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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
March 22, 2004 9:20 AM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  I just have a short statement and General Kimmitt has an opening statement, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

 

            In response to allegations of the former regime's misconduct in the administration of the oil-for-food program, Ambassador Bremer has issued a directive to interim Iraqi ministers, CPA senior advisors and regional governance coordinators to safeguard all information related to the oil-for-food program.  This includes contracts, amendments and annexes to contracts and supporting materials.  The directive stated that documents should be inventoried and recorded and inventories provided to CPA as soon as possible.  Irregularities, including any evidence of bribes, kickbacks or corruption, should be noted.  CPA officials will review submitted inventories and may seek access to any or all records associated with the oil-for-food program.  These documents will be made available to investigations, some of which are being conducted by the United Nations, the U.S. Congress and Iraqi officials.  The coalition is also assisting interim Iraqi ministers in   identifying any current ministry officials who may have knowledge of misconduct arising from the administration of the oil-for-food program.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thank you.

 

            The area of operations remains relatively stable.  Over the past week there have been an average of 21 engagements daily against coalition military, just over two attacks daily against Iraqi security forces, and just under four attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.

 

            The coalition continues to conduct offensive operations to kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people, to obtain intelligence for future operations, and to ensure the people of Iraq of our determination to establish and provide a safe and secure environment.  To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,336 patrols, 20 offensive operations, 16 raids, and captured 69 anti-coalition suspects.

 

            In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 75 patrols, three offensive operations, and detained nine anti-coalition suspects.

 

            Two days ago, an Iraqi police station southeast of Rabiya was attacked with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.  Iraqi police the attackers without effect and are investigating the incident.

 

            In the north central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 290 patrols, five raids, and captured 36 anti-coalition suspects.

 

            Yesterday the chief of police in Balad, Lieutenant Colonel Fadil Ali Jansen (sp), was assassinated in Balad.  Eyewitnesses saw the killers drive off in a gray, late-model Kia and noted the license plate number, 8881, found later to be a rental vehicle from Baghdad. A good description of the assailant was also obtained, and a be-on- the-lookout alert has been issued.

 

            Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid in Kirkuk in order to capture three brothers suspected of planning to attack a location in Kirkuk, under the guise of Northern Oil Company security personnel. The unit captured one of the brothers and continues to conduct operations to capture his two siblings.

 

            Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid in Baiji to capture a suspect in the 12 March rocket-propelled grenade attack which resulted in the wounding of a coalition soldier.  Three individuals were detained, including the primary target.

 

            An unidentified civilian was killed and eight Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel were injured this morning by a car bomb at one of the gates to LSA Anaconda.  The dead civilian is believed to have been the driver of the car that exploded, and six of the wounded were taken by ground ambulance to the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Balad.  Two ICDC members were treated at a local hospital, and coalition quick reaction forces responded to the attack and have cordoned off the area.

 

            In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 538 patrols, 35 escort missions, and captured seven anti-coalition suspects.

 

            Two days ago, coalition forces observed rockets landing in the coalition sector.  They observed a vehicle flee the scene with his lights off and followed it to a nearby house.  The unit searched the house and discovered artillery aiming stakes and weapons.  The unit captured two Iraqi citizens, who tested positive with a vapor tracer.

 

            Operation Iron Promise continues.  As of last evening, 1st Armored Division troops conducted 76 battalion operations, had captured 115 enemy personnel, 208 weapons, 107 artillery and rocket rounds, and significant quantities of improvised explosive device materials.

 

            More than 130 Iraqi police service officers are undergoing advanced forensic training.  The officers departed over the past two days for the United Arab Emirates for a three-week training course provided by trainers sent by the government of Germany, which also donated forensics kits for each of the Iraqi trainees to use in the investigation of crimes here in Iraq.

