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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations; and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
May 07, 2004 10:05 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  Just a couple of items on Ambassador Bremer's schedule, and then I'll turn it over to General Kimmitt who has an opening briefing, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

 

            Ambassador Bremer, for some time now, as many of you know, has been involved in a consultation process with the Iraqi people, with Iraqi political leaders, with Governing Council members, with regional leaders, religious leaders, regarding the interim government, the formation of the interim government.  This was worked out in the request made between the GC and the CPA to the U.N. that any interim government formed would be part of a process of wide consultations that the coalition would be engaged in, the Governing Council would be engaged in, and that the U.N. would be engaged in.  That process continues today.  Ambassador Bremer met with several individual GC members regarding the formation of the interim government.  He met with a women's outreach group that is concerned with the interim government.  And this is part of an ongoing process.

 

            Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, as has been reported, has arrived -- has returned to Baghdad.  He, as you know, is the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Iraq, and he too will be engaged in wide consultations as we work towards the formation of the interim government and the handover of sovereignty on June 30th.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thanks.  Good afternoon.  The coalition continues operations focused on the restoration of a stable economy, an environment to repair infrastructure and transfer sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

 

            In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 76 patrols and detained (77 ?) anti-coalition suspects.  In general, the area in the north is quite quiet.

 

            In the north central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 308 patrols and captured 10 anti-coalition suspects.  Of note, in the 1ID sector, the Kirkuk minister of agriculture, Hayad Majeed (sp) was assassinated near Kirkuk yesterday by assailants in a black Opel.  His wife was wounded in the attack and was transported to Kirkuk General Hospital.  Iraqi police service and coalition forces are investigating the attack.

 

            In Baghdad yesterday at approximately 7:30, there was a suicide car bomb on the south end of the 14th of July Bridge.  There are seven confirmed civilian deaths to include the bomber, and 23 wounded, of which three of the wounded were IPS personnel and four were Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.  One coalition military soldier was killed and two others wounded, and the names of the coalition military casualties are being held pending notification of next of kin.

 

            Yesterday at approximately 1255 there was a mortar explosion, vicinity of the Baghdad Hotel.  Radar acquisition was -- acquired the round and a quick reaction force was dispatched to the location, but it is our understanding that there was nothing significant to report.

 

            In the western zone of operations, the city of Fallujah was quiet for the sixth straight day, with no violations of the cease-fire reported.  Coalition forces continued to transition security responsibilities to Iraqi security forces, to cordon the northern portion of the city and man joint traffic control points.  Iraqi security forces in the city continue to rise.  Yesterday 1,750 soldiers from the 1st Fallujah Brigade reported for duty, complimented by 1,100 ICDC soldiers and 750 Iraqi Police Service members who are operating in and around Fallujah.  1st Fallujah Brigade forces continue to man Iraqi police and ICD checkpoints, and have begun security patrols in and throughout the city.  There have been no reports of weapons being turned over or foreign fighters turned over. Coalition and Iraqi security forces continue to escort over 200 families a day into the city.

 

            Let me transition over to the map here.  What I want to talk about again is -- the major activity seems to be around the city of Fallujah and down here in Karbala and An Najaf.  Let me give you a sensing of what is happening in Fallujah right now with regards to the force repositioning.

 

            We started off by repositioning some of the Marines that were operating down in this area.  They are setting up now an outer cordon, with an inner cordon by the Fallujah Brigade.  The Fallujah Brigade is patrolling through the southern half of the city and has started today -- begin their patrollings into the northern half of the city.  Right now the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps units are on the north side, side by side with the coalition forces, and we also have some Fallujah Brigade personnel manning the clover leaf, TCP No. 1 in Fallujah.  Right now our sensing is the use of the Iraqi security forces, the transition from the Iraqi security -- from the Marine forces to the Iraqi security forces to set up the inner cordon while the Marines continue to work the outer cordon is going well.

 

            Go ahead and change to the next one.

 

            Let me talk about what has happened over the past couple of days, vicinity Karbala.  Three days ago, on the 4th, we had offensive operations against three targets: what we call the unfinished hotel, the former Ba'ath Party headquarters and the old governor's building.  These two locations we took without any fights at all.  There was a minor fight as we seized the old governor's building, but that fight went pretty quick.  Right across the street from the old governor's building, there was a former school that was being used to stockpile weapons.  We picked up a significant number of weapons from that location.

