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DoD News Briefing
L. Paul Bremer, US Civil Administrator to Iraq
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

(Ambassador Paul Bremer Interview with Hearst Television)

Q: I wanted to go back to this unfortunate milestone of 139 today. Can you talk about any changes in strategy or movements of troops, anything like that that would help to prevent the deaths of more Americans and prevent these casualties? Are you looking at anything, any changes?

Amb. Bremer: We have basically got three things we’re trying to do on the security front. First is to get better intelligence against the killers who are coming after our young men and women. They are a group of people who are basically trained killer from the Saddam regime, the attacks are to a large degree in a small area of Iraq, most of Iraq is peaceful, it’s not a country in chaos but in the small area north of Baghdad between Baghdad and Saddam’s home town Tikrit that’s where about 80% of the attacks take place. So we need better intelligence against those guys and we’re starting to get it.

Secondly, we are reconfiguring our forces to make them lighter and more mobile, we don’t need a lot of tanks and heavy armed personnel carriers, what we need is people who can move around quickly and we are in the process of doing that, substituting lighter and wheeled forces for the heavy tracked forces that are there.

And thirdly we are trying to get more of an Iraqi face into security – into the security area. We’ve got almost 60,000 Iraqis now in one way or the other in the process of defending their own country. All three of these things we think will over time give us a better grip on the security threat.

Q: Can you comment on some of the news reports that you’re actually now recruiting former Iraqi intelligence officers and personnel to help in the intelligence effort?

Amb. Bremer: Yeah, I’ve seen those reports. I don’t want to get into many things about intelligence. I would only say that obviously intelligence is an important part of this as I stressed before it’s the first of these three things that have to happen. What we’re finding is that in fact Iraqis are coming in more and more now and volunteering with (inaudible) workforce, they just come in and tell police or sometimes our tactical commanders that there’s some bad guys over in that house and you ought to go take a look at them. We noticed a big up tick in this after we killed Saddam’s two sons about a month ago. More and more Iraqi’s I think concluded that the days of the Ba’athist were over and so they’re no longer afraid as they use to be to come and give us information.

Q: With the bombing of the U.N. offices, it looks like situation and continuing casualty that looks like the situation is getting worst but you are trying to make the case that it’s getting better. Explain to me how it’s getting better if it’s not getting worst how is it getting better?

Amb. Bremer: Well I think you have to look at where we came from here. Let me just tell you sort of a – from my personal point of view. I arrived in Baghdad 4 months ago, at that time Baghdad was a city that was on fire – literally on fire. Baghdad was a city where the only traffic in the streets was American military traffic, tanks, EPCs, humvees, Baghdad was a city where there were no shops open and Baghdad was a city were at night I had to sleep with ear plugs in my ears because of the sound of the gunfire going on. Baghdad’s not like that now, Baghdad is an open city, the retail traffic is active, there are stores open on every street, in fact there’s traffic jams now there’s so many cars in the street so, even Baghdad where the security concerns are probably the greatest is totally different from what it was 4 months ago, it’s important to have a little perspective here. The situation is much better than it was 4 months ago, we certainly have problems particularly in the area of terrorist, I don’t hide that but it is also the case the situation is better than it was 4 months ago.

Q: On the terrorist, what is your intelligence showing you about it, that we’re hearing more about that? How serious is the terrorism problem?

Amb. Bremer: Well I think the terrorist problem is serious, we certainly have seen in two attacks now the attack on the Jordanian Mission and the attack on the U.N. Mission that terrorist are willing to kill people, innocent people completely without any qualms, including people – they killed 12 Iraqis in front of the Jordanian Embassy – Iraqis I mean what did they have to do with it. And then they killed 23 people at the U.N. who were just, people here trying to help the country. So we have a problem, there are a lot potentially soft targets in a place like Iraq just as there are soft targets here in the United States and the only way to beat that is to find the terrorist and kill them or capture them before they can kill us.

Q: The Administration yesterday, Secretary Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice both giving speeches that seemed to be trying to start a campaign to change expectation for the American people, can you talk about that? I mean does it frustrate you that you know you’re coming to an interview like this and we hit you with all of these questions about how bad things look? What about expectations for the American people, do they have to have serious change in expectations here?

Amb. Bremer: Well I don’t know, it’s a little hard for me to judge exactly what the expectations are but let me tell you what I see is the challenge. We undertook a very noble cause by freeing 25 million people from one of the most brutal dictatorships in the 20th Century. We have therefore acquired a certain responsibility for what happens next and it’s a noble responsibility, there’s nothing ignoble about it. What we’re trying to do in Iraq, which is to install democracy, get people their economic freedom, give them a certain idea of happiness in their life is a noble cause. And Americans need to be patient and I’m not worried about that. Americans are not quitters, we have been patient in our history when we’ve undertaken noble causes, whether it was the freeing ourselves from the British in the 18th Century, freeing the slaves in the 19th Century or freeing the Europeans twice in the 20th Century and when Americans undertake a noble cause they see it through.

Q: Let me ask you about the funding question though, if you could address the journal specifically. It does say that the Administration may ask for another $3 billion dollars to tie you over. Can you confirm that and comment on that?

Amb. Bremer: We are really in the process now of trying to refine the needs of Iraq and it’s clear because of the substantial under investment in Iraq over the last 40 years. That tens of billions of dollars is what we need to rebuild the power system, the water system, the sewage system, health care system.

Q: Short term though - short term, but after $3 billion?

Amb. Bremer: No I think that the main problem starting next year, the amount of money that will be needed next year is in the tens of billions of dollars I don’t know where the $3 billion dollar figure comes from. We’re in the process of trying to refine how much the need is and where it’s going to come from and there will be a big donors conference in October, other countries will be asked to contribute certainly United States will be asked to contribute but the amount is still an open question.

Q: Okay, thanks.

- End –


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