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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
April 01, 2004 9:05 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  I have a few brief announcements and a short statement to read by Ambassador Bremer.  General Kimmitt has his opening statements and then we will be happy to take your questions.

 

            Earlier today Ambassador Bremer attended a graduation ceremony. Four hundred and seventy-nine Iraqi police officers completed the eight-week training program at Baghdad Police Academy, which is where the graduation ceremony was held.  These individuals join 1,500 other newly hired Iraqi police and the more than 70,000 Iraqi police service personnel trained nationwide.  An additional 500 Iraqi police recruits are halfway through their training course and another 500 will begin on Saturday in basic training at the Baghdad Police Academy.

 

            Joining Ambassador Bremer at the ceremony were Nuri Badran, Iraqi minister of Interior, and Colonel Hussein Medhi (ph), the dean of the Baghdad Police Academy.  At the ceremony, Ambassador Bremer read a statement addressing the graduates.  And I'll just read one section because it pertains to yesterday's events.

 

            Ambassador Bremer said yesterday's events in Fallujah are a dramatic example of the ongoing struggle between human dignity and barbarism.  Five brave soldiers were killed by an attack in their area; then, two vehicles containing four Americans were attacked and their bodies subjected to barbarous maltreatment.  The acts we have seen were despicable and inexcusable.  They violate the tenets of all religions, Islam included, as well as the foundations of civilized society.  Their deaths will not go unpunished.  Our sympathy goes out to the families of all civilian and military, Iraqi and coalition, who have given their lives in the war to liberate Iraq and free it from terrorism.  They have not died in vain.

 

            These acts are also a crime under law and a crime against the future of Iraq.  The coalition, Americans and others came here to help the people of Iraq.  They came to help Iraq recover from decades of dictatorship, to help the people of Iraq gain the elections, democracy and freedom desired by the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people. These murders are a painful outrage for us in the coalition.  But they will not derail the march to stability and democracy in Iraq.  The cowards and ghouls who acted yesterday represent the worst of society.

 

            Again, that was part of a statement delivered at Baghdad Police Academy.  Following the graduation ceremony, Ambassador Bremer traveled to Mosul for a series of meetings.  First was a working lunch and briefing with the CPA field staff in Nineveh, the Nineveh field staff.  Then he had a meeting with the police chief, the Mosul police chief, Barhawi.  Following that, he -- Ambassador Bremer attended a Nineveh provincial council meeting, and then later in the day he attended and participated in the Mosul town hall meeting.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thank you.

 

            On behalf of the coalition military, let me also echo the condolences, as stated by Ambassador Bremer, on the deaths of the four soldiers and -- the five soldiers and the four civilians.

 

            Over the past week, there has been an average of 27 engagements daily against coalition military, just under five attacks daily against Iraqi security forces and just under four attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.  The coalition is stepping up its offensive tempo to kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people, in response to the latest increase in violence.

 

            To that end, in the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,486 patrols, 19 offensive operations, eight raids and captured 56 anti-coalition suspects.

 

            In the northern zone of operations, coalition forces detained a former regime element member and his brother at a traffic control point near Al Hadar (sp).  A search of their residence recovered 205 machine gun rounds, two nine-millimeter pistols, two AK-47s, other ammunition, and electrical devices.

 

            Late last night coalition forces detained one Iraqi at a traffic control point near Haman al Alil (sp).  His name closely resembled a brigade target and was taken into custody for further questioning and identification.

 

            Civil Affairs soldiers operating in the north region received approval for a       137,500 odaka (sp) water-distribution system project for the city of Debuz (sp).

 

            In the north central zone of operations, a coalition traffic control point detained 61 personnel, vicinity:  Mandali (sp).  Eleven were determined to be liquor smugglers.  The remainder were illegal border-crossers.  The smugglers were handed over to the Iraqi police service, and the border-crossers were handed over to the Department of Border Enforcement.

 

            In Baghdad, Operation Iron Promise continues.  As of last evening, 1st Armored Division troops had conducted 112 battalion-level operations, captured 218 personnel, 356 weapons, 219 artillery and rocket rounds, and significant quantities of IED equipment material.