 

            The next day we ran an operation in the amusement park.  I think most of the people saw the reporting from there.  And the weapons that were captured from the old governor's building and from the amusement park, that's probably what you saw televised exploding on the television as they destroyed a fairly large and significant cache of weapons in that location.

 

            The past two days, we have continued to run patrols through Karbala.  Yesterday it was reported that there was a large engagement. The engagement was a series of RPG attacks, rocket-propelled grenade attacks, by a number of RPG teams that fired on some of our patrols. No coalition soldiers were injured in the engagements.  I think on the last number, there were five enemy killed, approximately seven wounded.  There are about 19 other wounded that we picked up in some of the local hospitals that we suspect of being involved in those engagements.  The Iraqi police right now are questioning them to see if they have any involvement.

 

            Of note, Karbala, we retain the right to conduct coalition and Iraqi security operations throughout the city.  We're running patrols in and out to ensure freedom of movement through Karbala.  And right now the situation seems quite calm, with the exception of a couple of small outposts, pockets of resistance left inside the city.

 

            Operations vicinity Najaf.  As you know, over the past couple of days, you've been reading about our operations.  Once the new governor was announced by Ambassador Bremer yesterday, we ran an operation to secure the governor's building right on the edge of Najaf.  For orientation, the shrine Iman Ali Mosque is down here about 2-1/2 miles away.

 

            We remain extraordinarily sensitive to the religious significance of the town of Najaf, and this restoration of the governor's building for the new governor should not be interpreted as an offensive against the city of Najaf, but simply an opportunity to restore legitimate Iraqi control by the appointment of the government -- the new governor as well as the restoration of a place for him to operate out of.

 

            It was also reported that there were engagements yesterday vicinity of Najaf.  The engagements were on the far side of the Euphrates, on the far side of Kufa.  There were two engagements, one at 4:25 local p.m., one at 5:15 p.m. local.  There were 12 enemy killed in the latter, and there were 28 killed in the former.

 

            Now since then, we have -- as you know, we have a number of our coalition base camps in between the cities of Karbala and Najaf.  We continue to receive mortar fire.  There were two separate instances this morning of mortar fire shot against the governor's building, three at about 5:00 and 10 later, at about 10:00.

 

            Let me give you an example of what we do to try to respond to those as we all keep in mind the significance of not only this city but any city that we operate in.

 

            We determined that there was a point of origin of a mortar that was firing at not only the governor's building -- excuse me -- not only the governor's building, but some of our base camps as well.  It would have been very, very possible for us to have dropped ordnance right on top of that mortar location.  However, we recognized, as we continue to do our collateral damage estimate, that if you dropped a bomb there, even though it's very, very slight, there is a chance that it could have come into this area down here.

 

            We went out of our way, adjusted the point of impact for the bomb, so that it still was able to go after that mortar, but still was even further away from the civilian area.  It is our estimation that there was a significant -- there was no more firing that came from that mortar location.  Our QRF went out there and found some residue, and it looks like we were able to shut down that mortar.  But even more so than had we had to go directly against that point of origin, the collateral damage estimation was almost zero of our opportunity; that if we put the bomb there, the shock wave would take out the mortar there, but at the same time it would go out of their way to protect the civilians in that location.

 

            By contrast, I think all of us are very, very aware of what our adversaries are doing time after time, firing from locations.  We even had some reports that they were firing from the Kufa mosque of late.

 

            We continue to find weapons, ammunition and other ordnance inside schools, mosques, other locations.  But I just wanted to show this to you as a highlight of the extraordinary care and effort that we take as we take a hard look at going after the adversary inside this country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And with that, we will be happy to take your questions.  Yes?

 

            Q     Charlie Mayer from NPR.  Can you give us any more specifics on what Lakhdar Brahimi is doing?  And can we expect to see him here at any point?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I would refer any questions on his -- Ambassador Brahimi's schedule to Mr. Brahimi and his office.  I know today he was doing some interviews with the -- a couple of the Arab satellite channels, and I think he did something with Al-Iraqiyah as well.  So he has been visible today.  As for his schedule going forward, I would contact his press office.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Name off mike) -- Reuters News Agency.  General Kimmitt, you said yesterday you killed something like 40 insurgents near Kufa. We checked -- we've been checking with hospital sources and the Madhi Army.  We can't come to the same number of casualties.  We wondered how you estimate these figures.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We typically estimate those figures by actual counts.  In fact, we were with the governor of Najaf this morning and his estimation was -- I believe his estimation was that the number of casualties amongst the Muqtada's militia was possibly higher than the number we had been quoting.  As a result, we -- again, we try to get positive confirmation of our numbers, rather than estimates, before we put them out.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.

