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Regular DoD News Briefing

Presenters: Lawrence Di Rita, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
June 24, 2004

           MR. DI RITA:  Good afternoon.

 

            We wanted to give the opportunity to do a little bit of updating as the transition in Iraq unfolds.  The president has talked about the five steps that the United States and the coalition are working together with Iraq in the transition.

 

            The establishment of sovereignty, obviously, is first in that list of five objectives, and that happens officially on June 30th, next Wednesday; establishing security and continuing to work on security, which is an ongoing challenge and effort, and General Rodriguez and I both could speak to that a little bit; continuing to develop and restore Iraqi infrastructure, and that's going -- we've had Admiral Nash down here a couple times I think giving people an update; continuing to build international support, and the U.N. resolution is one of the latest examples of that; and obviously, ultimately the elections in Iraq and the full self-government.

 

            So there's been progress in each of the areas.  We're mindful of obviously the challenges, and we're seeing some of those challenges even as we speak.

 

            So with that, I'll ask General Rodriguez to make a few comments, and we'll be happy to take your questions.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Thank you, Mr. Di Rita, and good afternoon.

 

            I'd like to extend my condolences to the families of those U.S., coalition, Iraqi security forces and innocent Iraqis killed and injured in the recent attacks.  As we anticipated, the closer we get to the transition date, attacks and threats against those who are working to establish a free Iraq are increasing, as the extremists extend their efforts to create instability.  We still have some difficult times ahead of us, but freedom and the Iraqi desire for a safe and secure Iraq remain strong.

 

            In the last 24 hours, there have been several attacks against coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and numerous explosions targeting Iraqi security force facilities that have killed and injured many innocent Iraqis.  We are aggressively conducting patrols throughout Iraq; over 1,700 in the last 24 hours, with 20 percent of those combined patrols with Iraqi security forces.

 

            And with that we'll take your questions.

 

            Q     U.S military officials in Iraq are saying that about 100 people have been killed in attacks today in five cities, and in Ramadi -- the Marines say that in Ramadi that insurgents went into a police station, made the police leave, set explosives and then blew up the police station.

 

            Number one, do you expect this thing to get any better after the turnover?  And what does that say about the Iraqi police if insurgents can just go in, tell them to get out, and blow up the station?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  On the first one, the estimates -- of course the numbers are just rolling in.  They're trying to figure that piece out. But the numbers that have been reported have been about a hundred killed and upwards of 300 wounded during those operations up in Mosul, which were mainly vehicle-borne IEDs that all occurred around 09:00 this morning, three of them at the same time.  And they were by police stations and that, and that's where many of the innocent civilians were killed.

 

            And we continue to build the capacity of Iraqi security forces to secure their own country.  And like we said, this is going to be a challenging time as they increase their efforts to destabilize the operations there and the safe and secure environment that we're trying to establish.  And we'll continue to do that in concert with the partners of the Iraqi as well as the coalition forces.

 

            On the other one at Ramadi, it was -- where you were talking about, the police station that was hit early this morning also, that was another heavily armed, quick -- rapid attack which they killed several of the police officers and then blew part of the police station up, and then took off quickly prior to the QRF able to get in there and protect them.  It also happened at the same time they were hitting the governor's mansion, and like I said, the QRF responded to both those, and everything.  But it was a very, very quick operation that went in there.

 

            Now, as far as the effectiveness of the Iraqi police, we continue to develop and build that capacity by training and coaching and mentoring them with military police.  And, you know, and this situation today, you know, it didn't turn out as well as anybody wanted.

 

            Q     Do you expect that things would improve after the turnover? You've said that you expect increasing attacks leading up to the turnover. Do you expect things will improve?  And if so, why?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  The insurgency will continue past the turnover point.  Like I said, we expect a spike right prior to the time.  But the insurgency will continue.  And the level and rate, you know, it'd be impossible to postulate what that's going to be.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I mean, let me just -- if you look at what's going on in Afghanistan, they had their own transition to sovereignty some time ago.  I mean, it's over a year.  They've got elections coming up. We're starting to see something of a resurgence in the insurgency there, in the violence.  The opponents in both those countries -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- are opposed to what's happening in both those countries.  And I wouldn't -- I don't think we could say if it will subside after this transition.  It may well not.  I mean, next is the elections at the end of this year, the beginning of next year.

