(Participating were Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force 7, and Dan Senor, senior advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority.)
Kimmitt: (In progress.) -- members of an anti-coalition cell operating in the area. The operation resulted in the capture of one enemy personnel, and also confiscated were an SA-16 missile, an SA-14 missile, two 82-millimeter systems, 31 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, and a large quantity of small arms and ammunition.
Yesterday, coalition forces conducted cordon and search in Khalidiya to kill or capture four members of a bomb cell operating in the area. The operation resulted in the capture of 21 enemy personnel, including two of the primary targets. In the central-south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 123 patrols, established 47 checkpoints and escorted 38 convoys.
Yesterday the Philippine Civil-Military Cooperation Battalion conducted a MEDCAP in a village located 10 kilometers northwest of Al Hillah. Four hundred twenty patients were given medical aid jointly by coalition and Babil provincial doctors.
In the southeastern zone of operations, two Iraqi female employees of a coalition contractor were shot and killed at close range outside their home after returning from work on (sic) Basra on 10 March. Investigations are ongoing.
Senor: And with that, we are happy to take questions. (Pause.) If there are questions. Yes?
Q: (Off mike.)
Senor: Can you use the microphone?
Q: Steve Inskeep with NPR. A couple of Arabic language media, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyah, are reporting that American soldiers were attacked in the Adhamiya area of Baghdad today. Do you have any information about that?
Kimmitt: I think I might have an RTQ on that. But I understand there were some operations inside Baghdad today, but I've got the exact facts. I believe we had an IED go off near the Kadhimiya area, and I believe we had two soldiers wounded, one taken to the hospital, the other one returned to duty.
Senor: Yes? You want to use the one right in front.
Q: Sorry about that. Sewell Chan with The Washington Post. Dan, could you talk to us a little bit about what the response has been within the CPA to the deaths of these two civilian employees? Specifically, have there been any concerns raised about security when moving in and out of the regional offices? Have there been any changes in operating procedures or in the, you know, amount/number of escorts for these employees? And finally, has anyone contemplated a change of assignment within the CPA, maybe moving in to Baghdad from a regional office because of these deaths?
Senor: We are always reviewing our force protection requirements and our procedures for addressing security for coalition staff in Baghdad and around the country. While this has been the first successful attack against coalition staff, there have been, no doubt, attempts in the past or coalition civilians who have been in the vicinity of attacks that have been carried out -- bombings, events of that nature.
And we have to constantly review how the coalition staff travels around the country, attends to its business, and interacts with the communities in which they are operating. And obviously this is one of those incidents where we will review the situation. No formal changes have been made at this point, but we are looking at it, as we do whenever similar situations arise.
Q: A quick follow-up. What about the sort of mood and atmosphere within the rank and file employees of the authority with respect to these deaths?
Senor: I think for those CPA staff who worked with Fern and Bob it's obviously tragic. Any loss of life in the coalition is a tragic event, and I think that anybody who's worked in the coalition feels a sense of connection to the incident. And anyone who's had personal contact with them and worked with them has an especially deep sense of loss, and I think that has manifested itself.
It hasn't stopped the work. The work continues. In fact, I would submit that the work continues with an even greater sense of mission, recognizing that a void cannot be opened up in the work that Fern and Bob were engaged in. There has already been talk about how quickly we can deploy people to fill their roles, so that there is no -- so there is no void, there is no vacuum down in the south central region in the work they were doing. Ambassador Bremer has held a meeting where this was discussed, about deploying people quickly to make sure that is no void.
So there is a sense of tragic loss that is to be expected, but there's also a sense of maintaining the mission that you hear from most of the coalition officials that I've spoken to. The work that the two, Bob and Fern, and Sawa (sp) were involved in was critical to the south central mission. I mean, Fern was particularly involved in the women's issues. She helped open up six -- over six women's centers down in south central, which is a vital element in our overall effort to engage in democracy building and human rights issues in that part of the country. And Bob was involved in working with the local Iraqi press and responding to them and helping to develop and professionalize the local Iraqi press down there. These are important efforts in our overall effort here to hand over to the Iraqi people a sovereign, democratic country.
And so there is a sense that -- the mission attracted very talented people. We have lost some of them. But the mission will not be compromised.
Q: Hi. Mark Stone, ABC. Could you confirm whether anyone was detained as a result of the shootings and also -- of the CPA shooting, and also whether they were indeed policemen or people dressed as policemen? And if they were policemen, this calls into question the -- how the policemen that are recruited are checked.
