MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. Sorry for the delayed start of this press briefing. I can assure you that it will be the last time that it happens.
On June 30th, Iraq's interim government will assume executive authority for a fully sovereign Iraq. However, as of a couple of days ago, all of Iraq's ministries were reporting to Iraqi ministers. The handover on June 30th is actually a gradual process that was well under way several months ago and certainly picked up great steam over the last several weeks. So by the time the handover actually occurs, all of Iraqis -- all of Iraq's national governing functions, bodies and operations will already be in control of Iraqi public officials.
Two other issues.
One is just a clarification. There have been some reports that the coalition had advanced official notification on the Korean hostage, official notification in advance of the news reports that appeared on Al-Jazeera, and I just want to clarify that that is incorrect. There was no advance official notification that the coalition is aware of.
Finally, just as a point of reminder, the coalition many months ago announced a $10 million reward, actual increase in the reward, for Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. We have very credible intelligence and believe that Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis. He is responsible for the deaths of Americans, in some cases before Operation Iraqi Freedom. We believe he has been operating inside Iraq for some time. And based on a document we've obtained and other intelligence that corroborates it, we believe that Mr. Zarqawi is carrying out a plan that is designed both to wreak havoc inside Iraq in an effort to throw off the path -- the transition to Iraqi sovereignty, to a self-governing Iraqi democracy -- which in his battle plan, which was headed for senior al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, he regarded the handover of sovereignty to the self-governing Iraqi democracy as one of the biggest threats to his efforts; in fact, would require him to literally pick up and move somewhere else if the June 30th handover were successful -- and it's also a plan to pit one community in Iraq against another by provoking one to engaged in, quote unquote, "reprisals" against another.
There's a $10 million reward out for any information that would lead to our putting Mr. Zarqawi out of business. And in the days ahead, you will hear from a number of officials who are repeatedly disseminating that information about the $10 million reward. If anybody inside this country has information related to Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, they should get it to coalition or Iraqi government officials as soon as possible.
And I would just remind everyone that in the case of Uday and Qusay Hussein, the information that led to the capturing or the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein was the quickest turnaround reward program in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice rewards program. Something like in the -- in a week's time the funds were turned around and the individuals who provided the information were provided safe harbor.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, I'd like to echo Mr. Senor's comments about capturing Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. He remains the number one target inside this country. He is a very effective terrorist as we've seen by the number of attacks he has carried out. And it is not just for the money, but it is also for what this country stands for and what this country will move forward towards. We need every citizen in this nation to understand that they have a role in the hunt for Zarqawi. Any piece of information, any intelligence that any citizen of this country has regarding the Zarqawi network or Zarqawi himself we would ask them to bring it forward to the Iraqi security forces or to the Iraqi government.
We are committed to supporting the Iraqi security forces in the hunt for Zarqawi. We continue to strike known safe houses in the Fallujah area. We know he operates throughout the country. Whatever information one has, bring it forward. The sooner we can bring this man to justice, the sooner we can kill or capture Zarqawi, the sooner we can remove this scourge from the country of Iraq.
Iraqi and coalition security forces continued joint operations to establish a stable Iraq in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and pass sovereignty to the people of Iraq. To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,792 patrols, 14 offensive operations, 50 Air Force and Navy sorties, and released 33 detainees. The next release at Abu Ghraib is scheduled for 28 and 29 June, where an estimated 250 detainees will be released.
Efforts to equip and outfit Iraqi security forces continue. This week the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraqi armed forces took possession of 82 military trucks, 24 passenger buses, 170 commercial transports, 500 AK-47s, 54,000 rounds of ammunition, and 57,000 sets of body armor. Forty officers graduated from the emergency response unit training course as part of ongoing efforts to create a 250-man Iraqi police service rapid response unit trained for national law enforcement emergencies.
In the northern area of operations, the focus is -- remains to provide assistance with the local government agencies in Mosul to repair the damages in the areas of the city that were attacked on 24 June.
