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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations, Dan Senor, Senior Advisor, CPA
April 23, 2004 12:00 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

           MR. SENOR:  Good evening.  I have a short opening statement.  General Kimmitt -- (off mike) -- remarks, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

 

            I wanted to begin by just providing a brief summary for you on the subjects addressed by Ambassador Bremer in an address to the nation which he taped earlier.  It was broadcast at 3:30 p.m. local time.  It will be broadcast again later this evening, at 9:30, and then it will be broadcast again tomorrow.  We'll be playing it several times, broadcasting it several times, over the next couple of days.

 

            The address covers four areas:  Iraqi security, Iraqi jobs, the issue of Iraq coming to terms -- Iraqis coming to terms with the brutal and horrific past of the former regime, and looking forward, the political transition going forward.

 

            Firstly, on the area of coming to terms with Iraq's past, I understand there's been a lot of confusion earlier today in the reporting.  I just wanted to clarify one thing in particular, and that relates to the issue of de-Ba'athification.  De-Ba'athification was and remains the right policy for Iraq.  The Ba'ath Party poisoned Iraqi public life, and it was one of the brutal instruments of Saddam's tyranny.

 

            There is no room in the new Iraq for Ba'athist ideology or for Ba'athist criminals.  Banning the party and removing from public life those who used it to commit crimes was necessary when we and the Governing Council implemented this policy earlier, and it continues to be necessary.

 

            As many of you know, Ambassador Bremer signed the de-Ba'athification order in May.  It was the first order he signed.  To this day, that policy is the single most popular policy we've heard about in Iraq, in the thousands of conversations we've had from Iraqis.  That was the case back in May.  It remains the case today.

 

            We then in the fall delegated -- in October of 2003 delegated the authority for de-Ba'athification going forward to the Iraqi Governing Council.  And on January 10th, the Governing Council's Committee on De-Ba'athification and the Coalition Provisional Authority agreed on procedures for implementing the policy.  And then the procedures were expected to move forward from there, and they have in most cases.

 

            But many Iraqis have complained that the de-Ba'athification procedures have been applied at times unevenly and sometimes unfairly, particularly in the education sector, where the requirement for teachers and professors to join the Ba'ath Party was strongly enforced.  Many teachers were Ba'athists in name only, and the result was that many of these teachers were dismissed from their jobs when the de-Ba'athification policy was implemented.

 

            Therefore, in coordination with the Iraqi minister of education, the minister of higher education and the chairman of the Supreme National De-Ba'athification Commission, we are taking steps to ensure that the policy is implemented fairly and efficiently.

 

            De-Ba'athification review committees were established last year to review the thousands of appeals from former Firqa-level Ba'athists who were dismissed from the jobs but, under the de-Ba'athification procedures, have a right to apply for reinstatement.

 

            The decisions made by local de-Ba'athification appeals committees at the Ministry of Education will be effective immediately.  That is what Ambassador Bremer announced in the speech today.  This will allow thousands of teachers to return to work.

 

            Thousands more will begin receiving pensions this week, those that have applied for them and for those to whom the pensions have been granted but, again, not issued.

 

            Primary and secondary school teachers formerly of the rank of Firqa members whose appeals have not yet been heard will have their appeal adjudicated within 20 days -- again, effective immediately.

 

            The National De-Ba'athification Commission will handle the cases of hundreds of university professors with the same urgency.  Professors who do not use their post to intimidate others or commit crimes should be allowed to return to work promptly.

 

            So just to summarize on that particular point:  The procedures were set up on January 10th to allow for a very progressive appeals process, a two-level appeals process.  Iraqis who were de-Ba'athified could choose to appeal or, rather than appeal, they could opt out and apply for a pension, a regular pension payment that is commensurate with whatever their ministry-level salary would have been.  Those were their options.

 

            Thousands of teachers appealed to get their jobs back, those who believed they were Ba'athists in name only, and in the case of thousands, their appeals were granted, but their jobs were never reinstated.  It was a procedural matter.  That is what Ambassador Bremer announced today.  That procedural snafu will now be corrected.

 

            Secondly, those who have applied or appealed and have not heard a response back yet, that process will be expedited, 20 days.  It relates specifically to teachers.  And going forward, we will be engaging a similar policy for professors.

 

            That is the extent of the technical procedural fix with regard to de-Ba'athification.

