MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a couple of brief comments, and then General Kimmitt has an opening statement, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.
The coalition welcomes the comments of the U.N. general secretary and his envoy, Mr. Brahimi, that the United Nations is ready and prepared to return to Iraq to help as required in the transition and election preparations. The U.N. has made important contributions over the past year, and we support its return to Iraq and continuing its work, including advising the Iraqis on the structure and role of the interim Iraqi government, and in planning and holding elections.
Against that backdrop, we also welcome the comments today by the Governing Council at their weekly press conference that they are in process of drafting a letter that they intend to send to the United Nations.
As for Ambassador Bremer's schedule, on Monday he traveled to Erbil for the arba'in ceremonies up north commemorating the -- or memorializing the 40 days since the attacks, terrorists attacks in Erbil. That evening, Ambassador Bremer met with Mr. Talibani and Mr. Barzani of the Governing Council. The next morning he traveled to Halabja, as has been reported, for a ceremony regarding -- relating to the 16th anniversary of the attacks, the chemical attacks there.
Today Ambassador Bremer had his weekly meeting with the Governing Council. He met with them mid-morning, around 10:00, and then he also returned for another short meeting for 3:00 p.m. The day started with a meeting with Mr. Bahr Uloum, the current president of the Governing Council. He also had meetings with the congressional delegation that is in town, led by Senator Carl Levin.
And those are the details with regard to his schedule.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you.
The area of operations remains relatively stable. Over the past week, there have been an average of 21 engagements daily against coalition military forces, just over three attacks daily against Iraqi security forces, and just over four attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.
In the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,190 patrols, 23 offensive operations, 12 raids, and captured 55 anti-coalition suspects.
In the northern zone of operations, members of a private voluntary organization were attacked in a vehicle in eastern Mosul. Three U.S. civilians were killed and two were wounded on the scene. During subsequent medical evacuation, one of the wounded individuals died. The remaining individual has been evacuated to Landstuhl.
Yesterday the family of an Iraqi employee, who works for Task Force Olympia, was attacked in northeastern Mosul. One person was killed and two were wounded. The two wounded family members have been treated and released, and two suspects have been apprehended, are in the custody of the Iraqi police service.
Yesterday an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps patrol observed individuals assembling a bomb underneath a bridge in Qaiyara. When the patrol approached, the individuals fled in a truck and escaped. The area was cordoned off, and an explosive ordnance team found an artillery round with a garage door opener as an initiation device. The explosive ordnance team blew the round in place. The ICDC later tracked down the owner of the vehicle, who was subsequently wounded in an engagement with the ICDC. The suspect is under guard at a local hospital and will be turned over to coalition forces after his recovery.
An Iraqi police station in northeast Mosul was attacked by four individuals with an RPG and small-arms fire. Two police officers were killed and one was wounded, and the Iraqi police service has taken the lead for this investigation.
Last night Iraqi police conducted a raid in eastern Mosul for a suspected criminal cell leader. They apprehended the target and a large cache of weapons, including one SA-7 and bomb-making material. And yesterday unknown forces attacked the Iraqi armed forces recruiting station in eastern Mosul with an unidentified explosive device. Three Iraqis were wounded and taken to a local hospital.
In the north central zone of operations, coalition forces engaged an Iraqi civilian vehicle that attempted to run a coalition traffic- control point in Samarra. Two of the six passengers in the vehicle were wounded and were treated by medics on site.
Today a coalition soldier was killed and two were wounded when their M-2 Bradley fighting vehicle rolled over north of Baiji. The wounded soldiers were transported to the 67th Combat Support Hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries.
In Baghdad a reconnaissance patrol stopped a vehicle and conducted a deliberate search last evening. The patrol found ball bearings and gray powder in the vehicle. The patrol went to the vehicle owner's house and found two armed rocket-propelled grenade rounds, five gallons of suspected liquid explosives, explosive powder taken from weapons, four blocks of C4, 50 sticks of TNT, credit cards, several passports, and machine gun parts.