This morning at 9:15, a remotely detonated car bomb exploded in Erbil. The suspected target was the minister of Culture and Media. Two men had pulled up behind the minister of Culture's vehicle while it was waiting at a traffic light. The two men exited the vehicle, walked several yards away, and then remotely detonated the vehicle which contained an estimated 100 sticks of dynamite. The explosion resulted in one killed and 17 persons wounded. The minister and the other personnel wounded have been taken to Jamulia (sp) regional hospital for X-rays and medical attention. Of note, Iraqi police on the scene caught one of the two men involved in the incident.
In the north central zone of operations, there were a number of incidents today in Baqubah. Coalition forces were engaged by five to six enemy personnel in East Baqubah early this morning with small arms and RPG fire. At 9:15 four anti-Iraqi forces attacked a blue-domed government building and were killed by members of the Islamic Party who worked there. One of the four insurgents killed had TNT strapped to his body.
At 10:11 an unknown number of anti-Iraqi forces fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire at a police station in downtown Baqubah near the Golden Lady statue. Security forces in the area responded, established blocking positions in the vicinity of the twin bridges.
At 10:30 there was another attack in the vicinity of the palm groves and a group of 15 to 20 personnel were spotted at that police station in Baqubah. The Iraqi police engaged and killed two of those personnel.
At 12:40 coalition forces noted a suspicious car containing three RPG warheads. Coalition forces conducted a controlled detonation of the car and ascertained that it had been rigged as a car bomb.
By early this afternoon, the town was back in Iraqi control and the rest of the day has been calm. In summary, a total of six insurgents were killed in all engagements with no injuries to Iraqi security forces or coalition forces.
In Baghdad this morning, a coalition patrol was attacked with an RPG near the Talill Square resulting in one coalition soldier killed and setting the vehicle on fire. A quick reaction force dispatched reported killing two insurgents.
In the western zone of operations, a coalition convoy reported being engaged by small arms fire and mortar fire at the cloverleaf checkpoint just east of Fallujah, the scene of the attacks on the 24th as well. Coalition close air support engaged the enemy and reported two enemy killed in action. No friendly casualties or damage to equipment were reported.
Yesterday coalition forces conducted another strike on a known Zarqawi safe house in southeastern Fallujah based on multiple confirmations of Iraqi and coalition intelligence. This operation employed precision weapons to target and destroy the safe house, and underscores the coalition's continuing resolve, in partnership with the Iraqi security forces, to defeat terrorist networks within Iraq. Wherever and whenever we find elements of the Zarqawi network, we will destroy them.
In the central-south zone of operations, the Polish CMIC group attended an opening ceremony of the al-Barak (sp) primary school at al-Qasim (sp). Coalition forces, local representatives, and the media were present at the event, and the total cost of the renovation project was assessed at 42,000 American (dollars).
In the southeastern zone of operations yesterday evening, an IED detonated against a coalition patrol in the vicinity of the old Ba'ath headquarters in Basra city. The attack resulted in two coalition wounded who were transported by vehicle to a nearby hospital for treatment.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.
Q Thanks, Dan. (Name inaudible) -- from Newsweek. You mentioned there are some documents that support, you know, your claim that Zarqawi is in the country or is active here. Can you give us a little more information what those documents may be?
MR. SENOR: Well, the document we've referred to on multiple occasions is a document that was headed for Zarqawi -- sorry -- was headed for al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan that was in the possession of a messenger, an official, someone affiliated with the Zarqawi network who the coalition detained. General Kimmitt to speak to that.
And the document outlined quite clearly a battle plan for Iraq that, if you look at recent attacks, is consistent with the battle plan he laid out months ago, particularly the focus both on trying to provoke sectarian warfare in this country, and also the focus on the June 30th handover and the urgency that it required, according to Zarqawi. It took credit for a number of attacks that have occurred in this country before that event, and we had additional information that confirmed for us that this document was in fact authored by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi.
Q Toby Harnden, Daily Telegraph. How close were you to killing Zarqawi yesterday?