 

            In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 208 patrols and detained 20 anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday coalition forces conducted a cordon and search in Fallujah to kill or capture enemy forces suspected of planning and supporting the attack against the Fallujah police station on 14 February.  The operation resulted in the capture of two enemy personnel and a quantity of weapons and ammunition.  Yesterday coalition forces and the Mahmudiya police conducted a joint operation to kill or capture four brothers suspected of a recent attack on the Mahmudiya police chief.  The operation netted in the capture of all four targets.

 

            In the central-south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 110 patrols, established 48 checkpoints and escorted 42 convoys.  Two days ago an Iraqi judge was killed when his car exploded in Al Hillah.  Iraqi police, coalition quick-reaction forces and military police were dispatched to the area and the Iraqi police service will take the lead for this investigation.

 

            Finally, in the south-eastern zone of operations, on Saturday a position manned by coalition forces at the Shatt al-Arab Hotel was attacked by Iraqi males who fired approximately 50 rounds in their direction.  A quick-reaction force was deployed and captured two personnel currently being held for questioning.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And with that we are happy to take your questions.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  I have two questions.  The first question for General Kimmitt:  You say that news media, the Arab media, say that there are six officers who were in the Iraqi army -- there were high-ranking officers, a lieutenant general and 11 officers who were sent to the United States to train them there intensively and bringing them back to use them in the Ministry of Defense.  Is this news true?

 

            You, Mr. Dan, you talked about training the Iraqi police in the United Arab Emirates.  We know that their training will be in the field of forensics.  Why did you choose the United Arab Emirates and what is the role of the German police in this training and expanding on this training?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first question, we were asked the other day whether we had any Iraqi generals in Jordan for training.  We did have eight Iraqi future generals -- candidates for general officers who transited through Jordan on the way back from a course in the United States.  Many of you are familiar with the Marshall Center that we have in Germany.  At that place it's an opportunity to bring generals from different countries together for the purpose of discussing how militaries that work in countries with civilian control of the military -- how they operate, how they set up their budgets, how they work the civil-military cooperation between the defense department and the military departments.

 

            We have started a new course -- the vicinity in the area of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  We had these future generals go back to the United States for some intensive training in the United States for that very same reason.  At this location, at the National Defense University, they became exposed to the notion of how does the military operate with civilian control.  What are the budgeting processes?  What are the civilian- military relations, as I mentioned earlier?  At that location, they saw it all happening.  They were exposed to officers from other countries that live in that environment.  They were able to use that opportunity while in Washington, D.C. to visit some of the different organizations such as the Pentagon, such as Office of the Secretary of Defense, office of the chairman joint staff.

 

            So we see this as an opportunity to set that future leadership corps and cadre up for success as we move the process of developing the Iraqi armed forces from far more than simply companies, battalions or brigades, but also simultaneously training what will be the future leaders of the Iraqi armed forces and how they will operate in a society where civilian control of the military will be the rule.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.

 

            Q     Mr. --

 

            Q     I had two questions.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Oh, sorry.

 

            Q     Second question.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Right.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The course was offered, as we understand, by the government of Germany at a location in the United Arab Emirates.  I don't know particularly why that site was chosen.

 

            (To Mr. Senor.)  Perhaps you have more?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I don't have the details on the site, but generally speaking, as you know, we have a very ambitious plan for the training of Iraqi security forces across the board.  And there is not sufficient capacity within Iraq to accommodate the schedule that we intend to abide by for the training of security forces, so in some cases we go outside the country.  There may not be the capacity, the infrastructure capacity, or there may not be the skill sets locally necessary to train in certain areas as expeditiously as we'd like to, so we sometimes direct that outside the country.  It's temporary.  The   goal is not to train these individuals or train individuals in these specific areas long into Iraq's future outside the country.  But in the short term, as we're building up these forces, sometimes it's necessary to tap into other countries.

 

            Yeah.  Fiona (sp).