 

            Q     General, I'm catching up on the bomb you dropped in Najaf. What time was it and what kind of bomb was it?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  First of all, we did not drop a bomb in Najaf.  We dropped a bomb out in a field approximate to the town of Kufa.  And I don't know what time we dropped it.  It was last night some time.  And it was a GBU-12, which is a 500-pound bomb.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Hi, Jill Carroll from ANSA.  Can you tell us, in Najaf, this fighting -- the degree to which fighters from security firms are being used with the soldiers.  I understand they're playing quite a significant role.  How many numbers of people down there from these firms are fighting with the soldiers?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We don't have any security firms fighting alongside the soldiers.  It is true that civilian firms down in that area have private security for their own personal security, but in terms of the actual operations being conducted throughout this country, we don't have private security firms working alongside the soldiers.

 

            There are instances where -- for example, you may have seen in Najaf, that day that the Coalition Provisional Authority facility was being attacked.  We had soldiers then brought in to work alongside those that were providing personal security for the Coalition Provisional Authority.  But regularly and routinely our military operations are solely run by military personnel.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  It's you.

 

            Q     Thanks, Dan.  Jim Chu (sp), NBC News.  Just two questions.

 

            General Kimmitt, has there been any developments on the car bomb that took place July 14th bridge?

 

            And also, for you Dan, we've been speaking to a member of the Iraqi Governing Council about the state of the relations that exist right now between the coalition and the Iraqi people, especially in light of obviously what happened with Abu Ghraib prison.  This is a gentleman who back in November said he was very optimistic about the rebuilding and so forth.  And now he sees no hope, especially in light of what's been coming out, with these pictures and so forth.

 

            Is the relationship beyond repair as he suggested?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Who was the person?  Can you name him?

 

            Q     Well, he's a member of the Governing Council.  I invite you to watch the story tonight because that's -- we did an interview with him, and --

 

            MR. SENOR:  So you're asking me to respond to a statement from someone who you -- (chuckles) -- will not reveal his name?

 

            Q     Well, he's a member of the Governing Council.  And essentially -- this essentially is sort of -- he's saying he's very fearful of what -- of the future, essentially, because of, you know. And I'm just wondering, is the relationship damaged beyond repair? What's your assessment at this point?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Which damage?  The damage with this individual, this nameless individual, or the damage --

 

            Q     The Iraqi people.

 

            MR. SENOR:  The Iraqi people.

 

            Q     And he's speaking on behalf of the Iraqi people.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Okay.  Well, I will say, Jim, that we recognize that this is a difficult time for the Iraqi people and it's a difficult time for the American people.  I think the president of the United States, the leadership in the administration, the military commanders on the ground have all expressed outrage about what occurred, but they've also been quite clear about two things.

 

            One, injustice will be pursued.  This will be a very fair and transparent process to get to the bottom of this, which is nothing like the way things operated in this country under the former regime. Under the former regime, this sort of behavior would have been celebrated.  In this situation, it will be punished.  In this situation, it is an exception, not the rule.  Under the former regime, it certainly was the rule, sadly.

 

            Secondly, I think it's also important to keep in context that the interaction that most Iraqi people have had with our American men and women in uniform is not the experience that a handful of Iraqis sadly and tragically had at Abu Ghraib prison.  The interaction that most Iraqis have had with American men and women in uniform has been working side by side with them in rebuilding their country: reopening schools, reopening hospitals, rebuilding infrastructure, getting the economy up and running, working side by side in joint patrols to   defend against the terrorist threat here.  That's the experience most Iraqis have had with American soldiers, and I think it's just important to keep that in context.

 

            It is appropriate to express outrage.  We are outraged by what occurred, and the president spoke to that quite clearly yesterday when he expressed an apology to the Iraqi people.  But I also think it's important to keep in context the relationship that most Iraqis -- and I can't speak to this person because I don't know who it is, but I think it's important to keep in context the relationship that most Iraqis have had with the American soldier and the interactions that most Iraqis have had with the American soldier.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I'd just add on to that that I don't believe the relationship is irreparable, but it's going to take some effort on the part of the Americans.  It's going to take some effort on the part of the coalition.