(Off-mike conferral between briefers.)
Kimmitt: There were eight persons detained as part of the incident. We understand that -- correction: six persons were detained as part of the incident. Four of those persons were carrying current and, we believe, valid Iraqi police service identification. The fifth was a former policeman under the Hussein regime, and the sixth person was a civilian. Those persons are all under coalition custody being interrogated at this time.
Senor: And to your second question, Mark, we have a very robust vetting process for all Iraqis that are hired or rehired into security services, and while it is robust it is also not perfect, as one can be expected in any security service --
Q: (Off mike.)
Senor: I'm sorry? Talking to me? Oh.
It is a -- while it is a robust vetting process it is not perfect, as is to be expected, not just only in the Iraqi security forces but in security forces around the world. The U.S. security forces, you have individuals who are corrupt who wind up in positions of responsibility and it's not discovered until after the fact, sometimes it's never discovered. And so what is important here is that we have robust procedures in place, which we do, and that when individuals slip through the cracks and we identify it, we act to rectify it immediately, and that's also what we do.
Q: Excuse me -- I'm Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald -- but this doesn't sound, sir, like individuals slipped through the cracks, it sounds like four of them were properly ID'd with the former Hussein -- regime police officer; you had a cell.
Senor: I'm sorry?
Q: It sounds like you had a cell.
Senor: Well, we're not going to comment at this point on those sorts of details, because there's a lot of mixed reporting and what you are referencing is not necessarily confirmed beyond first reports. So we really want to wait and let this investigation play out here.
Q: But you're confident that four of them were valid, credentialed, current police officers?
Kimmitt: No, what we said is that four of them had current and we believe valid Iraqi police service identifications. But that's going to be determined as part of the investigation. It could be forgery for all we know.
Senor: But to your -- I think to the other part of your question, what we aren't certain of is how clear their previous ties potentially to the former regime, their previous criminal records if they existed, any previous -- any personal details or professional details about their previous roles before the liberation -- that information isn't clear yet -- and how that information factored in or didn't factor in, depending on the case, to their hiring in the Iraqi police force. Those sorts of issues obviously we'll be looking at in the days and weeks ahead.
Kimmitt: And frankly, even though they were all caught in the same vehicle, we don't know if all of them are connected to this crime.
Q: They were caught in the same vehicle with the Iraqi victims?
Kimmitt: Again, that report we believe to be a false report initially, that the vehicle did not have the victims in it.
Senor: I would also just caution everybody here. The first reports that I have read in the news have been all over the place and pretty inconsistent not only with one another, but inconsistent with reports we have received from different individuals involved with the investigation. So I'm not laying blame or suggesting that some are right or some are wrong, but there just seems to be a lot of inconsistencies. And I would just caution everyone to be patient as we get information -- as we develop information and develop a theory that we're significantly confident in to release.
Kimmitt: And there's also a human side to this as well. We would rather not play this tragedy out in the press for the families that are currently grieving. So, please, let's let this investigation go forward. Let's let the families of the victims be the first ones that hear the exact details of what happened once the investigation is complete.
Q: Well, two questions. One, you say this is a robust investigation. How much time do you spend investigating one police officer? Because it seems like you have to put a whole bunch back on quickly. And number two, just a bottom-line question. How do we or you trust police now when they stop us at roadblocks? How do we know they're not going to shoot us, or you know, you, the coalition people?
Senor: I think the way we approach these issues is the way we approach all issues with regard to vetting. When Ambassador Bremer -- just to take as an example, when Ambassador Bremer announced his de-Ba'athification policy he made it very clear in the de- Ba'athification policy, like all of these policies, that would have vetting efforts. Some individuals, like in vetting processes throughout the world, even at the most efficient and developed governments around the world, some vetting processes result in individuals slipping through the cracks. And you have to have confidence in the fact that when it applies to a majority of the individuals, the majority will be properly vetted and the majority will be clean, if you will, and that we can have confidence in the individuals that are in those positions. But from time to time, you will encounter imperfections. That is the case.
