Wolfowitz: 'Absolute Security' Impossible for Iraqi Election
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 16, 2005 Nothing can provide "absolute security against the extraordinary intimidation" terrorists are undertaking in Iraq, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here today. But, he added, Iraqis still have a "passionate" desire to vote.
Speaking in response to a reporter's question during a news conference here, Wolfowitz pointed out there were many threats of violence against election workers and voters in Afghanistan in the days and weeks leading up to their recent elections. But no violence materialized, President Hamid Karzai was elected, and he was inaugurated without incident Dec. 7.
But he acknowledged the level of intimidation in Iraq leading up to Election Day is higher than it was in Afghanistan. "I don't believe that (the Taliban) ever got around to shooting election workers in the streets or kidnapping the children of political candidates," Wolfowitz said.
In Iraq, Wolfowitz said, he believes the threats and intimidation may contribute to a suppressed voter turnout, but he added that U.S. troops would be working to counter the effects of such intimidation.
"But I am afraid there is no way to prevent all of it," he said.
The deputy secretary said it's "phenomenal" to him that "in the face of all this brutality you still have 7,000 Iraqis, I believe, who've put their names on lists to run in these elections.
"And the last number I saw was 80,000 Iraqis volunteering to be election workers," he added.