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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Operations, Gareth Bayley, CPA Spokesman
May 05, 2004
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

           MR. BAYLEY:  Good evening everybody.

 

            Today Ambassador Bremer joined Iraq's agriculture minister, Dr. Abdul-Ameer Abboud, to mark the official transfer of sovereignty to the Ministry of Agriculture.  This is the sixth ministry to be handed over to the control of the Iraqi people.

 

            Mr. Bremer said:  "Today the Ministry of Agriculture, with all its enormous potential for the people of Iraq, is fully invested in your hands, Mr. Minister, and those of your colleagues.  This transfer of authority marks another step on Iraq's path to sovereignty, elections and constitutional democracy."

 

            Well before 30th of June, when formal sovereignty passes from the coalition authority to an interim government, Iraqis will control most ministries.  It is in the ministries that the work of government is done.

 

            Apart from his attendance at the Ministry of Agriculture ceremonies, Mr. Bremer also had a regular weekly meeting with the Governing Council in which they discussed in broad terms security issues around the country.

 

            With that, I will turn to General Kimmitt.

 

              KIMMITT:  Thank you.

 

            Good afternoon.  The coalition continues its offensive and support operations focused on restoration of a stable environment in order to repair the infrastructure, restore the economy and transfer sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

 

            In the northern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a cordon and search in Balaji (ph) yesterday targeting weapons dealers. Two primary targets and an additional suspect were detained and a large cache of ammunition was seized.  Coalition forces also conducted a cordon and search in Hammam al Alil, targeting three anti-coalition cell members and they were detained without incident.

 

            In the north-central zone of operations, a coalition force patrol observed a suspicious male carrying a bag near al Duluiyah.  The patrol pursued the man into a house and conducted a hasty raid where three males were seized.  The combat patrol seized four AK-47s and the bag, which had a rocket-propelled grenade sight assembly, two blocks of TNT and firing instructions for rocket-propelled grenades.

 

            In Baghdad the 1st Cav conducted 430 patrols, capturing 28 anti- coalition suspects in the past 24 hours.  Yesterday coalition forces conducted a cordon and search in the vicinity of the Ali Mohammed mosque in northwest Baghdad for five individuals believed to responsible for an IED that killed coalition soldiers on 2 May. Forces detained five individuals, of which all tested positive with a vapor tracer for both TNT and TNB.  Coalition forces also reported that anti-coalition propaganda continues to be broadcast at the mosque -- propaganda urging Iraqis to engage coalition forces.

 

              In the western zone of operations, yesterday was a relatively quiet day in the area of operations in general; in Fallujah in particular, where there were no cease-fire violations.  The cooperation with the Iraqi forces in town was encouraging as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops assumed joint responsibility alongside the Marines for the northern cordon.  The ICDC has grown to 1,190 soldiers and the 1st Battalion Fallujah Brigade to 1,200 troops, while 750 Iraqi police are on duty.  Preparations continue for the upcoming joint patrols into the city that should demonstrate the Fallujah Brigade's true effectiveness.

 

            Forces continue to monitor the negotiated return of 200 families a day, although many more are thought to have been able to return through the different roads.

 

            Yesterday in Multinational Division Central South, the coalition patrol on the east side of the Euphrates, near Kufa, observed five individuals unloading weapons from a van on the west side of the river.  Tanks engaged and destroyed the van, and killing an estimated five personnel.

 

            Last night coalition forces conducted a raid into Karbala against Muqtada's militia storing weapons and operating in three locations:  a hotel suspected of being a militia safe house, the former Ba'ath Party building and the former government -- governor's building.  The hotel and Ba'ath Party building were cleared without incident, and upon arrival at the governor's building, coalition forces found the building on fire and taking small-arms fire from the vicinity of the building.  After a prolonged firefight, coalition forces took control of the building, and results from the operation were an estimated 10 enemy killed and 21 suspects detained, of which three were wounded.

 

            In Diwaniyah last night, coalition forces conducted offensive operations against the Sadr bureau, to reduce the militia influence in the city and establish conditions for the return of Iraqi security forces.  As coalition forces approached the objective, a vehicle engaged the unit with small-arms fire, wounding one coalition soldier. Forces returned fire, destroying the vehicle and its occupants.

 

            Coalition forces continued the mission, engaging the building with precision fires.  Forces then cleared the building, resulting in one Sadr militia member detained.  Coalition forces and Iraqi people will remain in the building and will continue the process of reestablishing police presence in that area of Diwaniyah.