 

            Yesterday a unit conducted a raid of a farm suspected of manufacturing car bombs.  The unit captured five suspected enemy and confiscated rifles, a machine gun, a submachine gun and assorted small-arms ammunition.

 

            Yesterday, while conducting counter-mortar operations, coalition forces engaged three enemy personnel in a vehicle, with weapons, that displayed hostile intent towards an aircraft.  A coalition quick reaction force responded to the scene and captured one wounded enemy and confiscated two 60-millimeter mortar tubes, nine 60-millimeter mortar rounds and two RPG launchers.  The wounded enemy is being cared for at the 31st Combat Support Hospital.

 

            This morning a coalition patrol in Baghdad reported observing an improvised explosive device explosion.  Coalition forces and Iraqi police service cordoned the area, and while searching for secondary devices a second IED exploded approximately 10 minutes after the initial explosion.  One contractor truck was damaged in the second explosion and a contract employee received minor lacerations to the face and is in stabile condition.

 

            In the western zone of operations, unknown forces attacked local nationals in Ar Ramadi with a car bomb yesterday.  The attack resulted in six civilians killed and five wounded.  Forces responded with a QRF, which provided medical support to the injured, and the Iraqi police service secured the attack site and are leading the investigation.

 

            Yesterday Marines conducted a raid near Ar Ramadi to kill or capture personnel planning anti-coalition attacks.  The raid was based on human intelligence and resulted in four enemy detained.

 

            Yesterday, based on intelligence developed from previous operations, coalition forces conducted a cordon and search northwest of Habbaniya.  Forces detained three individuals and captured detonation cord, three pipes prepared as improvised rocket launchers.

 

            In the central-south zone of operations today, coalition forces and the Iraqi police service conduced a joint cordon and search northwest of Babylon, targeting a suspected anti-coalition group. During the search small-arms fire was exchanged, resulting in four enemy wounded.  No coalition forces nor Iraqi police service were injured during the attack.  The search also resulted in an additional 18 personnel detained and a large weapons cache confiscated.

 

            Finally, in the southeastern zone of operations, an Iraqi police unit conducting joint operations with coalition forces stopped a vehicle east of al-Amarah yesterday.  While searching the vehicle, the Iraqi police service found a small quantity of explosives, two detonators and detonation cord.  The man is now in the custody of the Iraqi police service.

 

            MR. SENOR:  With that, we'll be happy to take your questions. Yes, go ahead.

 

            Q     Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency, DPA.  (Off mike) -- possibly grounding or killing U.S. soldiers?  And my second question, to General Kimmitt, this bombing in Ramadi, who has been the victims?  Was it civilians, policemen?  And what were the circumstances of that?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  In the second case it was reported to us that these were civilians not associated with either a government or the coalition.  We don't know the circumstances other than the initial report we've had, that there was a bomb explosion.

 

            On the first, this morning we have a report that about 9:30 this morning in the Al Anbar region there was a convoy traveling west.  It was attacked by an IED, resulting in three wounded.  Attempts to self-recover the damaged HMMWV were unsuccessful.  And as we typically do with cases like that, we stripped the vehicle of sensitive items, radios and equipment.  The wounded were medevac'd. The convoy returned to Fallujah, and a convoy to recover the disabled vehicle is expected to pick up the remnants of it later today.

 