GEN. KIMMITT: I don't know. We know that during the operation there were a number of vehicles at that location. Once the building went down, a number of vehicles drove away. It's the coalition assessment that it could have been Zarqawi and some of his key leaders; might not have been. Only time will tell.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Al-Hurriyah. General Kimmitt, you have just mentioned so many times and in so many of the conferences that the violence has just increased and escalated, and the Iraqi people started suspecting that these attacks are going to be escalated during this period of time. How long this -- al-Zarqawi is going to conduct or carry out all these terrorist attacks? And how long are you going to stay running after that person and not being able to capture him? And the casualties are increasing day by day and you are not capable enough to get him.
GEN. KIMMITT: I would remind you that we've been hunting for such war criminals, like Radovan Karadzic, for many, many years. It's been six years now that we've been hunting him -- more than six years. We've never been able to capture him. We still have many war criminals that we've seen over the last 50 years and it's taken a number of years to get them.
It may be that we, with Zarqawi, have the opportunity to pick him up if the intelligence continues, the way we did with Saddam Hussein, so that one day it all comes to us, we have the big "ah-ha" -- all the intelligence comes together, we find him, and then we kill him or we capture him.
How long will these attacks go on? We've been very blunt over the past few months, and we've said as we get closer and closer to transfer of sovereignty, we would expect that the amount of violence will go up. Sadly, we were prescient, we have been prescient, and we would expect that there may be some more even more significant attacks in the next few days. Sadly, we don't believe that that's going to stop on June 30th, because after June 30th, if the terrorists are not able to derail the process, they may well attempt to derail the new government as it's trying to take over and establish control of the country.
This goes back to my point earlier about the best way we can fight these terrorists, these insurgents, these enemies of the people of Iraq is to give us intelligence, provide intelligence. Every person in this country has a responsibility to provide information to their leadership and to their security forces in their area so that we can turn that intelligence into operations to kill or capture this scourge on your country.
So it is not just an issue that what are WE going to do; it's got to be what are all of us going to do. And I can tell you that the Iraqi security forces and the coalition forces are resolved to continue the hunt for Zarqawi and other terrorists that are responsible for the violence that we are seeing in Iraq. Just as when we caught Saddam we saw the violence go down but not go away, it is also our assessment that even if we were to catch or kill Zarqawi tomorrow, there would still be residual violence and perhaps a significant amount of violence resulting and emanating from other groups in this country who do not want to see the people of this country enjoy freedom, democracy, civil rights, individual liberties.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q General, Keith Garbin (sp) with ABC News. Yesterday during Friday prayer there were several clerics, including Muqtada al-Sadr -- anti-coalition voices, if you will -- denouncing Zarqawi activities. Also reportedly in Fallujah there are residents doing the same thing, denouncing Zarqawi -- Zarqawi's activities. Are you aware of these denouncements? If so, what do you make of them? And do you find them encouraging?
GEN. KIMMITT: We are aware of them. We monitor these announcements closely. We've seen in a number of mosques over the past few days similar announcements, not just from the al-Sadr group, not just from the clerics inside Fallujah, but from around the country.
It is clear that the voice of Iraq is being heard. It is clear that the 25 million people of this great nation are shouting out "no" to terrorism. It is clear that the voice of the people of Iraq have said we want liberty, we have freedom, now we want sovereignty. They're rejecting the message, they're rejecting the notion that the terrorists should be in charge of their destiny, and they're rejecting the notion that the decisions in this country should be made by bullets rather than the ballot box.
We're encouraged by those statements. We would like to have every mosque, every house of worship, every government organization, everyone in this country echo those same words so this country can get on to enjoy the bright future that it so justly deserves.
MR. SENOR: Yes, in the back? Go ahead.
Q Hi. Borzu (ph) from CBC. Dan, there have been a lot of obits for the CPA or there will be a lot of obits in the coming days. What would you say about the CPA's experience in Iraq? What has it achieved, and what mistakes has it made? What could it have done differently, better? Thank you.