 

            The opponents, the insurgents have been explicit in their objectives, and their objectives are to derail Iraq's transition to self-government.  We've seen threats made against the new Iraqi government leaders, including the prime minister himself, and I think that's just what we're going to have to expect.

 

            It's a very mixed picture.  The deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman testified earlier this week in the House.  The deputy's just back.  He talked about the mixed picture that he observed.  He visited with all five U.S. divisions, including the multinational division.  He toured all around the country and saw a very uneven situation.  The security situation is what we've described.

 

            He also saw an awful lot of Iraqis pitching in and getting very committed to their own future.  Today, I am told, the Iraqi stock exchange is opening.  So in the midst of all this violence, we have the continued progress of the economy.  The Iraq Development Fund has $20 billion in it, based on largely oil revenues.  They've restored their own oil capacity after the insurgents tried to destroy it last week.  So it's an uneven picture and I think it's going to be that way for quite some time.

 

            Q     Larry, at his confirmation hearing this morning, General Casey said that his number one priority with regard to international troops in Iraq is to get a brigade-size force to specifically protect a U.N. mission in advance of the election.  Is Secretary Rumsfeld pursuing that with any number of countries to -- or with NATO?  He said it could be NATO besides a group of other countries.  Is the secretary involved in this?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, I mean, I think the secretary and others, officials in this government have indicated that a mission such as that would be a useful and suitable mission for an international contribution.  General Casey, I didn't see his testimony.  I'm not surprised to hear him say that.

 

            I can't say that Secretary Rumsfeld has made any specific overtures in that regard, but I think the international community, NATO, the United Nations, understand what's needed in Iraq, and we've done what we can to make sure that people do understand.  And ultimately what they decide is their own decision.  But this will be a multinational force and General Casey will be working with other countries to see what those countries are prepared to contribute.

 

            Q     Larry, can you tell us the status of the amnesty for U.S. troops after the turnover of the government to the Iraqis?  Are they going to continue to -- there are different stories.  Apparently yesterday the U.S. was not pursuing the amendment in the United Nations, but apparently today the administration is doing something. Can you clarify that, please?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, I think it's possible you're talking about two specific -- two different things.  I mean, there -- the United States, apparently -- and this is the State Department's business -- decided not to pursue the extension of this exemption for the International Criminal Court jurisdiction for U.S. troops around the world --

 

            Q     But you're doing something, so that --

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Separately, with the case of Iraq, there's the -- there is -- there are negotiations going on, and it will -- I think we will conclude mutually that the United States will continue to maintain jurisdiction over its forces through the American legal system, ultimately through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The actual mechanism, how that is done, hasn't been worked out.  But I think the Iraqi government understands the importance of that, the value we assign to that.  And I think it's going to -- it will be worked out.  But the mechanism is not -- as I understand, not yet worked out.

 

            Q     And will that extend also to the other coalition troops who are in the country --

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I don't know.  I mean, I think --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  I think the intent for that all to extend to all coalition troops, yes.

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- the ideas that they can't be prosecuted by Iraqi court for the actions that they take, is that correct?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  That's correct.  That's correct.

 

            Q     Is there a -- just building on that, is there a deadline for the status of forces agreement after the return of sovereignty?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, I think when you combine what the -- temporary administrative law, transition administrative law provides with respect to the use of the U.S. forces in that country, or coalition forces, the U.N. resolution, which provides for the presence of those forces to conduct the missions they're required to, the exchange of letters that the secretary of state and the prime minister provided to the Security Council, and then whatever else is worked out with respect to jurisdiction, you'll -- the United States will have what it needs to operate in that country and ensure that our forces have the direct line chain of command through an American -- through American   -- through an American chain and have the jurisdiction that we were going to need.