            We saw some scenes on TV today that some civilians may have tried to loot part of the vehicle, but there were certainly no soldiers or Marines in the vehicle at that time.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     Hi.  Jill Carroll with ANSA.  You mentioned that Bremer was saying that this will not go unpunished.  What kind of -- what are we planning?  What kind of response might we see out in Fallujah?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, quite simply, we will respond.  We are not going to do a pell-mell rush into the city.  It's going to be deliberate, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming.  We will not rush in to make things worse.  We will plan our way through this and we will reestablish control of that city and we will pacify that city.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     General, there certainly didn't seem to be a pell-mell response yesterday.  We spoke to the ICDC today who went and picked up the bodies.  They said they didn't dare go near the bodies which were on the bridge until 8:00 in the evening, which would make it about 10 hours after the attack.  Can you explain how it was possible that American civilians' bodies were dragged around a town which is guarded by thousands of Marines for a good 10 hours, left out in the street, and nobody did anything?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, first of all, I don't know the exact time line.  And second, it was the determination of the personnel in the region that by the time they would have arrived or could have arrived, those persons were already dead and they were being controlled by some of these insurgents.  I think that there was a well thought-out decision on the part of the Marines that let's not rush headlong into there, there may be ambushes set up, there may be civilians being used as human shields.  And at this point, while it was dreadful, while it was unacceptable, while it was bestial, a preemptive attack into the city could have taken a bad situation and made it even worse.  We will be back in Fallujah.  It will be at the time and the place of our choosing.  We will hunt down the criminals.  We will kill them or we will capture them.  And we will pacify Fallujah.

 

            Q     Can I just ask one quick follow-up.  Just does it not send out a rather dangerous message that these people can get away with this, pretty much do whatever they want?  I mean, I was in Fallujah today and people were saying, "Yeah, the Americans were scared to come back in."  Does that not send out a bad message of tolerance of violence?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Ask them after the Americans have come back in.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, Rachel?

 

            Q     Dan, this is for you.  We understand that the Expo has been cancelled.  And we were just wondering why, and how that's going to affect rebuilding efforts.  Because as I understand it, a lot of the people that were supposed to be there were kind of showcasing what they were going to do.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sure.  There's been no formal announcement on the Business Expo.  I know there is a consideration to postpone it, but there has been no formal decision to cancel it --

 

            Q     Can you tell us why it might be postponed?

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'd rather wait till a formal decision and announcement is made.  As I said, I know it's under consideration, I know the sponsors of it are considering making that recommendation, but until they formally do so--in the event they formally do so, we'll have a response.

 

            Q     Did that come yesterday or was it before yesterday that this postponement was --

 

            MR. SENOR:  They were considering this before yesterday.

 

            Yes?  Go ahead.

 

            Q     Eddie Sanders from the LA Times.  In light of the situation in Fallujah right now, are you recommending that foreigners and contractors not enter the city at all?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  In Iraq or the city?  We've got -- at this point we have some tactical control points, some traffic control points surrounding the city.  At this point we would advise against travel through the city of Fallujah, unless there's absolute necessity to do that, much like a travel warning put out from the State Department. We don't expect that travel warning to last that long.

 

            Q     What would be an example of absolute necessity?  An example of absolute necessity?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The return of the United States Marine Corps to the center of that town.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Sewell?

 

            Q     A question for General Kimmitt.  This is Sewell Chan with The Washington Post.  Sir, you talked about reestablishing control of the city by the Marines.  Could you discuss how it came to be that control was lost?

 

            And secondly, when you just spoke right now about Marines not being in the center of town, is this a change in strategy to bring them back into the town?  I understand that the 82nd Airborne had made a tactical decision to sort of go to the outskirts of the town and rely more on Iraqi security forces to maintain control of the town. Are you suggesting that there's a new plan now, that perhaps there is a need for more military presence within the city?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  What I'm suggesting is that there is an incident that happened yesterday.  It's going to color the way that the town of Fallujah is looked at by the military authorities responsible for that region.  They're going to sit down, they're going to plan the appropriate actions.  It will be a combination of what we call kinetic and non-kinetic options.  Kinetic -- combat operations.  Non-kinetic -- rebuilding, civil military operations.  They're doing that planning now.  I don't know at what point, and it probably doesn't matter at what point in the near future that goes in -- they go in, but they will go in, and just as they have done in so many other towns like Fallujah -- six months ago Samarra was a hotspot, Tikrit was a hotspot, Baqubah was a hotspot, and patient application of kinetic and non-kinetic combat power over time has proven to be the best measure for bringing these cities along.

