Iraqis Coming Forward With Information Since Saddam's Capture
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2004 Despite attacks against U.S. and coalition troops and innocent Iraqis, an encouraging trend since Saddam Hussein's capture has been the increasing number of Iraqis who are coming forward with information, Marine Corps General Peter Pace told reporters Jan. 13 during a Pentagon briefing with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace responds to a reporter's question during a Jan. 13, 2004, joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (left). DoD photo by R. D. Ward.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said both those who had no apparent previous affiliation with the Baath Party and now some previous Baath Party officials are "coming forward and leading us to caches, giving us information about individuals who we're looking for."
The general said that in the past week, Iraqi citizens have led coalition troops to "truckloads" -- and he repeated the word for emphasis -- of ammunition and explosives.
"Out of some 200 raids that were conducted this past week, a number of those were specifically the result of tips we had gotten from the Iraqi people," Pace said. "So it's very encouraging that these folks are coming forward. The results have been very positive, and we're looking forward to being able to conduct more raids and operations based on that kind of intelligence in the future."
However, more raids and better intelligence have not quelled attacks in the country, and reporters questioned the general as to the nature of attacks, specifically those aimed at helicopters.
U.S. Central Command officials reported Jan. 13 that another helicopter was downed in Iraq near Habbaniyah, possibly by enemy fire, according to media reports. The AH-64 Apache attack helicopter was conducting an aerial security patrol for a ground convoy moving in the area. The crew escaped unhurt.
Although he said he would not characterize the attacks as a trend, the general admitted concerns with the way insurgents now are targeting U.S. troops, and that the attacks against U.S. aircraft are changing the way the military operates in Iraq.
"Clearly, the attacks, specifically on helicopters, are of concern to us," the general said. "And what we do, as any military would do, is to change our tactics, techniques, and procedures, and the defense mechanisms that we have available to us to mitigate that.
"I'm not going to tell you exactly what we're doing," he continued, "because we don't want to tell the enemy what we're doing. But we are, in fact, learning from each of their attacks and modifying the way we do business."
Meanwhile, on U.S. efforts to glean intelligence from Saddam Hussein, Rumsfeld told reporters the CIA is doing a "good job" in its interrogation of the captured dictator. On the dictator's status as an enemy prisoner of war, the secretary noted there are "technical legal" issues involved.
"The policy people make the decisions, and the legal interagency group has been, obviously, thinking this through," he said. As whether the prisoner-of-war status would allow the United States to try Saddam in a military tribunal, the secretary said because of the dictator's actions, Saddam potentially could be prosecuted by several governments -- including those of Iraq, Kuwait and Iran -- as well as for activities of the Iraqi insurgency against coalition troops.
The secretary said, however, it's unlikely the U.S. military would put Saddam on trial. "I think that the president's pretty well clear that he wants to have the Iraqi people engaged in this," Rumsfeld said.