Senator: We’ve just completed a briefing with approximately half the Senate, the Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and representatives from our intelligence components. It was an excellent briefing. It covered basically naturally Iraq, Afghanistan, the subject of NATO, the subject of the United Nations, a wide range of questioning and I think very responsive answers from the Administration. Any questions?
Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, can you tell me if there are any concerns about this intensified bombing campaign, the use of powerful bombs that may have adverse affect on the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?
Wolfowitz: We are very much concerned about hearts and minds. We’re doing a great deal on the economic reconstruction side to make life better for the Iraqi people. We have made some real progress in the last week and moving forward on a process in the governance area that will lead to a transfer of sovereignty and Iraq’s assumption of authority over their own affairs. It is a very important piece of it.
It’s also important that the Iraqis understand that the killers from the old regime who are out there killing Iraqis and Americans and U.N. workers and Red Cross workers hoping to bring back that old regime are not going to succeed.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what do you know about the video that’s been on anti-American websites on extremists blowing up American tanks, etc., etc. Do you know anything about that?
Wolfowitz: I don’t.
Senator: It ran on the televisions today. I think it was taken from a jihadist web site. I don’t think we have any more information beyond that.
Q: General Myers, can you address this question about the military utility and the risks that are inherent in going after targets, the more intensified bombing, the risk increases of collateral damage despite all the care that goes into that.
Gen. Myers: I don’t have much to add to that besides what Secretary Wolfowitz talked about. The commanders on the ground are responsible for the tactics. They are very sensitive to the balance between appropriate military action and not trying to turn the average Iraqi against the coalition. So they work this very hard. They have taken great steps to minimize collateral damage and I think they’ve done a superb job as I understand it. They take great steps.
What Secretary Wolfowitz said is also true, and that is that these anti-coalition forces, be they former regime elements, be they foreign jihadists, or criminal elements need to know that the coalition military is going to come down on there. It’s not going to be permitted to kill coalition members, U.N. workers, Red Cross workers or Iraqis. It’s just not going to be permitted.
So there is going to be a very careful balance and no one is more sensitive to that than our commanders in the field.
Senator: Thank you very much.