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Interview with Reporters

Presenter: Col Perkins
October 27, 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Interview with Reporters

COL. PERKINS:  As you said, I command the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.  I’ll talk about the activities the beginning of April that surround the area that we’re talking about and then discuss in general terms, as Mr. Di Rita has alluded to, activities part of that, which kind of set the stage mentally and physically for the kind of way you deal with this situation and [Inaudible]. 


Just north of this weapons storage area was where the 3rd Infantry Division actually cross the Euphrates River, what we call “Objective Peach” and there’s a large bridge there.  And that was the main crossing site for the division.  And so what happened was 1st Brigade secured Objective Peach, the bridge, secured the bridge and then my brigade crossed the bridge and pushed on and our objective was to defeat the Medina Division which was east of their and south of Baghdad.  So that was our main focus was to continue to push these, maintain momentum, defeat the Medina Division and then be prepared for follow-on operations into Baghdad and, you know, cause a collapse of the regime. 


As our brigade was crossing the river and moving east, I got tasked to secure that bridge head there so that 1st Brigade could move up to the airport.  So the unit that got tasked to do that was the 3rd of the 15th Infantry, which was one of my battalions, one of my infantry battalions and the brigade.  So 3-15 Infantry to have the mission starting on the 3rd, our brigade started crossing at about 09:00 hours on the 3rd, the Euphrates.  The brigade proper – at that point, we had about eight battalions – continued to push to the south of Baghdad and to focus on the Medina Division and 3-15 was left there at the bridgehead to secure that area, so that we can continue to push our forces through and move supplies across, et cetera. 


Q:  Excuse me.  What date was this?


COL. PERKINS:  3 April.  What happened even initially when 1st Brigade went in there, you have resistance and a counterattack of the brigade because obviously Saddam had been fortifying the Class 60 ton and greater bridges all across the Euphrates knowing that those obviously would be the critical pieces of terrain to prevent us, you know, from getting across the Euphrates.  And you started moving reinforcements down to that bridge site when it became apparent we were coming across it.  This compound, as you know, is a very large area.  It’s over 80 vehicles, between 30 and 40 bunkers – buildings -- many acres – and it’s got a wall around it, so it’s kind of like a little fortified thing. 


What happened almost in the beginning is we started getting fire – small-arms RPGs, all those kind of things – from this compound to our lines of communication, to our vehicles as they were continuing to go across the bridge and move east and north to Baghdad.  So what 3-15 Infantry did as part of their mission to secure our supply lines and what we call “lines of communication” as we push our vehicles through, was to go down and defeat the enemy that turned out to be in the storage facility.  So they entered the facility with at least a mechanized infantry company and their mortar platoon. 


What they came upon was a facility that was and had been occupied for an unknown period of time, Iraqi units – SRG’s (Special Republican Guard), Fedayeen, normal Iraqi military.  And so, in a context, it was about as organized a, quote, unquote, “regular forces” as we had come across as we moved closer and closer to Baghdad, we came into contact with more – if you want to call it – regular armed forces.  And for a day or so, they had firefights in this area.  Killing all the enemy was in there and securing that area basically so it cannot be used to project force onto us, so that it doesn’t slow our momentum as we continue to move towards Baghdad. 


When they went in there, what they found again, were these Iraqi military units and a compound that was – I mean, it was open.  They didn’t have to bust a gate down or anything like that.  I mean, obviously, forces had been there awhile, they were moving in and out, they were living, et cetera, like that.  As they were going through fighting, they saw conventional – some conventional munitions, artillery shells, things like that.  They did find some white powdery substance. 