 

            In a follow-on mission, coalition forces conducted a cordon-and- search of a school located across from the Sadr building, suspected of having a weapons cache on its grounds.  Coalition forces confiscated one 60-millimeter mortar, 10 rocket-propelled grenades and 20 60- millimeter rounds found hidden within a makeshift wall in the school.

 

            In the southeastern zone of operations, a coalition patrol was attacked with small-arms fire while trying to stop an ongoing  hijacking near Basra.  One of the hijackers was arrested by the patrol.  The other hijackers in the vehicle opened fire on the coalition forces, and there were no coalition casualties sustained in this operation.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  We now have that.  We're happy to take your questions.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Ali Nasir Al-Koreshi (sp) from Al- Zemilan (sp) newspaper.  Mr. Mark Kimmitt, good evening.  As you mentioned or the Iraqi media and the international media have reported that -- is there any actual targets by the coalition forces?  Are there any other violence acted by the coalition forces against the detainees in Abu Ghraib custody?  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  As you know, we've got ongoing investigations with regards to the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.  For those of you that were out there at Abu Ghraib, you probably had a pretty good sensing today of how the operations are conducted out there.  It is our firm determination that there will continue to be oversight procedures, training mechanisms in place to ensure that no type of detainee abuse will occur again in the future.

 

            Q     Reuters News Agency.  Could you just repeat -- you said 15 insurgents killed in two separate attacks in southern Iraq?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I will add the numbers up.  I believe there were 10 killed in the attack in Diwaniyah and 21 suspects wounded.

 

            Q     And five somewhere else.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Five vicinity Kufa.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Last night.

 

            Yes, sir.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Fabal al-Behel (ph) from Nabu Shabat (ph) newspaper.  We went to Abu Ghraib because of the -- we wish that we couldn't be in there.  We went because we have a lot of things where we were prohibited to take our cameras and our stuff. These scandals were the scandal of the world, and how can the picture of the Americans be improved in front of the -- worldwide?

 

            So we have seen the detainees and we have seen the places where they have 50,000 detainees, and we have found them with their own clothes that they have been detained with.  And the prison is only -- there is area or room for only one person, there is no room for others.  So is it this is a revenge against those detainees?

 

            And this detainee is just the same as Guantanamo.  So are you punishing those people?  And are you going to forward or are you going to give this custody by the 30th of June to the Iraqis or are you going to monitor it or the coalition forces will stay over there and monitor it and the suffering of those detainees will continue?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Two questions I think I heard in there, and I'll try to answer both.

 

            On the first one, the question at the end about are we going to continue to abuse the prisoners.  No, we're not going to continue to abuse the prisoners.  We continue in the vast majority of cases to be in absolute adherence to the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of security detainees.

 

            I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that that happens in all cases because you certainly saw in those photos and examples where that didn't happen.  And those soldiers in those pictures who participated in that are going to be punished.  And we are going to put oversight systems and we're going to put training in place and the proper leadership to make sure that doesn't happen.

 

            Let me finish.

 

            On your first question, about the fact that you were not allowed to take cameras into all portions of Abu Ghraib today, that is precisely the case.  Understand the press's desire to have pictures of every square inch of the facility.  But those same Geneva Conventions that we adhere to prohibit us from making those security detainees objects of personal curiosity.  Fully understand your desire, but we must be consistent not only with some articles of the Geneva Convention but all the articles of the Geneva Convention.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  I'm not talking about the crime. I'm talking about this recent situation.  The situation is really miserable.  No clothes.  No food.  And they are sleeping on the ground in tents, while Abu Ghraib has got room and area for 50,000 detainees. So I'm talking about why are not going to be put inside the walls, why they are just being put in small room?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Okay.  Now I understand your third question.  You have obviously been misinformed.  You say they're not wearing clothes and they're not being given any food and they are sleeping on the ground.  It is apparent that you did not go to the right location today, because those detainees are being fed, they are allowed to wear clothes, we keep the clothes on them, and they do not sleep on the ground.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Over on this side.  Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  What are the guarantees offered by you for the detainees in Abu Ghraib that there will not be further abuses?  And what about the soldiers who have committed these abuses? Are they still in Abu Ghraib or have they been transferred to the U.S.?  And are there investigations under way right now?  Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The soldiers that were involved in the abuse were immediately taken away from Abu Ghraib, suspended from any contact with any portion of the prison.  As soon as it was found out that they were involved in this, they were instantly suspended and given no ability to go back into that prison as a guard.  They are being   prosecuted.  As we said in here, six are facing criminal charges. Most are through the process of the investigation, and we would expect that after the end of those final investigations, it may end up in a military court martial.