 

            Now otherwise in the address, Ambassador Bremer talks about how we intend to build out the command structure of the Iraqi military, something he has talked about for some 10 months now.  That following the disbanding of the military, the old Iraqi army, as we built out the new Iraqi army, something like 70 percent of the personnel in the new Iraqi army would come from the old Iraqi army, provided they did not -- they were fully vetted and did not have a hand in the atrocities and the crimes of the former regime.  That has always been the case.  And certainly as we built up -- which was always expected to happen -- months after we built up the lower ranks, we'd need senior ranks as well.  They would have to also come from the ranks of the former army, and that would entail bringing some senior-level officers back into the new army, again, subject to a very strict vetting process and subject to ensuring that they did not have blood on their hands.  That was our policy 10 months ago.  That continues to be our policy.

 

            In the speech, Ambassador Bremer also talks about the situation in Fallujah, and I quote.  He says: "The situation in Fallujah has calmed in recent days, but those responsible for the lawlessness and unrest that began in Fallujah in February with the murder of 17 Iraqi policemen still bear heavy arms in the streets.  Some of these men belong to the banished instruments of Saddam's repression.  Others are foreigners working for professional terrorists like Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi.  These are the people who have brought death and destruction to Fallujah."

 

            And he goes on: "We call upon the people of Fallujah to support the legitimate Iraqi authorities in bringing this crisis to an end.  We hope that they join in ridding the city of heavy military weapons.  Those who turn in weapons voluntarily will not be arrested for weapons violations.  The current cease-fire is a good start, but without exception armed bands in the city must submit to national authority.  If these bands do not surrender their military weapons and instead continue to use them against Iraq and Iraqi and coalition forces, offensive operations will resume."  Again, he's highlighting points that we've been making for some days.

 

            He also talks about militias that are present in Najaf and Karbala, and I quote from the speech again: "We in the coalition recognize the holy nature of these cities.  I add my voice to those of the religious authorities who have called for disarmament in these holy cities.  We are prepared to work with these authorities to achieve disarmament.  Armed militias should not be allowed to exploit holy shrines to advance personal political interests."  And he goes on to talk about the situation there and the steps we are taking.

 

            Consistent with the area of security, he talks about our policy on detainees and steps we are taking to get information out to the families of detainees and steps we are taking to expedite the process by which detainees can be processed through the system and be released, if they should be released, in an expeditious manner.  General Kimmitt, if you have questions, can elaborate on that.

 

            On the issue of the economy, he -- Ambassador Bremer indicates that he has ordered the -- he has instructed the coalition to accelerate all reconstruction projects, particularly ones that employ Iraqis, everywhere in the country.  And I quote, he says, "We expect that they will create over a million-and-a-half jobs over the next year.  I have instructed the coalition," Ambassador Bremer continues, "to give priority to Iraqi firms whenever possible in order to create as many opportunities for Iraqis as possible.  To date, the firms working on these projects have given contracts to several hundred Iraqi firms."

 

            And he goes on to update that he has given our military commanders and coalition offices around the country an additional $500 million to spend on reconstruction projects which can be quickly completed, like fixing roads or schools.

 

            And then again, he gets into issues related to national remembrance and reconciliation, particularly this issue of de-Ba'athification that I spoke about earlier, and funding that he is setting aside for the Iraqi special tribunal, as they continue to take important next steps, and funding for a national commission on -- for remembrance, which will be part of a broader effort to -- for Iraqis to come to terms with their past.  He -- the commission will administer a $10 million fund for these remembrance projects and will -- and for one central -- some sort of memorial project, and will of course accept private funds as well.

 

            These are the highlights from the address.  As I said, they touch on a number of issues relating to de-Ba'athification, to security, to the economy and, as I said, the political process, which -- he goes on to talk with very encouraging words about the work of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi and the path to Iraqi sovereignty on June 30th, and how that is beginning to take clear shape.

 

            And with that, General Kimmitt, do you have --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think, because of the late hour, let's go ahead and dispense with the operational update and move right on to questions.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And of course, if you have any questions on operational items, he'll be happy to -- General Kimmitt will be happy to answer them.

 

            Yes, sir?

 

            Q     David Willis from the BBC.  You've made clear that your patience is running out as far as Fallujah is concerned.  What is the deadline there in Fallujah for the hand-over of heavy weapons?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We have not established a specific deadline.  We want to keep those times to ourselves, so that when we decide to conduct offensive operations, if we decide to conduct operations, that will be kept as part of normal operational security.  We don't want to necessarily telegraph our moves, but we've been very, very consistent over the past 14 days that these discussions must bear fruit.  Our patience is not eternal, and if we don't start seeing some results of these discussions, some good-faith efforts on the part of the enemy, we're prepared to end the suspension of offensive operations and resume them.

