COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
DANIEL SENOR, CPA SENIOR ADVISOR;
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 8:10 A.M.
DATE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon.
General Kimmitt has an opening statement, and then we will be happy to take your
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah.
Last night there were a number of questions at the press conference regarding
the capture of Abu Mohammed Hamza. We thought we'd provide some questions and
some answers with regards to some of the items that have been picked up.
These are pictures taken directly at the location. This was a set of photographs
of Zarqawi that were picked up at the location. As you can see, this is a
suicide vest that was found inside the house at which Hamza was killed, contains
a plastic explosive, ball bearings, blasting caps, a trigger device and a hand
grenade. This satchel is made to loop over the neck and be detonated by hand.
Inside of the house, you can see an extensive amount of explosives. There was a
pre-made improvised explosive device, a container full of plastic explosives
over here. These were a number of suitcases that were found with wires,
batteries, items that would be necessary for triggering explosive devices.
Outside the house were found some barrels of sodium nitrate, some crates with
some Soviet Cyrillic writing on the side, some more bags of sodium nitrate, and
other items unknown. Samples have been taken by our explosive ordnance
detachments, and they're being analyzed at this time.
Regarding the area of operations, it remains relatively stable. Over the past
week there have been an average of 18 engagements daily against coalition
military, five attacks daily against Iraqi security forces and just under three
attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.
The coalition continues to conduct precision offensive operations to kill or
capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people. These
operations are also intended to obtain intelligence for future operations and to
ensure the people of Iraq of our determination to establish a safe and secure
To that end, in the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,434 patrols, 25
offensive operations, 19 raids and captured 77 anti- coalition suspects.
In the northern zone of operations, Iraqi security forces were involved in two
separate attacks. In one attack, two Iraqi policemen were shot in a restaurant
in Mosul; both officers were wounded and taken to a local hospital for
treatment. In another attack a white pick-up truck executed a drive- by shooting
at the Iraqi Civil Defense headquarters in central Mosul. Two Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps soldiers were slightly wounded and are being treated at a local
In the north-central zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a raid near
Baqubah. The targets were a bomb maker and Kataan al-Anbar (ph), a Ba'ath member
and financier of terrorists. Kataan (ph) is suspected of being one of the top
leaders in the Diyala province and is assessed to be a major source of funding
for the former Saddam Fedayeen and other groups. Forces captured 12 individuals,
including al-Anbar (ph), without incident.
After an attack in the village of Samir (ph) in the evening of February 18th
that destroyed an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps vehicle, the ICDC and Iraqi police
worked together to capture the person responsible based on eye-witness
identification. On the afternoon of February 24th, the commander of the local
ICDC and a captain in the Diyala police department, turned the target over to
In Baghdad, a district advisory council member, Sayeed Jabar Sayeed (ph), had
two grenades thrown at his house. The attackers drove by in a white BMW, threw
the hand grenades and fled the scene. A coalition patrol searched the area for
attackers but found nothing. Yesterday coalition forces in Baghdad conducted a
cordon and search in order to capture a suspected financier of attacks on
coalition forces. The unit captured the target, Mohammed Ismael Alrawi (ph),
along with eight other personnel.
In the western zone of operations, at 13:50 today, an OH58 helicopter from Task
Force All-American, crashed into the water in the vicinity of Hadithah. The site
is secure, although we can confirm two casualties at this time. The aircraft is
presently in the river on its side and dive teams have been contacted for
assistance. It is unknown if the accident was due to mechanical difficulty,
enemy fire or another potential reason. The sister ship escorting the aircraft
did not observe enemy fire and an investigation is under way to determine the
cause of the accident.
Coalition forces in the west conducted simultaneous cordon and searches of four
objectives near Fallujah, to kill or capture three anti-coalition personnel. The
operation was conducted without incident and resulted in the capture of eight
enemy personnel, including the targets.
In the central-south zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a
search-and-seizure operation southwest of Karbala. The unit arrested 11
suspected anti-coalition personnel and confiscated six AK-47s, two shotguns, one
sniper rifle, a satellite phone, one FM transceiver and one global positioning
system. Additionally, 150 packages of suspected drugs were found.
A patrol detained 90 personnel who tried to illegally cross the Iran-Iraq border
northeast of Al Kut and confiscated 8 minibuses, five AK-47s and two other
small-arms weapons. All of the persons and the minibuses were turned over to the
Iraqi border police.
In the southeastern zone of operations, there was an explosion outside the house
of a Governing Council member, with minimal damage and no injuries. On
examination at the site of the explosion, explosive ordnance personnel concluded
that the device consisted of approximately 500 grams of uncased explosives. The
reason for the attack and the group responsible are under investigation.