For you to suggest that we shouldn't operate -- we or you should not operate in Iraq until we have perfection in our ability to run our broader longer law enforcement programs and our broader security programs I think is unrealistic in the short term. I mean, part of the risk of operating here is that there will be criminals who act, there will be terrorists who act, and some of them in this case, as may be the case and we'll wait for the case and the investigation to develop -- but if, in fact, individuals infiltrated an Iraqi security service, it's cause for great concern; we'll seek to address it. But you're asking a broader question: How can we function here when we have a crime and terrorist problem? That's the issue at stake here.
Kimmitt: The other comment I'd make is that you made the assertion that how can you trust the police to roadblock based on a police report or based on a news report that there was a roadblock involved. Even the notion that this was a roadblock at which the victims were stopped at is being investigated, because further information indicates that might well not be correct as well; that they may have been chased or run off the road. So again, let's let the investigation bear itself out; let's take the time and put the right assets against this and let it reach its natural conclusion.
Q: (Off mike.)
Senor: Can you use the microphone?
Q: Yes, sure, yeah, absolutely. Do you think these people that were caught definitely are the ones who killed the CPA employees?
Kimmitt: That's for the investigating officer to determine, not for us to judge up here.
Q: Right. And the Karbala police, they've confirmed that at least some of those people were -- some of their people were arrested, active police officers.
Kimmitt: We certainly understand that the Karbala police believe that some of their people have been arrested. But you're suggesting that they were actually the perpetrators of this crime. That's why we'll do the interrogation, that's why we'll do the investigation, and if necessary, that's why we will talk about the prosecution thereafter.
Senor: And the FBI is involved with the investigation as well, and that process is under way, and once they start providing us some follow-up information of their own it will help to confirm some of the theories about the case and we will have more information.
John (sp), yes?
Q: Dan, General, perhaps I could ask you to answer your own question that you just posed. You said, how do we function here when we have a problem with criminal activity and terrorism? This week we're beginning to see the reward of contracts for the $18.4 billion of reconstruction over the next three years. I understand that as much as 20 percent of that sum may have to go to security. So can you attempt to grapple with the question of how vulnerable is that program since it's so key to what the United States is attempting to achieve here? It looks like it might be a very vulnerable part of what you're trying to do. They don't have to kill a lot of people to disable any particular program.
Senor: I would actually argue that it is -- that the deployment of the $18.6 billion is central to our efforts here to defeat the terrorists and to address the crime problems. The fact is, we'll be deploying a sum of funds here that almost will double, if you will, the Iraqi -- existing Iraqi GDP.
We have said all along that there's a two-tier track to our overall strategy in combatting the terrorists and the former regime elements in Iraq. One is the military strategy, which is what General Kimmitt frequently speaks about, which is the very aggressive and effective and certainly successful campaign to capture or kill the terrorists. But it's also a strategy to politically and economically empower the Iraqi people, and that's the other tier, if you will. And through political and economic empowerment of the Iraqi people, we will isolate the terrorists and make it more difficult for them to operate here.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Mr. Zarqawi, who explicitly talks in his battle plan for Iraq -- he explicitly talks about the fact that he's in a race against time; that as we get closer and closer to June 30th, as you have a self-governing Iraqi democracy here, it'll be more difficult for him to operate. He will lose his pretext, his excuse to operate here. That speaks for itself.
And the economic element is a part of that, implicitly. And so deploying these funds here, we believe, is critical. A large focus of the funding is on the electrical infrastructure and the oil infrastructure, which are both key to getting Iraq on a path to self- sustaining economic independence. A large portion of the funds are dedicated to the training and equipping and deploying of security forces, Iraqi security forces. All of these intersect, John. It's -- there's not a reactive strategy here. It's all part of our proactive strategy to get this country moving forward.
And while -- to your specific question, while there may be added costs that are necessary in order to make contracts or contractors less vulnerable to attacks, the overall plan is to use those funds, use the broader $18.6 billion, to engage, in many respects, the terrorist and crime problem.
Q [Through interpreter.]: Good evening. Sabah newspaper. General Kimmitt, you have said the Iraqi press said that checkpoints or police people killed the three CPA employees. Can we know from you the details of the accident (sic) and how it happened, so we have a clear view of how the accidents (sic) happened?
Kimmitt: First of all, just as a matter of correction, I did not say that they were killed by the police. It is alleged that they were killed by the police. That's why we have the police in custody pending an investigation. They're going through interrogation now.