 

            (To Gen. Rodriguez)  Do you have anything you need to add?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  No, that's it.

 

            Q     Larry, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charlie Duelfer, told Fox today that his team has found a dozen artillery shells and rockets that confirmed contained sarin or mustard gas.  Now, you talked previously about the two shells that were unexploded in those IEDs, and you pointed (out) that they were from the first gulf war, dated back to that time, and this new discovery is supposed to date back as well.  Is there a feeling that they're not a threat or that they still couldn't be used as weapons of terror?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, first of all, Charlie in the ISG report to the director of Central Intelligence -- and I wouldn't want to try and characterize what he may have said.  I saw a transcript of some remarks he did provide, and he did talk about there's a lot of questions about these shells.  There was, in fact, an obligation that Saddam had to declare what he was holding, and we know that he only declared a small percentage of what he had previously reported.  So, I mean, several hundred tons of these things were unaccounted for. But again, there's more questions that need to be resolved, and I wouldn't want to try and characterize, you know, how these ultimately will be disposed -- in terms of what the disposition of these things is.

 

            But the fact is that if we've got that kind of weapon activity -- I think Mr. Duelfer also spoke about what he is starting to see as a thirst for the insurgents -- possible attempts by them to either get control of the knowledge, the database, the knowledge base that exists in that country -- scientists, et cetera.  And we know just through historical example that these groups have a thirst for weapons of mass destruction.

 

            So, I mean, I would say yes, it is something that people need to be mindful of, and I know that they are.

 

            Q     I mean, do you have specific indications that the Zarqawi terrorist network is trying to make or get their hands on weapons of mass destruction to be used against the coalition in Iraq?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, we knew before the war that Zarqawi was involved in Ansar al-Islam, and Ansar al-Islam was very much involved in the production of at least toxic poisons, if not chemical weapons. So, I mean -- all I'm saying is that we know that Mr. Zarqawi has demonstrated a desire for at least toxins and poison weapons.  Whether or not these weapons in particular, I'm not aware of any specific intelligence, and we wouldn't talk about --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  No, no specific intelligence to answer that question.

 

            Q     Larry, can I ask you, with the change of sovereignty, with the handover of sovereignty, is there going to be an perceptible effect on the U.S. military, on the way they operate, how they organize?  Or are they just going to be the status quo?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, first of all, Prime Minister Allawi the other day talked about how he is -- how he would like to restructure Iraqi forces.  And, obviously, the United -- the coalition, the United States in particular, have been working more and more with Iraqi forces.  And ultimately, that becomes an operational issue.  But he talked about wanting to -- Mr. Allawi talked about wanting to develop this national guard system based on the Civil Defense Corps, and have a battalion in each governate so that you have a good presence around the country.  He talked about developing this Rapid Intervention Force, which is sort of an urban defense unit; continuing to train and equip the police forces.  He's asked -- apparently written to the NATO secretary-general for assistance in that regard.

 

            So the United States will, obviously, as a partner of Iraq in this security effort, continue to do -- as I talked about, we'll have the authority that we need in order to conduct the operations that will be needed to maintain security in Iraq, but it's going to be done very much in a partnership with Iraq.  And the modalities of that, much like they are now, will have to be worked out as we move along.

 

            Q      Well, I guess what I'm trying to ask is, is the soldier in the field going to notice that there's been a transfer of power?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Do you have any --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  No, operations will continue pretty much like they are.  And as Iraqis continue build their capacity up and we continue to build this partnership as we move forward, you know, we'll adjust those as the commanders in the field see fit.  But for an immediate thing to occur at the 30th -- no, that's not going to happen.  We're going to continue on like we are.

 

            Q     I'd like to follow up on that a second.  General Casey today mentioned several times that he wanted to make sure that U.S. forces maintained an offensive mind-set over there, not hunkered down, not get defensive.