 

            The first effort is that we will have to demonstrate that justice will be served.  That will have to not only be done, but it will also have to be apparent; it will have to be visible.  We are committed to ensuring that those proceedings, when they move to a court-martial, will be public and will be publicized, and there will be access to the media so that the media can show the people of Iraq exactly the type of justice system that America demonstrates for these types of activities.

 

            Number two, I believe it's not irreparable very simply because every American soldier, every coalition soldier is out on the streets today; they were the day before yesterday, they were yesterday, and they will be tomorrow.  And every one of those soldiers and every one of those Marines recognize that they wear the flags of their nations on their left shoulders, and their right shoulders, and that they have a responsibility and a duty to demonstrate to the people of Iraq why they're here, what they're here for, and that those pictures they saw and those acts of those individual soldiers are not representative of the 125,000, 130,000 American soldiers that are out there, that that is the act of a few; they were wrong.  They will be brought to justice.  Justice will be served.

 

            And for the vast majority of American soldiers and Marines that are out there doing their job every day, they will continue to demonstrate their purpose for being here, which is to bring democracy to this nation and sovereignty to this nation and independence to this nation.  I'm convinced of that.

 

            MR. SENOR:  He had another question.,

 

            Q     And also, General, just any developments on the car bomb that occurred the other day.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We have had one group claim responsibility through the press -- Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.  Not surprising.  As we said yesterday, the tactics, the techniques, the signatures that we saw at the site were characteristic of the terrorist groups:  a symbolic attack on a coalition checkpoint, attempting to achieve spectacular results through the killing of a number of civilians, and a suicide car-bomber used in the process.  So we were not surprised when we saw Zarqawi's name mentioned as the group taking responsibility for that.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Name and affiliation inaudible.) What are the proceedings that you plan to take in front of the bombings that happened yesterday and to ensure support for the Iraqi police?  This is one question.

 

            The second question, there is a lot of talk that there are -- there is a big amount of money for one who assassinates Ambassador Bremer from Osama bin Laden.  And what is your comment, and is this true?

 

            MR. SENOR:  We've seen the same reports you have, that Osama bin Laden has put a bounty on Ambassador Bremer's head.  I'll say this.  Ambassador Bremer is working closely with the Iraqi people and the coalition to build a democracy here that despite the events of the last month is actually making tremendous progress, and we are on track to hand sovereignty over, as the Iraqis continue to build their democracy, on June 30th.

 

            And whether it's Osama bin Laden or his affiliates that operate inside Iraq, like Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, they are all quite clear. Nothing frightens them more than the possibility of a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim world.  And they will do everything they can to prevent that from happening.  And whether it's suicide bombings that they are in one way or another connected to, that they have orchestrated inside Iraq, or whether it's targeting the leaders of the coalition that are working side by side with the Iraqi people to build a democracy here, none of it is surprising.  And none of it will deter us from continuing to move forward, continuing to work with the Iraqi people and continuing to build a democracy in the heart of the Muslim world.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On your first question, what are we doing to support the Iraqi police that were victims of yesterday's bombing, I think we're going to do the same thing with the Iraqi police that we've always done.  If we look at who was lost yesterday, quite a few civilians, but we also lost Iraqi police wounded; we also lost Iraqi Civil Defense Corps wounded and American soldiers killed and wounded as well.

 

            We will continue to work with the Iraqi police, continue to field equipment, continue to train, continue to work side by side with them to ensure we can maintain public security inside of Baghdad, inside the entire country.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     David Hawkins, CBS News.  When will the charge sheets regarding the soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib pictures be released?  And can you estimate when the courts martial will take place?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yep.  I understand that there's an ongoing hearing today in Washington, D.C., where much of that information is going to be coming out.  I think I'm going to reserve comment on the actual proceedings for Abu Ghraib.  We would expect it to come soon.  But in terms of specific dates, let's wait until after the hearings today.   And that information should be coming forward.  But it will be fairly soon.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Name and affiliation inaudible.)  I wonder if you have any more information about the Iraqi-American who was kidnapped and if you guys are doing anything more to try to get his release, and then also if that affects how you're working with contractors in the future.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, for the -- for those who don't have the details, his name is Aban Elias.  He is a civilian contractor working as a civil engineer for the Department of Defense.  He is from the Denver, Colorado, area.  And like all of the hostages, we -- it is a priority for the coalition to seek their safe release.  And we have said all along -- and certainly with the case with Mr. Elias -- we are putting all the necessary resources behind the pursuit of his safe release -- on the military side, on the intelligence side.  This is a serious priority.    We will not negotiate with hostage takers.  We will not negotiate with terrorists.  That's a non-starter.  But we believe we can seek the safe release of hostages by putting the necessary resources behind that effort, and that's what we're doing.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q   Gregor Mayer from the Germany Press Agency, DPA.