Now at this time, it’s important to remember that we are still in our MOPP gear, our chemical suits, because one of the larger threats to us at that point in time was a chemical threat, that we knew Saddam at least previously had that capability and had used it.  So that was always on the forefront of our minds is that, you know, and especially we had had red lines, so to speak, and we figured if he was going to throw chemical, a couple things would trigger it.   Crossing the Euphrates River was ones that we thought would be a red light for him that, you know, out of an act of desperation, it’s apparent to him that his regime may fall, he’ll drop chemicals and tactically where you like to use chemicals is at a choke point, because chemicals can disburse pretty easily and so if you throw them in the middle of a dessert, it’s easy to go around.  But a bridgehead is a chokepoint because everybody’s got to go across the bridge.  So a threat of a chemical attack is a very big concern at places like this. 


And so that was one of our focuses – went in there, saw some powder, had it tested by our chemical and biological specialist, reported up, and it was determined that it was not a chemical or biological agent at that point in time. 


Q:  What was it?


COL. PERKINS:  I don’t know what it was.  I mean, if you look at our chemical test, they give you a positive or negative.  They don’t tell you what it is.  They just say, you know, it’s not anthrax or it’s not…


Q:  It wasn’t…


COL. PERKINS:  … a nerve agent. 


Q:  It wasn’t determined to be some sort of explosives because that’s what they’re reporting?


COL. PERKINS:  Well, I mean…


UNKNOWN:  Well, that was later determined to be the case.


            COL. PERKINS:  It could have been later determined, but our units didn’t determine it.  All we determined is thumbs up or down, chemical or biological. 


            MR. DI RITA:  We just don’t know.  We’re not even speculating. 


            Q:  OK.


            MR. DI RITA:  I’ve seen the [Inaudible] but I can’t.


            COL. PERKINS:  So I have no idea.  I just know what it wasn’t.  And the 3-15 infantry was there until probably about the fifth or the sixth when then they – by this point, our brigade has moved across the whole southern portion of Baghdad and had fought a couple of battles with the Medina Division and then on the late on the 5th, early on the 6th, the 3rd of the 15th moved out of there and rejoined up with the rest of the brigade because then we attacked into Baghdad on the 7th on the, what’s termed the “Thunder Run.”  And then shortly behind them, the 101st came in and spent some time there. 


Our guidance – and then kind of go back and set the stage with regard to these type of facilities, what did we do there, what did we know about them ahead of time, what was our experience.  There were several hundred – before we crossed the border of Kuwait, we have a list of several hundred possible ammunition storage sites that were plotted on the map.


MR. DI RITA:  And that’s what Dave knows.  What we know or have been able to determine is that at that time, our forces were mindful of 900-plus facilities that were considered sensitive and they need to be mindful of.  Dave said that his unit was aware of several hundred.  But…


Q:  Because you’d have them for your sector?


MR. DI RITA:  Yes.  And what we’ve been able to kind of reconstruct is that our forces collectively were mindful of some 900 sites.  This was one of them. 


unk:  Actually, it was more than one…


MR. DI RITA:  It’s actually – there are six sites on this facility.


Q:  Right.


MR. DI RITA:  So 900 sites, but this site comprised six of them.  And as Dave says, his unit had a certain area of responsibility and they were mindful of some few hundred of them.


COL. PERKINS:  And so, you remember this is now in the third re-cross, they’ll be on the 21st, so we’ve been going at this for about two weeks.  What we have found throughout our whole march up Iraq and then crossing over is we came upon a lot of these sites and you’d find a wide variety of disposition of this stuff in it.  Sometimes you’d go to one of these sites and the bunkers were empty, the stuff had gone.  It was – who knows where it was.  Sometimes you’d go there and they were half full, sometimes you’d go there and they were guarded, sometimes they weren’t.  A lot of times, and probably more of the case, we generally found munitions not in one of these designated sites because they had been taken out from an unknown – to us, an unknown site and there would be stacks of it in the middle of the desert.  I mean…


Q:  Were you aware that dispersal [cross talk] was one of the--


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  And that is a very typical – I don’t want to say – that is a way to protect your forces.  He obviously knew we were very good with precision munitions and things.  And interestingly enough, what we saw is not disposal only of munitions, but of his forces.  For instance, the Medina Division, he had dispersed throughout the palm groves south of Baghdad and would hide them under all these trees and things like that, so you couldn’t see them from the air and then target them.  So he had learned from Desert Storm that what you want to do is disperse things and make them very hard to find because we’re very good with our precision munitions.  And so what we had found all the way up was disperse munitions, dispersed weapons systems.  You can almost bet that every school and mosque would be full of ammo and that around mosques would be weapons systems like tanks, artillery pieces and things and he would just spreading everything out, trying to blend it in either with the local topography and/or, you know, the civilian populous. 