MR. SENOR: Well, I will leave a lot of those questions to be answered by the historians. I'm sure there will be a lot of good Ph.D.s written about what went right and what went wrong during the past 15 months. We have stayed pretty focused on looking ahead, managing the challenges and addressing the crises that come to us on a day-to-day basis, and there will be plenty of time later on for reflection.
But the short end, if you look at where we were a year ago when we arrived, there wasn't a single Iraqi police officer on the streets. Unemployment was somewhere between 60 and 70 percent. Iraqis were coming out of three decades of a totalitarian hell in terms of human rights, lived under a regime that was in power three times as long as Hitler was in Germany, coming out of an economy that was proto-Stalinist.
And if you look at where we are now, unemployment is about a third of where it was when we arrived. There's an unbelievably liberalized economy here, free trade, no -- outside of natural resources, no limits on foreign investment, tax rates capped, personal income tax and corporate income tax rates capped at 15 percent provides in the long run a very foreign investment friendly environment for Iraq, which is good, while we are in the midst of deploying some $18 billion just from the United States alone, not to include other commitments of the international community. Independent central bank.
Currency exchange. Currency exchange accomplished in about three months. If you think about what it took to exchange the euro, several years, what it took to launch new currencies and other reconstruction efforts after World II, Germany took a number of years to do, here it was accomplished in a few months. And everyone predicted chaos and convoy security threats. None of it really occurred.
In fact, the currency was not only deployed -- or the currency exchange program was not only deployed in an enormous logistical effort -- 27 747 jumbo planes, something like hundreds of convoys drive around this country, almost a thousand Iraqis trained to do the currency exchange. So not only was the logistical challenge enormous in this environment, but the actual currency has remained stable, again, when many people predicted it would be an enormously volatile metric to monitor.
That's just on the economy. If you look at essential services, when we arrived here, Iraq was generating about 300 megawatts of electricity. As of October 2003, we were generating over 4,000 megawatts of electricity, meeting prewar levels on schedule. Our new goal is 6,000 megawatts, which is to meet the country's demand, much more than was ever generated under Saddam. Our goal is to do that by this summer, but it's going to be difficult because of the attacks against this infrastructure, infrastructure that was already chronically underinvested in by Saddam for over three decades, makes it very vulnerable and brittle and henceforth very susceptible to attacks; and then once the attacks occur, because there was no redundancy built into the system, makes it that much harder for the infrastructure to be recuperated.
Nonetheless, all hospitals open, 1,500 schools refurbished, and prewar levels of electricity being generated.
Not to sound -- not to communicate that there aren't challenges, but even in the area of essential services, there's been tremendous progress over the past year.
But I think the most promising area is that in terms of Iraq's political future, its democratic future. When we arrived here, if a news reporter tried speak their mind -- or before we arrived here, tried to speak their mind or express themselves through a new organization, they'd get their tongue cut out, literally, if they were lucky. Today there are over 100 newspapers. When we actually arrived, there were about 200 newspapers. A lot of them have consolidated. There are approximately a hundred newspapers, many Iraqi newspapers, many of which are represented at these press conferences every single day. Some of them support the things we do. Some of them are highly critical of the things we do. But I think all of them are taking -- are fully exercising their newfound freedom of speech.
We have a couple of hundred political parties that have formed over the past year. You have an interim constitution that guarantees basic rights, individual liberties, stuff that -- items that we in the West take for granted but in this part of the world are literally unheard of -- right to free speech, freedom of assembly, due process rights, minority rights protections, civilian control of the military, independence of the judiciary, keeping the judiciary out of the control of the politicians, equal rights for women, a definition of the -- of a separation between mosque and state in a modern Iraqi society -- principles that are, as I said, unheard of in this part of the world.
And it was one thing for the Governing Council to negotiate this document by consensus, which required a compromise, which again we in democratic societies are accustomed to. But in this part of the world the notion of compromise is not one that's typically very well received.
I remember the night the negotiations were going on. One of the Iraqi leaders -- these were Iraqis from all parts of the country, representing all ethnic and regional divides -- said, "We're learning a new word in Iraq. It's called compromise." And a critical tool if you are to reach -- achieve anything in a democracy.