 

            General Kimmitt, you rolled up the events of the last days in Karbala and Najaf.  Have there been significant developments during two day -- in this day?

 

            And for Mr. Senor, a question.  How will your administration react if the incoming, or the coming sovereign government of Iraq claims sovereign right to supervise the prison system in Iraq?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The only activity that I'm aware of today was that -- as I said, this morning in Najaf they had three mortar rounds land at 5:12 the vicinity of the governor's building.  Later, 10 more mortar rounds impacted the vicinity of the government building.

 

            I see today that at midday, coalition patrols were attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire during two engagements. Forces returned fire killing 12 Muqtada militia.  But I don't think that there's been anything more significant than that.  We do most of our operations -- well, there's been nothing more significant than that at this point.

 

            MR. SENOR:  To your other question.  I'm not prepared to have a speculative discussion about what an interim government may request or may not request.  We're working on forming the interim government.  We will hopefully have that government stood up soon, and obviously once sovereignty is handed over and that government is operational, we will be engaging with that government on a number of issues, not the least of which is the one you raised.  And let's wait till those issues arise before we start cementing various positions.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  I am from magazine al-Jul Moria (ph).

 

            Mr. Dan, Ambassador Bremer -- sorry, Lakhdar Brahimi I mean -- he's coming to Iraq the first time.  He had analysis -- and for elections.  And now he comes with forming a government.  And some people from the Governing Council, Bahr Uloum, specifically, he says that he has no right to form a government, this is an Iraqi matter, and that the Iraqi people should come out to reject this position.   What is your comment?  Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Mr. Brahami, as the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general, is here.  His role in Iraq was at the behest of the Iraqi Governing Council.  Back in January the Iraqi Governing Council and the coalition invited the U.N. to take a look at the situation on the ground and assess the viability of direct elections in a very short period of time and, if they determined that direct elections weren't possible in a very short period of time, to come up with alternative solutions.  And one of them that was agreed upon is that the U.N. would play a role in helping to form an interim government after the process of consulting widely with Iraqis, which is what they're doing now.

 

            As you know, Mr. Brahimi is here already in Iraq.  This is his third trip here in the very short period of time when he's engaged in this effort.

 

            I would also say that I think it's everybody's goal that direct elections occur in Iraq as soon a possible.  The interim constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law designates January of 2005 for direct elections.  That's just seven months after Iraq hands over sovereignty.  The interim government, the caretaker government, as it is often called, is being formed so Iraqis can run Iraq until direct elections are possible.

 

              We want to achieve two things as quickly as possible.  One, hand over sovereignty as soon as possible, and that's why we're focused on June 30th.  We're committed to it, it's on track, it's not changing.      The other thing we want to do is get direct elections up and running so Iraq can be directly -- the Iraqi government can be directly representative of the Iraqi people.  The soonest we believe that's possible, based on the U.N.'s recommendations -- and they have expertise on this from all over the world -- is January of 2005.

 

            So this meets our two goals: turning over Iraq to Iraqis as soon as possible, and holding direct elections here as soon as possible. To wait to turn over sovereignty, to turn over operational control of the Iraqi government to Iraqis until direct elections are possible would only mean pushing off the sovereignty date to January of 2005. That's not something we're particularly interested in doing.  It's   certainly not what the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want.  They want their sovereignty.  They're going to get it on June 30th, according to this formula.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Luke Harding from the Guardian.  A question for Dan.  When did Ambassador Bremer -- when was he aware of the allegations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib?  What did he do with this information?  Did he communicate any misgivings he might have had to either the Pentagon or the White House?  And if he didn't, why didn't he?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Ambassador Bremer was made aware of the charges relating to the humiliation in January of 2004, which is right when it was made public.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     Susan Kroll with CNN.  Regarding the new interim government, when do you expect -- I believe at one point you said May 30th that you hope to have in place the government and the people. Are you on deadline at this point?  And is there anything new that you can tell us about that?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I don't think I've ever said that.  But I do know that that has been thrown around.  There have been proposals to set up the interim government before June 30th.  As to a peg to a specific date, I haven't heard any specific proposals to that effect.