So as you go through two weeks of that, you then come to expect just about anywhere you go, there’s going to be huge stockpiles of ammunition and caches and that if you came in contact with enemy vehicles, generally around them in the surrounding area, there would be huge caches of munitions.  And those generally would be our first priority, in other words, as we were coming in contact with the Medina Division and its tanks or something like that, we would destroy that and then look at the immediate area and you would find literally tons of ammunition that had been moved to support them and we would want to destroy those quickly because, of course, they were in a proximity of a unit that could use them.  So the whole way up we had been destroying equipment and caches.  And actually by the time we had crossed Euphrates and starting moving and then subsequent to that into Baghdad, we literally moved hundreds, if not thousands of tons of captured caches of ammo to centralized collections points and all of that.  So putting this in holistic viewpoint basically all of Iraq had turned into a giant arms -- weapons depot and it was everywhere.  And in some places more concentrated sometimes out of these sensitive sites than they were in it. 


Q:  David, you knew about several hundred sites…




Q:  … and 900 for everybody.  But did you know that IAEA had marked specific explosives at that site when you were listing, you know, sites?  Are you possibly [Inaudible] along the way --


COL. PERKINS:  I don’t know recall that as being a piece of new information that we knew at that time. 


Q:  OK.  What was the strength of the force that was at the site and was it defeated? 


COL. PERKINS:  Oh, it was defeated.  We killed and/or captured everyone that was there.  And again, a lot of times they would take conventional forces and get mixed in with Fedayeen and whatever.  And what I would say it’s probably between a company and battalion-sized force there and that would kind of ebb and flow, depending upon, you know…


Q:  Are you talking inside the facility? 


COL. PERKINS:  In the facility there. 


[Cross Talk]


Q:  What would be [Inaudible]?


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  I mean, I would say anywhere between, yeah, a hundred a couple hundred – something like that. 


MR. DI RITA:  But the – I think this is the case.  The collection of sites that we compiled for our own situation in which was based on input from a variety of places, including our own intelligence, so it was IAEA, it was UNMOVIC, it was not just IAEA-designated sites.  And I only make that point because the reason why it was sensitive wasn’t necessarily something that the commanders would have known, it was just a site that we designated as a site… 


Q:  When you were--


MR. DI RITA:  [Cross Talk] people, I think, had a better refinement of what was--


Q:  When you were at the site, the Al Qaqaa site, did you have any reason to think that it needed special attention or it was in any way significantly different from any of the other vast weapons areas you saw. . .




Q:  … it was just another weapons area? 


COL. PERKINS:  Another cache of weapons like the, you know, dozens that we have run into prior to it.


Q:  Were you under any specific orders to conduct a search of that area?


COL. PERKINS:  Well, actually, the procedure we have with all of these – I mean, there was no this one not being any different than -- is that we would come upon a site, whether it was an SSE site or just a meeting engagement you would go there obviously, the first thing was the tactical aspect of you’d defeat the enemy or something like that, get kind of a general description of what’s there, both from a tactical point of view – forces and rough estimation of, you know, anything that you found there.  That would then get reported up to the chain of command, up to my division in headquarters and back.  And then that there were follow-on site exploitation units that then, once they had this information would prioritize and then they had experts in it, you know, for various things and they were compiling this list and prioritizing and then they would go to these sites and make determinations as to exactly what was there, as it would the exploiting, you know, is there information that we need, it’s sort of like that.  So it was this kind of echelon approach to doing it, that the tactical forces would go up, you’d run into it, you’d have a firefight or something, you’d do an initial Sitrep – what we call “situation report” of what’s there, report back to higher headquarters, they’d take all the information, pass it off to this site exploitation force.  You know, and then as it would go back, if they’d have more questions, you know, they’d call you up. Well, you know, give me a grid, how big is it, how many people do we need, and stuff like that.  So it was this process that you went through from the beginning all the way up and this was just another one of those sites that the process was no different, it was no less stringent or more stringent.


