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Ambassador Bremer Interview with the CBS Early Show

Presenters: Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority
August 20, 2003

(Interview with Harry Smith, CBS Early Show.)


     Q:  Paul Bremer is the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq.  Ambassador Bremer joins us this morning.


     Thanks for joining us, sir.


     Bremer:  Good morning.


     Q:  Do you know who did this?


     Bremer:  No, we don't.  Whoever did it was a terrible criminal, taking innocent life, as terrorists always seem to do; in this case, people who came here with no political motive, who were simply here trying to rebuild Iraq and helping the Iraqi people reclaim their country.


     Q:  Pipeline and water supplies have been sabotaged in the last week.  The Jordanian embassy was attacked about two weeks ago; now the United Nations.  You had 150,000 American soldiers over there who are targets every day.  When will the United States get control of this country? 


     Bremer:  I don't accept the proposition that we're not in control.  We certainly have a threat of terrorism.  That does not mean chaos.  It doesn't mean that we've lost control.  It does mean that we have an element of terrorism here, the kind of terrorism we've seen in New York and Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam and Beirut over the years.


     It is a terrible war.  It's one which was declared on the American people very dramatically on September 11th, and it's a war that we will win.  It's not something that we're going to get deterred from by an attack here, bad as it was.


     Q:  How is it you don't agree with the assessment that things are not in control there?


     Bremer:  I don't know who makes the assessment that things aren't in control.  It's clearly not the view of the coalition here. We have a security problem here.  The security problem now has got a terrorist dimension, which is new, but the rest of the security is basically in better shape than it was three months ago when I arrived here.


     It is true that we're taking some casualties among the coalition forces, but that's largely coming from a small group of bitter-enders from the former regime, and almost all of it in a very small geographic area.  The attacks on the pipelines that you mentioned and on the electricity are basically a different problem.  Those are attacks on the Iraqi people, as the acting minister of oil made clear in his press conference on Saturday.


     Q:  Do you have an anticipation of when you think the streets of Baghdad and the streets of the other major cities in Iraq will be safe, when the power will be on, when day-to-day clean water will be available?


     Bremer:  Well, the streets of the main cities, including Baghdad, are safe.  They're safe today.  You can go around them.  You find thousands of Iraqis on the streets every day.  Right now, if you went downtown, you'd find them walking around.  The shops are open. Men and women and their children are there.


     It is dangerous after the curfew, obviously, in the late evening. But the country is not a country in chaos.  And terrorism doesn't mean chaos.  It does mean an outrage against humanity.  And it is something we have to deal with, and we will deal with it.  But it is simply wrong to extrapolate from these terrorist acts to a conclusion that this country is in chaos.  It's simply not true.


     Q:  Ambassador Bremer, we thank you for your time today. We do appreciate it.


     Bremer:  Thank you.


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