 

            But I think at this point the goal is to complete the process of wide consultations.  We are engaged right now in wide consultations. Ambassador Bremer has been consulting widely.  The U.N. has been consulting widely.  The Governing Council has been consulting widely. And we hope that will be complete in as expeditious time frame as possible.  As to a specific date, though, we don't know at this point. It just depends on how the process plays out.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Layla Shimiri (ph) from the Al- Karad (ph) newspaper.  Concerning Najaf, why don't you go to the religious authorities to solve the problem with Muqtada al-Sadr, especially that the red lines could spell out a catastrophe because the Iraqi people could be waiting from one word from Sistani to do the undoable?  And what will be the details of sovereignty proposal or moving?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'm not sure I'm clear on the second question.

 

            On your first question, we are aware of the efforts of Shi'a notables to reach a peaceful solution in Najaf.  We are interested in reaching a peaceful solution, too, and certainly reaching a solution that avoids violence with Muqtada al-Sadr.  But we've been clear to everybody who seeks a peaceful resolution, any solution must involve two things.

 

            One, Muqtada al-Sadr must face Iraqi justice for the crimes of which he is accused.  An Iraqi arrest warrant has been issued by an Iraqi judge who believes Muqtada al-Sadr is connected to a crime inside Iraq and should be detained by Iraqi authorities to face Iraqi justice under Iraqi law by an Iraqi judge in an Iraqi court.

 

            Secondly, Muqtada al-Sadr must disband his illegal militia. Under our policy, under Iraqi law, no independent militias can operate outside the central government, and so his militia must be shut down immediately and he must remove himself and his forces from government buildings, and he must return government assets.  That's where we begin any discussion.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q     Louis Meixler, Associated Press.  General Kimmitt, in September Major General Miller recommended that military police set conditions in prisons for successful interrogations.  Since then, General Miller has been named as head of Abu Ghraib prison.  Some are citing his appointment as the genesis of the interrogation problems in the prison.  Is this claim valid?  And how do you explain the appointment, given General Miller's earlier recommendation?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Two things.

 

            As I said earlier, I'm not going to answer questions about Abu Ghraib while we've got a Senate hearing going on in this regard.  It just -- it's -- is of no value.

 

            Second, there is an ongoing investigation with regards to the military intelligence procedures, the interrogation procedures ongoing.  And so even if there was not a hearing going on today, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss any issues regarding an ongoing investigation.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Dan, last question.

 

            Q     Yeah, Dan (last name inaudible), The Washington Post.  For Dan.  You said, if I understood you correctly, that in January Ambassador Bremer heard about the Abu Ghraib issue when it was made public.  I'm not aware that it was made public then, and it certainly wasn't made public here in Iraq.  Could you tell me why, between January and now, or the last week or so, neither you nor Ambassador Bremer stood up at this podium to expose this issue to the Iraqi public with whom you're working so closely with?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, first of all, it was.  A press statement was issued in January on this particular issue -- General Kimmitt can speak to the details -- and has been public since then.

 

            And to your second point, Ambassador Bremer on multiple occasions in meetings with Iraqi people, including public events, he has expressed his outrage about this particular issue.  In fact, even as recently as yesterday, Ambassador Bremer appeared on Al-Iraqiyah, in which he had an interview with several Iraqi journalists, and about half the program was dedicated to this subject, and he addressed many of the issues you raise.

 

            Okay, thank you, everybody.

 

            Q     Can I get a follow-up on that?  When did Ambassador Bremer see those photos?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Good to see you, Carol.

 

            Q     I'm sorry.  Welcome back, Dan.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Thank you.  I'm sorry, could you --

 

            Q     Sorry.  Welcome back.  When did Ambassador Bremer see those photos?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I do not know when he saw the photos.  I just know that he was made aware of the issue in January of 2004.

 

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