And not only did the Governing Council work day in, day out, night in, night out on this document, but the interim Iraqi government has now formally endorsed this interim constitution and has said it will be the guidepost for Iraq's pathway to elections, to be held just seven months from now -- direct elections in this country.
So I think if you look at the economy, if you look at essential services -- and I'm giving you just a very cursory summary here -- but if you look at the economy, you look at essential services, you look at Iraq's political transition, you see enormous progress.
And you also -- I don't have to speak to this -- to all of you about the sense of human rights, the liberation in human rights, the basic human rights, the basic fear of -- the basic right to not have to fear being woken up in the middle of the night, being dragged off to a mass grave or a torture chamber or a rape room; the fact that Iraqis no longer have to live with that, despite the frustrations of the past year. And we're not dismissing the frustrations. But the basic notion that fear of a brutal totalitarian regime in which virtually every Iraqi we interact with has a brother or a father or a wife or a son who was directly affected by the horrors of that regime -- for that to be behind Iraq is an enormous accomplishment.
That said, there is much work to do. Certainly the security situation is one that continues to pose challenges for the reconstruction. But if you -- we believe if you look at the ledger here, on balance the progress is enormous for the environment under which we are operating, certainly enormous given the strategy we laid out for what we hoped to achieve by this time, and certainly very positive when you consider that despite the security challenges of the past year, that the Iraqi people have basically stayed behind and in support of their own democratic future. If you look at the polls, overwhelming majorities of Iraqis want direct elections. They want a democratic path for their future. They want security, no doubt. They want these direct elections in January and they are optimistic about their future.
And I think, on balance, certainly against the backdrop of the challenges, on balance we should be proud of the work we have done here, but we should not be 100 percent satisfied until the situation on the ground is fully stabilized. And given that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism right now and terrorists like Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi have staked their ground here, it's a tough -- it's a tough, tough fight that, fortunately, the Iraqis, the Iraqi leadership and the coalition will remain committed to.
Yes? In the back. Go ahead.
Q If it's so wonderful, as you say, why isn't there a big celebration party out here, then, to thank the CPA and everybody who's come here in the last year for what they've done?
MR. SENOR: Well, I think that it's understandable that Iraqis don't like to be occupied. I don't think you would like to be occupied. We would not like to be occupied. It certainly isn't a nice thing to be occupied. It's not a nice thing to be occupiers.
And what we've seen consistently in the polls, to your specific question, is the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful for the liberation. They are glad to be free of Saddam. They don't like to be occupied, though. Eighty, 90 percent are against the occupation. Then, when a third question was asked, should coalition forces unilaterally and universally withdraw, the answer in overwhelming majorities is no. So on the one hand it is glad to be free, and then it's don't like to be occupied, and then it's but please don't go. It's paradoxical, I guess, in a sense, but it's understandable. There are frustrations associated with occupation, and it is understandable that we would be the target of that frustration.
We do not measure our success by how much we are loved with Ambassador Bremer departs on June 30th. We measure our success by whether or not Iraq is on a path towards a sovereign, democratic future with a government whose policies -- dedicated to being at peace with its own citizens, at peace with its neighbors, at peace with the international community, and certainly at peace with the United States, and that is the path we are on. If you combine that with Iraqis being supportive of those institutions -- Iraqis wanting direct elections; Iraqis supporting the interim government that was recently appointed, in large numbers Iraqis rallying behind their government; Iraqis wanting the minority rights protections that are outlined in the TAL -- when Iraqis are supporting the institutions, the building blocks, the foundations, the principles that are necessary to protect a democracy, to build and protect a democracy here, that is how we measure our success. Success is not measured by our popularity ratings when we depart on June 30th. Success is measured by Iraqis' support for democracy in this country and for a peaceful existence with the world, and that the path that we're on.
Q Hi, Christian Frazer (sp), BBC.