[Cross Talk]


Q:  Was the IAEA tags like something that would go on that list or it’s something that – like, we got a bunch of bunkers that are tagged by the IAEA here, does that go on that list to the exploitation team or is that just kind of we got a bunch of bunkers with – we don’t know what’s inside?  It’s got a—


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  I think making the determination and discussing the IAEA portion of it and things like that is really the analysis that the site exploitation guys would do and take a look at it--


Q:  So it wouldn’t be on the list of what we got here? 


COL. PERKINS:  Not necessarily.


MR. DI RITA:  Their priority was WMD


Q:   Right.


MR. DI RITA:  And if you look at the report that your colleagues were doing embedded, it was every time they found something that somebody thought was a WMD, they were reporting that because that’s what the high-interest concern was at that moment.


Q:  Was there any evidence at this site that things had been taken away or dispersed or any looting had occurred before you got there?


COL. PERKINS:  Well, all of Iraq that you’re familiar with had a lot of things moving around on it and it was obvious every time we came any place, you could tell that when you would come to units, that they had moved into there recently or moved out, this site when they came to it, I mean, it was open, forces were moving in and out of it.  To say that large amounts of something had been moved in our out I’m not exactly, you know, that wasn’t something that caught our mind because we didn’t know what was there beforehand, so it’s hard to say what’s gone.  And there weren’t any, you know, there were no large convoys pulling out when we got there type thing --


Q:  It’s not like doors of bunkers were open and things were empty or…


COL. PERKINS:  Well, yeah.  I mean, some of the warehouses and doors were open.  I mean, you could – guys would drive by and that’s how they could kind of – as they’re fighting would look in and see what was there, so it was not hermetically sealed type thing.  I mean, it was open and it was obvious that people had been there and operating and that it had been an area that a lot of activity had taken place and was still taking place at the time. 


[Cross Talk]


Q:  When you say a couple hundred fighters inside, you’re talking about inside the facility, shooting at your troops from inside?


COL. PERKINS:  From inside the walls in these buildings and things – from inside the perimeter of…


Q:  The Al Qaqaa facility?


COL. PERKINS:  Of the depot, right. 


Q:  Let me ask you, who again entered the compound?  How long did they stay and precisely what did they do in terms of any cursory inspection or searches and the like? 


COL. PERKINS:  3-15 Infantry was the first unit that went in the compound.


Q:  3-15 Infantry is part of the 3rd ID?


COL. PERKINS:  Of the [Cross Talk]


Q:  2nd Brigade.


COL. PERKINS:  2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division.


Q:  OK.  OK. 


COL. PERKINS:  They went in again initially to defeat the forces that were in there, shooting at our forces, so they went through a series of buildings, clearing buildings…


Q:  And how long did that take?


COL. PERKINS:  … like that.  That probably – probably, from, like, the third to the fifth or so – a couple days. 


Q:  So it was a two-day ordeal?




Q:  And they had to have been the first forces?


COL. PERKINS:  They were the first U.S. forces actually going into the facility.  [Cross Talk]


[portion deleted by ground rule]


Q:  So after that two-day period defeating the enemy, how much time was spent actually doing those kind of inspections that you would need to do to report back to headquarters about what you’d find? 