 

            Q     General, if I could follow up, though, could you answer the first part of my question about how this hotspot developed and how control was lost in the first place?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, I think it's probably at this point unfair to characterize a tragic incident as the loss of control in a city.  When did that happen?  Probably happened yesterday morning about 8:00 when some insurgents decided to attack two vehicles as it was coming through town.  That's a temporary time period.  We have a requirement to provide a safe and secure environment throughout Iraq, and we will do so.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Go ahead.  Yes?

 

            Q     Sarah Rosenberg (sp), ABC.  There have been reports that the -- eyewitness reports that the Marines have sealed off the periphery of Fallujah.  Is that true?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Can't answer that.  I know that they have set up some traffic control points coming in and out of the city.  But to characterize that as sealing off the city of Fallujah I think is probably a mischaracterization.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  First, it is noticed that the operations that were conducted yesterday and the day before yesterday in the Fallujah gives impression that the attackers began to use a new method and modern techniques to attack the American forces.  And the Fallujah is known to be a center of tension.  Is there a plan that you can give us part of?  How are you reestablishing control over this city?  Since 11:00 yesterday and until 9:00 at night -- inside the city did not see one policeman, Iraqi, or anyone of the coalition forces of the civil defense forces that was near the city.  It was a tragedy, in fact.  Can you give us an idea about how are you going to reestablish control?  You are saying for months now that we are going to reestablish control and that there are forces that are attacking here and there and they are simple attacks.  Can you give us something physical?  That's the first question.

 

            The second question, with regard to the attacks on the forces at Mosul, don't you see that there is a tactic of increasing operations from Kirkuk to Ramadi, from Ramadi to Baqubah, from Baqubah to Basra? Don't you believe that there is a change in tactics?  What are the tactics that you will use to respond?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I think both questions can be answered very simply.  We have said for a number of months, as we get closer and closer to handing off governance to the people of this country, there will be a number of citizens, a very small minority of the 27 million people in Iraq, that are going to fight to avoid that happening.  They have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  They have started a increase in violence.  Sadly we were prescient.  We predicted it and now we're starting to see some of it.  Some of it is absolutely horrible.  Some of it is the day-to-day types of attacks that don't make the news but are equally horrible.

 

            But our soldiers and the 200,000 members of the Iraqi police service and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi army are out there trying to restore control to the people of this country as we move towards governance.  But to characterize somehow that the situation is spinning out of control I think again is a mischaracterization.  We have not seen that up to this point.  We haven't seen a tremendously --

 

            Q     Can you -- sorry.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We have not seen significant number of new tactics.  We haven't seen, quite frankly, any new bravery on the part of these cowards.  They continue to put bombs by the side of the road to kill women and children.  They continue to shoot contractors whose only purpose is to come in this town -- to come into a town to deliver food.  They kill washwomen.  These are despicable people.  They're a small minority of the Iraqi people.  And I suspect that most Iraqi people were as horrified with what they saw yesterday because they realized that that is painting the entire country of Iraq with a very wide brush.  But I think people in here certainly understand that that's a very, very small minority of the people in this country, and we have 200,000 members of the Iraqi police, ICDC, the overall Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces that are resolute in their determination to hunt them down and kill them.

 

            MR. SENOR:  I'd just add on that point with regard to representing a real slim, slim minority of the population.  We have been saying for over 10 months now that these sorts of attacks that we saw yesterday, 95, 98 percent of them come from less than 5 -- less than 3 percent of the population in country.  And that's the -- we believe the group that was represented yesterday, in yesterday's attack, these are not people whose grievance with us is performance based.  These aren't people whose hearts and minds we must win over, the people who carried out these attacks.  They're not unhappy with our performance.  They're not sitting there saying, "Well, we wish we could get a better job at the factory, and then we would stop the attacks against the Americans."