Second, more than anything else, I hope we have demonstrated up here that the facts surrounding the circumstances of the deaths are still very, very unclear and unsure of. We do have the Federal Bureau of Investigation down on the site trying to recreate the crime scene. And we don't have that report yet. As we get more information and we can confirm what we've been reading in the press, we'll be in a much better position to either acknowledge, confirm or deny the earlier press reports.
Q [Through interpreter.]: Where were they killed? What time were they killed? These informations are still unclear. When?
Kimmitt: We agree with you that information is still unclear. We believe it happened generally at around 1800 on -- (to Mr. Senor.) -- Wednesday?
Kimmitt: Tuesday. And let's the FBI go ahead and try to get as much facts on what happened down at the crime scene to see if they can reestablish. Because there were no people on site that saw the event happen except those that we currently have in custody, and they may or may not be related to that. So we have to recreate the crime scene, take forensic evidence from the site -- tire tracks, vehicles, so on and so forth. It's going to take time. And let's just have patience so that when we do and can stand up at this podium and give you the facts, we won't have to come back the next day and say, "Well, we have a new fact that we didn't know then."
Q [Through interpreter.]: Where did the crime take place?
Kimmitt: It took place approximately 70 kilometers south of Baghdad.
Q: May I?
Q: Okay. My name is Kim Rosson (sp), Kyoto News. My question to the general is about the security local control. General Sanchez told us yesterday that the coalition forces will stay in command even after the June 30th, remain in power, remain in command, because Iraqi security forces are not ready yet. Now, could you tell us what is the legal basis for staying in power? Because Iraq is supposed to be a sovereign country by then, and there is no security agreement established so far.
Kimmitt: I'm not a legal expert. I would refer that for the complete detail to one of our lawyers, who we can make available. The current belief is that the United States -- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 may provide and probably does provide for the presence of a multinational force to conduct operations, and that may be considered -- the bulk of the lawyers at this point believe that that may provide the legal basis for continued operation and command-and-control arrangements. However, I'm very hesitant because of my absence of legal training to stand up here and profess myself as an expert, but we can make a legal expert available to answer those questions in the level of detail I think you're looking for.
Senor: And I would just add that any of the Iraqi leaders with whom we're dealing, there seems to be a consensus that there is a desire on behalf of the Iraqi people to have some U.S. force presence here post-June 30th. We expect that to be the case with the future Iraqi government that takes hold here. It's something we hear everywhere we go, whether it's dealing with Iraqis -- just Iraqis on the street -- Iraqi political leaders, regional leaders, religious leaders. There seems be, by and large, a consensus about the importance of a need for a troop presence here.
Kimmitt: It would certainly be our desire, though, on June 30th that we would be able not only to pass over sovereignty, but pass over a fully equipped, fully trained, experienced Iraqi security apparatus -- Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, police service, Iraqi army -- all working for a Iraqi ministry of defense and a joint forces command. That won't be the case on June 30th. It may be the case a year later, but we do not see that calendar date to be a date where we can then remove the coalition oversight, the coalition partnership along with the Iraqi security forces. It is as important on July 2nd that not only is this country now maintaining sovereignty and achieving sovereignty, but also the security situation kind of looks like it did the couple of days before, if not better. If we were to pull all those apparatus apart from each other on June 30th, we believe that that would not be able to be achieved.
Q: General, there is television footage of an Iraqi policeman who pulls somebody out of an ambulance after the Karbala attack, argues with them, punches them, and then shoots them in the leg and kicks them in the head. Do you feel the Iraqi police are equipped to deal with a crisis of such a magnitude, and what is your screening process?
And secondly, there are Iraqis in the team preparing Saddam's trial saying that there are too many detainees being released without consulting them, and basically that's -- you know, you're throwing away evidence. Could you respond to those allegations?
Kimmitt: Yeah, well, first of all, I haven't seen that film, so I really can't answer to it. However, we do have an Iraqi police force that is coming along in terms of those prior policemen that have had a significant amount of field experience going through a three-week process where they learn not necessarily just new techniques for crime and public security, but also how to do that in the context of Western values and a free and democratic society.
We also have just graduated, as I said today, another class out of the Jordanian police academy, where we have taken Iraqi citizens that have had no prior police experience -- taken them through an eight-week course, through a very, very good course led by Steve Bennett, who also ran the same program in Kosovo to set up the Kosovo police service.
With regard to the specific incident, I can't really address it, because I haven't seen the film. But I would tell you that obviously we are very careful to try to train the police to the highest standards. And if there are exceptional incidences, I would just argue that that is not unique to this country, nor is it unique to any country on this Earth.