COL. PERKINS:  That they were doing, I would say, probably cursory obvious kind of things – OK, it looks like there’s a lot of, you know, conventional munitions here. They were looking for WMD.  It was the primary focus because we were concerned of the chemical threats.  They obviously focused on that, found some powder, had that reported, et cetera, like that.  So send up those kind of initial reports, it’s about this big area.  These are the types – really, the concern was more of what does it look like, the capability of those munitions are then tell me how many gallons or bullets there are, something like that. 


MR. DI RITA:  And remember what he said at the beginning, these are guys who for two weeks now have been seeing multiple tons of stockpiles of weapons, so it wouldn’t have been out – while with the sensibilities of late October 2004, we could say, a-ha, a pallet of HBT – that sounds so interesting, to guys that have been seeing hundreds of thousands of tons of crap everywhere, it’s not going to be nearly as interesting. 


Q:  So was that being done – those kind of inspections…




Q:  … the cursory searches…


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah --


Q:  … being done at the same time? 


COL. PERKINS:  Because you’re getting initially reports, in other words, you know, as the commander I get initial spot report, OK, we’re in here, we’re in contact, you know, a company guy is here and sort of like that.  This is the environment.  We have a bunch of warehouses and this.  We see some munitions and then, you know, maybe now -- hey, and the progress here, we found some light substances, we’re getting some chemical guys down.  You know, they aren’t distinct operations.  It’s just an ongoing operation – this going on.  And so it is…


Q:  After the enemy was defeated… 




Q:  … was there then an additional effort made to at least take inventory or see what is in that immediate compound?


COL. PERKINS:  Not as a separate operation because then what happened was – and again, as we put in the giant context – the focus of this point in time is to quickly defeat the enemy and cause the collapse of the regime, so momentum is very important.  What 3-15 Infantry did then is continue to push down the east side of the Euphrates, because there was a whole brigade of the Medina Division. 


Q:  So they left the compound?


COL. PERKINS:  Well, they didn’t – it was within their area of operations.  In other words, they operate in that area, but they didn’t focus, like I say, there was a company and a mortar platoon in there.  He’s got three more companies. They continue to push down, continue to move forces around.  You’re always moving in and around your area of operation, making sure there aren’t infiltrators and things.  So they continue to push down the east side of the Euphrates, defeat that enemy so they’re always in that area.  So when you talk about – I think a better way when we talk about terms in military, if you say you’re supposed to control an area, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in that area physically occupying it, but you make sure that there aren’t large vehicles going in and out, there are tanks loading up the ammunition, in other words, things that you don’t want to have happening are not happening in that area.  And that’s probably an accurate description of what was going on in this area.  Both when we were there and when the 101st came in later and that it was in your area, in your rear area, so you’re securing it, making sure they can’t project combat power out from it, et cetera and you have a general – a fairly good idea of what’s going on and what’s not going on. 


Q:  But I guess my question is did any efforts to identify or at least inventory or report any weapons or explosives that have left behind pretty much end when the combat or the combat phase ended and you defeated the enemy within the two days? 


COL. PERKINS:  In this specific area? 


Q:  In that specific area?


COL. PERKINS:  I would say the reporting was – the initial reporting we had then the follow-up reporting was on the chemical aspect, it’s sort of like that.  The main focus at that time was not to go back and do a very precise inventory of how many shells or anything like that because it just was not the threat at the time or the concern.  [Cross Talk]


Di RITA:  You have been knowledgeable, recognizing that somebody could have taken a tri-wall worth of this stuff, would you have been knowledgeable, given your degree of control of the area of large movements of heavy equipment?


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  We would have been knowledgeable  [Cross Talk]


Q:  Wait a minute, I still want to nail down this point.




Q:  It took two days to defeat the enemy.  Was there any additional time after that spent searching any buildings, bunkers, and the like for any possible munitions, explosives…


Q:  Prior to that…


Q:  … weapons…


Q:  … leaving.  Prior to that leaving?