Two days ago, the Sayidah Council chairman, Mohammed Ali Bakir, was shot. Upon investigation, forces discovered that Mr. Bakir (sp) and two Iraqis were in a snack shop when two Iraqis entered the shop and shot Mr. Bakir. The gunmen fled in two vehicles, a white 1992 Toyota Camry with tinted windows and a white 1990 Oldsmobile.
Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid to capture a target suspected of conducting attacks on coalition forces, one of which resulted in the death of a coalition soldier on 17 December. The unit captured the target, Rahim Abusi Rahim, and he remains in coalition custody.
In the western zone of operations, one soldier from Task Force All-American was killed in a vehicle accident. The soldier was in the commander's hatch of his tank when a civilian vehicle hit the 50-cal machine gun in the hatch. The barrel of the weapons swung around and hit the soldier. The soldier died in a medical treatment facility from blunt force trauma to the head.
Two days ago, coalition forces conducted simultaneous cordon-and- search operations in Fallujah to kill or capture targeted anti- coalition personnel. The operation resulted in the capture of 12 enemy personnel, including two primary targets. Also confiscated were RPGs, bomb-making materials and a computer.
In the central-south zone of operations yesterday, a truck with six passengers was ambushed near Al-Musayyib, 30 kilometers from Karbala. A German and Dutch contractor and two Iraqi engineers were killed, and a Facilities Protection Service guard and their driver was wounded. The prosecutor of Al Hillah has taken responsibility for the investigation and is working the investigation at this time.
MR. SENOR: With that, we are happy to take your questions. Mark.
Q Thanks. General Kimmitt, could you talk to us a little bit about Operation Promise (sic), is that what it's called?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah.
Q Yeah. Just how does it differ from the other -- I think it's Iron Hammer? What are its aims and that sort of thing?
Secondly, Dan, if you could comment on a comment -- on a -- reports from the Iraqi papers today that Zarqawi was actually captured some time ago and that there is some sort of -- by the Iranians, and that there was some sort of deal going on? I'm not sure how accurate this is, but any comment that you can give to us.
MR. SENOR: I'll defer to General Kimmitt.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. We do not and we do not believe that the Iranians have captured, nor do we believe that there is any deal pending for any exchange of Zarqawi. We still believe Zarqawi to be alive, we believe him to be in Iraq, and we also believe that he is responsible for conducting ongoing operations in Iraq.
Operation Iron Promise. As we've talked about many times, many of our operations are intelligence-based operations based on either reports of enemy operations or accumulated reports that lead us to different extremists, bomb-making materials, ID makers, criminals, so on and so forth. Iron Promise is an operation being conducted by the 1st Armored Division here in Baghdad.
The target is, as we have read over the last few weeks, targets against extremists and terrorists who have been responsible for such actions such as targeting imams. We've seen that in a number of cases. We've seen a couple of mosques attacked. We've seen numerous IEDs throughout the city of Baghdad, some killing Iraqi civilians, some killing American soldiers. There has been an accumulation of intelligence over the past few weeks. That intelligence has accumulated to the point where the commander of the 1st Armored Division, General Dempsey, is conducting operations at a number of sites throughout Baghdad to try to reduce the threats to coalition forces and the threats to the Iraqi people.
Of note, Iron Promise -- unlike Iron Hammer and some of the operations six months ago, four months ago -- has a significant presence of Iraqi security forces as contributing members, contributing teams working these operations. These operations are conducted with coalition forces, but they're also conducted with Iraqi civil defense forces, Iraqi armed forces and Iraqi police service. So I would expect over the next couple of days you're going to see significant activity here in Baghdad, precision activity going after some of the targets that have been identified through this intelligence that has been accumulated.
It should also be a very clear warning to the extremists in Baghdad not to misinterpret the transfer of authority that's ongoing here in Baghdad; that somehow as the 1st Armored Division and the 1st Cavalry Division are doing the right-seat rides and what we call the rip-tow activities, that the 1st Armored Division is not capable of conducting offensive operations, because it is; and that the 1st Cavalry Division, just getting on -- their feet on the ground, are not capable of conducting offensive operations, because they will. So over the next few days you're going to see significant activities by Iraqi forces, outgoing 1st Armored Division forces, incoming 1st Cavalry Division forces using actionable intelligence to kill and capture enemies of the Iraqi people and enemies of the coalition forces here in Baghdad.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, can you address the wounding of two Americans soldiers and the killing of one American soldier in an attack two hours ago in Abu Nawaf (ph) Street? Can you confirm this news?