 

            Q     Are we talking about a week?  Are we talking about a week here, General, or --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think we're talking days.

 

            Q     Days.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Jane?

 

            Q     Thank you.  Jane Arraf, CNN.  Dan, you said this is not a change in policy, de-Ba'athification.  Hard to see how it isn't, given that this started out as a very black and white policy, and now there are major changes, okay, in implementation.  I wonder if you could address that.

 

            And since it has prompted such problems in this country, why has it taken a year to address this?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, first of all, if you look at the original de-Ba'athification policy, Jane, it disqualified those individuals that were part -- members of the top three layers of the Ba'ath Party and/or the top four layers of any ministry.  That remains intact.

 

            If you look at the original policy, there was an appeals process.  So Iraqis had the opportunity to either make the case that they were members at that level in name only, or they were forced into it, or there were some other extenuating circumstances that deserved them to be granted some sort of exception or appeal.  That was the policy.  That continues to be the policy.

 

            What we have found recently, based on discussions with many people, particularly in the area of education, is that the policy's fine, but the manner in which it's been implemented has at times been uneven.  And in the case of the teachers, where you have over 10,000 teachers who have appealed because they really do fall into that category, at least many of them do, they have appealed because they believe that they were Ba'athists in name only, and the appeals have been granted, but they haven't gotten their jobs reinstated.  That's a procedural, technical matter that we are correcting.

 

            But the fundamental policy remains intact:  top three layers of the Ba'ath party, you are disqualified; top four layers of the ministry, you are disqualified.  There is an avenue, there is an appeals process, or a process to get your pension reinstated.  But the policy remains intact.  It was the same as it was when we implemented the policy or announced the policy last May, it's the same -- the procedures are the same as they were when they were announced on January 10th.  And now we just have to inject some technical fixes here to ensure that it's implemented fairly.

 

            Q     Why did it take so long to do it?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sure.  We -- obviously, these are based on discussions we've had with a number of Iraqis, teachers, senior ministry officials from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, and those are discussions we've had over the past several months.  And it's really -- for instance, if you think about it, January 10th the procedures are announced.  So over the subsequent several months, many Iraqi teachers are applying for appeal.  So they apply for their appeals, they wait to get an answer.  We learned recently that it took many of them long to get answers, you know.  That's why we have announced that going forward, it must take 20 days.  If you apply for an appeal, you get an answer within 20 days, when we learned that it was taking so long.  B, many teachers who were granted the appeals were not getting their jobs reinstated.  And so they were waiting and waiting for their jobs to be reinstated and no word, no reinstatement occurred.

 

            And so, as there was a groundswell of information coming forward, coming up, as we were hearing more and more that there was a real problem here for the teachers, we sought to address it.

 

            Q     Those are the teachers.  What about the army generals and the colonels?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, that policy is intact as we announced it months and months ago.  I mean, we've said all along that we'd have to recruit from the senior ranks of the military in order to build up the military from the bottom up.  We started with the lower ranks, which is what was done in the first few months of the reconstruction, and then you begin to work on the more senior ranks.  As General Kimmitt articulated yesterday, you cannot pull generals out of thin air; you cannot recruit and train generals in a matter of weeks or a couple of years.  These are people who have to have tremendous experience.

 

            And so we've said all along that we would be pulling from the pool of the old Iraq army, so long as they were fully and robustly vetted, and so long as they did no have Ba'athist blood on their hands.  And that is the case with the senior ranks that we have been and continue to look at as we build out the senior ranks.

 

            (To General Kimmitt)  I don't know if you have anything to add to that?

 

            (No audible response from the General.)

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency.  Dan, how does it come that if somebody gets an appeal granted and he was not reinstated in his job, did you analyze why this was the case?  Because if somebody has a paper he's --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sure.

 

            Q     And then a question to General Kimmitt.  Yesterday you accounted about the turn-ins of old rusty weapons.  During today, have there been any other attempts to get weapons turned in?  Was there a difference or was there nothing at all?

 

            MR. SENOR:  On your first question, it's something we're concerned about -- how is it that someone gets an appeal granted and their job isn't reinstated.  And we're obviously still looking at it.  What it looks like thus far, however, is that the appeal committee -- the way this procedure is structured is there is an appeal committee in each ministry designated for each governate.  And then there's a second layer of appeal at the national level, at the National De-Ba'athification Commission level.

 

            At the local level, the local ministry level, the appeal may be granted and there's, I presume, some sort of piece of paper, some document that's issued.  But the communication -- the information transfer from the ministerial committee that grants the appeal, that grants the job to be reinstated, that information flow from that point to the actual ministry office that's in charge of rehiring, and the school to which teachers are to report back to, there was a gap.  And so the second point in that process was not getting the information.