COL. PERKINS:  I think in – of course, I wasn’t physically there at that point, but I think what you’re going to find is, you know, you talk to any units that do this is that was in there area of responsibility, so what they were focusing on is making sure that guys weren’t coming back in.  And so you probably routinely had guys going through, making sure somebody doesn’t come back in or anything like this.  But again, their focus was not clipboard, taking an account of how many rounds of this and things like that.  It was like let’s make sure there’s no WMD and make sure there’s no chemical, is anybody coming in with large convoys picking this stuff up and moving it so that, you know, they can use it against us or something like that.  Those are things they’re focusing on and it’s continually a moving situation that then they would continue to move south, another company kind of comes in and secures an area, as others move south, you conduct logistics operations.  And you know, it’s a very continually volatile situation, as far as forces moving in and around your area. 


Q:  Just painting a picture on the roads, back to Larry’s point, if the timeline is as we say here, you guys are on there until the 5th and the 101st comes in and they stay ‘til the 11th, then the 75th comes in on May 8th, so that’s 28 days between April 11th and May 8th.  It is conceivable, knowing the road as you knew them then, that 38 truckloads of 10-ton trucks got in there, emptied that crap out and then--


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  If you’re focusing on specifically could you move hundreds of tons of this out within that period of time, what you’re talking about are three to four-hundred times of what is purported missing there.  And so it depends on if you’re talking two-ton trucks, 10-ton trucks.  You’re talking tens of trucks moving there.  That is something that we would be very mindful of and it would be almost impossible to do that because there is not a very well-developed road network in Iraq, as you know.  And there was one main road that kind of went east-west that cuts across the top of those weapons facility coming out of the bridge across the Euphrates.  That was packed for weeks, bumper to bumper almost, with U.S. convoys continuing to re-supply our vehicles and, in fact, one of the challenges we had was to work what we call our, you know, our traffic control process so that you can work in our logistics vehicles, you know, before another battalion, you know, and get all the food and fuel there.  And then as the 101st came up and other units, there’s a north-south road that is kind of on the east side of this arms depot, which is a road they were coming up.  So what you found on all those north-south roads coming from the south and east-west roads, which is to -- like, kind of a red ball express, I mean, just continual U.S. vehicles pushing toward Baghdad.  So it would really be pretty – a very highly improbable as somehow you – somebody, the enemy, puts together this convoy of trucks and sneaks them in and loads them off in the dark of night and gets, you know, infiltrates in your convoy and moves out.  I mean, that’s just kind of stretch too far. 


Q:  What about some sort of—


MR. DI RITA:  And only because I got to go, we’re going to have to, unfortunately, wrap up.  [Cross Talk]


Q:  Tactically speaking, was this location a reasonable – were the Iraqi forces there?  Were they defending that location or were they just – was it in sort of a logical place to operate out of? 


COL. PERKINS:  I think probably both.  It provided fuel supplier to that bridge.  And I think what happened was that they were probably some initially there defending it and then when they saw where the bridge crossing was, it makes a great fortified area, so it served a double purpose there. 


Q:  During that period, could there have been some small-scale looting that might have gone on that you wouldn’t have known about or the – I mean…




Q:  … obviously, it’s not--


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah, exactly.  I mean, did the proverbial white pickup truck drive in and somebody, you know, grab a handful of something like that?  I mean, clearly--


Q:  Did you engage any proverbial white truck?


COL. PERKINS:  Quite a few of those that -- of course, in accordance with our ROE (rules of engagement) that engaged us or, you know, I have guys with AK-47s or something.  So that was going on all the time.  And so talking small numbers of stuff, obviously, it’s possible and we kind of got in those firefights with them continually.  I mean, we engaged multiple vehicles that would get in that kind of situation with us. 


Q:  And that’s – I’m sorry, you said it was a main road that led east? 


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  Right -- north of the facility--


Q:  And a main road that led --


COL. PERKINS:  It’s kind of on the east of it, that goes north and south. 


Q:  [Cross Talk] two main roads? 


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  There’s a couple of main roads that are on the peripheral--


Q:  And those were pretty much jammed with military equipment – U.S. – for how many weeks?  Three weeks? 