GEN. KIMMITT: No, I can't confirm that news. There was an incident about two hours ago in the Karrada district. Is that the incident that you're referring to? I don't know the specific street you referred to. Is that in the Karrada district?
Q (Through interpreter.) Abu Nawaf (ph) is near the river.
GEN. KIMMITT: It's near the river? Just across the river, near the Palestine Hotel? Yeah, the information that we have on that was that at about 1630 this evening, there was a loud explosion, which many might have heard. We suspect it was an improvised explosive device. We had coalition forces engaged in the Neighborhood Advisory Council meeting in that area. There was an explosion. We suspect it was an IED. It could be a transformer. But we have explosive ordnance personnel on site assessing the situation right now. The information that I have is we had one coalition soldier wounded and we also had two Iraqi children that were wounded as part of that. All three of those personnel have been evacuated to the 31st Combat Support Hospital for treatment. I'm not aware of any fatalities at this point.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, there is talk about a security agreement signed by the American forces with the forthcoming new Iraqi government. There is talk about six bases. What are the details concerning the security agreement? When will this agreement be met? Okay.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, there is no secured agreement that has been either written or signed at this point. We are operating here and could well be operating after June 30th under the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511.
With regards to the six bases, I keep hearing that number. I don't understand where that number comes from; it may be the six bases here in Baghdad. But we certainly will have more bases post-June 30th than just the six in Baghdad. It is true that we are trying to reduce our exposure here in Baghdad, and that's for many reasons. That will not reduce our capability to provide security. But all of us recognize that Baghdad is getting more and more cluttered as the economic prosperity is starting to pick up as the situation is returning to normal.
Many of our vehicles that are driving up and down the road are just doing routine administrative work, delivering chow, delivering letters, delivering supplies. As we are starting to move to those bases outside of the city, much of that routine administrative work, which accounts for a significant number of the vehicles that you see running around the roads, can certainly been done outside the city without impacting on the daily life of Iraqi citizens. That will reduce much but not all of the coalition presence here inside the city of Baghdad, because we certainly will be continuing the presence of American and coalition forces inside to provide a safe and secure environment. But as we talk about those six bases on the outskirts of Baghdad, those are primarily to reduce the presence and the administrative burden of the coalition forces operating inside the major city, without reducing the capability of the coalition to provide security inside the city.
MR. SENOR: And any formal discussions about arrangements for U.S. forces, coalition forces, post-June 30th -- at the request of the Governing Council, we've agreed to postpone any formal discussions until there's a sovereign government in Iraq post-June 30th with which we'd have those discussions.
Yes, sir, go ahead.
Q Igor Poporova (sp), Russian Information Agency, Novosti. My question to General Kimmitt. Today Russian foreign minister stressed once more about -- that official Moscow, up to date they have been waiting for official explanations and excuses from American side for accident which took part on the 6th of April last year. I recollect in your memory that at that time the column of Russian diplomatic cars was attacked and fired by American forces, in spite of official guarantees of safety has been received before, and this column started to leave Baghdad towards the Syrian frontier.
Was there any investigations from your side about this accident?
GEN. KIMMITT: I can't directly speak to that incident. Typically, something of that caliber and magnitude would be something that we would traditionally investigate. Let me take that question for after the press conference. We can check with our lawyers to see if there was an investigation initiated, and if so, we can give you the status of that investigation.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q As we reach --
MR. SENOR: Sir, right next to you. I'll work across.
Q As we reach the end of this first year, with the benefit of hindsight, is there anything that the coalition would have done differently or would like to have seen happen differently?
MR. SENOR: We try not to spend a lot of time looking at the rearview mirror. We've got our hands full just looking forward and mapping next steps. So the what if's, or would have's or should have's, we'll leave to the historians.