As to the second point, about detainee release, when we release, for example, a security detainee because he or she is no longer an imminent threat to the security of this nation, that does not absolve or preclude Iraqi authorities from bringing those people to justice for other charges that they may have. So just because that person no longer meets our criteria for detention under the security detention conventions within the Geneva Conventions, that does not preclude the Iraqi authorities from taking further action.
Q: Two questions about the unfortunate events near Hillah. Number one, any idea what the motive was and whether it had anything to do with Ms. Holland's work with women in the region? And number two, whether you guys have any hard and fast rules about security for CPA employees who travel outside of secure areas? Do they always have to armed guards, always have to have armored vehicles, or is it flexible on kind of a case-by-case basis?
Senor: To your second question, there are rules. We have strict force protection rules and procedures. For obvious operational security reasons, I would prefer not to discuss them in a public forum. We don't want to tip off those who may be considering organizing attacks exactly how we seek to protect our people.
To your first question, we regard this attack as an act -- we regard -- to your first question, we regard this attack as an act of terrorism against American civilians and an Iraqi civilian. If you look at the work, as to your question, that they were engaged in, one was involved in developing women's rights and democracy training centers in Iraq; Bob was involved in helping to develop a free press in Iraq, both institutions -- both endeavors that are central to building a functioning democracy in Iraq. And certainly Sawa (sp) was working with the coalition, working hand in hand in this effort. And so this is clearly an attack against the work we are doing here in Iraq. This is clearly an attack against the progress that we are making in Iraq, and we are going to evaluate this in the context of a formal act of terrorism against the coalition, against civilians and against the Iraqi people.
Q: One quick follow-up for you: How much training do Iraqi police get? Do you have -- is it three weeks, eight weeks? Does it vary from province to province?
Kimmitt: Three weeks -- (Off mike.).
Senor: Oh, the eight-week program is for new Iraqi police and that's the TIP program; it doesn't vary from province to province. The three-week program is for Iraqi police that served as police prior to the liberation and are recruited to serve in the new police force since they have some training already and have some experience in service. The three-week program is just to train them in professional -- professionalizing their investigative skills, training them in basic human rights-related issues, how it is -- how to function in police -- in a democratic environment with democratic rules in a democratic government. It doesn't vary from province to province.
Q: So it's fair to say a minimum of three weeks, up to eight weeks? Each Iraqi policeman has --
Senor: Yes. Now, with the police that have been recruited as police officers, who previously served as police officers, they are recruited and are subjected to the three-week training; some of them are asked to serve before they go through the training. But the training -- the three-week training program, the TIPs program is to occur as quickly as possible.
Q: (Off mike.)
Q: (Off mike.)
Senor: Can you use your --
Kimmitt: No knowledge.
Q: Had these police involved in the shooting gone through the three-week training program or had they not been trained yet?
Kimmitt: No, again, we don't have any results yet from the crime scene; none have been provided to us by the FBI nor from the Iraqi police. So at this point, all we know is some very, very preliminary data of who we picked up. We haven't seen any of the results of the investigation nor have we seen any of their files, and do not expect to until nearly the point where the investigation is complete.
Q [Through interpreter.]: Al-Iraqiyah TV. Iraqi police lack equipment to deal with terrorists. What did you do in regards to this issue?
Senor: We are in the process of equipping all of the Iraqi security services with the equipment they need to get the job done. We have been doing this from the moment we began to deploy Iraqi security forces. But recognize that our focus has been on recruiting and deploying a large number of Iraqi security officers as quickly as possible. The fact is, when you have Iraqis on the front line, not only for enforcement of laws and protecting security but also for intelligence gathering, they can play an enormous contribution. And so we have really been focused on getting these individuals into place and deploying them.
Whether it's knowledge of the local language, knowledge of the local culture, knowledge of the local rhythm of life, they can do a better job than we can of making determinations, "this one's a foreign fighter, this one's a domestic insurgent." They can interact with the local communities in the way that the ICDC can, in a way that enhances our overall effort to combat terrorism here, and really plays an important complementary role.
That's the focus: recruitment, training and deployment. We are equipping, but there's no -- the priority has been on the recruitment of the size that's necessary in order to have the sort of front-line resources that we need and to have the intelligence gathering that we need. We want to move into a mode here where the Iraqis are increasingly playing the enforcer role and the coalition is playing the reinforcer role, and you can't have that unless you have the requisite number of individuals recruited, trained and deployed.