 

            Now, it remains to be seen; in some cases we think the information wasn't being transmitted, in other cases the information wasn't being received.  But in either case, the problem is the same.  Teachers who deserve their jobs back weren't getting their jobs back.  And for teachers who were Ba'athists in name only, do not deserve to be excluded from the reconstruction of this country and the rebuilding of their country, particularly if they're innocent, capable and competent people who have skills that could make an invaluable contribution.  It's not fair to Iraqi children to deny competent and qualified teachers just because they were Ba'athists in name only.  These are not people who have blood on their hands; these are not people who were involved with Ba'athist atrocities. And so there was an information glitch, a technical glitch.  Ambassador Bremer, since it affects thousands of Iraqis across the country, Ambassador Bremer sought to address it in a national speech.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On your second question, there were a couple of weapons turned in today, far less than yesterday, but the weapons that were turned in today were of generally the same low quality as those we saw yesterday.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Quinn O'Toole with NPR, for Dan.  Have other members of the Governing Council, other ministries, made similar requests to this one with the Ministry of Education to make changes to the process that you're talking about?

 

            MR. SENOR:  No, not to my knowledge, Quinn.  My understanding is that the problem with teachers and, to some extent, professors has been the primary problem.  In the case of the teachers, it affects over 10,000 teachers, and so that is a problem that seems to be unique to the relevant education ministries.

 

            Q     Will they be addressed if other ministries or members of the Governing Council raise concerns about other areas?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Not to us.  The area that we have heard repeatedly -- and it was less from the Governing Council -- I mean, this has come up at Governing Council meetings, but it's more in meetings we and Governing Council members have had with teachers and senior members and senior officials of the relevant education ministries.

 

            So if your question is could it be a problem in other ministries -- quite possibly; we haven't heard about it.  The teachers issue is one we've heard about repeatedly.  It seemed to be a real problem, where literally thousands of teachers were wiped out of jobs.

 

            And it was really -- a tool to career advancement was joining the Ba'ath Party.   But in the case of teachers, it's not as though, unlike other areas -- it's not like -- particularly ones at the Firqa level -- it's not like they were directly involved in Ba'ath Party activities.  They got their Firqa level and they went back to work teaching.  They were skilled people who were innocent as far as the Ba'athist crimes were concerned.  And since it affected so many of them, we're hearing about it so frequently, we thought to repair this technical glitch.

 

            By the way, we have thought that it would have been addressed based on how the procedures were intended to be implemented, but when we learned it was being done so unevenly and unfairly, we sought to fix that.

 

            Yes, Najim?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Thank you, Mr. Dan.  Najim -- (inaudible) -- Rubaie, Distor newspaper.  Mr. Dan, there was an old song, Iraqi song.  It's called "Dear to my Name" -- called by my name.  How will you identify this Ba'athist only by name?   How about by his job?  And if this identification was from the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Justice -- this case is supposed to be specific.  There are other cases where -- the other thing is, there are questions -- who will talk to who?  The people will talk to the Ba'athists?  The Ba'athists will talk to the people?  The politics will talk to the nationalists?  Who will talk to who?  I need to understand this situation.  Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Confusion in the translation.  I apologize for that.

 

            When I said Ba'athist in name only, what I meant was that while these teachers had the -- were members of the Ba'ath Party, that was the extent of their involvement with the Ba'ath Party is literally that they had a membership card that said that they were a member of the Ba'ath Party.  But as far as their activities were concerned, they weren't involved in the activities of the Ba'ath Party, particularly insomuch as those activities involved torture and repression and spreading the criminal Ba'athist ideology.  They were innocent of those crimes.  They literally were just -- had ID cards that said that they were Ba'ath Party members, which from my understanding was something they had to do in order to in many cases get jobs as teachers or get any sort of career advancement.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  I agree with you.  I agree with you.  However, who does it come from?  Is it a specific council?  Is it from the people?  Who does the endorsement come from?

 

            MR. SENOR:  The endorsement -- this process, there is a national de-Ba'athification body that oversees this.  There is an appeals process that is managed through the ministries.  So each ministry layered down to each -- decentralized down to each governate has an operating body that overseas the appeals process, and then if an appeal is rejected it can be taken up to a second layer of appeals, up at the national level to the national body.