But we've got a lot of work cut out for us between now and June 30th. We are making tremendous progress. As I've said before from this podium, if you would have told anybody in March of 2003 that in 12 months from that point, Iraqi political leaders would be sitting around a table, representing all communities in the country, engaged in a serious discussion about issues like freedom of speech, and federalism, and minority rights, and the role of Islam and the balance between a role of Islam and democratic principles in the new Iraq, I don't think many people would have believed you. And yet, here we are; that's the discussion that's going on in Iraq, coupled with tremendous progress on the restoration of essential services; a gradual improvement in security, in the building up of Iraqi security forces, with a recognition that there still remains a major terrorist threat in this country, and that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism, and that defeating the terrorists here is critical to winning the overall global war on terror, and that's something we definitely have an eye toward. But in terms of the past, again, those are issues for the historians to address.
Q We've spoken to many of the Iraqi police who were wounded in attacks against police stations and a lot of the families of police officers who were killed in these attacks. They seem -- there is no -- they have told me they are not receiving any sort of compensation or any sort of medical help for their injuries on duty, and I was wondering why that is?
MR. SENOR: I can tell you that the program that we have worked out with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and the Iraqi Ministry of Health mandates that the -- well, in the case of an injury, full medical benefits are provided to the injured and their salary continues even when they are not working because of the injuries. In the case of deaths, a one-time payment is made to the surviving family that equals six months of monthly pay, and then following that there's a monthly payment made equal to 80 percent of the deceased's monthly salary. And then it transfers -- once you reach up to 30 years of service, equivalent of what would have been 30 years of service, the surviving family receives the equivalent of the pension that the deceased would have received.
So there is a program to accommodate that, but it all follows a regular investigation of the incident. And I'm sure the incident you're referring to right now is probably under investigation, and once the investigation is complete those payments will kick in.
Go ahead, sir.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, in Anbar area, I find the occupation forces, they are presented too close to the houses of the families and inside the streets. Don't you think that having those people in the streets, neighborhoods, too close to the houses, to the roofs is forming a threat to the life of the Iraqis, and besides they are frustrating them?
GEN. KIMMITT: The tactics that we use and the patrols that we use with the people of Iraq, particularly as you would say in Al Anbar province, should be a very clear reminder and a very clear demonstration to the people of Iraq that they are here for their protection and as a deterrent to anybody that would take advantage of the American or coalition forces being too far away to react. As the soldiers and Marines walk up and down the streets, I think that rather than not seeing them on the streets the people of Iraq would prefer to see them on the streets, providing support, providing security and providing the guarantee that it's going to be -- that the security situation will be maintained. Frankly, I think all the Iraqi citizens understand that when they see coalition forces walking down the street, that they truly have no better friend when people reach out to them and no worse enemy when people start shooting at them.
So I would argue that the presence of the coalition patrols going up and down the streets, side by side with the Iraqi security services, one, demonstrates the partnership that we have with the people of Iraq; and two, while the Iraqi security forces are standing up and gaining the necessary experience, that we will not allow a security vacuum in those streets for any foreseeable future.
MR. SENOR: Fiona, go ahead.
Q General Kimmitt, do you have any information about an attack that might have happened in Ramadi today, an IED that apparently injured some U.S. soldiers?
And for Dan, how worried is the CPA about the animosity towards the U.N. that's coming out of several seats in the Governing Council?
MR. SENOR: On your second question, I would just refer you to Dr. Chalabi's press conference earlier today, in which he said that it -- from the account that I read, that there is a role for the U.N. going forward and that they are working on a letter to the U.N. to that effect. I would point you to Mr. Brahimi's press conference in New York yesterday, in which he talked about communications with Ayatollah Sistani regarding a U.N. role here.
So I think the Governing Council is making progress. They're moving forward. And we are encouraged by the statements we have heard from them.
GEN. KIMMITT: No, I don't have that report yet. I'm not suggesting it didn't happen. We just haven't been given a report on it yet.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q Just a minor point, but on the -- the Governing Council agreed to send a letter to the U.N., and a couple of members of the Governing Council are saying that that letter will be a joint letter with the U.S. And so, in a sense, it's a joint invitation from the United States and the Governing Council to the United Nations.
