was Jordanian then?

 

     Kimmitt:  We believe -- he was found carrying a Jordanian passport.

 

     Q:  But his actual nationality?

 

     Kimmitt:  That's yet to be determined.  That's the only indication we have right now of what nationality he was.

 

     Yes, sir?

 

     Q:  (Through interpreter.)  Thank you.  Hasimil Abaty (ph). There is a question for Mr. Dan.  There is actually the authority is going to be handed over to the Iraqis and starting from the ministries, so there are some of the operations or some of the procedures that are so slow regarding handing over the authority to the ministries, and besides there isn't so much legitimacy and credibility in handing over the authority to the ministries.  So how are you going to -- how will be the situation in case that you leave the country?

 

     The second question -- so the second question is for General Kimmitt.  He says that the number of attacks are increasing day by day, so we are just confronting with every day's attacks and every day accidents.  So how will be the situation in case that you leave the country and we have put so much hope on you and the Iraqi forces?  So how do you view the situation and the future for Iraq after you leave the country?

 

     Kimmitt:  Well, first of all, I don't want to speculate about the coalition forces leaving.  I can tell you right now that the coalition forces are not preparing to leave, and we are prepared to continue the partnership that we have with the Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi army, the Iraqi police service, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps for the future.  And it is our intent to stay here as long as we're needed, as long as we're wanted, and that when we do depart in the future it will be because we have left behind a fully-functioning, robust Iraqi security forces that is capable of self-defense and public security.

 

     Senor:  As far as on the governance side, the handover of authority to ministries, we are doing it at a very progressive and rapid pace compared to other similar reconstruction efforts in history.  Certainly it took the U.S. some -- almost a decade to handover authority to the German government, to a sovereign German government.  We will be accomplishing that in approximately a year, actually almost less than a year.

 

     But it's also important to keep in mind that June 30th is not this magical date which the coalition just sort of, on the civilian side, just disappears.   That's not the case at all.  June 30th is the date at which we hand over sovereignty, we hand over political authority to the Iraqis to run their own country, to govern their own country; but we will -- while Ambassador Bremer will leave on June 30th, much of the operation that we've built up here will be in place as part of a U.S. mission.  It'll be the largest U.S. embassy in the world.  And it will be tasked with many things -- working with USAID and other American organizations, for instance, in the deployment of approximately 18.8 -- exactly $18.6 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds, which is not going to be spent in a matter of months; it's going to be spent in a matter of years.  And that's going to require a lot of U.S. personnel.

 

     So the U.S. presence here will still be significant, even though the Iraqis will be in charge of their own authority.  So any Iraqis that have concerns that the expertise that Americans bring to the table and could help as Iraqis take the reins of their government -- any concerns that Iraqis may have that that all may disappear -- they should not be concerned at all.  We will still have a large presence here.  We will still continue to work hand in hand with the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government on the reconstruction of their country.  They will be making the political decisions, but we will still be here, in a very strong support mechanism, on the civilian side.

 

     Kimmitt:  Yes?

 

     Q:  Lee Keath from the Associated Press.  The list that the military put out last week of the suspected members of the cells, with the rewards for the members of the insurgency cells -- that seems to be mostly old Saddam or former Saddam figures, Saddam regime figures. Are there any suspected Zarqawi associates on that list or foreign fighters in general?

 

     And do you have a sense of -- just as a second part, do you have a sense of who Zarqawi's associates are?

 

     Kimmitt:  Well, if you take a look at the third tier of the people that we have on that list, the 50,000 group, there are some that we suspect of having foreign affiliation and internal affiliation as well, people that we suspect of carrying on operations.

 

     With regards to Zarqawi and his associates, we said very many times that we believe that Zarqawi has come to this country and that not only does he have a group of associates around him, but he also is reaching out to other disenfranchised organizations, extremist organizations, terrorist organizations.  We don't believe that he came into this country with a huge infrastructure, but is trying to develop that infrastructure here.

 

     Senor:  Christine?