 

            Yes, ma'am.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Sharina Mahay (ph) from the Iraqiyah newspaper.  My two colleagues, (name inaudible) and the journalist, my question is regarding the statement of Ambassador Bremer through the Iraqiyah newspaper, Iraqiyah TV.  Are you only trying to present a -- are you going to do an investigation on this death, on the Iraqiyah TV with everything that has happened, everything that has occurred with those two journalists that have died, a complete description of exactly what happened?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  There is an ongoing investigation at this time as to the circumstances surrounding the death of the two Al-Iraqiyah employees.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, Nick.

 

            Q     Nick Riccardi, L.A. Times.  How long has Ambassador Bremer's speech been planned, and is it partly due to the somewhat unsettled past few weeks that we've been seeing here?  And as a second, unrelated question, I'm curious, General Kimmitt, if you know anything about reports of a soldier being fatally shot by a sniper in the Green Zone.

 

            MR. SENOR:  As you know, Ambassador Bremer communicates regularly with the Iraqi people.  He appears weekly on the television set, on which he delivered his address today.  He -- there is a news program that I think is taped every Thursday and runs through the subsequent couple of days.  That features Ambassador Bremer taking questions from many Iraqi journalists, some of who are in this room.  He holds a regular round table with Iraqi journalists also, off-camera, usually on a weekly basis.

 

            In light of recent events, however, he has thought about delivering a broader national address that deals with issues not limited to the issues he deals with week to week.  And so on a weekly basis, he may bring up or get questions on various coalition policies.  He thought to deliver a longer address -- it runs some 20 minutes -- to deal with a number of high-level issues, give Iraqis an update on the situation in Fallujah and in the south.

 

            We have heard from a number of Iraqis who have said they really want to hear from Ambassador Bremer on where things stand, sort of get a state of play from his perspective.  And so we -- while he does that in general on his -- with his weekly press appearances with the Iraqi press, we thought:  do something a little broader and lengthier to get into a number of the issues that Iraqis were concerned about, particularly as these issues in Fallujah and the south were related.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On your second report, I don't have any reports of any sniper incidents in Baghdad at all today.  That's as of about an hour and a half ago.

 

            Q     Not necessarily today, possibly in the previous couple of days.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  No knowledge.  No reports.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, sir?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Ahmed Famderni (sp) from Hurei TV (sp), Baghdad.  In regards to the peshmerga militia and Kurdish, there has been a lot of talk around that situation and their involvement in the military operations.  And this has come from statements from the Kurdish -- the pro-democratic party.  We ask from you a statement.  Are these militias involved in the military operations, or are they not involved?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  There are no peshmerga militia operating under Iraqi or coalition command and control.  There are many former members of the militia that have joined the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, who now answer to the coalition, answer to the Iraqi security forces who have their allegiance to the people of Iraq.  But there are no peshmerga militias that are under our control, nor are we -- are they operating under any direction from the coalition.

 

            MR. SENOR:  John?

 

            Q     Dan, you just said that you'd heard from so many Iraqis that they wanted to hear from Ambassador Bremer.  My sense is, if you take in the round what he said, it's the ambassador wanting to hear from Iraqis; that is to say, elaborating on a point that we've heard him make with increasing insistency in the last couple of weeks, that he thinks it's time for Iraqis who support a democratic transition in this country to come forward.  Is it because he felt that there was a deafening silence from the silent majority of Iraqis during this critical time that he felt it necessary to come forward with a whole series of measures which seem to invite increased support?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I wouldn't read too much into the purpose of this speech, other than what I've described.

 

            Look, there have been many Iraqis who have spoken out.  Particularly members of Iraq's Governing Council have made strong statements.  Many Iraqi religious leaders have made strong statements.  We are pleased that many leaders in Fallujah have agreed to engage in discussions with us.

 

            Is there room for more Iraqi leaders to speak out at any given moment or any given crisis?  Certainly, but let's give Iraqis -- those Iraqis that have spoken out their due.  There have been many of them, and they have been quite vocal.  Watch Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, LBC, Al-Raqia (sp).  Listen to BBC Arabic.  Watch or monitor the Iraqi news any day or any night.  You will see Iraqis all over the television, all over the radio, engaged in a discussion about what is going on, on the ground in Iraq.

 

            Now many of them have a different view from our view of the situation.  Some of them have a sympathetic view to our view of the situation, but I think it's safe to say that there is a real discussion going on in the country.

 

            Ambassador Bremer's decision, John, to deliver this lengthier address is more a function of the fact that the coalition right now, under international law -- it is a fact -- the coalition is responsible for security in Iraq.  And while we are building up Iraqi security forces, some 200,000 Iraqis serving, and while there have been complaints in some areas about underperformance of some of the security services, the fact is, the vast majority work hard and serve courageously.  Some -- many have lost their lives.  That's a fact, too.