MR. SENOR: Before we take your questions, just one administrative reminder.
Tomorrow is the opening of the International Press Center here around the
horseshoe, other side of that wall. The facility will now be open. It will have
24-hour access per day, will be open with press officers there from 8:00 to 8:00
Tomorrow's the opening. There will be a backgrounder at 10:00 a.m. with a senior
administration official. Those who have taken advantage to register with the
press center and register for space at the press center are encouraged to
attend. Again, that's tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. in the International Press
Center. There will be some administrative matters we go over in terms of how the
press center will operate, introduction of the staff there. There will be staff
from all the relevant organizations here represented. And then there will be, as
I said, a backgrounder by a senior coalition official, the first of many. We
will have daily backgrounders in the press center five or six days a week.
And with that, we are happy to take your questions. Yes, sir?
Q I'm Abbas Saleh (ph) from al-Manon (ph) newspaper daily. I have two questions,
one for General Kimmitt and the second for Dan Senor.
General Kimmitt -- (continuing in Arabic). Dan -- (continuing in Arabic). Thank
MR. SENOR: The transitional government, provisional government, caretaker
government, depending on which term you want to use, is the government that will
be responsible for authority in this country from June 30th till the time of
direct elections; June 30th, when we hand over sovereignty, to the time of
direct elections, which the U.N. is now recommending to be late 2004, early
2005. We are working on that right now.
As you know, the caucus plan outlined in the November 15th agreement provides
for a process for the establishment of a provisional government after June 30th.
We have said from the beginning that we would be open to clarifications and
elaborations and modifications to that plan, which we are open to receiving
right now. We are hoping the U.N. has further recommendations. They have
encouraged us to work with the Iraqis on developing a more simplified plan. We
have said that we are open to this plan being subject to change, and that is
something we will be working on in the weeks ahead.
Right now the Governing Council is pretty focused on the transitional
administrative law, the interim constitution, which they are making a lot
progress on and hope to have passed and finalized in the days ahead. So that's
their immediate priority right now. It's going to be an important document, and
certainly an historic one. And then after that we'll begin to consult on how to
simplify or modify or change the plan to establish a provisional government for
the post- June 30th period.
GEN. KIMMITT: And regarding your question on the helicopter, it's important to
note that no determination has been made at this time whether that helicopter
was brought down by enemy fire, by equipment malfunction. It's premature at this
point to speculate what brought it down, and the investigation will bear that
out. And as soon as we find out that answer, we will pass it on to you.
With regards, though, to your comment that it is dangerous to fly a helicopter
in this environment, there is always a certain measure of risk. Our pilots are
very well equipped with the latest aircraft survivability equipment. They're
very well trained. They adopt their tactics every time there is an incident. And
anybody who is outside at any time of the day can hear the helicopters flying in
the Baghdad region, and they're flying throughout the country.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Kay Anne Saduq (ph), CNN. There was a report three or four days ago about an
incident in Iskandariyah where four soldiers were injured and one translator was
killed. Can you confirm that one of the injured soldiers was a general? And if
so, what happened and what's his condition?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I can confirm that there was an accident. I can confirm that
those personnel who were injured were brought to Baghdad, received care here.
One person has been evacuated to Landstuhl for further medical care due to a bad
condition. As regards his rank, that's -- I'm not prepared to discuss that at
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Richard Beaton (sp) from The Times. I was wondering if you could tell me,
General, if you've seen a report in today's Azaman (sp) newspaper, to the effect
that the U.S. Army's planning to destroy 10 palaces, what are described as
palaces, belonging to Saddam and his family, in and around Owja. I was wondering
if you knew anything about that.
GEN. KIMMITT: No. I was informed that that question would come up. I know that
I've talked to the 82nd. They are not planning to destroy palaces in the western
zone of operations; in fact, quite the contrary. They are intending to hand over
facilities that have been used in the conduct of their operation. When they are
no longer using them, they intend to hand them over. And as the 82nd said, we
intend to hand them over in better shape than we got them.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q General Kimmitt, Luke Baker from Reuters. Sir, there are some reports out of
Pakistan that there's been a redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq to Pakistan
in the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Has there been any redeployment
whatsoever of U.S. troops, Special Forces or anything like that from Iraq?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of any redeployments of troops from Iraq to
Afghanistan. We have a routine transportation going back and forth. That is all
part of the same CENTCOM area of operations. We have some shared assets that
work for both commands. But large numbers of troops redeploying from Iraq to
Afghanistan? Not aware.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Name inaudible), Fox News. When Mr. Hamza was killed at the incident, he had
in his possession several IDs, fake IDs, passports. Has been his identity
determined, his nationality been determined to you guys, as well as -- second
question is, have you heard from Ayatollah Sistani regarding the U.N. report in
terms of the elections taking place late this year or early the next year? Thank
GEN. KIMMITT: We can't confirm his nationality right now. He was in possession
of a Jordanian passport, but whether that was one of the fake --many fake IDs
that we picked up at that location -- we haven't made that determination yet.
