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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability Following Briefing to the House

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 08, 2003

(Also participating Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander in chief, Central Command)

General Franks: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a great honor for me to be associated with the Armed Forces of our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was also, I will say, a great honor to be able to come here to the Senate, have a chance to provide a little bit of the fact associated with what this operation has been all about, and most importantly, the ability to bring with me about a half dozen of the finest young people with whom I’ve ever worked... some Airmen, Soldiers, Marines, Special Operators, Naval youngster out of Iraq that we bought over here to have a chance to get the recognition they deserve, so it’s been a great day for us.

Voice: We’ll take one or two questions.

Q: (Inaudible)

General Franks: As a matter of fact I am told; I’ve been here, but I am told that we had what was reported to me to be a sniper incident, 4 or 5 hours ago, where we had a trooper who had been, I’m not sure injured or killed, in the vicinity of Baghdad in such an event, and so my thoughts, my prayers go out to the family of that soldier. I will say that I have an expectation that we will see rough behavior in this country for the foreseeable future; we will be up to it, and our people will continue to do their jobs.

Q: (Inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I’m afraid my voice isn’t very strong so you will have to listen carefully. There will be a vetting process. Part of it will occur when people step forward to do something, people will say, "well wait a minute, those people were part of the Senior Ba’ath Party," in which case they’ll be taken out, they’ll be moved away. There was a senior element in the Ba’ath party, there are were also lower elements; what will be done about the lower elements I think depend on the situation, certainly the goal would be to de-Ba’athification process in that country.

Q: (Inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I don’t know, you would have to know which individual, but the way I explained it was the way I did. Someone gets appointed, then everyone says, "Hey, wait a minute, that’s a Senior Ba’ath Party official," in which case that person will not stay there. It will be a public vetting process that will take place.

Q: (Inaudible)

General Franks: I think what the Secretary said is exactly right. I think what happens is we will not in every case know everything about every person, and actually there will be groups of people in Iraq who come up to us and say, "this is the person that we would like to have work this Ministry for us," and so we will say, our people on the ground will say, "all right, lets begin to do the work," and then sure enough, as Secretary Rumsfeld said, we will find out 2 days, 8 days later, other people will come up and say, "Oh, wait a minute, this is a Ba’ath Party official." and when that happens, we go through the vetting process and those people are removed.

Rumsfeld: Eric, it’s kind of like in American politics -- someone says I think I’ll run for something and someone says, well wait a minute.

Voice: Thank you very much. Goodbye.

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