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Deputy Assistant Secretary Whitman Interview with Al-Arabia

Presenters: Bryan Whitman, DASD PA (Media Operations)
April 23, 2003
Q:  Now will you take the statements of Jay Garner in Iraq?  His latest statement is that the field administrations are not recognized.  What is the alternative for these administrations? 

 

     Whitman:  Jay Garner is principally trying to get the essential services back into operation.  Many of the services which had been denied the Iraqi people for so very long.  He’s working on getting the electricity on, the water pumping stations working.  The food distribution system back into place and ensuring that there is, the medical needs are being taken care of, of the Iraqi people.  So that’s his primary focus right now as he starts this transition phase.

 

     Q:  In terms of the interim government, Garner said that the Americans would not go out of Iraq before the things are stable.  He didn’t define a period of time.  Does this mean that the Americans will stay there until further notice?

 

     Whitman:  We are there to ensure that there is a stable and secure environment so that the Iraqi people can begin to commence the dialogue and determine what type of future they want.  The future of Iraq and the future Iraqi government is going to be what the Iraqi people want so the coalition will be there only as long as it has to be, they will be there as long as necessary but not one day longer.

 

     Q:  Among the objectives in Iraq, that Iraq will be an ideal for democracy and in the future there will relations with Israel.  Isn’t this a deviation of the American democracy that is to oppose an opinion that the Iraqi’s might refuse?

 

     Whitman:  Well again the future of Iraq is in the Iraqi people’s hands.  But there are a couple of things that a future Iraq should be guided by.  They should be guided by the fact that a government for Iraq should represent all the people of Iraq and all the ethnic groups within Iraq.  A future Iraq should be an Iraq that doesn’t threaten it’s neighbors, a future Iraq should be an Iraq without weapons of mass destruction and so I think that there are some basic elements that are necessary but this will largely be determined by the people of Iraq over time.

 

     Q:  However until now, although the American forces are there but they still didn’t find evidence to the mass destruction weapons so far, so how are they going to justify the main reason for the war in Iraq?

 

     Whitman:  Well this started about 35 days ago and you have to keep in mind that Saddam Hussein have been living under an inspection regime for nearly 12 years and it should not surprise us that the weapons of mass destruction are well hidden, that they are broadly dispersed throughout the country and that the full extent of these programs are known by only a few people in order to keep them secret over all the many years.  So I think that it requires us all to be a little patient but we have just begun the process of looking for weapons of mass destruction and in the end there will be no doubt that the world will learn of the full extent of Saddam Hussein’s weapon of mass destruction programs.

 

     Q:  Mr. Bryan Whitman.  Thank you very much.

 

     Whitman:  My pleasure.  Thank you.