 

            Their grievance with us is based on the fact that we are here building a democracy for the Iraqi people, making progress on that path and getting closer and closer to June 30th.  And they have been engaging in attacks over the past few months, they will likely continue to engage in attacks over the next few months, and we must continue to move forward on our path, which we're doing at a very ambitious pace.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And this is a cancer inside the society of Iraq that shows no indication of leaving any time soon.  Although small, it's a malignant cancer, and we need to take care of this together with the people of Iraq, the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces, because unless it is dealt with, it does have the chance and does have the possibility of getting larger.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q     So I understand that the CPA has hired a British PR firm to run a campaign to tell the Iraqi people about the handover of sovereignty in June.  Why is this necessary?  And the timing of it, why wait a year before you go out and tell people about specifics?

 

            MR. SENOR:  You have a couple of facts wrong.  We, several months ago, worked on putting out a bid -- contracting bid process, request for proposals from advertising firms that would play a part in promoting the process, the handover to sovereignty, the political process, certainly the Transitional Administrative Law, educating the Iraqis on the details of the interim constitution.  This is consistent with advertising campaigns that are held in the West, certainly in the United States.  The League of Conservation Voters, the League of Women Voters, many organizations engage in democracy training, democracy education.  They launch television advertising campaigns.  It's similar to that.

 

            And it was something that we did not want to move forward on until the political process was on track to the June 30th handover. And that was only in the last several months that activity began to bubble up, and certainly now that we've got the Transitional Administrative Law, which is one of the first important milestones from the November 15th agreement -- 95 percent of the November 15th agreement was focused on the Transitional Administrative Law.  And now that we've got that passed, we want to educate the Iraqi people, working side by side with the Iraqi Governing Council in this effort on the key principles of it.

 

            Yeah.

 

            Q     Colin McMahon from the Chicago Tribune.  A question for each of you.

 

            For General Kimmitt, does the assessment of what's needed in Fallujah include more troops in the region, and is there any thought about the necessity of possibly more troops in Iraq as a whole?

 

            And for Dan the question is, can you tell us a little bit about what Blackwater's contracted to do here?  And specifically, are they in charge of protecting Ambassador Bremer?

 

            Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first case, we don't see, and the assessment yesterday in Fallujah would not indicate to us, that there is a necessity for more troops in the region, nor in the country.  We believe that if we do need more forces, they have a different uniform than I'm wearing.  They have a different flag on the arm than I'm wearing.

 

            Do we need more forces?  Yes.  We need more Iraqi policemen; we need more Iraqi Civil Defense service; we need more Iraqi border police because ultimately the responsibility for the internal and external security of this country will be in the hands of the people of Iraq, and yesterday ought to be a very clear reminder and forward look at what those people must be trained to handle on rare instances in localized events.  But the brutality demonstrated by the insurgents yesterday is something that we need to train these forces to be able to respond to not just while we're here, but for the days in -- sometime down in the future, when the coalition forces are no longer here, this will be a responsibility of the Iraqi security forces.

 

            MR. SENOR:  To your second question, I will let individual contractors speak for themselves on the clients they have inside Iraq. My understanding is Blackwater has more than one.  But again, I would have you contact them to get that information.  I certainly do not have it.

 

            They -- we do have a contract with Blackwater, with -- relating to Ambassador Bremer's security.  They are involved with protecting Ambassador Bremer.  They are, obviously, not the only institution that is involved with his security.

 

            Yeah, Fiona?

 

            Q     Hi.  Two things.  Could you -- there were some reports that there was a third car involved in the Fallujah incident yesterday that may have got away.  Can you confirm if that's true?  And if so, who was in it?

 

            And the other thing:  Can you run through the details again on the Ramadi incident, the six civilians killed, please?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  We will handle that second question after the press conference.  We'll just give you the actual report.

 

            We have no reports of a third car or additional people in -- relating to the Fallujah incident.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yeah?