General, Prime Minister Allawi has signaled that he would consider martial law on the streets when the handover takes place. Given the limitations of the Iraqi security services, that presumably would mean that the American military would have to take that on board and would have to, you know, patrol the streets. Are you concerned that that would further antagonize the people, particularly in this city?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, he has discussed the notion of establishing a state of emergency inside the country. I don't think it's typically considered martial law, but an emergency state.
We are on the streets now. We are on the streets right now with Iraqi security forces, enforcing the laws and supporting the Iraqi government. So we see that if his government takes that effort to establish a state of national emergency, then we will facilitate within our means and capabilities and support not only -- it is a cojoined mission now. It's a -- we would see that part of how we could provide assistance to this country.
Q What would that mean on the streets, then?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm sorry?
Q What would that actually mean on the streets? What difference would it mean?
GEN. KIMMITT: It could mean -- they're discussing what it could mean right now, and I think that they're looking at some of the plans right now. But that could mean more checkpoints, might mean more security on the streets, more presence on the streets.
But what Prime Minister Allawi has signaled, as has the minister of Defense and the minister of Interior -- that they are taking the terrorist threat seriously; that one of their first acts that they will take, and one of their first priorities that they will take when they take over control of this country is security. It's the security, stupid, as has been said before. They want to get tough. They want to do it right. They want to do it properly. They've said they want to do it completely in line with international conventions on human rights. They want to operate alongside the coalition forces who are here with the Iraqi forces in a partnership. So we don't see -- we see that the coalition forces, the multinational forces could help in that process.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Carol Williams with the Los Angeles Times. Is there going to be a free-standing American embassy operating by Wednesday separate from the current coalition headquarters, or will the CPA offices sort of "metamorphize" into an embassy, at least on a temporary basis?
MR. SENOR: There will be an independent United States embassy on June 30th with a U.S. ambassador here that will arrive -- we aren't publicizing the date, but he will be on the ground very shortly, and he will submit his credentials to the interim Iraqi government.
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: You got to use your mike there.
Q It will be a separate facility --
MR. SENOR: Oh, well, no. That's a separate question. The infrastructure -- there's overlap of infrastructure obviously, because we cannot take over or build infrastructure in this country. We couldn't do it for the CPA and we couldn't do it for the U.S. embassy without displacing literally hundreds, possibly thousands of Iraqis or business -- Iraqi homes or businesses. So we will be maintaining much of the space that is in the current Green Zone that the U.S. Embassy and USAID operations will continue to use. There will be a new ambassador -- new embassy building that will be completely separate, and some of the old facilities will be used. So some new, some used.
The priorities, of course, are how do we operate without displacing a lot of Iraqis? We are fortunate that we have not had to displace any because of the facilities we've used and because of the new facility we will be using. And how do we maintain security for the well over 1,000 American and other coalition-country civilians that have made a commitment and take enormous risk to be here?
Q This question for General Kimmitt. Can you just clarify, we had a couple of press releases today about the attacks on -- the fighting on Thursday, and the figures that the coalition were giving were like 70 or so dead in Mosul and 62 or so in Baqubah, which is a lot different to what the Health Ministry was saying. So do you have like a definitive figure? And like where did he come up with it, because it seems there's no real bodies?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, we defer to the Ministry of Health for the number of killed and wounded. I think the numbers you are seeing, Deborah (sp), the 62 dead and 220 wounded in Mosul, were as a result of the VBIEDs that went off, the car bombs that went off in Mosul. There were some other numbers that were given for operations conducted in some of the other cities, such as Baqubah. But we rely on the Ministry of Health to provide us with most of the casualty figures. They get those figures from checking with the hospitals, and we stand behind those figures.
Many of the estimates, at times, vary because of natural friction on the battlefield, the sort of fog on the battlefield. Oftentimes, if we were to have a combat engagement, we may not know that a wounded insurgent was taken to a hospital. So it's an inexact science, but I think we've got it just about generally in the same ballpark for the actions that happened on Thursday, which is roughly on the order of 100 deceased and about 330 -- I think was the final number of civilians wounded in the different -- civilians or enemy casualties in the different engagements.
