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DoD News Briefing

L. Paul Bremer, US Civil Administrator to Iraq

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

(Ambassador Paul Bremer Interview with Fox News on the Bombing at the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad)

In progress…

Q:† Mr. Ambassador is responsible for the security of the U.N. facilities there.† Iíve heard it suggested in the course of the coverage today that this was a responsibility of the Coalition.† Whose responsibility was it at building security?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† The Coalition have responsibility for the overall safety and security of the general environment in Iraq but we have made clear earlier that we could not secure every single diplomatic mission in the city because our troops have other obligations as well.† We did regularly patrol and I donít know whether there were American forces around the building at the time of the attack, we simply donít yet have an after action report, weíll get that I suppose in the next few days.

††††††††††† Q:† Well how is the security that have been there as far as you know have compared with the kind of security that that facility or other U.N. facilities had back in the Saddam days?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† Well since I wasnít here in the Saddam days I have no basis of comparison, I have no way to know.

††††††††††† Q:† Iíve also heard it suggested today Mr. Ambassador that U.S. forces or either the U.S. have discouraged the U.N. from bringing in security personnel adequate to the task or U.N. forces, is that true?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† No that certainly isnít the case.† We have encouraged everybody whose here to take prudent security measures and Iíve no knowledge about anything like that.

††††††††††† Q:† Tell me the best you can how in your estimation this is likely to affect the atmosphere there in Baghdad and in Iraq generally.† Is this going to in your view contribute to a sense that this whole enterprise we have over there, the occupation, the chaotic situation that exists in some parts of that country?† Is this likely to create a sense that this a place for the rest of the world to stay away from or would you believe that this might bring world opinion together on the idea that thereís a terrible scourge there in Iraq that must be taken on by the world.† Whatís your sense of that?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† Well I can tell you that the reaction of the Iraqis Iíve spoken to and I took three members of the governing council with me down to the site this evening.† The Iraqi people (END OF SIDE A) buckle down and say we have to redouble our efforts to succeed here and to see through this noble enterprise that the Coalition is undertaking of freeing the Iraqi people and putting them back on their feet.

††††††††††† Q:† Thereís going to be obviously further efforts to get the Americans to send in more forces, theyíll be said I think inevitably that if the U.N. building was not secured, no facility around that country is secure, that the vulnerability even is growing and worsening as betoken by this attack.† What is your response to that?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† I think itís to early to make any judgment on whether we have to do any redeployments or reconfigurations of the force here.† The Commander of the U.S. forces who was with me at the site has said, and I have agreed with him that he believes that he have enough forces here to deal with the security threat here.† If we ever come to a different conclusion on that we will obviously have to discuss that with the authorities in the United States.

††††††††††† Q:† Did he explain?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† I think itís important Ė

††††††††††† Q:† Go ahead.

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† No go ahead, sorry.

††††††††††† Q:† I was just wondering if he explained in the light of this attack what he met by there being sufficient forces.† I think a lot of people looking at this from the outside at least might think well, gee isnít this evidence that more is needed?

††††††††††† Amb. Bremer:† Well I tell you Bret I had time for a brief conversation with him at a very chaotic scene at a bombed out building and I think when he and I have a chance to sit down and talk at our regular meeting tomorrow morning Iíll have a better view on these matters.

But I think itís important to remind the American audience that what we saw today was another reminder that we face a world wide terrorist threat.† This bomb today didnít happen to be against Americans but it could have been and this is a terrorist war that we must win, we must lead it as we have been leading it since September 11th and we must win it preferably outside the United States so that we wonít have to fight the war inside the United States.

Q:† One last question.

Do you believe Mr. Ambassador that world opinion will now Ė world as apart from the opinion of the Iraqi people will move in the direction that more support for what weíre doing over there or for moving away from the enterprise over there?

Amb. Bremer:† But I would certainly hope that most people in the world would see this as a sign that weíre all in it together.† These people who are attacking innocent U.N. officials are clearly beyond the pale, theyíre barbarians they have a vision of the world which cannot be shared by any civilized country so I would certainly hope that other countries will see this as an important time now to show support for the Iraqi people and for the reconstruction of this wonderful country.

Q:† Mr. Ambassador thank you very much for doing this.

Amb. Bremer:† Thank you.

- End Ė