 

            From the joint operational perspective, can you give us a feel for what an offensive mind-set is at the same time you're trying to get Iraqis to do more patrols on their own?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Well, I think when he talked about the offensive mind-set, it's so, you know, we don't hunker down, sit back and just wait for things to happen.  So that's the offensive mind-set.

 

            Like he said, we're partnering already on the joint patrols, where we got over 20 percent working with the joint patrols.  We want to just continue to increase that and build that partnership over time.  But I think that the defensive part, where he was talking about -- we're not going to sit in and just hunker down and defend and wait for something to  happen.  We're going to go out there and continue to provide security and stability to the country.

 

            Q     Would the model be something like Fallujah, where you'd use aircraft and kind of precise raids on, quote, "actionable intelligence," rather than large formations of U.S. troops going into an area?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Well, it's -- in each one of the different situations, it's a totally different situation between Fallujah and Baqubah and different areas throughout the country.  So the commanders on the ground will adjust to how that works, and I believe it'll be a full range of things you talked about on how they do business.

 

            Q     This afternoon Senator Lautenberg is introducing an amendment to the Defense appropriations act on the floor that would provide a $2,000 bonus for all stop-loss soldiers per month.  The money would come out of the O&M account, I believe -- the authorized O&M account.  Do you have a comment on that?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I don't.  It's the first I've heard of it.  There have been incentives provided to forces who are required to -- who -- for whom we made a decision to extend in theater.  I think, if I'm not mistaken, when we did that several months ago, it was a thousand- dollar a month for people who -- or thousand dollars for every 30-day period beyond their normal expected rotation.

 

            But with respect to Senator Lautenberg's amendment, I haven't seen it, and I'm not aware of -- I'm not really equipped to discuss it.

 

            Q     Can either of you gentlemen shed some light on the process by which the U.S. military, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, decides who will be compensated for injury or loss of life or loss of property, and who doesn't?  There sometimes seems to be these very -- for example, in Iraq, after major combat ended, there was a woman who lost her husband and three children when their vehicle ran through a checkpoint that they said they didn't see.  She got a $11,000 in a sympathy payment.  But then in Afghanistan a 12-year-old boy who was shot recently in the back while fleeing from a convoy -- they thought he was trying to apparently set a roadside bomb -- is not being compensated.  Can you explain the process, and why there is sometimes this disparity?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, there is a lot of judgment that's provided to various degrees of the command structure out there.  There's something known as the Foreign Claims Act and there are foreign claims commissions in the country.  As I understand it, there's something on the order of 30 or 31 of those in Iraq.  Brigade commanders have a certain amount of authority to adjudicate claims for damage.  We're not obligated -- under the law of war, we're not obligated -- and in fact I think under the same statute -- for combat damage.  But brigade commanders have certain adjudication (sic) level, and up above, all the way up to the Command of Joint Task Force 7 level, and I think he can adjudicate up to $50,000.

 

            So it's a judgment call.  Obviously, there's an awful lot of interaction with the local community when these commanders are -- they have to face these kinds of decisions.  And they understand the importance of trying to resolve these things.  I can't speak to specific issues and I don't know if General Rodriguez can --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  No.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  -- but there's a system in place.  There's, as I said, I'm told 31 of these commissions around the country where people can make their claim and there's an adjudication process.

 

            Q     On the follow-up, there's -- the Defense secretary back in May had said that there was a plan to compensate those who were affected in the Abu Ghraib prison.  Has anyone yet been compensated, and is that still going to be the plan?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  It's going to be the plan, and I understand General Miller is working with the Iraqi leaders to -- you know, local Iraqi officials to determine the best way to do that, how to outreach to the families.  And that's just, to my knowledge, not resolved yet, but we intend to do that.

 

            Hey, Jim.

 

            Q     Could you deal specifically with this report that Bremer would pass an order just before leaving that would extend immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops beyond the handover?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  This is this Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 17 that's been reported on.  As I mentioned earlier, the mechanism by which this final sort of immunity discussion would be executed is not yet determined.  I am told it could be that, it could be something like that.  We're in discussions with the Iraqi officials now about it.  But as I understand it, it's not concluded.  So there will be some sort of mutually agreed process by which some kind of -- some status would be extended beyond the transition point.