 

            Q     Can you give us an update to the investigation to the killing of the Arabiyah journalist?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah.  As we understand, the military investigation is nearly complete.  We had asked for Al-Arabiyah to provide the driver who made the allegations as well as the car.  It is our understanding that there have been two meetings thus far between Al-Arabiyah and the military investigation team.  The actual driver is still in a period of mourning, we understand.  We want to respect his desire to go through the three-day mourning period before we ask to sit down with him.  It is our understanding that that meeting will be held tomorrow.  That should provide enough of the evidence at this point to sort of put the investigation to bed.

 

            Q     Just to follow up, did you get the bullets back from the bodies, from the autopsy?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I don't know.  The investigation team may have that.  I've specifically not got in the way of the investigation, so that they can carry this out without a whole lot of interference.  But I was told today by the 1st Armored Division that they expect to have this investigation done in the next 24, 48 [hours].

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'd just add that yesterday we at the CPA headquarters received representatives of a large delegation of Iraqi journalists who submitted a petition and a letter to Ambassador Bremer, obviously urging for the highest standards in the process of the investigation, which we obviously are -- agree with and are complying with.  And my understanding is that the Iraqi Governing Council received a similar delegation.

 

            Someone over here.  Go ahead.

 

            Q     Yeah.  Hi.  Two quick questions for General Kimmitt.  The first question is, just following up on a question raised the other day by a CNN journalist about access to the Abu Gharib prison, and you had mentioned go to -- ask the Red Cross directly about their access. And the Red Cross has the policy of not speaking, specifically because they know that they will be denied access if they do.  So I wanted to raise that as an issue, if you're aware of that.

 

            The second is, I'd like to find out if you know anything about heightened security concerns of the last 24 hours, specifically rumors that car bombs have entered Baghdad, targeting Western-owned hotels.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first question, about the ICRC, if that's their policy, that's their policy.  It remains our policy that we will not subject the detainees in Abu Gharib or any of our detention facilities to public humiliation or ridicule.  And as a result, we will continue to treat them in am manner consistent with that, as we treat enemy prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

 

            As to the heightened security concerns, we always take a look at all the intelligence that comes into our organizations from various means, and we take the appropriate force protection measures as a result.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Deborah (sp), go ahead.

 

            Q     Hi.  I've got a couple of questions.  The first one:  How worried are you that Yassin's assassination this morning is going to incite possible further insurgencies here in Iraq?

 

            And the second question, totally different:  Do you have any information about the two Finnish contractors that were killed this morning in Baghdad?  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  On the latter question, I would refer those questions to the Finnish embassy.  They've asked to take those questions, rather than us, at this point, until the whole process has worked itself out.

 

            Concerned about the targeted assassinations -- we've been concerned about the increase in violence for quite a long time.  We have felt over the last few months that the terrorists and the extremists have started shifting away from the hard targets of the coalition military and the Iraqi security forces, are now going out of their way to specifically target softer targets.

 

            I think all of us understand why and the purpose of going after police chiefs, after -- going after innocent civilians, going after representatives of the government.  It is simply to try to drive a wedge within this society, between the people of Iraq, whether Sunni, Shi'a, Kurd, and between the people of Iraq and the coalition, and within the coalition itself, by targeting specific countries, for the simple purpose of trying to break our will as this country moves forward.  They recognize that it is a very short time period before we hand over sovereignty to the people of Iraq.  And as we've seen in such documents such as the Zarqawi letter, the terrorists are absolutely intimidated by the notion of this country being passed over to the people of Iraq as a free, democratic and sovereign nation.  So sadly we have predicted and sadly it has come true that we have started to see a spike in violence as we move closer to governance.  All I can say is that I'm glad that the people of Iraq recognize that this is a planned policy of intimidation, and I'm proud of the people of Iraq for not buckling under.