MR. SENOR: When did you speak to those Governing Council members?
Q About an hour ago.
MR. SENOR: Okay. Then I think there are mixed reports. They were talking about working on their own letter, and then, based -- once they send their letter, we were going to send our letter. So there wasn't a discussion about a joint letter. That may change. They may request for it to be a joint letter. But as of a half hour ago, our letter would be independent, sent following theirs.
Q So it would be a U.S. --
MR. SENOR: Yes. There will be a -- well, under the November 15th agreement, following the outlines and following the signing of the transitional administrative law, the sort of official completion of the drafting or the finalization of the transitional administrative law must be documented and signed by both the coalition and the Governing Council, because both parties were signatories to the November 15th agreement. And part of the transmittal of the transitional administrative law to the U.N. is both parties signing a document or signing two documents -- I guess that will be determined. But the point is, we will each correspond, both the coalition and the Governing Council, with the United Nations on this issue.
Q Thanks. General Kimmitt, could you just speak a little bit more, explain a little bit more about Iron Promise, please? Can we understand it's something related to the one-year anniversary of the -- of March 20 --
GEN. KIMMITT: I don't --
Q And I understand that there were some operations against gun shops in town, and I heard some people who were confused saying that is it really legal to have a gun if it's inside the house, or is it totally legal even to have it wherever it is?
GEN. KIMMITT: The issue of Operation Iron Promise, the fact that is occurring about the one-year anniversary, I think that's just coincidental. Probably has more to do with the accumulation of intelligence and being able to turn that intelligence into operations. But I don't think it has anything to do with the calendar date.
MR. SENOR: As for gun ownership, there's a licensing process that was actually mandated in the old Iraqi legal system that we are enforcing. And I can get you the details of the licensing requirements after the press briefing. And the transitional administrative law also addresses issue of gun ownership and bans the ownership of guns, save for compliance with some sort of licensing regimen.
Q There was a demonstration outside of the convention center today by people saying that they're internally displaced and they either stay in places along the river that used to be government buildings or the people were out by the al-Musana (ph) airport. I'm wondering what the policy is toward the people who are living in government buildings right now. They're saying that the coalition is telling them to get out of their -- out of these places where they're basically squatting. And then, if people are squatting in places that are near coalition forces, is there some sort of area -- I don't know what it would be, like a 100 yards or something -- past which they can't live or something?
MR. SENOR: We have not issued a formal policy on occupation, if you will -- (laughs) -- of government-owned buildings. I think it's obvious to say that it would be problematic and we would address it on a case-by-case basis. So I don't know which buildings these individuals were occupying, but I can check into it and find out.
Q But has the coalition told any of these people that they have to leave these buildings as ministry people come back in or as coalition people use those buildings?
GEN. KIMMITT: Actually, the one that comes to mind, we did have an event about three weeks ago where we had asked some squatters to move out of one of the former government buildings because at that time it still had -- we discovered it had some unexploded ordnance in it. And even though they -- we've got to clearly balance their need for shelter with also their need for safety. We moved the people out of that building. We removed the ordnance. And I don't know what has happened subsequent to that. I believe the building has been turned over to one of the ministries. But the only time that I'm certain that the coalition did go into a process of evicting squatters out of one of the buildings was for their own safety.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. Dan, the IGC now is divided into two parts. The IGC now is divided into two parts, part of it which likes the U.N. intrusion, but the other part which does not like the intrusion of the U.N. and they do not like Brahimi. And we would like what is your comment regarding this issue.
General Kimmitt, the possibility of the withdrawal of the Spanish forces, what is the impact on the coalition forces in case that the Spanish forces decided to withdraw from their bases?
MR. SENOR: As to your first question, we believe that Mr. Brahimi is one of the most experienced diplomats in the world. He has played an important role in many of the conflict resolutions around the world. We think he could make an enormous contribution to assisting the -- advising the Iraqis in the establishment of an interim government and in preparations for direct elections. And based on statements we've heard from the Governing Council, they are going to encourage the U.N. to return and Mr. Brahimi to serve as envoy, as has been discussed. I have not heard anything else. I don't want to speak for the Governing Council. I can only react to the statements they have made, and that's what we have heard.