 

                          No, they have not been transferred.  They will remain here to face whatever judicial punishment, judicial hearings that will be levied against them.

 

            The harder question:  Can we ever guarantee this won't happen again, and what guarantees can I give you.  What I can give you is a guarantee the United States Army that it will make a full-faith effort to do everything it can in its power in training, in resourcing and discipline to ensure this never happens again.  Is it a fail-safe, 100 percent guarantee?  I wish I could stand up here and promise you that.  Is it as close to a 100 percent guarantee that one can reasonably expect?  That I can guarantee you.

 

            My Army's been embarrassed by this.  My Army's been shamed by this.  And on behalf of my Army, I apologize for what those soldiers did to your citizens.  It was reprehensible and it was unacceptable. And it is more than just words, that we have to take those words into action and ensure that never happens again.  And we will make a full- faith effort to ensure that never happens again.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Toby?

 

            Q     Toby Harnden, Daily Telegraph.  How significant do you think the meeting of Shi'a leaders in Baghdad yesterday was?  And was this the kind of turning point in terms of moderate Shi'a leaders in facing down al-Sadr that you've been looking for?

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Toby, it's a little bit early to detect quite what the output of this meeting is.  Obviously, any meeting of this nature, where Iraqis come to grips with an Iraqi problem and deliver -- we do hope -- Muqtada al-Sadr to justice, the end of the Mahdi Army, return of the rule of law to the cities of all of Iraq, is welcome.  But it's a bit too early to say where that is headed.

 

            But it is also clear that the Shi'a community do not approve of Muqtada al-Sadr and that the citizens of Najaf especially have paid hugely for the presence of this man and his militia on the streets of the city, not least economically in Shi'a -- monetary costs because the town has been put in the situation it has by Muqtada Sadr.

 

            So it's early to say, but it's always welcome to see Iraqis grappling with an Iraqi problem like this.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  (Name and affiliation inaudible.) Mr. Bayley, the reason why Ambassador Bremer accepted the resignation  of the minister of Human Rights -- what is the reason for the acception of this resignation?  And there are a lot of conflicts between the members of the Iraqi Governing Council and between Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi from the U.N., and lots of them are announcing that they disagree with him.  So what will you do to organize to resolve these differences?

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Two questions.  I'll take them in reverse order, if I may.

 

            With the -- all the views that are expressed ahead of Mr. Brahimi's arrival in Iraq, it's great to see that you've got all this feisty debate.  You've got people coming up with views and counterviews, and the media are fully reporting it.  Your paper, Al- Mashrak, is particularly involved in reporting what is going on.

 

            Now I think the thing to bear in mind is that Mr. Brahimi's visit to Iraq has not yet taken place.  The process which we envisage in the Transitional Administrative Law, which has been agreed by the entire Governing Council, is not yet completed.  And therefore rumors are great, speculation is great, but in the end of the day, there has to be a completion of the process.  And as you see in the early article -- I think it's Article II of the transitional law -- you have discussion between the coalition authority, on the one hand, the Governing Council on the other, parts -- all parts of Iraqi society, and the U.N. having a role.

 

            Now when Mr. Brahimi gets here, he's going to take forward these discussions.  He's already met in the hundreds of Iraqis, and he is going to complete his work as soon as possible, because, as we all know, we have to have that government formed and in place before we transfer it into sovereignty, to ensure a smooth transition.

 

            Now in terms of the human rights minister, Minister Turki, it is clear that he -- it's been a while since we've heard of him tendering his resignation, but it was never anything formal.  But the Governing Council is the body that actually accepts that resignation.  The Governing Council, I understand, did that in the last few days.  We respect his views fully.  We respect that he doesn't want to carry on, although we think he did a marvelous job.  And it is without a doubt that the Ministry of Human Rights will carry on, doing a crucial job in this stage and then through the transition towards sovereignty.

 

            Now I wouldn't want to go into the reasoning that he may give, because there's nothing formal there that the coalition authority should comment upon.  But I will say he did a good job, and the ministry continues to do an excellent job.

 

            Choices, choices.  Carol?

 

            Q     It's Carol Rosenberg with The Miami Herald.  General, can you just clarify?  Are you saying, if convicted in a court martial to time, the Abu Ghraib guards would serve time here, or would be tried here?

 

            And are the Article 32s complete?  And what is the timeline for a decision on whether there would be court martial for --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  The -- they will be tried.  At present, the expectation is, if taken to a court martial, those trials will be held here in Iraq.