 

            Q     Sorry, I was referring to the spiritual leader of Hamas who was assassinated in Israel.  The people are very angry.  I mean, are you concerned that this is going to spill over into Iraq and trigger more chaos here?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And again, I would say that not only are -- the people of Iraq clearly understand that internal events have the capability of creating a worst-case scenario of sectarian violence and they will not stand for it.  I also believe that the people of Iraq fully recognize that what happens in the world at large does and could have a collateral effect in this country as well.

 

            And the last thing that we have seen in poll after poll, and as we've talked to individual Iraqis -- for example, the most recent poll said that 90 percent of the Arabs in this country want to see a single, cohesive, unified country, and I think they recognize that that's in their best interest and they want to prevent anything from interfering with that.  And so whether it's internal attempts at trying to create sectarian violence or external effects -- events attempting to create sectarian violence, I think the people of this country are smart enough not to let that incite violence in this country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Bukh Hassan (ph), Al-Iraqiyah TV. Regarding the investigation of the OFF program -- oil-for-food -- there are so many Arab and international personalities in Iraq.  So are the investigation would be on public, and are they going to be called for investigations, especially some of the personalities, our international and Arab personalities?  Are they going to be called for investigation?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I would refer those questions to the institutions that are conducting the investigations.  The United Nations has indicated earlier this month that they plan to launch an investigation.  We've recently learned that the United States Congress -- certain congressional committees in Washington will be conducting investigations.  Iraqi officials have indicated -- on the Governing Council have indicated an interest in launching an investigation.

 

            So I would -- the coalition is not conducting an investigation of our own.  We're here to support the investigations of other parties and help uncover the truth by doing the sorts of things I've discussed, which is inventorying, analyzing and providing documents, identifying witnesses.  But in terms of how the investigations are held and who will be subpoenaed, I would refer you to those conducting the investigations.  And I would also suggest that you look at the subpoena authorities -- in other words, the subpoena authority of those individual institutions.  It's really up to them.

 

            Yeah?

 

            Q    Someone asked about an increase of targeting of Western hotels in Baghdad.  And following that, there was a raid on a hotel in the Karrada district last night which houses many Western journalists.  Someone, apparently, was arrested.  I wondered if you could tell me anything about it and what might have been recovered.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think at this point what we'd like to do is let that investigation carry itself out for a few days before we comment on it.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q    (Name inaudible) -- from the Associated Press.  Some senior U.S. officers have recently complained about the delay in delivery of equipment for the Iraqi police, such as body armors and radios.  Do you have any comment on that?  And why is the delay?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.  There are several reasons there have been some delays.  We've spoken about them before.  One, we have had, as I said earlier, a very ambitious effort to build up Iraqi security forces, now almost 200,000 Iraqis serving in security positions in this country, more Iraqis in security positions in Iraq today than there are Americans.  Certainly Iraq is our largest coalition partner today. And so, obviously, the deployment of all the equipment, there's sometimes a lag between the deployment of the equipment and the rapid rate at which we are training and deploying security personnel.

 

            But in specific delays, I think there was some reference to a particular contract related to the equipping of some Iraqi security services and the fact that that contract may be delayed or halted because of an investigation being conducted in Washington about the contract.  And Ambassador Bremer is currently allocating funds from the Iraqi budget to address any shortfall that may result from any delay.  So the plan that was in place will not be put off track as a result of any review of the contract.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Two questions.  Can you first tell me if there's been any new agreement coming together on disarmament of the peshmerga and the Badr brigade, the Badr organization?  Is there talk of compensation? Has this moved forward in recent days?

 

            And second, can you comment on reports of a letter from Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's office to the U.N. saying he may boycott their visit if they come, because of ongoing disagreements with the Transitional Administrative Law?

 

            MR. SENOR:  On the second issue, I have no knowledge of any such letter.  Obviously, I would refer you to the U.N. or to Ayatollah Sistani's office.  I do not speak for either.