MR. SENOR: Mark.
Q Thank you. Mark Stone, ABC News. Dan, you painted quite a rosy picture of the -- well, reasonably rosy picture of the -- (brief audio break) -- reasonably I thought. If I could play devil's advocate for just a second. Ministries have been handed over without adequately trained staff, without adequate facilities, without equipment. Health care facilities lack serious -- lack a lot of equipment and there's a lack of supply of medicine. As I understand it, as of June the 1st, only $333 million of the $18 billion have been -- actually been spent on reconstruction. That's a CPA figure that I got. Much of the --
MR. SENOR: Where did you get the figure from?
Q Oh, we could talk about -- discuss that after. From the CPA I got that figure from. And there's much talk --
MR. SENOR: Okay, but is that an official -- no, I'm just trying to -- because it's incorrect. Is that a -- did you get that from official sources?
Q I got it from somewhere back in Washington.
MR. SENOR: Oh, okay. So it's not CPA. Okay.
Q But we can discuss that.
But having said that, there's much talk of funds being committed, but very little talk of projects actually having been completed. I think only 6,000-odd policemen have actually received full training. Some have received other training, but full training, 6,000 policemen. Only 255 border guards have actually had training. The security situation is dire. Obviously, I'm playing devil's advocate here, but --
MR. SENOR: You are?
Q I am indeed. But could I just -- sir, these things I think are true. Could I have your response on that? Is it --
MR. SENOR: Yeah.
Q Yeah, how much of a success has this been?
MR. SENOR: Well, let me try to -- let me try to answer all your questions, and if I leave some out, follow up as I'm sure you will. If you can talk to me about specific ministries, that would be helpful in terms of which ones are ready, which ones aren't.
There have been approximately 18,000 reconstruction projects completed in this country over the past 10 months, thousands of which have been funded by the supplemental, by the $18 billion. Our goal by the end of June was to have $10 billion obligated, committed, and a large portion of it spent. My understanding is it was 3.3 billion (dollars) that falls into that in terms of the amount spent, about 10 times the number you're talking about. Seven-point-seven (billion dollars) is obligated and committed, and I -- that was my count from a few days ago. I think by June 30th we will be at $10 billion. So we are on track in that regard.
As for the ministries, look -- (chuckles) -- these ministries were under the control of a totalitarian regime for 35 years. Now, in piecing together the budget -- let me just give you one example: the national budget of Iraq. Only 8 percent of the national budget of Iraq was accounted for or fell under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Ministry of Finance under Saddam Hussein. That means 92 percent of national Iraqi funds were deployed outside the books of the Ministry of Finance. We can't find an Iraqi government official who knows where this money was spent and how it was spent. So yes, there was chronic underinvestment in government infrastructure, there was zero maintenance in government infrastructure, and there was gross mismanagement and fraud in the government system. And we are working to and have been working to piece that back together in a very short period of time so the Iraqi government could stand on its own two feet.
The Iraqi ministers come to us and say, "We're ready." We don't just make a sweeping decision and say these ministries are ready to be handed over to the Iraqi ministers. It is based on whether or not the Iraqi ministers come to us and say we're ready to take over, they have a strategy going forward, they have a budget to submit for the 2005 budget, they have a clear direction and evidence of a functioning ministry before we turn it over. And fortunately -- there were some that were up and running sooner than others, but fortunately before June 30th all of them fall into that category.
Now, Mark, I'm not suggesting that each ministry is in perfect condition right now -- (chuckles) -- any less or any more than I'd suggest that every Cabinet department in the United States is in a perfect situation. There are problems. The problems here emanate from the fact that, for over three decades, there was fraud and mismanagement and abuse across the government.
Is it sufficient for the ministries to stand on their own? Absolutely. And in some cases, we will continue to provide technical support where the ministers say it's necessary after June 30th. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely, and we have the -- we and the U.N. and the Iraqis have appointed one of the most talented Cabinets, we believe, on the planet, a very distinguished and educated and professional group of men and women, to lead these ministries, and they will have their work cut out for them there is no doubt. But I think it's clear and we've made clear that we will continue to play a role not only on the security front, but we will continue to play a role to provide assistance in any way that is needed in these cases, much like the United States provides assistance to countries in need all over the world.