MR. SENOR: And we have not communication with Ayatollah Sistani on the U.N.
report. But as you know, when Mr. Brahimi was here, he did meet with Ayatollah
Sistani, and I presume at some point they will have contact again on that
Q Christian (surname inaudible), ARD, German television. There was -- the
referendum movement for Iraqi Kurdistan held a press conference today,
presenting a petition with 1.7 million signatures. And that petition demands a
vote on whether Kurdistan shall remain in Iraq or shall be independent. I'd like
to know the view of the CPA on that issue.
MR. SENOR: Well, we believe strongly, as does the Governing Council, that in
addressing issues such as ones relating to the concerns conveyed by our friends
up north, the Kurds, the issue of federalism is what's at play here. And that is
certainly what's enshrined in the November 15th agreement and is what we're
working on right now to have enshrined in the transitional administrative law.
And that federalism should be based on geography, not ethnicity. That is our
view. And certainly Mr. Talabani, Mr. Barzani and Ambassador Bremer have had
very good discussions in that regard, and the discussions continue.
As far as this one particular movement you are referring to, I understand, based
on the press release which I saw -- I didn't attend the event -- they want to
meet with individuals involved with the drafting of the transitional
administrative law. We think that's a good idea. We would encourage them to meet
with Dr. Pachachi, who is the chairman of the Governing Council's drafting
committee for the drafting of the transitional administrative law. They
expressed interest in meeting with Ambassador Bremer and meeting with the
Governing Council -- again, both positive ideas. Ambassador Bremer has met with
multiple Kurdish leaders; he has traveled all throughout the north. He's met
with Kurdish leaders up north, he's met with Kurdish leaders who have come down
to Baghdad. He's in steady discussion with Kurdish leaders, literally from the
moment he arrived here last May. In fact, his second week here he met with
Kurdish leaders. So there hasn't been a lack of contact or communication. But if
there are any Kurdish groups that seek contact, that feel that they haven't had
an opportunity to discuss their views, we're open to it.
Q Halid Al-Favar (ph) from The Washington Post. General, in spite of the series
of attacks against the Iraqi police and ICDC centers, I still have noticed that
some police centers are still lightly defended. Now, the question is, is this
due to lack of material such as cement blocks and so forth, or is it a lack of
awareness on the part of the IP and the ICDC? Thank you.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, we've got a very close relationship with the Ministry of the
Interior. We have a very close relationship with Minister Badran and Minister
Ibrahim -- General Ibrahim, and we constantly exchange information regarding
which police stations, which facilities are at the most risk, the least risk.
And it's a matter of just making sure that we get all of those force protection
aspects put into place. We've got a lot of police stations out there. Many of
them are very, very well protected. Some of them still need some improvements.
It's just a matter of time before we get them all to acceptable force protection
MR. SENOR: And I would just add, in the supplemental passed by the United States
Congress last year, late last year, $3.2 billion is appropriated for purposes of
security training of Iraqi forces, the build up of security infrastructure in
Iraq, the equipping of Iraqi security forces, and addressing the sorts of issues
that you're raising. So it is a very high priority for the U.S. and, broadly
speaking, for the coalition.
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: I would refer you to Dr. Kay's own words in his own report, which is
he said what Ambassador Bremer and what members of the administration have been
saying for some time; that we would find evidence of chemical and biological
weapons in this country. He continues to say that we have found some evidence.
And we certainly have found evidence of violations of U.N. resolutions by the
former regime on various areas, not the least of which is missile ranges.
But most importantly, the work of the Iraq Survey Group is not complete. And
while Dr. Kay stepped down, he has a replacement. In fact, Ambassador Bremer has
been in touch with the replacement, who's been in Iraq, Mr. Duelfer, and we look
forward to their work carrying forward.
It's a long-term project. We aren't going to finish this effort on the Iraq
Survey Group mission's effort in a matter of days, a matter of weeks, a matter
of months. It takes time to search a country the size of California, a country
this large, to find continued evidence, but we've already discovered some.
Q Thanks. Mark Stone, ABC. Dan, could you comment on concerns raised to us by a
member of the IGC that the Governing Council simply does not have legitimacy to
take on the responsibility for many of the tasks given to it in the November
agreement, the timeline for a constitutional framework, which I believe is due
in a couple of days; that they simply don't have the legitimacy to do this?
MR. SENOR: I haven't seen this report. Who are you referring to?
Q Mowaffak al-Rubaie.