 

            On your first question, we are in discussions with the militias.  It's our policy, as was outlined in the Transitional Administrative Law, that there is no room in the new Iraq for security organizations that are outside the control of the national government.  And while we intend to recruit individuals from across Iraq, including former members of militias, into the new Iraq security services -- be it the army or the police, the civil defense corps, border guard, facilities protection services -- they will be recruited as individuals, not as representatives of a political party, a faction, a militia.  That continues to be the policy and we want to implement it, as far as the militias are concerned, in a way that allows their members who want to play a role in the new Iraq and who have -- we have no concern about playing a role -- there's nothing in their background or their past activities that we believe should preclude them -- we want to do it in a way that provides opportunities for them to get involved.  And if there is no role, we're looking at a number of ways to provide them a sort of dignified withdrawal from security roles that they had in their militias, be it some sort of pension program or new employment opportunities.  So we're in discussions with the militias right now about doing that.  We've been making a lot of progress.  No final details yet; we'll let you know when we have them.

 

            Caroline?

 

            Q     Can you explain, then, why so many doctors are still complaining of drug shortages nearly a year since Saddam was toppled?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I haven't seen any reports of any complaints, so if you can give me something specifically, maybe after this, I can respond.  Generally speaking, I think that the Iraqi health care system was in pretty dreadful shape when we arrived.  In fact, in Saddam Hussein's last national budget he dedicated 70 cents per capita to health care funding.  We have increased the Iraqi -- the 2004 budget has increased the Iraqi health care budget by something like 3,500 percent.  We've opened all 240 hospitals, we've opened primary health care centers.  There's substantial funding in the supplemental that the U.S. Congress appropriated last year to opening additional primary health centers and, of course, there's substantial funding that has been dedicated to the distribution of drugs and pharmaceutical products.  I haven't seen the specific complaints.  If you can get me a specific complaint I can talk to our health care staff and get their specific response.

 

            Q     They're not specific complaints.  But almost any hospital you go to it is the constant complaint.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Oh, okay.  So just sort of generally speaking I will say we are, as I said, we are -- we've made a lot of progress; we're deploying a lot of funding to this.  But recognize that like much of the other essential services in Iraq, after 35 years of chronic underinvestment a lot of these efforts do not get repaired overnight. We've made dramatic improvements over what existed before.  We know we have to make more progress.  We are dedicating substantial funding to it.  It's certainly a priority.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  I have two questions.  From Al Mashriq newspaper.

 

            The first to Mr. Dan Senor, regarding the Ministry of Health. Putting off the personal funding, the auto-funding, the resources of the Ministry of Health has been reduced.  So you have to increase the budget of the Ministry of Health.

 

            Second question is that when there is any bombing taking place -- when there is any accident taking place in an area, the coalition soldiers try to randomly capture a number of people in the area without specifying them, and later they are being released.  So is there any systematic procedure you -- the coalition forces follow to capture those people, or is it done randomly?

 

            MR. SENOR:  On your first question, the Ministry -- we have dedicated substantial funding, as I said in response to Caroline's question, substantial funding to all health care programs in this country, including the standing up of the Iraqi Ministry of Health. And in fact, it looks like the Iraqi Ministry of Health will be one of the first four or five ministries that we will hand over total operational control to the Iraqi authorities, the Iraqi minister of health, Dr. Abbas.  That will be our first -- it will be included in the first tranche of ministries that we hand over in the months ahead. So the Iraqi Ministry of Health is in good condition, pardon the pun, and we are working closely with the management of the Ministry of Health to put them in a position to stand alone, independent of the coalition senior adviser that currently works with them.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  As to your question about our capture procedures, no, they're not random procedures.  We spend an awful lot of time developing intelligence before we conduct an operation, and it's not just one source of intelligence; it's many sources of intelligence. We know that there's often a chance that somebody who provides a piece of intelligence may have a piece of intelligence for -- that he may have another reason for somebody to be picked up.