Does that answer most of your questions?
Q We could talk all night, but I'm not going to let everyone else sit in on that.
MR. SENOR: Mark --
Q Could General Kimmitt just comment on -- I mean, has there really been any progress in the counterinsurgency effort?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, again, let's go back to your original question, which is what the metric? Should the metric for success in this country be are all the problems solved, or should the metric be are the Iraqis ready to solve their problems? At this point, what the Iraqis are saying is, "We are ready for sovereignty. We are not expecting to take over a country where all the problems are solved." What they are saying is, "We're ready to solve the problems." And they are now. Politically, they're ready to take charge of their own destiny, and they are willing at this point to take responsibility for continuing to solve these problems.
And it's the same thing with the security side. We are not going to wait and stay in this country until the security situation is absolutely solved. We are staying in this country until the Iraqi security forces are capable of solving the problems, dealing with the problems themselves.
If we say we will stay here until every problem is solved, we will be here for eternity. That's irresponsible. That's not our mission. We are not asked to do it. And frankly, the people of Iraq don't want us to do it.
We have built the capacity for them to accept the responsibility to solve their political problems, which they will do from 30 June on.
We will continue to work with the Iraqi security forces until they one day come to us and say, "We are capable now of solving our internal and external security problems. Thank you very much. You are no longer needed." But to expect perfection as a metric for departure is a unreasonable expectation, one that will never be fulfilled. And that is certainly not our contract with the people of Iraq.
MR. SENOR: And I would just add, Mark, the date at which we are handing over -- formally handing over sovereignty, June 30th, was not -- and the need to expedite the process, the timeline, from our original timeline and original process -- that decision did not emanate from anything but hearing from Iraqis that they wanted sovereignty sooner. If you look back at early November -- I think you were here back then -- the November 15th agreement was a result of effectively two weeks of discussions with Iraqis, with the Iraqi Governing Council, where they told they had reached an impasse; that they wanted sovereignty soon, yet there was a strong -- there was strong support in this country for direct elections to a constitutional convention.
Under our original plan, the constitutional convention and the drafting and ratification of the permanent constitution would take place before sovereignty. Given the length of time it would take for direct elections in this country, if the constitution were to take place before sovereignty hand-over, it means that sovereignty would take that much longer. We were hearing from Iraqis they wanted sovereignty sooner. And that is why we changed our plan. That is understandable. Iraqis want to be governed by Iraqis.
This is far different from -- situation after World War II, we often say, where Iraqis -- the Iraqi people don't believe they were defeated in war. The Iraqi people believe their regime was defeated in war. They believe they hated their regime as much as we did. So according to their understanding, if the people were not behind the regime, the regime is defeated, then why, following their liberation, do they have to be occupied? It makes perfect sense. Hence the desire that comes through overwhelmingly in polls for early sovereignty.
Does it mean we're handing over a situation that is in complete perfection? Absolutely. There will be problems after June 30th, absolutely. But the overriding principles of early sovereignty and a path to democracy are real. They're understandable. Iraqis want those principles implemented, and we are respecting that and supporting it.
Yes? In the back. You've been quite patient.
Q Yes. I have two questions, actually. First, to Dan, you were talking about Zarqawi, and you say that you have some information that he was working in the country, in Iraq, before the start of -- for Iraq freedom operation. Did you mean that he was in cooperation with Saddam regime before its fall?
MR. SENOR: I didn't -- I'm not going to start engaging in that debate right now. That debate's going on in Washington, and we'll let it be within the province within the province of Washington.
I'm just saying there are -- there is long-standing evidence of Zarqawi's activities and existence inside Iraq. There are -- there's evidence of interactions between Zarqawi and the Iraqi government. So that's what I was speaking to.
Q General Kimmitt, do you have any plans to redeploy the American --
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