COL. PERKINS:  A long period of time – weeks.  And in fact, part of them -- I think one of them is still used today.


Q:  Certainly through that May 8th period? 


COL. PERKINS:  Oh, yeah.  I mean,


Q:  OK.


MR. DI RITA:  I drove from Baghdad to Basra on May 28th and we were in a Suburban, passing convoys the whole day.  [Cross Talk] hundreds-- 


COL. PERKINS:  You had to get convoy clearances and you could only leave at a certain time and start at a certain time just because if you tried to cut in, you just weren’t going to move.  I mean…


Q:  Hundreds of vehicles…


COL. PERKINS:  Yeah.  Controlling the rate of movement--


Q:  … on both sides of the road?


Q:  You don’t know the name of those roads, do you or the numbers?


COL. PERKINS:  No.  I mean, if I had a map, I could point to them [Cross Talk]


MR. DI RITA:  We’re out of time. 


Q:  What did they find May 8th?


MR. DI RITA:  They found some ordnance of a general nature.


Q:  But nothing marked IAEA?


MR. DI RITA:  Nothing that was associated with IAEA interest items that we’re aware of at this point.  [Cross Talk]


Q:  Was it determined that on that May 8th day, that there were no IAEA-sealed weapons?


MR. DI RITA:  No.  It was determined over the course of several inspections.


Q:  It wasn’t until the 27th that the final determination was made that there was no IAEA--


MR. DI RITA:  I wouldn’t want to be so precise.  They went to that facility three times to just – it’s a very large facility.  They were at…


Q:  OK.


MR. DI RITA:   … They were at [Inaudible] during the same period, so they were in a lot of different places over the course of several--


Q:  Let me ask you, wouldn’t this team have had the location of the bunkers…


MR. DI RITA:  Yes.  They would have been much more likely to have found something if it were there.  [Cross Talk]   But I can’t say that with certainty that we know on May 8th they were conclusively determined [Inaudible].


Q:  Would it have made common sense that they were [Cross Talk]


MR. DI RITA:  It’s a plausible conclusion. 


Q:  But you don’t know [Cross Talk]


MR. DI RITA:   I don’t speculate, so.  [Cross Talk]


Q:   How come you don’t know that?  I mean, the presidency is in the balance…[Cross Talk] [Lots of laughter]


Q:  So by May 27th you know it for a fact, but by May 8th, you don’t know?


COL. PERKINS:  No.  What you know is that what we know…


MR. DI RITA:  They didn’t find [Cross Talk]


WHITMAN:   What you know is that all three visits they found nothing under IA seal [Inaudible].


Q:  Two very important questions.  [Cross Talk] Is there any chance you can shake loose this rep report that they filed, when they first got there? 


COL. PERKINS:  Oh, the SITREP [Cross Talk]


Q:  And the other thing is do you have [Cross Talk]


MR. DI RITA:  By the way, there was reporting from your colleagues that were embedded.  [Cross Talk]


Q:  We don’t have any – that’s a document [Cross Talk] And the other thing is do you have or are you looking for any prewar imagery or imagery that would indicate movement of material before you got there?


MR. DI RITA:  It would be an interesting thing to be able to determine. 


Q:  Do you have any indication that there was activity [Cross Talk]


MR. DI RITA:  There are people reviewing what was available in terms of imagery because remember we had a lot of demands on imagery assets at that period of time. 


Q:  OK.  So it’s fair to say that you’re looking into whether or not you might have some imagery or other evidence showing something happened before the—


MR. DI RITA:  During the period, I think – I’m interested personally in the whole period – January to May.  What I think is particularly an interesting period is after the IAEA leaves and before these guys showed up.


Q:  March 8th, that’s – and April 3rd.


WHITMAN: Now, if I may, we’ve tried to put together what we think are the major pertinent facts on this that we’re going to start providing people. 


To view the facts www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2004/d20041027opr.pdf

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