 

     Q:  Hi.  Christine Spolar, Chicago Tribune.  I actually just want to go back to the specifics about the arrest -- rather the killing February 19th.  You say a large amount of bomb-making equipment?  Be specific, what are we talking about here?  What was taken?  Can you give --

 

     Kimmitt:  I don't have the specifics, but I can find that out for you.

 

     Q:  Okay.  And also, were you specifically searching for him --

 

     Kimmitt:  No.

 

     Q:  -- or was this part of a raid that somehow you happened upon this?

 

     Kimmitt:  It was more the latter.  The report that we received was that this was a group of civil affairs soldiers that were in fact conducting a different mission, handing out leaflets and such. Came to the door, knocked on the door.  Hamza, for whatever reason, felt himself in danger, started firing on the soldiers, the soldiers returned fire, and in the process, lost his life.  And it was in the subsequent follow-up on who this guy was, why would he be firing at soldiers, so on and so forth, that we somewhat discovered who he was and his associations.

 

     Q:  What was he firing?  I mean, what kind of weapon was he firing and --

 

     Kimmitt:  I understand it was either a pistol or a rifle.

 

     Senor:  Yes?

 

     Q [Through interpreter.]:  Yes, I am from a Japanese newspaper.  The question is regarding the election.  We know that Iraq is composed of 18 governates and that most of the operations that are conducted against the coalition, most of it is concentrated in two or three areas.  Can you cancel or hold up the elections in those governates or the areas where the attacks and the operations are condensed in it so Baghdad -- can the election take place in 15 governates and be cancelled in three governates because of the security reasons?  And this is also one of the suggestions that has been given by Sistani.  So is it possible to conduct an election in 15 governates rather than the three governates where the operations are taking place every day over there?  Thank you.

 

     Senor:  This is a proposal that was recently reported on, however we don't believe has much traction.  It was raised several months ago and then it's started, I think, to come up again recently, the idea of holding elections in certain parts of the country that are more stable than others, those in the south and the north, and in other parts of the country, in the central part of the country or some areas north of Baghdad not hold elections.

 

     And we just don't understand mechanically how that would work. And we don't think from an issue of fairness and credibility and legitimacy that would work either.  It doesn't seem appropriate in the post-liberation Iraq to be holding elections in which you institutionally disenfranchise whole regions of the country, in the populations within those regions.  When there is a political process in this country, which is under way now, and when there are elections in this country, whether they are indirect elections or direct elections, they will be designed to ensure that every citizen in Iraq, every eligible voter in Iraq is somehow represented.  We are not going to single out certain areas and say you can participate in elections and say to others you cannot.

 

     Yes?

 

     Q [Through interpreter.]:  The time has come to proclaim the law of administration.  You are discussing this with the Governing Council.  How will the power be transferred?  Is it going to be transferred to the council or to an individual?  And will Islam be the fundamental source of legislation?  Mr. Brahimi just has said that Islam will be the main source of legislation.  What's your opinion about this issue?

 

     Senor:  The transitional administrative law -- I guess you have two separate issues.  The primary document or the primary body of language within the transitional administrative law will address governmental structures.  It will address a sort of -- a bill of rights, if you will, for the Iraqi people; issues like equality of rights, individual rights, equality under the law regardless of gender, ethnicity.  It will -- as I said, some governmental structures and principles like separation of powers, civilian control of the military, federalism.

 

     The actual body to which we will hand over sovereignty on June 30th, that's still being worked out, as you know from the U.N.'s visit here -- from Mr. Brahimi's visit.  He said that the -- determining the caretaker government, the interim body, the post-June 30th government, the provisional government if you will, to which we will hand over sovereignty is a complicated issue because it looks like it will have to be done through indirect elections.  And having -- organizing elections that are both indirect but legitimate and credible in the eyes of the Iraqi people is a challenge.  It's a complicated process if you want the Iraqis to view those elections as representative -- not just view them, if you actually want them to be representative. And so that's something we're working out.