 

            But ultimately, right now, we are responsible for security.  We are the occupational authority until June -- occupation authority until June 30th.  And we have a responsibility to address a situation publicly when it's on the minds of the Iraqi people, when it is a deep concern to the Iraqi people.  We heard from many Iraqis on this point.  Many Iraqi journalists in this room have communicated that point.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q    (Through interpreter.)  Saad Abrahim (ph) Azzaman (ph) newspaper, daily.  Mr. Dan, you have mentioned right now that -- you have said that people will receiving donations from -- today Ambassador Bremer has said that this council -- has said that it is an unjust council in its operations.  How will they receive donations when you say that it is unjust?  This is one end.

 

            From the other end, those people that are returning to their positions, will they be reimbursed for the years that they have missed -- or actually, I'm sorry, the year that they missed?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Let me take your first question.  What Ambassador Bremer announced was a $10 million fund to establish some sort of national memorial to memorialize the atrocities that occurred in this country from 1968 to 2003, something that has affected literally every single community in Iraq.  And that fund will also receive private donations.  The fund's activities and the sources for the fund are not limited to the $10 million that we are granting.  There's opportunities for private donations.

 

            On your second question, Iraqis that have been out of work because of the de-Ba'athification policy have not been out of work for years.  They have been in some cases out of work for a few months.  And that is an issue that I would defer to the national de-Ba'thification entity, national de-Ba'athification body to determine how they will compensate those who should not have lost their jobs and did, and consequently lost out on compensation.

 

            Ed?

 

            Q     Two questions.  One is for General Kimmitt.  Do you have any details on a firefight going on in Kufa, either right now or earlier today, between members of the Mahdi Army and occupation forces?

 

            And the second question is for Dan.  You said that this sort of roadblock in granting appeals came about after Chalabi's new policy in January, but in December I talked to the president of Baghdad University and he said that hundreds of teachers or professors who had applied for appeals had not been granted them for a long time.  And then in addition, Chalabi was very open in January, when he put in place this new policy, that the top three levels of former members of the Ba'athist Party would have no chance of returning to public life, that they would have no chance of appeal whatsoever.  So it seems to me that your new policy here or your change in policy is to partly roll back what Chalabi had done because he was very open about that policy being a stricter policy than the previous one.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first question, we had reports of a firefight in Karbala today, but nothing in Kufa.

 

            Q     I'm sorry, I mean in Karbala.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  At about -- I want to say about noon today there was a Bulgarian patrol that was operating inside of Karbala, and during its patrol it was attacked by seven to eight men that were identified as potential Sadr militia based on their uniforms and based on the way they acted.  One of our vehicles was disabled.  We did have one of our coalition soldiers wounded, taken to a medical facility, later died of the wounds.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And to your question, there may have been appeals granted prior to January.  What we thought was so important in the procedures that were established and finalized on January 10th, the procedures agreed to by the coalition and the Governing Council, was that it expedited the implementation of these appeals; that we recognized that there were lags and we're hoping that these tightened procedures and the more progressive appeals process would seek to correct these problems across the board.  At that point we weren't aware that it was limited to teachers.  We just knew there were appeals.  In some cases appeals were granted.  In some cases appeals took too long to be granted or too long for an answer to be provided.

 

            And so this policy -- and if you can go through I can provide the text of the procedures that were agreed to in January -- sought to address these matters because it had a very robust appeals process and a very progressive appeals process and it cited quite explicitly that these matters must be addressed going forward in a very expeditious manner.  They have not since then, particularly in the area of the teachers, and so that's a technical point that we are correcting.

 

            You chose the word policy correction.  I would substitute that for a technical correction on the implementation of procedures.  This has nothing to do with policy.  The de-Ba'athification policy remains intact.  As I said earlier, it was the right policy when it was issued back late May or mid-May, and it's the right policy today.

 

            To your second question, I can't respond to statements made by individual GC members when I haven't seen them.  But I can refer you to the actual policy, and the policy's quite clear.  There is an opportunity for appeal.  There is an opportunity to opt out of the appeals process and apply instead for a pension payment so that there was an opportunity for some Ba'athists to at least re-integrate into society and avoid a path of poverty and do with a sense of dignity, even as they were being de-Ba'athified, even as there was no role for them in the government.  That is explicit in the procedures, and that continues to be the policy and the procedures today that we have to ensure are implemented.