 

            Q     Does he have the authority on his own to --

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Oh, I suppose if it were mutually agreed.  I mean, I don't know what -- I mean, when you get into the legalities, what are his authorities beyond June 30th, obviously the CPA goes away on June 30th.  So something like that would obviously be something we want to agree with with the Iraqis.  The temporary -- the Transitional Administrative Law speaks to some aspects of the coalition forces in the country, and obviously the U.N. resolution does as well.  But with respect to the specific thing, it wouldn't be something -- unlikely to be something that Jerry would simply sign and then it would be something we'd mutually agree with.  And as I said, it's, I think, the general expectation that the Iraqi government understands that this needs to be done, and everybody feels as though it will be.

 

            Q     Larry, the Air Force today dismissed charges against the pilot who accidentally killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. I was wondering if there is any comment on that.  And also, do you know of any discussions the  U.S. government has had with the Canadian government since this announcement was made?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I don't.  That's the first I've heard of it, so I'm not aware of it at all.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  I'm not aware of it either.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I don't know if the Air Force has made a statement, but I have nothing for you.

 

            Q     General, another question on the compensation issue.  It's my understanding if something, a death or an injury or damage to property, occurs during combat operations, people are not compensated. Can you explain to me what is the difference here?  When is something a combat operation and when is it not?  What is the distinction there? I mean, I understand that everything prior to May 1st -- (inaudible) -- of 2003 was considered combat operation, and then after that there's a distinction to be made.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  That was the major combat operations.  But all the people in Afghanistan are still in combat.  And what the international law says, you don't have to do that.  And then, like I said, we always try to do that and try to do it based on the situation and everything, which is where the judgment comes in.  But as far as being in combat, they're all in a combat zone and in a combat operation right now.  It is the major combat piece that was the thing that changed the 1st of May.

 

            Q     General, can you comment on -- there was a report yesterday that plans are under way to add another 10,000 to 25,000 troops to the U.S. forces in Iraq.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  There's been no formal request on -- or informal request of that, adding 25,000 troops to Iraq, which was, I think, reported in the paper yesterday or the day before.  And like I say, there's been no request to do that.  And we continue to -- as the secretary stated many times, we'll give the commanders in the field what they feel necessary, but there's no been informal or formal or formal request to do that to date.

 

            Q     Could there be contingency plans to do that, perhaps?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Just the normal contingency plans, but like I said --

 

            MR. DI RITA:  This building is a big planning machine.  I mean, who knows who's got slides around here that says if I were the boss, this is what I'd do.

 

            General Casey apparently spoke a little bit about this today. The forces there are the forces Abizaid wants.  If he wants more, he'll develop a proposal for that and he'll get what he wants.  But there's been no request.  There's been no sort of, "Hey, by the way, would somebody see what this would look like if I asked for it?" There's been nothing like that.

 

            But again, there's PowerPoint and there's people and there's big brains in this building and people are always thinking, so -- which is a good thing.

 

            Yeah?

 

            Q     On the police forces, the training of the Iraqi police forces, last week General Petraeus was testifying and he said that there were 30,000 too many that were already on the payroll so they were going to have to cut those, and he said that it was going to be like an early retirement.  I'm wondering how they're going to select those and how they ended up so far over numbers.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Yeah, I heard a similar reference.  I'm not sure how they'll work through it.  As I mentioned, Prime Minister Allawi has very definite ideas about how he wants to transition -- what is -- to what he thinks, and he and his national security team think they need. And it involves these additional National Guard units, this additional kind of urban warfare unit.  But how they'll actually do the down- select, if you will, with respect to these additional police officers, it's -- I simply don't know.  But it's -- I heard a similar report.