 

            With regards to ultimately if they serve time in a penitentiary, I would not expect that to be here in Iraq.

 

            The 32s are nearly complete.  I know at least three are finished, possibly four.  And I think all of us certainly would like to see this process move on from the 32 to whatever the final resolution is going to be, whether it is court martial or any other form of disposition.  So I'd expect that to be fairly soon.

 

            Q     General, if I can just just follow up and find out if the 32s are open to coverage?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I'll check on that.  I don't know the answer to that right now, but I'll go back to the lawyers and ask.  But it's certainly -- if they are taken to court-martial, the court-martials will be open proceedings.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Najim.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Najim al-Rubaie from Distor newspaper.  General Kimmitt, you know very well what's going on in Abu Ghraib.  I have some comments and I would like honestly to give it to you.

 

            When we entered the women or female prison, we found a woman. She was just shouting, shouting and saying that she has been raped, sexually raped, and she said that she has been stripped.  So it seems that this has actually happened.  She said that she's been there for five months, since five months.  She said there are -- so many sexual actions have been taking place in the prison, and she also -- she just called for the Iraqis to go up in one of the room.  She said, I don't want to tell you what's there in the room upstairs, but I will call you to come and see this room.

 

            So I have just witnessed and I have seen with my eyes that there was a blind person also there, and that was really miserable.  And I have seen also a number of detainees in Abu Ghraib and they were having so many stories, these stories that are so similar and like as the story in the television, when they do not know how to make an appeal or they do not know to whom to go on how to make these stories -- to put it for judgment.  They just want to know how to turn on these stories and how to ask for their rights.

 

            Who protects those people?  Where is the human rights?  When I just told them and asked them to talk to me or give me the story, he said okay, I will tell you my story, but how can you just provide me protection?  Are you going to protect me?  Those people should not be only punished.  We have seen the situation today with the people over there, the actors, the criminals.  Is there any solution for that? We've been there.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  As I'm sure Major General Miller told you today, we're doing everything in our power to absolutely adhere to the standards outlined in the Geneva Conventions in all the articles with regard to security internees.

 

            There is a process, that General Miller referred to, that if anybody has a complaint about abuse or punishment or torture, where that complaint can move forward.  I can't answer the specific allegations of the young lady that you referred to.  I guess you may have seen one of the total of six females that are currently being held as security internees.  I know that the remaining females that we have in there are considered to be security internees of a fairly significant purpose.

 

            I think all of us understand that those remaining internees are considered and verified as imperative threats to the people of Iraq and to the coalition.  I can't understand the motivations, why she would be saying these things.  If there's any truth to them, it will be investigated.  And if there's any truth to that, in the investigation, there are proper criminal activities and charges that can be levied against those of whom she accuses, and we will use the proper judicial system to investigate those.

 

            The prison itself, as General Miller told you, strives at all times to meet the standards required by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions.  It is often inspected. These accusations of no food, no clothes, sleeping on the floor -- you were there today.  I hope they showed you the mess facilities, they showed you the sleeping facilities, and they showed you that every one of those prisoners stay clothed at all times.

 

            We will continue to maintain that prison as well as other prisons that we are establishing, as General Miller told you, to the highest standards in accordance with the rules and regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention.  It is clear that we strive at all times to ensure that our facilities are a model for the rest of the world, that they can stand up to the scrutiny of the rest of the world and the eyes of the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, those photos show a small number of people and a small number of detainees that did not live up to those standards, and we are continuing to investigate that.

 

            We will continue to prosecute that, and that will be a black mark on the United States Army for years to come.  But please understand that that is a small number of soldiers doing the wrong thing.  They do not reflect the 150,000 coalition soldiers and the 130,000 American soldiers and Marines that are out there every day providing security for your nation.  They feel as ashamed as I do.  They feel as embarrassed as I do.  We came here to help.  We came here to demonstrate what America was all about, what the coalition was all about, and what democracy is all about.

 

            Listen to those 130,000 soldiers on the street, who are out there everyday alongside your soldiers, your police, at risk to bring this country to democracy.  Listen to those soldiers.  They will tell you that those pictures you saw are not them.  They will tell you that those pictures violated every value that they believe in.  They will tell you, as I have told you, that may be some people in the Army, but that's not our Army. They're better than that.  We're better than that.  The Army is better than that, and we've just got to demonstrate that every day.  We've got to explain it and demonstrate it on the streets.  We have to demonstrate it in Abu Ghraib, at the Vigilant facility, at the Gansey (ph) facility, and the soon to be built other facilities as well.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Abbas (sp), please.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Abbas al-Falhei (ph), Al Minar Lioum (ph) newspaper.  I have two questions.