 

            You know, Ed, I think there's a lot of confusion and misreporting out there.  I've seen some of the wire reports, and I saw one -- I saw some statements that senior-level Ba'athists will now have a role in the interim government that Mr. Brahimi has been addressing.  Again, it's just factually incorrect.  The policy is the same as it was; it remains firmly intact.  We believe it's the right policy.  None of those issues have been modified.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Yes, Stephen Farrell of the London Times.  I hear what you say.  But Dr. Chalabi has today said that this is akin to letting the Nazis back to run Germany.  He doesn't seem to think that it's a technical matter or a procedural glitch.

 

            MR. SENOR:  I would encourage anybody who has that view to read Ambassador Bremer's address.  It is quite clear.

 

            Q     I spoke to another member of the Governing Council who said that in the meeting yesterday Mr. Bremer just read out what he was going to say, he took no consultation, and then just basically presented it as a fait accompli, but didn't give them time to consider or come back the next day.  He just said, "This is what I'm doing" and walked out.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Actually, I was in that meeting, and there was a discussion following Ambassador Bremer's presentation.  And I know that Ambassador Bremer has been consulting other Iraqi officials, including Governing Council members who are directly involved with this issue, over the past couple of weeks.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Nick Pallum (sp), Financial Times.  Yesterday you used the word "reform" to describe the stance on de-Ba'athification.  Now you're saying it's a technical correction.  Could you explain what has changed between yesterday and today?

 

            MR. SENOR:  There's been no change between yesterday and today.  I can take a look at the transcript, but I'm pretty sure I was quite clear that we were dealing with -- I made it clear yesterday we were dealing with implementation issues, technical fixes with regard to procedurals -- procedures and implementation.  Period.  End of issue.  At no time yesterday did I address anything regarding the de-Ba'athification policy.

 

            Again, if you want to take a look at the transcript and then follow up with me if you have any other questions.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Thanks.  Larry Kaplow with Cox Newspapers.  You explained the educational sector on this.  Could you give a similar explanation on the potential army officers?  Are these guys who have won appeals or are waiting for appeals?  What's their status?

 

            MR. SENOR:  No.  With the military it's not an issue of appeals, all it is is that as we build out the senior ranks, just as we've done with the junior ranks, we will hire people for those positions.  Some of those people will have had past experience in the old Iraqi army, and those individuals will be fully vetted and then show that they had no direct role in the Ba'athist crimes or atrocities, that they had no blood on their hands, before they'll be hired.  The whole military was disbanded.  The old Iraqi army was disbanded by an order issued by Ambassador Bremer last spring, and then immediately thereafter there was a pension program put in place for those who were put out of work.  But that's completely separate from this.

 

            There is no appeals process.  There was a pension program that was put in place immediately.  There was no appeals process.  It is separate from the de-Ba'athification policy.  And we had said all along that we would be hiring members of the old Iraqi army to serve in the new Iraqi army, and in fact some 70 percent of the current personnel in the new Iraqi army served in the old Iraqi army.  They have been fully vetted along the lines I described earlier, and we're going to do same now with some of the senior ranks.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q     Jason Burke, The Observer.  Have you got any information you can share with us on the investigations into the Basra bombings, who may be responsible?  Is it still thought that it could be al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-affiliated group?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, as I said yesterday there's, one, been no group to claim responsibility; number two, we're not aware at this point that any physical evidence has been discovered that directly links the bombings with any particular group or organization.  Nonetheless, if you take a look at what we've seen, sadly, over the past 10 months, the operation that was used, the type of -- the techniques that were used, what would appear to be the motivation, suicidal bombers attacking symbolic targets -- Iraqi police stations, signs of democratic institutions here in Iraq -- attempting to reach and achieve a spectacular effect -- this was not a precision weapon, but this was a huge chance to kill and maim many, many people -- those are the techniques, those are the tactics, those are the procedures that we have seen over and over again coming out of groups such as the Zarqawi network, with their affiliation to al Qaeda, and groups such as Ansar al-Islam.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Muqtdam Hamid Ali (ph) of al-Kaza (ph) newspaper.  What if it was proven that a few of the American soldiers who were involved in the death of the two Iraqi journalists from Al-Iraqiyah TV station, how will they be dealt with and who will deal with them?

 

            (Mr. Senor and Gen. Kimmitt consult off-mike.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, we have a very routine procedure, a very process-oriented procedure that takes us -- very simply, we look at the results of the investigation; we try to ascertain, as part of that investigation, if there was any negligence, criminal negligence, non-criminal negligence; and then if in fact there is any negligence on the part of anybody involved in that.  Then it goes to another investigation for prosecution.