We now have over 150,000 Iraqis in those positions. We are equipping them. We believe they have the resources that they need, but we also recognize there's room for improvement, and we are constantly improving the situation.
Someone who hasn't asked a question. Yes? You may want to -- there you go -- borrow Mark's.
Q: Sorry about this. Shobey Prinicka (ph). I'm really sorry, everyone, to change the subject, but --
Q: Regarding a very different angle, sorry. Regarding the policies of the civilian compensations for the Iraqis that the coalition forces by mistake have killed or wounded, is it true that if it's someone injured or killed before May 1st, they're not a target of compensation? Because the case that I met this morning was, like, a nine-months pregnant woman that was killed in April, and the family was told that, as it's before May 1st, she doesn't fall to be target of compensation.
And two how many applications have been so far given by the civilian casualties? And so far, how many cases have been paid, and how much were they paid? And three, at the time one year later, you really don't have any guesses of how many civilian casualties have been caused due to the occupation forces?
Kimmitt: The Foreign Claims Act that most of the case law is based on -- and again, I am not a lawyer, but we have set up a claims and compensation system for non-combat-related accidents. For example, if someone in the CPA or someone in CJTF7 is driving down the road and, incidental to that driving, got into an accident, non-combat-related, there is a claim system, a very robust claim system by which Iraqi citizens are able to file claims. I believe the last number is somewhere on the order of 11,000 claims have been filed. Approximately 5,500 claims resulted in compensation. I know that over $2 million has been provided in compensation.
Also our commanders in the field certainly have the authority to make solatia-like payments out of their Commanders Emergency Relief Program and deploy those funds around -- surrounding incidents where they believe in their judgment there should be some method of compensation to persons in their area of operation. I don't have the exact amount of money or knowledge about how much money has been paid out under that program, nor the number of claims. But I do know that under the formal program, there has been generally somewhere on the order of 5,000-plus claims made and satisfied, resulting in the payments of approximately 2.1 (sic) or near that amount dollars, which would translate to about, oh, 4-plus trillion (sic) Iraqi dinar -- billion dinar.
Q: (Off mike.)
Kimmitt: We have been asked that question many times, and frankly, there have been no major organizations in Iraq capable of collecting all of those numbers into one central database. We are able to provide or obtain some numbers, but to suggest that we have the total numbers -- it would be virtually impossible either to give you an accurate number, and frankly it would be almost as difficult to give you an estimate. We would be going on anecdotal evidence from some reliable, some unreliable sources. And so we have averred from providing any type of number in that regard.
Senor: Go ahead.
Q [Through interpreter.]: (Name inaudible.) -- Al Dousor (ph) newspaper. I have two questions. General Kimmitt, some press reports said the next Iraqi defense minister is going to be a civilian. Then you talked about the security agreement. What is the form of the security agreement? For how long? Are you going to be signing with the GC or with the national assembly?
Senor: To your second question, any security arrangements we make will be negotiated with the interim Iraqi government. The Governing Council -- despite one article within the November 15th agreement detailing that a future security arrangement would be addressed by the Governing Council this spring, the Governing Council has requested that we delay any formal discussions and arrangements being established until there's a sovereign government in Iraq, and so we'll wait to address that with the post-June 30th interim government.
Kimmitt: In answer to your first question, it is clearly one of the cornerstones of civilian control of the military that the defense minister should be a civilian and not a uniformed military officer, and that is the direction that we are going at this time.
Senor: And the Governing Council has announced that. The Governing Council -- Dr. Pachachi, in his last week as president of the Iraqi Governing Council a couple of months ago, announced that that would be the path they were going. This is something the Iraqi Governing Council feels strongly about, as we do, and in fact in the transitional administrative law civilian control of the military is something that is emphasized.
Yeah. Go ahead, please.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Kimmitt: I'm sorry. Would you translate that again, please?
Interpreter: General, is the next MoD going to be under the political control of the Governing Council?
Kimmitt: Would you ask the question again, please?
Q [Through interpreter.]: The MoD -- is the next minister of defense is going to be under the same pressures as the current ministers? Is he going to be part of a certain political party?
Senor: The minister of defense will be determined by the Iraqi Governing Council and, obviously, in coordination with Ambassador Bremer. Ambassador Bremer ultimately has to sign off on any -- under international law, he has to sign off on any major government appointments, the minister of defense being among them. But the recommendations, the nominations for the senior members of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense will be made by the Governing Council.