 

            The first question, regarding the detainees, too, and Abu Ghraib custody.  As you know and the others know that there have been violations for human rights and there should be a solution for that. And there should be an end.  As you just said and you just apologized for that, it really cannot be commented on, especially abusing the detainees is a case that the whole world is refusing that abuse.  The question is, after handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis on the 30th of June, what will be your role?  How would be your role regarding administrating the detainees or the custodies?  Are you going to really and actually submit it or forward it to the Iraqis?

 

            And the second question, pertaining Fallujah.  Why haven't you showed an official objection regarding this -- we just want you to clarify the idea that you haven't given any objection regarding the forces that have been used in Fallujah for protecting Fallujah.  What are your excuses or what are your justifications for using these forces rather than using the American forces for defending Fallujah? Why have you just changed it with the Iraqis?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On the first question, about what will the status of the internees be post-30 June.  Whatever that final decision is, whether they will be under the care of the Iraqi government, transitional government, or under the care of the coalition, the most important thing to understand is that care will be fully in line with the Geneva Conventions.  We will continue to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to come in and inspect.  I would expect we will continue to have media involvement and visitations, as we did today.  I think it's important for all of us to understand that sunlight is often the best disinfectant.

 

            On the second question, about -- you want me to clarify why we are using Iraqi security forces and Iraqi forces instead of Marine forces in Fallujah.  Well, number one, eventually this country will have nothing but Iraqi forces.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  General --

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I must have misunderstood your question.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  My question is that there have been -- a force have been assigned to protect Fallujah and protect them and provide security from Fallujah, from the people of Fallujah themselves.  Why the Governing Council haven't made an official acknowledgment to use this protection army?  Why haven't you confessed that this force can be part of the ICDC of the Iraqi forces, why there hasn't been an official acknowledgment or confession by the Governing Council, coalition forces, that they are part of the Iraqi army or part of the ICDC?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  I don't think I know the answer to that question. But here's the important thing to understand; that all those forces operating in the vicinity of Fallujah, whether they're Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, whether they are the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah brigade, whether they're the Iraqi police, or whether they are the United States Marine Corps supported by the United State Army, all those forces are operating under the command and control of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.  All of them have one simple goal and that is to protect the people of Fallujah and achieve the objectives that we set out over a month ago, which is to get rid of the foreign fighters out of Fallujah, to get rid of the heavy weapons out of Fallujah, to get Iraqi forces and Iraqi governmental control back in Fallujah and bring justice inside Fallujah.

 

            So whether it's done with Iraqi forces or Marine forces, they are all considered part of the coalition forces.  They're going to achieve their objective.  How we achieve that objective may have changed, the methods we used over the past couple of weeks may have changed, but the ultimate objectives remain the same.

 

            Q     George Osterkamp with CBS News.  Could you talk for a moment about Najaf?  Are there any talks going on involving Muqtada al-Sadr, and any movement toward a peace agreement?

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Our understanding is that Muqtada al-Sadr is -- if he is engaged in talks, he's resisting the import of them, that they should lead toward some kind of a peaceful solution.  At the same time, we've made clear to any Iraqi who have come to us saying what their views are, what we believe the situation is.  Muqtada al-Sadr has wavered; in his public statements he has reversed about, and depending on the day you're going to get a different answer.  At the moment, I do not believe that Muqtada al-Sadr has engaged in any meaningful dialogues.  But I would ask you to direct that question to Iraqis who may have done so.  As you know, the coalition is not in negotiation with him.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Mr. Bayley and General Kimmitt.  Al-Jamuriya (ph) newspaper.  General Kimmitt, you have talked about handing over sovereignty and about handing over the prisoners to the Iraqis.  There are thousands of detainees who have been detained by raids carried out by the coalition, and many of them have not been accused of any specific charge.  So shouldn't you resolve these problems before handing over sovereignty?  There is a suggestion to provide all the detainees with their basic needs, such as sleeping needs and clothes and other things.  I have personally discovered that some of the detainees, ordinary detainees, not among the 55 high- profile detainees, these detainees have not seen their parents, their parents are not allowed or their families are not allowed to see them. So isn't there any way to provide them with the means to see at least their families?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT;  I think the visitor center that you may have seen today as part of the tour will be the place where, at the Abu Ghraib facility, there will be that opportunity where the families can interact with the internees.