 

            We've seen that time and time again.  It's fairly routine.  I'd be glad to take you through the entire process with one of our criminal lawyers right after this.

 

            But I don't want to speculate on whether anybody was directly at fault in this particular incident.  Let's wait for the investigation to be completed.  You can be assured that it will be a thorough investigation.  All aspects of the incident will be explored by a non-biased, an unbiased observer -- by an unbiased investigator.  And we should probably wait to talk about guilt or innocent until we have the facts on the ground ascertained.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Ma'am?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Excuse me.  I'm sorry.  Will there be an investigation on a public -- in a public way, or is it going to be through a mouthpiece or a spokesperson?  And who will announce the conclusion of the investigation?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We can talk about how those -- the results of the investigations will be published, if they'll be published, at a time after this press conference.

 

            We have a procedure by which the investigation results can be examined, and it's fairly routine.  It happens all the time.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah?  Last question.

 

            Q     Hi.  Karl Vick, Washington Post.  Regarding Fallujah, General, do you have -- does the coalition have confidence that the people who negotiated the cease-fire can control everybody who's in the city?  And after that, is there a distinction between made between people who basically want to gun for Americans and see this as an opportunity to battle Americans, and residents of the town who feel they want to defend their town?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, on the first point, we have been concerned over the past few days, with people that we've been talking to in these discussions, whether they in fact can deliver.

 

            We have no doubt in our minds that the people inside Fallujah understand what's at stake here.  They understand what they have to deliver themselves.  But whether the leaders are part of that or not part of that, at this late date, may start to become irrelevant.  The very fact that these people are not able to bring everybody in Fallujah together for town hall meetings to discuss this loses some currency after awhile.  We certainly understand that these discussions are being broadcast inside the city.  We've used our own radio stations, we've used other media outlets to get the word out.  So we're at this point fairly certain that the vast majority of people in Fallujah understand the conditions to achieve peace, which is, as a first step of many, to turn in the heavy weapons.

 

            Now, as regards to who are the combatants and what their particular motivations are, it really doesn't matter as we go into Fallujah.  Anybody who takes up arms against the coalition and Iraqi security forces will be responded to.  Anybody who aims a weapon at a coalition force puts himself or herself in a position of having a response to that threat.  Our soldiers and our Marines have the inherent right of self-defense, and as they are conducting offensive operations inside that city, whether that is somebody who is trying to defend their city, which seems to be somewhat of a ludicrous concept, or somebody who's just out to kill an American, both of those will find the full force of the United States Marine Corps and the coalition brought down on them.

 

            Q     I hear you, but I can understand how there might be confusion when you -- you mentioned both -- you said defending, the right of self defense while conducting an offensive operation; and the concept of homeland and your land, it's an occupation.  I'm just wondering to what extent the coalition is estimating the contagion effect.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Let's talk about that for a moment.  The very fact is that these operations are run with the Iraqi security forces.  Our conditions are very simple: we are trying to put Iraqi security forces back into that town.  We are trying to put Iraqi police back into that town.  We are trying to put Iraq governmental authority back into that town.  We're trying to put Iraqi Civil Defense Corps persons back into that town.

 

            If, for some reason, the people in Fallujah believe that they are in fact fighting against the coalition, the truth is they are fighting against a free and democratic Iraq.  If Fallujah believes that it is somehow going to be a different country, that's a different question here, but there is no other city inside Iraq that is establishing fortifications for the purpose of holding off the coalition because they want to defend it from the coalition in order to protect it for -- what?  I mean, it's a ludicrous concept.  I'm just sort of having a hard time understanding where that takes us.

 

            The very fact is we are attempting to bring Iraqi government control back into the city of Fallujah.  It is not there.  If you're suggesting perhaps a private militia be responsible for Fallujah, you know our position on that.  You know the Iraqi position on that.  If you believe somehow it has its own separate organization running security for that, that's inconsistent with a democratic country of Iraq, a nation.  If you believe that somehow they can subcontract the responsibility for security perhaps to some foreign fighters from Syria or Turkey or any other country in the region, that's a ridiculous concept as well.

 

            And I suspect that many of the foreign fighters and the terrorists inside that city may be trying to put that ridiculous notion inside their heads, that somehow they can best defend the city of Fallujah and the nation of Iraq by fighting the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces.  That just doesn't square with reality.

 

            Thanks.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Thank you, everybody.

 

            Oh, copies of the -- Ambassador Bremer's address will be distributed.  Dallas Lawrence from our office is right over there.

 

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