Q: Thanks. Sewell Chan of The Washington Post again. General Kimmitt, could you tell us more specifically about what kind of background checks are done for anyone trying to join the Iraqi security forces? Like in the United States, you can type in someone's Social Security number into like the FBI's NCIC database, learn about their entire arrest record from throughout the country. Obviously, that's not possible here. But do you have, you know, a directory of former Ba'ath party members? Do you, you know, look through the computerized files of the Mukhabarat? How do you verify what someone's background is, where they're from, you know, what their occupational history is, and most importantly, whether they have a criminal record of a history of association with the former regime.
Senor: Well, we -- I don't want to -- for similar reasons I've articulated earlier, I don't want to divulge all the details on how we vet individuals. But I will say that we have within our government entities that are experienced at doing this sort of work. And I will also say that as we capture more and more senior members of the regime, as we come into possession of documents of the regime, in some cases large volumes of documents of criminal records, it helps us, and certainly Ba'ath party membership documents, documents from prisons, we are able to gather information relating to individuals that may or may not be applying for positions in the new Iraq.
Q: A very quick follow-up question. How confident would you say you are in the background and vetting process right now? Very? Somewhat? Not too confident?
Senor: I'm not going to use your adjectives to characterize it, I will use mine. And the adjective that I have been using is robust; we have a very robust process. And the fact is we have incidents, like we had this past week. They are incidents. They are isolated. They are exceptions. They are not the rule.
The fact is you do not have a situation where every other day we encounter problems with individuals within the government or the security services that turn out to be individuals who have ill intentions when they join the security services. When they happen, they are isolated incidents. We have to address them, we have to rectify them, and we do. And sometimes they are able to impose injurious results before we're able to rectify them. That's a risk in engaging in what we are doing here, engaging in the sort of work we are doing here.
But by and large, the program is working. By and large, it is that robust. And by and large, we will continue to do what we are doing. We will make adjustments as we see fit. And obviously, if the investigation that we're engaged in right now with regard the incident of this past week leads us to conclude that we do need to make adjustments, we will make those adjustments. We will communicate them to you.
But understand: by and large, this program and our vetting process overall has been quite effective.
Kimmitt: And honestly, the shortcomings that we've seen in our process is not unique to this country and, frankly, if we were to look back into our own history, not unique to the United States' history as well.
Senor: Yeah, I -- let me just follow up. We have -- as I've said earlier, we have over -- well over 150,000 Iraqis serving in security positions. And the overwhelming majority of those Iraqis have joined the security forces because they are patriotic citizens of Iraq; and they want a role in helping to rebuild this country; and they feel a great sense of pride in protecting this country against foreign elements, against the Zarqawi types who come into this country to wreak havoc, to pit one community against another Iraqi community. They have a great deal of resentment to Saddam Hussein's regime and the senior figures who are associated with it, and they want to play a major role in preventing those individuals from ever coming back to power and wreaking their own havoc here. That is the characterization I would apply to the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who are serving in the security services today.
In fact, the ratio in some recruiting centers -- for instance, in the ICDC -- is sometimes six to one in terms of the number of Iraqis who show up for which there are positions available for the jobs they're applying -- so they're -- this call to service is serious. It is real. It is something the majority of Iraqis respect. It is something that we respect. And while we have isolated incidents, as I said earlier, that is what they are; they are isolated incidents.
Kimmitt: Yeah. Particularly when -- in light of the fact that so many of the security forces are doing such a spectacular job. Over -- we have had more members of the Iraqi security services killed in the line of duty than coalition forces, and it is -- I'm sure they feel the same way we do any time one of their colleagues, any time one of their fellow IPS members go outside the line and commit these heinous acts. They understand it's a reflection not only on the person who committed it but the organization they belong to and the country they're attempting to defend.
So I would just say, for those members of the Iraqi police service that are out there every day, providing a level of support for the people of Iraq, we understand that the vast majority of you are doing an honorable job, and your country is proud of you.
Senor: Every police department -- and I know there's -- we'll just take a couple more -- but every police department in the United States has an anti-corruption division. Every police department in the United States has dedicated personnel dealing with members of their respective police departments that have ill intentions and dishonest motives and perhaps very destructive goals for what they intend to achieve as part of their own service. And unfortunately, Iraq security forces are not immune to that phenomena that you see all over the world.