 

            Q     Yes.  For either of you.  Kevin Johnson at USA Today.  Can you elaborate on what the contractors were doing?  I know you described them as people who were escorting food convoys in the area, but could you elaborate a little bit more on what they were doing at that time and whether you think, in the way they handled themselves, after the fact, whether they might have been exposed to unnecessary risk doing what they were doing?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the second part of that question, we're not going to know for some time.  Obviously, we don't have any witnesses, direct witnesses, on the coalition side or the American side.  It may take some time before we actually find the people that were directly involved, so we can capture them and interrogate them.  But I think at this point to make any kind of characterization or suggestion about what they were doing, how they did it, or what they were able to do or not able to do would just be rank speculation.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Inaudible) -- it is noticed that there is escalation the operation that targets the coalition forces lately, especially what happened yesterday in Fallujah.  There are also an attack against those who support the coalition forces.  What is the reason for this escalation?  In the previous period, they were used to target Iraqis only who were working in civil institutions. Who's responsible, in your opinion, General Kimmitt, about this?  Is it a lack of security?  It is the coalition forces?  It is a neighboring country, perhaps?

 

            The other question is with regard to the visit of the Arba'in (ph). What are the preparations you have for security?  There are some rumors that there are actions that will target the visitors.  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Let me take the first question.  (Off mike) -- violence in this time period as we get closer and closer to the handover of governance.  Who is doing this?  These are desperate people.  They are trying to turn back the clock.  They realize that when the governance of this country is handed over from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the people of Iraq, that they have no one to kill but their own countrymen.  They can call you collaborators now, they can call the press agents and toadies of the coalition, but what do they say after June 30th when this is your country?  What do they say after June 30th when you are in control?  What do they say at that point?  At that point they realize that they don't have an excuse; that any choice they have of trying to bring this country back to the time of Saddam or some sort of Ba'athist authoritarian rule will no longer be in their hands, but it will be in the hands of the 27 million voters within this -- the 27 million people within this country.

 

            And so I think what it shows is that this increase in violence can be characterized as desperation.  The clock is ticking against them, the clock is counting down against them.  When you have the governance, when you have the responsibility for this country, they have no other excuse.

 

            And we would expect in the days and weeks to come to see an upswing in the amount of violence.  Unfortunately, as I said earlier, we've been a bit prescient on it, and we will continue to work against it.  As an example, in the upcoming Arba'in observances, we have been working very, very carefully with the governance authorities of the towns that we feel may be vulnerable; we've been working with the first responders, we've been using the coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces to take a hard look at those areas which might be a little more vulnerable and a little more prone to any kind of mischief that somebody would want to bring in to the Arba'in observances. There are some that will want to try to disrupt in a very spectacular way these religious observances.

 

              I would like to be able to stand up here and say I am 100 percent sure and I can guarantee you that there will be no violence. That's not a promise I can make, nor is it a promise that any civilized country can make, as we've seen in Madrid, as we've seen Casablanca, as we've seen in New York City, as we've seen in Istanbul.  But we will work together with the people of Iraq, with the governance authorities, with the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces to mitigate the risk during those very, very important religious observances coming up so that the people of Iraq can freely express their religion in one of the most important observances in their yearly calendar.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Bahram Mohammed (ph), Al Mashriq newspaper.  Previously you used to say that it's not for the interests of the terrorists coming from abroad or foreign terrorists to deliver sovereignty on the 30th of June, and they are in a race.  But in the case of Fallujah, we see that the message changed.  They are Iraqis. Do you think those who did the operation yesterday are Iraqis and they are working along the line of Zarqawi and his group?

 

            The other question, will you punish, as Ambassador Bremer said, the people who appeared on television and they were photographed by television while they dragging the corpses of the killed Americans and civilians?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I would agree with you on your first point.  We suspect that many of the people that were involved in the barbaric crimes yesterday were people from Iraq, people from Fallujah; people who perhaps may have belonged to the Fedayeen Saddam, perhaps belonged to the Iraqi intelligence service, perhaps part of the inner circle of Saddam's privileged few.  Those people are absolutely terrified about a country of 27 million independent people who are no longer governed by the whim of one man, but by the whim -- by the rule of the people and the voice of the people.