 

            However, when we do that raid, when we do that cordon and search and we pick up a target, if that target is sitting in his living room with perhaps three of his friends and they're all there cleaning weapons, we would probably be expected not only to pick up the target, but those other four persons that were sitting -- three or four people that were sitting in there with him, even though they weren't the primary targets.  We would bring them in for capture.  We would bring them in for questioning.  We would ask them reasonable questions: what were you doing with our target, have you been helping our target out?  And we're going to spend some time with those people because if they are with one of our targets, they may have some information about other operations that this target may have been planning to carry out against the people of Iraq or against the coalition forces.

 

            If, after a reasonable period of time, it turns out that those other persons that were picked up along with the primary target have no information or are not considered an imperative threat to the coalition, we're going to put them back on the street, back to their homes.  If, on other hand, we find out that they have intelligence, which would lead us to believe that they might have been implicated in other criminal activity or other security issues, certainly we're going to detain them as well.

 

            But to your specific question, no, our process is not random.  No, we don't go on large sweeps.  No, we don't take hostages.  And no, we think our way through before we conduct these operations, based on very credible intelligence.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  Go ahead.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Is he going to be detained for security reasons and then he would be released?  Until the investigation get over?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We will capture those collateral to a raid, and we will hold on to them for some period of time.  If, within the first 72 hours, we cannot prove to a reviewing officer that that person is an imperative threat -- security threat to the coalition, we will typically send that person back home.  But we don't try and convict without a judicial process.  We do hold on to these persons as security detainees, as long as they are considered a security threat to the people of Iraq and to the coalition.

 

            We do reviews after a period of time, which, quite frankly, are not even -- those reviews are not even codified inside the Geneva Conventions.

 

            But we have and we continue and we will continue to put those captured back on the street, those that we have detained for a period of time back out on the street.  I think we're releasing a very large number tomorrow, somewhere on the order of -- we released a couple of hundred, I think, on Sunday, and we plan to release couple of hundred more on Tuesday.  So we will be getting these people back into society when they are no longer deemed to be security threat to the people of Iraq and to the coalition forces.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            Q     General Kimmitt, just to follow on the questions about the raids at the hotels, are these being directed in any way, I guess, in relationship to what you discussed earlier about this shift to softer targets, or are you acting more on specific intelligence in doing these --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We go where the intelligence takes us.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Namir (sp) from the Spanish News Agency.  Can I ask General Kimmitt?  This morning two people from Finland were targeted.  It's said that they were killed by a sniper.  Have you investigated this?  Is there any -- another accident (sic) in which a sniper was used to kill Iraqis or foreigners?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The coalition did not make that report of a sniper.  We read that in the newspaper.  Whether it's somebody with a weapon who was shooting from a very short range or from a very long range, I'm not sure that we are capable of saying that there are technically snipers out there, people that are firing on the order of 1,500, 1,600 meters away from the target.

 

            I suspect that what we're going to find out when the investigation is complete -- that investigation, which is being conducted by the Iraqi police service -- that this was probably simple small-arms fire and not a trained sniper who was going after a specific target.  Again, that's just speculation.  But to answer your question, I don't think that we have seen highly trained snipers operating in the Baghdad area, as one might have taken away from the terms that were used in that article.

 

            Go ahead.

 

            Q     Yesterday we read in al-Zamal (ph) newspaper about the dismissal of the deputy of the Ministry of Interior, Ahmed Kadhim. What's your comment about that?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'm sorry?  The dismissal of who?  I'm sorry.

 

            Q    Dismissal of the deputy of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ahmed Kadhim.

 

            MR. SENOR:  I have no information on it.  I would refer you to the Ministry of Interior.  I don't have any details on it.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Off mike) -- from Middle East News Agency.  Mr. Dan, can you give us information about when will the United Nations mission visit Iraq?  Do you have any information concerning Lakhdar Brahimi, whether he is going to head this committee?  Especially, that some religious leaders are opposed to this leadership of Lakhdar Brahimi for this team.