Q: But you're confident that this young, new police force is capable of investigating its own?
And just two more, since I finally got the questions --
Senor: We have called on you earlier, so this is really a second round.
Q: Yeah, but I'm just trying to clarify some of the things that came up here.
Bringing in the FBI, does that preclude -- or include the possibility of a U.S. prosecution of these people? And are they in any way monitoring the Iraqi police, investigating the Iraqi police in killing the American employees?
And one more thing. You said that you don't want to reveal the regulations that CPA members travel on. Fair enough. Were these people following their own regulations when they were traveling?
Senor: All right, I'll work backwards. Your third question will be determined as we move forward in the investigation of the entire incident. So we will have more information as that investigation progresses.
Now, your second question. Under international law, as an occupying force, we cannot try, we cannot prosecute the individuals who were involved in this incident in the United States. They will be tried in the Iraqi legal system, the Iraqi judicial system. The FBI will have a role in the investigation, and that has already begun.
And your first question, anti-corruption across the board in government is one of the top priorities of Ambassador Bremer in these remaining months here before June 30th. He is working on developing institutions in this country that will outlive our presence here, that will seek to combat the culture of corruption that was certainly endemic in this country before we arrived, and is endemic in many governments in this region. It is something that he views as one of our most important legacies here. And that is why he works so closely with the Iraqi Governing Council to develop the Commission on Public Integrity that sets up inspectors general for every single ministry, including the Ministry of Interior; it sets up anti-corruption arms that can work independent of the minister and outside the influence of the minister to address corruption. We are now working on assigning directors general for all the inspectors general offices throughout the ministries; we are staffing it up. It is something that is going to get a tremendous amount of focus -- building up these institutions, staffing them, educating the Iraqis on how to run them -- this is going to get an enormous amount of focus in the remaining months.
A couple more.
Q: Just two quick questions. Number one, on the point that General Kimmitt just raised, more Iraqi security forces being killed. Do you happen to have the number of the Iraqi security forces who have been killed in the line of duty to date, or if you don't have it handy could you e-mail it to us?
Kimmitt: We certainly can. I know that there have been over 325 Iraqi police service members that have been killed in the line of duty. I don't think the number of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps or Facilities Protection Service members approximate that number, but I think in combination between the Iraqi police service, the Facilities Protection Service, the Iraqi Civil Defense service, those numbers exceed the coalition death toll up to this point.
Q: Just to -- to put your point in the story, it would just be handy to have the actual number to back it up.
Q: And secondly, based on what you know now, do you have any information that gives you an indication as to whether these coalition officials were, in fact, targeted or identified as being coalition officials, or that would lead you to believe that these were merely targets of opportunity because they were Western faces or whatnot?
Kimmitt: There have been so many incorrect assertions made up to this point in press reports that I wouldn't even want to begin to speculate on what I've read in the press reports about motivations behind the crime itself. Let's let the investigation carry that out.
Senor: But --
Q: So you don't have any information yet that leads you in one direction or the other?
Kimmitt: That's for the interrogation and the investigating officer to determine.
Senor: Here's what we know. Three civilians, two working directly for the coalition, two working through a subcontractor, were killed. We know, as General Kimmitt has said, they were killed by Iraqis. We view this as an act of -- targeted act of terrorism. One of the individuals was involved in women's rights issues and building women's centers in south-central Iraq. Another was involved in developing a free press in Iraq. A third was an Iraqi national working hand-in-hand with the coalition.
Clearly those who engage in terrorism and those who are involved in the insurgency in Iraq are against the sorts of activities that these three individuals -- the two Iraqis and -- the two Americans and the Iraqi -- were involved in. Clearly they were advocating issues and helping to develop a democratic society in a way that the terrorists and the former regime elements want to defeat. Now, do we know at this point exactly that that was their specific motivation? No, but it is certainly something that's noted and that we're going to consider.
Kimmitt: And to correct one comment made by my good colleague, we don't even know that they were killed by Iraqis. We suspect -- we have persons under detention right now that we suspect of being involved in the commission of this crime. As I understand, we have no confessions, but there may be evidence that suggests that. But we haven't been made privy to it, and I don't believe -- the investigating officers are yet to make a final determination on the reconstruction of the crime scene or the facts of the crime.
Senor: Thanks, everybody.
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