I would just say more broadly, the Governing Council is a group of, as I said earlier, 25 individuals that represent all regions, ethnicities of the country -- Kurds, Shi'a, Sunni, Turkomen, Christians, men, women. They are learning, as Dr. Mowaffak Rubaie has said, something that they have never had to do in Iraq before, which is compromise; for those of us from Western democracies who are used to that, the notion that you cannot get 100 percent of what you want 100 percent of the time in a democracy, that you have to negotiate and compromise. And that is what Governing Council demonstrated with great skill and accomplishment during the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law. They reached compromise on 62 articles of this document, some of which were very controversial and some of which many thought would never be achieved. In fact, when we were working on the November 15th agreement that laid the timeline and the milestones that included the Transitional Administrative Law, I recall many people saying that it would be impossible to get this interim constitution drafted. There was no way we could get these 25 very diverse Iraqi political leaders to agree on anything, let alone a document that addresses some of these very fundamental issues. And yet they did and they're learning to operate in a democracy.
And so while you say that there are some members of the Governing Council that may have concerns about the United Nations, that may be. Again, I don't want to speak for them. But all the indications is they're making progress in addressing to the issue of a U.N. -- invitation to the U.N. along the same lines -- in much of the same way that they made progress in drafting their interim constitution: talking, negotiating and reaching compromise.
GEN. KIMMITT: With regard to your second question, on the Spanish. First of all we don't believe the decision is final, but if it is the decision of the Spanish government that's a national decision, a sovereign decision of that nation, and we will respect that decision.
We are already doing some analysis on, if the Spanish soldiers leave, how we would accommodate that. At this point we believe it's going to be a manageable loss. We will, of course, be saddened by their departure. The Spanish have been full partners in the coalition and the Spanish soldiers have performed magnificently. These are soldiers that have served alongside of us in Bosnia and in Kosovo, and they're serving alongside us now in Iraq. We will be saddened by their departure, but it will be a well-managed departure and we will be able to pick up the loss either through the use of other troops, repositioning, or through perhaps some new contributions by either existing or new nations coming forward.
MR. SENOR: And I would just add to that that, as General Kimmitt has said, the Spaniards have performed heroically here. But let's also remember that the coalition includes over 30 nations on the military side. It includes 17 countries on the civilian side. I know when I go to work each day there are Poles and Brits and Australians and Slovakians, individuals that represent numerous governments that work side by side with us. It's a very large and diverse coalition, and the coalition is much larger than any one partner. And so while the Spaniards have performed heroically, the coalition's work will move forward, regardless of what decision they ultimately take.
Yes, ma'am? Yes?
Q The shooting incident in Mosul that resulted in the deaths of four missionaries, do you have any more information insofar as target killing, perpetrators? Is the FBI going to investigate also?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not sure the FBI has made a decision yet whether they will be part of the investigation. I'll find that answer out for you.
With regards to the motives, with regards to the purpose, we have said for some period of time that we see the enemy has sort of worked from the high end against the hard coalition targets, and seems to be drifting over the past few months going against softer and softer targets; first against the coalition military forces, then against the Iraqi security forces, then against the Iraqi security services such as the police and the facility protection, then against Iraqi civilians and other civilians that are here for the betterment of Iraq.
A heinous crime. We don't know if this is yet just a series of unconnected events, both what happened in Mosul and yesterday down near Hillah -- excuse me, Karbala, and what happened with the CPA employees about a week ago near Hillah. It would not surprise us if the terrorists are in a last desperate attempt at trying to create factionalism, trying to create some fissures inside the society, are intentionally targeting civilians, laundry workers, as happened in Basra, it would not surprise us. It deeply saddens us, but it certainly does demonstrate, quite frankly, how low they will go to try to achieve their purposes.