 

            There's an enormous -- there's a very good interaction going on between Prime Minister Allawi and his national security team and the planners that he's working with from the coalition, including General Petraeus and others.  So I think the deputy secretary spoke a little bit about that when he testified on Monday, but his observation is that Mr. Allawi is engaged.  He's got very specific things he thinks need to happen, and that interaction will continue.

 

            Q     General, operationally we saw the bomb dropped on the safe house in Fallujah.  There have been other attacks, offensive operations against different elements -- (inaudible) -- right?  Can you talk a little bit about specifics?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  When you talk about the first incident with the -- in the case of the precision bombing in Fallujah, that was with some real good intelligence they had -- they gained.  That was a safe house that had a tremendous amount of ammunition, and it was a VBIED, you know, producing house there.  They attacked that with the precision munitions that you talked about in Fallujah, and the actual secondary explosions went on for about 45 minutes after the first thing.  So we're confident that we hit what the intelligence thought was there.

 

            And since then, when you talk about the offensive operations today that we're -- the bombs that were dropped today from the aircraft, that was a different type of situation, this case.  Both these cases today, there was some dropped in the vicinity of Fallujah; it was actually on the outskirts, on the eastern side, and also in Baqubah with troops in contact.  And they were in -- the opposing force and the anti-coalition militia were in buildings, firing out of -- and that they used some aircraft bombs to destroy the buildings where the people were firing from.

 

            Q     So the ones outside Fallujah were based on intelligence or --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  It was based on -- no, both the ones today were based on --

 

            Q     -- engagements.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  -- based on engagements.  That's correct.

 

            Q     And called in by troops on the ground.

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  And called in response -- troops on the ground. Yes, that's correct.

 

            Q     Did you hit a VBIED production facility?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Yes.

 

            Q     Car -- what is -- a vehicle --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Vehicle borne improvised explosive device. Okay?

 

            Q     Car bomb.  (Laughter.)

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Car bomb.  There you go.  All right?     

 

            Q     Translation.

 

            Q     Last week I asked the secretary if the Pentagon was considering any form of intervention in connection with the crisis in Western Sudan, and he said we haven't been asked to.    I recall 10 years ago, based on declassified documents, at the time of the Rwanda genocide, the Pentagon had internal documents basically expressing opposition to any kind of action in that.  And my question is this.  Is the Pentagon opposed to any form of operations, whether humanitarian or military, in connection with the Sudan crisis, or you just simply don't have the forces for it?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Well, I will -- I'd go with what the secretary said: we haven't been asked to.  There's been a lot of discussion at the interagency level to recognize the -- what's going on in Sudan, and it's obviously a serious humanitarian situation.  I know that there's been a lot of diplomatic activity to get countries that might be able to organize some effort to do that.  And that would be, obviously, the first best choice, do something like that:  get other countries that have capability to do that.  And it's been done before, and we're -- we believe that's probably the best thing that we as a government can do is encourage countries to be involved.

 

            Q     Are there any countries stepping forward?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I'm not -- you'd have to talk to the folks at the State Department.  They're managing that problem.  They're doing, my impression is, a very good job.

 

            Last question.

 

            Q     The airstrikes.  Were they directed against -- were these insurgents or linked to Zarqawi, was Zarqawi a target in any of those? And also, is he considered to be -- you know, how important is he to the latest series of attacks, the coordinated attacks and all that?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Well, we don't have the linkages about the coordinated attacks, whether he's behind them.  But obviously, many -- the characteristics of the attack were characteristic of his type of operations and what he's been involved in in the past.

 

            The ones that Brett talked about the first time, with the precision attacks going in there, were against the Zarqawi network and what we had good intelligence on that was supporting the Zarqawi network.  The ones today were in response to a contact, that were called in by people on the ground.  In the first -- the first set of that was in the eastern part of  Fallujah; we are not sure who was behind that, whether it was Zarqawi or not.  The other one is in the vicinity of Baqubah.  The one in Baqubah was a response to a(n) anti-   coalition militia attack on the -- initially a(n) Iraqi police patrol, which then became supported by Americans.  And then, when we sent to the QRF in, that's when the QRF came under attack from several of the buildings in an ambush, and that's where they responded with the aircraft bombs today.