 

            MR. SENOR:  The Governing Council has written a letter to the United Nations, which I understand they have received, inviting the U.N. to return.  The coalition has sent a letter, as well, inviting the U.N.'s assistance in advising the coalition, in advising the Iraqi Governing Council, in advising the Iraqi people on the formation of an interim government and helping advise on the preparations for the direct elections that will take place in this country by the end of January 2005.  The U.N. has, as I said, acknowledged the receipt of the letters and indicated that they intend to move soon.

 

            We don't have exact dates yet.  We will not, at least -- the U.N. is free to, but we, of course, will not announce any specific dates, for operational security reasons.  And it is our understanding that Mr. Brahimi will play the lead role in overseeing these U.N. teams when they arrive.  He recently held a press conference discussing communications he's had with Iraqi leaders, particularly religious leaders.  My understanding is they're moving forward according to plan.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  From Al-Hurriyah Television.  My colleague talked about the random raids.  I want to ask about the random shooting.  In case the American forces were targeted to an attack, we see that the coalition soldiers start shooting randomly without identifying the target.  This happened for many times.  We have visited the hospitals and we have seen men and women civilians wounded by this random shooting.    Is this behavior individually or is it systematic behavior?  Or is it the orders of the coalition forces?

 

            I have another question:  If this happens in America when children and civilians are subjected to the bullets of the coalition -- or is it only indifference to people?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  First of all, when you end a statement with a question mark, that does not make it a question, but I will answer it nonetheless.  Our soldiers operate under very strict rules of engagement and rules for the use of force.  That is a systemic policy. They are expected to stay within those rules of engagement and the rules for the use of force.  That's what they're trained to do and that's what they are expected to do.  And so, number one, no, the soldiers don't shoot randomly as a matter of policy; no, they don't shoot randomly as a matter of procedure.  And I would challenge you to give me a specific case of where you can ascertain that our soldiers shot randomly --

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  And in Hifah (sp) in the hospital of Karamah (sp), I have seen them by myself.  I went with many journalists to this place when a -- (inaudible) -- vehicle was struck. There I found children and women and Iraqi civilians wounded by the bullets of the coalition forces.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And if I could complete my answer to your question -- again, our soldiers are expected to follow the rules of engagement and rules for the use of force.  On those instances, those very rare instances when our soldiers do not operate within those rules of engagement and rules for the use of force, they are investigated, they are tried and the appropriate actions are taken at the end of this -- at the end of that trial.  Very simply, I think that the record that is shown by the coalition forces from 35 different nations is that their level of restraint in many of these situations is a credit to their training, a credit to their discipline and a credit to their leadership.

 

            Let me finish.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Let's move on to the next question.

 

            Q     I want to say to you -- talk to you, but --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Bahram Hamid Ali (ph) from al- Mushtel (ph).  Will you prosecute Jordan for purchasing oil from Saddam at half price?  And within the corruption, there are many who got coupons for free oil from Saddam.  Will they be prosecuted?

 

            MR. SENOR:  That's precisely what the U.N. has indicated they want to investigate, is any of these sort of irregularities: kickbacks, corruption, bribes in the oil-for-food program.  The coalition isn't conducting an investigation.  We are, however, working aggressively to compile the information necessary for investigations that will be conducted by other institutions.  So the specific charges, and to use your word possible prosecutions, those are issues that will have to be determined by the organizations that are conducting investigations.  We are in a supportive role.  We want to do everything we can to help uncover the truth here, and Ambassador Bremer has issued a directive to that effect.  And we will be taking additional steps in the days and weeks ahead to further bolster the robustness of the overall investigations that are being conducted in ways that we can be helpful.

 

            Sewell, go ahead.