MR. SENOR: Okay. I don't know, I'd have to see the quote directly. But Mr.
Rubaie has been very engaged in the drafting of the transitional administrative
law. He's been very involved in almost all our political discussions, and we
welcome that. We think he's made a very constructive contribution. We look
forward to continue to work.
The Governing Council is making tremendous progress here on the drafting of this
administrative law, this interim administrative law. They've indicated to us
that they think it will be complete by the time that they have indicated in the
November 15th agreement, February 28th. They're moving forward. They have been
very clear that sovereignty should be handed over on June 30th; a key pillar in
the November 15th agreement, sovereignty handover on June 30th. The Governing
Council has been unbending on this front; so have we.
The issue of the U.S. role for security post-June 30th is something that the
Governing Council has said they'd rather wait for a sovereign Iraqi government
to address. We understand that. If they want to put that issue off and discuss
it this summer, we're open to -- (short audio break). Most -- the majority of
the pillars of the November 15th agreement have either been implemented or are
being implemented, and the Governing Council, including Mr. Rubaie, have played
an important role.
Q Sorry, can I just follow? Are you concerned by the perceived legitimacy of the
MR. SENOR: I'm sorry?
Q Are you concerned by the perceived legitimacy of the Governing Council?
MR. SENOR: I measure the Governing Council's effectiveness by the work they are
doing. And they are engaging in very important work and they've made a lot of
progress in very difficult circumstances. These are 25 individuals who have
never worked together. It is a very diverse body in a country that has not
experimented with effective government or free government or democracy in over
three decades. It is a body that is the most representative body in Iraq's
history and probably one of the most representative bodies in this entire
region. And they are bordered with countries and governments, many of which are
trying to undermine their work. They've got a tough challenge ahead of them and
they've been doing and getting it done under difficult circumstances. I commend
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, Mr. Rumsfeld visited; had numerous reasons for visiting. He
was here to check on the status of the mission, the status of the coalition
forces and the status of the progress we're making on the move towards
governance. There will be a ministry of defense; there is a ministry of defense
forming up now. There will be a ministry -- minister of defense. Secretary
Rumsfeld's visit only encouraged continuation of this progress towards the
handover of sovereignty, and so we took nothing away from his visit except
affirmation that the mission continues. We're on the right track and there's no
reason to change any of the significant aspects of where we're heading either,
in any of the lines of operation.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: That's an issue that will be worked out between the United States and
most likely the sovereign government post-June 30th, as requested by members of
the Governing Council. That would be addressed at that point.
We don't know the exact legal status at this point because, as I said, that's
something to be negotiated and discussed, but we do know this. It seems that a
majority of Iraqis, whether we're dealing with political leaders on the
Governing Council or around the country, religious leaders, regional leaders or
just regular Iraqis whose opinions we survey in our public opinion research,
overwhelming majority of Iraqis want the U.S. security forces to be here
post-June 30th. They recognize the security situation is not sufficiently stable
for us to depart.
While Iraqis will increasingly play a lead role in their security affairs, and
they already are starting to do that -- well over 150,000 Iraqis today in
security positions in their own country, more than there are Americans in
security positions in this country -- it's still important for Americans to have
some responsibility here. And while Secretary Rumsfeld has said he would never
want U.S. forces to be deployed anywhere where they're not welcome, it seems to
us the overwhelming majority of Iraqis believe that American forces should be
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: What we would tell the children of Iraq is that the noise they
hear is the sound of freedom. Those helicopters are in the air to provide
safety, provide security. Certainly our helicopter pilots do not fly at an
altitude intentionally to distract the children of Iraq. They're there for their
safety. They're there for their protection. And just as my wife, who is a
schoolteacher, tells the children when they're sitting in the classroom that,
when they hear the artillery rounds go off at Fort Bragg, she says, "Children,
that's the sound of freedom." They seem to be quite pleased with that
explanation. We would recommend that you tell the same thing to the children of
Iraq, that that helicopter noise you hear above you ensures that they don't have
to worry for the future.
MR. SENOR: We have time for one more. Yes, ma'am?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: You got to turn on your microphone. There you go.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: And we certainly understand that there will be some measure of
inconvenience that occurs as the coalition and the Iraqi security forces are
working side by side in a partnership to protect the people of Iraq. We would
certainly hope that all of us take a look at the larger purpose of what those
soldiers represent and what those vehicles represent, which is to bring a safe
and secure environment to the people of Iraq to ensure that we can move on to
independence, sovereignty and a bright future for the people.
MR. SENOR: We'll wrap up. A reminder again, tomorrow opening of the press center
is at 10:00 a.m. There will be some administrative items at that point, and then
a backgrounder by a senior coalition official.
Thanks, everybody. Have a good evening.