Q But just to clarify, there was a detainee taken after the Iraqi killing and two wounded in Mosul. But there's been no leads on detaining anyone on that particular missionary incident, is that correct?
GEN. KIMMITT: That is correct, as I understand it at this time.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) How were you able to stop terrorism, how were you able to stop terrorism in your country? You have more enemies than the Iraqi people, your country is larger in area and your population is larger than the Iraqi people. You say that you cannot stop the terrorist actions in Iraq. How do you explain this?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I reject your first assumption that we have -- and your first assertion that we have stopped terrorism in America, or that we've really stopped terrorism in every country or any other country, for that matter, except for Iraq. The fact remains that it is every day, every week, every month you must be vigilant against terrorism in your own country. That's done through a combination of very, very difficult intelligence work. That's done through taking a hard look at the places that the terrorists would attack, such as airports, such as municipal facilities, and spending the effort, the resources, the time to protect those and take the right force protection measures to try to minimize and mitigate the risk as much as possible.
But I can tell you as an American and I can tell you as a citizen here in Iraq, all of us should be concerned about terrorism every day, and any country that believes that they have wiped out terrorism in their country may be fooling themselves. So have we wiped out terrorism in America? No. Have we wiped out terrorism in Iraq? No. That is daily business and it's a business that involves all of us: the government, the civilians, the citizens, everyone in the country.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Thank you. Melinda Liu, Newsweek magazine. I just wanted to follow up on the incident of the killing of the CPA employees near Hillah. Has it been determined that the policemen who were picked up were the ones who killed them? And there's also some confusion about where were the bodies actually discovered.
And another question, perhaps related since one of the deaths was a woman. Seems like a lot of women are being killed in the past seven to 10 days, both -- you know, of all nationalities. You've mentioned "soft" targets. Is that some kind of new trend, or is it just coincidental?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, let me go first of all to your first questions about Hillah. The police -- we did in fact apprehend six persons, four who have current and valid Iraqi police service identification cards. Those persons are in custody in connection with the crime. At this point it hasn't been established whether they were the perpetrators of the crime, but there's strong suspicion that if they were not the perpetrators that they have knowledge of the crime and how it was -- and who committed it.
With regards to the discovery of the bodies, there were some initial reports about finding them inside the vehicle with those police that turned out not to be true. The crash and the crime scene reconstruction has determined that, in fact, the bodies were found in a car -- in the car that they were driving on the side of the road.
As to the question about whether women are being specifically targeted, I'm not sure that we've seen a trend across the board at specifically targeting women. I think Dan can talk to the issue about whether, in the case of the Hillah killings, Fern Holland may have been targeted because of her activities with regard to women's centers down in Hillah, but I'm not sure that we saw that or have established that in some of these other cases.
MR. SENOR: Yeah, and I would just -- to that last point, here's what we know. We know that Fern Holland was very active on women's issues in southern Iraq. We know she was visiting a women's center the day she was killed. We know that she visited that women's center and others frequently. We know that she was well-known in the community. Those are facts that have been communicated to us by the CPA team that works down there.
Whether or not those are facts that led to the killing of Fern Holland is something that we won't know till the investigation plays out, and we may not even know then. I mean, it's some we really have to dig into.
So again, as we've been saying from this podium on multiple occasions, we really have to let this process play out and do the thorough job on it that it deserves before we make any conclusions, because the conclusions that I think you're raising, particularly as relates to the targeting/execution of women, is obviously one with enormous implications. And we don't want to raise that specter until we're certain that -- or near certain -- that it's valid.
Yes? Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Do the recent events of handing over the security file to the Iraqis -- it is said that clashes have been between the coalition forces and the Iranian forces. Are these news true?
GEN. KIMMITT: There was one incident on the border between coalition forces and purported Iranian border guards. That was a minor incident. It happened in the Sulimaniyah province a couple of nights ago. It seemed to us to be a random event and not connected to any other actions that we've taken in this country with regards to standing up the Iraqi security forces nor handing over the security file, which we are not doing at this time.
At this point, we have not established that there's any connection between activities here in the country and that particular single incident.
MR. SENOR: All right. Thanks, everybody.
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