 

            Q     What did they drop, sir?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  They dropped GBUs and the 12s and one JDAM.

 

            Q     Have you been able to target Zarqawi himself in any of the --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  The Zarqawi network is what we've targeted with the two times in the Fallujah precision attacks, and that's what we've done.  It was not -- you know, not him personally, no.

 

            Q     Well, is he believed to be operating out of the Fallujah area -- him personally?

 

            Q     As opposed --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Much -- part of his network is in there.  If we knew where he was, we would go after him.  But we don't have that kind of actionable intelligence on Zarqawi at this point in time.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Finish up here, then.

 

            Q     Without getting specific, have you gotten close to him? Recently, to your knowledge, have you -- I remember before you caught Saddam, there were several times when you said you'd just missed him. Have you been close to Zarqawi, or is he --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  We just don't know.  We just don't know that.

 

            Q     He just --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Right.  Okay.

 

            Q     How many bombs today?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  The total was 14 total today.

 

            Q     Fourteen drops?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Fourteen total.

 

            Q     Varying sizes?  Twelves --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  The GBU-12s and then the GBU-31s, which are --

 

            Q      Five hundred?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Five-hundred-pound bombers -- 500-pound bombs for 12 of them, and two were the 2,000-pound JDAMs, yes.

 

            Q     What kind of aircraft?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  They came off F-16s and Harrier jets.

 

            Q     These are laser-guided, right?  They're not dumb bombs --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  That's correct.  That's correct. They're all precision munitions.  And --

 

            Q     Any collateral damage?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Very, very small collateral damage, because, like you said, the buildings that they were attacking, everything, was where the foreign regime elements were, and they were confident there weren't any people in there, based on what was going on in the building.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Yes, that's correct.

 

            Q     And they were all dropped around --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  So they made a decision, based on the situation, that it was the right thing to do.

 

            Q     Are they Fallujah -- the ones dropped today Fallujah?  I thought you dropped --

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  Outside Fallujah and Baqubah.  The two locations were Baqubah and outside Fallujah.  Okay?

 

            Q     Do you have a split on how many in each place?

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  I sure do.  There was 10 in Fallujah and four in Baqubah.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Pretty good, huh?  Good.  (Laughter, cross talk.)

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  All right.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Makes my job easy.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            GEN. RODRIGUEZ:  One each.  One each JDAM, and one each location. Okay?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Listen, there will be, I think, very soon -- we'll take a quick break just to reconfigure here -- a background briefing on the International Committee of the Red Cross activities that we've had with respect to detainee management.  It'll be a senior Defense official that will be down here in just a second to give you a brief.

 

            We are today -- I should have said this, but you didn't ask any question about the detainees.  We are today -- in fact, as we speak -- presenting the first of the series of briefings on the -- on what we know about the ICRC reports that the secretary committed to providing to the Congress.  And we reached an agreement on how to do that in a way that the ICRC, the Congress and everybody that has custodial responsibilities for these reports are satisfied.  So that's happening today.   We've got a team up in the House -- it was a little earlier this afternoon -- in the Senate now, providing some briefings.  And we'll have somebody down here that can give you sort of a more general understanding of how -- what kind of activity and interactions we've had with the ICRC.

 

            Q     (Inaudible.)

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Today what's being briefed in the Congress is Gitmo.

 

            Q     What are you going to talk about here?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  She's got -- I think she can answer a lot of questions, but I think her intention is to provide more of a summary of the range of activities we've had with the ICRC.

 

            Q     Will she be able to tell us some version of what you're telling Congress today?

 

            MR. DI RITA:  I think she can answer a heck of a lot of questions. She's very knowledgeable.  So -- okay?

 

            Q     Okay, thanks.

 

            MR. DI RITA:  Whether she chooses to answer those questions is a different -- (laughter).

 

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