 

            I would just mention -- you say that none of them have been charged.  In fact, every one of those internees has had his file reviewed by a magistrate judge for the purpose of ensuring, by a judge, to ensure that the reason for the detention in Abu Ghraib is very consistent with the Geneva Convention restriction or the Geneva Convention requirement that they be considered an imperative threat to the security of this nation.  So I will just differ on your points.

 

            Alissa, you had a question?

 

            Q     Alissa Rubin with the Los Angeles Times.  This is a Najaf question.  Did the Shi'ite leaders who were consulting with each other in coming to some unified view convey what their thoughts were to the coalition?  And did they make any requests, either of Mr. Bremer and his staff, that he do anything to facilitate negotiations, or to the military to try to refrain from engagement while they attempt to use their own methods of pressure to get Muqtada al-Sadr to disband the Mahdi Army and do the other things he's being asked to do?

             

            MR. BAYLEY:  This is not my understanding, at least at this moment, that they have communicated those outcomes of their meeting to the coalition, although they have asked the coalition to be involved in negotiations.  At the same time, many of the people who attended those meetings are in continual contact with the coalition, as are other parts of Iraqi society.

 

            Obviously we'll look very carefully at a meeting like this.  We find these sorts of suggestions useful if they can contribute toward a solution where Muqtada Sadr faces justice and his militia is dissolved.

 

            Q     Charlie Mayer from National Public Radio.  Do you know exactly when Ambassador Brahimi is getting here and how long he will stay?

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  He is arriving shortly, very shortly.  I can't go into it for security reasons, obviously, when exactly he is arriving. But he will be here momentarily.  And when he's leaving, well, that will all be up to him, when the job is done.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Al Dawa (sp) newspaper.  Two questions.  First, to General Kimmitt and second to Mr. Bayley.

 

            First question is about Abu Ghraib prison.  There are 3,900 detained people.  They are not prisoners, they are detainees.  And any person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  So do you take this into consideration when dealing with the detainees, that some of them might be innocent?  And a lot of them must be innocent.  So according to the Geneva Convention, as we said, everyone is presumed innocent. Are you taking this into consideration?

 

            Second question is for Mr. Bayley, about the handover of sovereignty.  After handing over sovereignty, will sovereignty be handed over completely to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, or will it be transferred from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the military leadership of the coalition?

 

            Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  On your first question, I am not a Geneva Conventions authority.  However, it is clear within the Geneva Conventions articles that as a force in the country responsible for the administration of this country, until that is handed over to the follow-on government, there is a provision that allows us to ensure the safety and security of this nation and its people and the coalition forces.  That provision allows us to detain or intern security threats to this nation.  If they are considered and it is reviewed by appropriate authority that this person is an imperative threat to this nation, to the coalition forces, to the Iraqi people, that is sufficient to detain the person until it is demonstrated that that person is no longer an imperative threat.

 

            Now you talk about many innocents being swept up.  You sort of give the impression that somehow Abu Ghraib is a place for us to just grab people off the street who are innocently walking up and down, window shopping.  I think the security situation in this country would demonstrate otherwise.  You alone have had over 350 Iraqi police killed in this country, probably another couple of hundred Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.  The number of civilians killed by roadside bombs, by car bombs and by other targeted assassinations is significant.

 

            These are the people that we have inside Abu Ghraib.  These are the people that we have an imperative threat to this nation. They present an imperative threat to this nation.  They are an imperative threat to you, your families, your fellow citizens.

 

            It is not simply our desire, but it is our obligation to maintain a safe and secure environment, and those people who are an imperative threat to that safety and that security we have a responsibility and an obligation to detain until they no longer are considered an imperative threat.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Your second question -- on that, it is clear that on 30th of June, sovereignty will be transmitted to the Iraqi government. Mr. Bremer will get on a plane shortly thereafter and take a well- deserved break, and the Iraqi state and government will be headed by Iraqis.

 

            At the same time, Iraq's going to need help, a lot of help, a lot of international assistance from the entire international community to get through the process in front of it, which is, after transfer of sovereignty, direct elections, seven months later, constitutional assembly, and all the rest that comes with that.  And they're going to have that help from the U.S., the U.K., other coalition members.

 

            The Ministry of Defense, part of some 25 ministries, will enjoy the same level of sovereignty as all the other ministries do.  That is a very clear position.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Okay.  Thank you very much.

 

            MR. BAYLEY:  Thank you.

 

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