 

     When Mr. Brahimi was here, he didn't have a quick answer for that. We have the caucus system.  We recognize, we acknowledge that it's complex because the issue is complex.  No, there's no solution that won't be complex.  But we're open-minded and we're going to be talking to the U.N. about that in the weeks ahead.

 

     We are still, however, going to move forward with the transitional administrative law and the interim constitution.  And the Governing Council said they still hope to get it passed by February 28th.

 

     To your question about Islam, we have said -- Ambassador Bremer has been clear on this -- that Islam, Shari'a law, these should be inspirations for the transitional administrative law, for the interim constitution, but they should not be the only source, they should not be the only inspiration.

 

     And in fact, the Governing Council has been quite clear on this. If you look at the November 15th agreement and the principles enshrined in the November 15th agreement, one of them recognizes the Islamic identity of a majority of Iraqis and makes that point central to lawmaking as it is organized and recognized in a interim constitution.

 

     However, at the same time, it also recognizes the religious freedom of all Iraqis and the freedom to practice the religion they pursue.  And it outlines almost a clear commitment to both, to both respect and recognition of the Islamic identity of a majority of Iraqis, yet also recognizing freedom of religious worship for all Iraqis.  And that's our approach.  I think the Governing Council has been clear on this.

 

     Yes?

 

     Q [Through interpreter.]:  From the BBC.  You said that you respect Islam and the Islamic legislation.  The Governing Council, through what has been said, from what -- of the draft of law of administration of the state, stipulated that Islam should be the main source for legislation and the constitution -- that the Governing Council will be based on the -- this means that the Governing Council has given up its promises for federalism and Islam?

 

     Senor:  I'm not going to respond to individual statements by individual members of the Governing Council.  I can tell you what the Governing Council as a body has signed.  The Governing Council as a body, as a collective, has signed the November 15th agreement, which outlines what I said before in terms of the role of Islam in the state.  And rather than comment on individual drafts of the Governing Council as they work to a final document, let's just wait until the final document is complete and then we will, obviously, have an opportunity to comment on that.  But I'm not going to start commenting on individual drafts that may be leaking out and speculating on whether or not that will wind up being the final draft.

 

     Q [In English.]:  Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry.  [Through interpreter.] The final draft that will be issued to the world or to the eyewitness as the law of the Iraqi administration stipulates that Islam should be the main source of legislation.  So what will be your comment if this statement has been clearly done or conducted by members from the Governing Council, what will be your comment?  This is something for sure; we have heard that it was really in the statement of one of the members of the Governing Council.

 

     Senor:  The transitional administrative law could take many directions.  I'm not going to begin responding to questions, hypothetical questions about all the different directions the transitional administrative law could take.  Let's wait.  In a matter of days I think we'll actually have a document, we'll actually see what direction it takes, and then we can comment on that and we can talk about how the coalition reacts to it.  But in terms of the possible ways it could go, there's many possible ways it could go. I'm not going to get into the habit of commenting on each one.

 

     I've got time for -- we've got time for one more question. Someone who hasn't asked.

 

     Yes, ma'am?

 

     Q:  I'm Lee from MBC TV, Korea.  Yesterday in Kirkuk a car bombing occurred.  From early in April, the Korean troops will deploy there.  What's your perspective on Kirkuk situation?  Isn't it too dangerous for the Korean troops to manage?

 

     Kimmitt:  That will be a decision that has to be determined by the Korean military and by the Korean government in terms of what specific rules of engagement they are going to permit their soldiers to use and in what environment they're prepared to commit their soldiers.  At present we have coalition soldiers operating in Kirkuk, operating through Kirkuk.  And while the situation throughout the country is relatively stable, there will be times when there are individual acts of terrorism.  There will be individual attacks on coalition forces.

 

     The Korean forces have a large and long history of working side by side with the coalition.  And if that is the choice of the Korean military and the decision of the Korean government to operate in that environment, we anticipate that those soldiers will perform quite well.

 

     Senor:  Thanks everybody.

 

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