 

            Q     Hi.  I'm Sewell Chan with The Washington Post.  Some questions for General Kimmitt about the incident at the Balad military base this morning.  I was out there and several ICDC members who were present at the time of the bombing this morning, sir, expressed a lot of concern about whether the ICDC is at greater risk from these -- from terrorists and from insurgents than the U.S. military forces. Some of them feel that they're essentially almost cannon fodder.  You know, they're much more exposed, they're less protected than U.S. military personnel are, and they don't feel that they're given adequate protections for what they're asked to do.  Also I just -- I wanted to ask you to respond to those concerns, and also if you could tell us what sort of units are based at that airbase.  And if you could tell us also a little bit about the ICDC units that are co- located there, I would greatly appreciate that.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Let me talk to you about the ICDC, first of all. That is an organization that we are building up on the order of 45 battalions.  We want them to work side by side with the coalition forces, and to suggest that somehow they are being used as cannon fodder, somehow they are being used as something other than full partners in the security requirements here in the country I think would misstate the fact.  I think perhaps at that time, after they had seen a couple of their buddies wounded, they may have made some comments that they probably are going to later regret.

 

            But the fact is that we have worked side by side with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps since its inception.  We have worked alongside them, we have equipped alongside with them, and frankly the coalition soldiers have fought and died alongside them as well.  There is no suggestion that somehow we are going to put the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps out where we would not be willing to go; quite the contrary.  The commanders on the ground fully understand that the Iraqi Civil Defense, the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi police service are fundamental to the partnership that we have with the security requirements here in the country.  They're full partners, and they will work alongside the coalition forces until they're ready to take independent missions on themselves.

 

            We still have some training to do.  We still have some development to do.  We still have some experience for them to gain. But we're tremendously proud of the responsibilities that they've undertaken.  We admire their courage.  We admire the fact that they will fight and bleed and die to defend this country, just the way 570 American soldiers have and another hundred or so other coalition forces have done.  That's a full partnership, and there's no such thing as a junior partner and a senior partner in this process of defending this country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Okay.

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- question about --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Turn on the mike.  (Inaudible.)

 

            Q     I'm sorry.  Could you answer the latter part of my question, sir, about the base and what ICDC units are located there and what --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  I think that as a matter of course we're not going to specifically talk about all the different bases we have in this country and which units occupy them, for obvious operational security purposes.

 

            Q     Not even just the one at Balad, sir?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Nor the one in Ramadi, nor the one in Fallujah.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            Q     I was wondering:  Have there been any investigations of soldiers violating rules of engagement by shooting randomly and that kind of thing?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We've had a number of investigations over the years -- over the past year of soldiers who have not used -- who have   not followed the proper procedures for the rules of engagement and rules for the use of force.  One that comes to mind is that of Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, and there are a couple of more out there.  I think those that are a matter of public record can easily be picked up.

 

            But yes, there have been, sadly, cases where soldiers have operated outside established, trained rules of engagement and rules for the use of force -- a very, very small number in a force of over 150,000.  I think the numbers are well less than a dozen -- don't have the numbers right here; I'm only even speculating on that number.  But less than -- I guess, by my calculations, that would be one in a thousand, far less than one in 10,000, far less than -- probably about one in 10,000.

 

            And that's -- while each of those cases is nothing to take great pride in, the fact is that 99-plus percent of the soldiers are operating well within those rules of engagement, under very tough conditions, showing remarkable restraint, day after day, operating inside this country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Time for one more.  Go ahead.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Name and affiliation inaudible.) My   question is regarding the threat that is the threat of the floods because Turkey has opened their dams and they have been exposed to the danger of floods.  And we, Iraq, haven't got any precautional (sic) procedures for these emergency cases.  What happens if Turkey has opened or opens their dams fully?  What are the precautional (sic) or emergency (steps) that the Iraqis should take in case that we are confronted with such a case, the threat of a flood?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I will consult the relative authorities on that issue.  I don't have the answer right now for you.  And tomorrow at the briefing, or separately I can have one of our people follow up with you, we'll get you that information.

 

            Thanks, everybody. 

 

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