 

            So yeah, it is disappointing that we have seen so many Iraqi citizens who clearly are working against the best interests of Iraq. And I would tell you that those people that we have photographed and we have video that were involved in this operation, that were involved in this brutality, we have a significant interest in finding them and talking to them.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, ma'am.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Laila Shmiri (ph) from Akhara Lahdam (ph) newspaper.  I have two questions.  The prime minister of Spain declared that he challenges the American president; that he will not obey the requests of the United States and will not stand side by side with the American presence in Iraq.  What is your comment on this?  Would the Spanish forces withdraw from Iraq?

 

            The second question.  Some states decided to cancel the Iraqi debts after the transfer of sovereignty.  Will the transfer of authority -- sovereignty to Iraq is to -- is an end to the decision of occupation from the resolution of occupation from the United Nations Security Council?  The donor states were careful to provide assistance to the Iraqi government.

 

            MR. SENOR:  On your second question, I think you're grouping two groups of donor countries.  There are nations to -- which the former government of Iraq incurred debt from.  And the United States currently -- on behalf of the United States, that is being negotiated down by former Secretary of State James Baker.  He's working with various governments to reduce substantially the debt owed by the current Iraqi government or the new sovereign Iraqi government, once it takes place -- takes over, to those donor countries -- or debtor (sic) countries.

 

            As for the other group, those are countries, like the United States, which for the new Iraq are committing substantial funds.  The United States has committed over $18 billion.  However, those are in the form of grants, grant assistance.  Those are not in the form of loans.

 

            And as for the other countries, there's about another $13 billion coming in from the international community, the majority of which is in the form of grants as well.  And so that whole group is distinct, and that funding will be coming in shortly.

 

            As to your question about the Spanish government, I haven't seen the most current statement, or at least not the one that you were referring to.  But anything related to the bilateral relationship between Spain and the United States vis-a-vis policy in Iraq I would refer to the White House or the U.S. Department of State.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  My question is to General Kimmitt. Sir, you said that Ambassador Bremer -- excuse me -- said that there is a deliberate plan to achieve stability in Fallujah.  Do you believe that you had the case of an attempt to regain control of Fallujah; there will be resistance that will cost the American Army a large number of victims?  Do you think there will be resistance in the case you assault the city?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  It's clear that any time we take a look at a city, we take a look at a target, we've got to measure our responsibility not only to the mission but also to our soldiers.  I don't think that there's a soldier out there right now, I don't think there's a Marine   out there right now that is necessarily concerned about his part or her part in any attempts to pacify Fallujah, because if we can get the city leadership to come out from behind their desks, tell us who these people are, identify who these people are, and even better, perhaps imprison these people themselves, we can avoid a direct conflict.

 

            We also have the opportunity to persuade the people of Fallujah that there are other alternatives to violence.  One of those alternatives to violence is not for the coalition forces to stay outside of Fallujah.  They are coming back.  They are going to hunt down the people responsible for this bestial act.  It is up to the people, the small number of people in Fallujah, to determine if they want to do it with a fight or without a fight.  But the determination and the resolve of the coalition forces to achieve that objective should not be for a moment misinterpreted.  So that question -- is there going to be a fight? -- is one you should ask the insurgents, one that you should ask the government -- the governors and the mayor inside Fallujah.  If they were to deliver these people to the criminal justice system, we will come back in and start the rebuilding of Fallujah.  That is their choice.  But we will be back in Fallujah.

 

            Fallujah will be pacified, just as Tikrit has been pacified, just as Samarra has been pacified, just as Baqubah has been pacified. These aren't perfect towns by any stretch of the imagination.  But these are towns in which the progress towards sovereignty, the restoration of essential services, the restoration of the economy, the building of schools for the children, the building of health clinics for the children can proceed, because there is not a significant security threat.  In Fallujah the people of Fallujah are being held hostage by a small number of people that would rather fight than see their children go to school, would rather kill innocent people than see their children get the health care that they deserve, would rather create problems within the town of Fallujah than to have running water, electricity, learn about the TAL and move on.

 

            But will there be a fight?  That's up to the belligerents. That's up to the insurgents, because coalition forces will respond; they will be in that city.  It will be at a time and a place of our choosing.  It will be methodical.  It will be precise and it will be overwhelming.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Thank you, everybody.  

 

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