COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
DANIEL SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE CPA;
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COALITION OPERATIONS
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 2004
GEN. KIMMITT: (Fed in progress) -- members of an anti-coalition cell
operating in the area. The operation resulted in the capture of one enemy
personnel, and also confiscated were an SA-16 missile, an SA-14 missile, two
82-millimeter systems, 31 rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, and a large quantity
of small arms and ammunition.
Yesterday, coalition forces conducted cordon and search in Khalidiya to kill or
capture four members of a bomb cell operating in the area. The operation
resulted in the capture of 21 enemy personnel, including two of the primary
targets. In the central-south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security
forces conducted 123 patrols, established 47 checkpoints and escorted 38
Yesterday the Philippine Civil-Military Cooperation Battalion conducted a MEDCAP
in a village located 10 kilometers northwest of Al Hillah. Four hundred twenty
patients were given medical aid jointly by coalition and Babil provincial
In the southeastern zone of operations, two Iraqi female employees of a
coalition contractor were shot and killed at close range outside their home
after returning from work on (sic) Basra on 10 March. Investigations are
MR. SENOR: And with that, we are happy to take questions. (Pause.) If there are
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: Can you use the microphone?
Q Steve Inskeep with NPR. A couple of Arabic language media, Al Jazeera and Al
Arabiyah, are reporting that American soldiers were attacked in the Adhamiya
area of Baghdad today. Do you have any information about that?
GEN. KIMMITT: I think I might have an RTQ on that. But I understand there were
some operations inside Baghdad today, but I've got the exact facts. I believe we
had an IED go off near the Kadhimiya area, and I believe we had two soldiers
wounded, one taken to the hospital, the other one returned to duty.
MR. SENOR: Yes? You want to use the one right in front.
Q Sorry about that. Sewell Chan with The Washington Post. Dan, could you talk to
us a little bit about what the response has been within the CPA to the deaths of
these two civilian employees? Specifically, have there been any concerns raised
about security when moving in and out of the regional offices? Have there been
any changes in operating procedures or in the, you know, amount/number of
escorts for these employees? And finally, has anyone contemplated a change of
assignment within the CPA, maybe moving in to Baghdad from a regional office
because of these deaths?
MR. SENOR: We are always reviewing our force protection requirements and our
procedures for addressing security for coalition staff in Baghdad and around the
country. While this has been the first successful attack against coalition
staff, there have been, no doubt, attempts in the past or coalition civilians
who have been in the vicinity of attacks that have been carried out -- bombings,
events of that nature.
And we have to constantly review how the coalition staff travels around the
country, attends to its business, and interacts with the communities in which
they are operating. And obviously this is one of those incidents where we will
review the situation. No formal changes have been made at this point, but we are
looking at it, as we do whenever similar situations arise.
Q A quick follow-up. What about the sort of mood and atmosphere within the rank
and file employees of the authority with respect to these deaths?
MR. SENOR: I think for those CPA staff who worked with Fern and Bob it's
obviously tragic. Any loss of life in the coalition is a tragic event, and I
think that anybody who's worked in the coalition feels a sense of connection to
the incident. And anyone who's had personal contact with them and worked with
them has an especially deep sense of loss, and I think that has manifested
It hasn't stopped the work. The work continues. In fact, I would submit that the
work continues with an even greater sense of mission, recognizing that a void
cannot be opened up in the work that Fern and Bob were engaged in. There has
already been talk about how quickly we can deploy people to fill their roles, so
that there is no -- so there is no void, there is no vacuum down in the south
central region in the work they were doing. Ambassador Bremer has held a meeting
where this was discussed, about deploying people quickly to make sure that is no
So there is a sense of tragic loss that is to be expected, but there's also a
sense of maintaining the mission that you hear from most of the coalition
officials that I've spoken to. The work that the two, Bob and Fern, and Sawa
(sp) were involved in was critical to the south central mission. I mean, Fern
was particularly involved in the women's issues. She helped open up six -- over
six women's centers down in south central, which is a vital element in our
overall effort to engage in democracy building and human rights issues in that
part of the country. And Bob was involved in working with the local Iraqi press
and responding to them and helping to develop and professionalize the local
Iraqi press down there. These are important efforts in our overall effort here
to hand over to the Iraqi people a sovereign, democratic country.
And so there is a sense that -- the mission attracted very talented people. We
have lost some of them. But the mission will not be compromised.
Q Hi. Mark Stone, ABC. Could you confirm whether anyone was detained as a result
of the shootings and also -- of the CPA shooting, and also whether they were
indeed policemen or people dressed as policemen? And if they were policemen,
this calls into question the -- how the policemen that are recruited are
(Off-mike conferral between briefers.)
GEN. KIMMITT: There were eight persons detained as part of the incident. We
understand that -- correction: six persons were detained as part of the
incident. Four of those persons were carrying current and, we believe, valid
Iraqi police service identification. The fifth was a former policeman under the
Hussein regime, and the sixth person was a civilian. Those persons are all under
coalition custody being interrogated at this time.
MR. SENOR: And to your second question, Mark, we have a very robust vetting
process for all Iraqis that are hired or rehired into security services, and
while it is robust it is also not perfect, as one can be expected in any
security service --
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: I'm sorry? Talking to me? Oh.
It is a -- while it is a robust vetting process it is not perfect, as is to be
expected, not just only in the Iraqi security forces but in security forces
around the world. The U.S. security forces, you have individuals who are corrupt
who wind up in positions of responsibility and it's not discovered until after
the fact, sometimes it's never discovered. And so what is important here is that
we have robust procedures in place, which we do, and that when individuals slip
through the cracks and we identify it, we act to rectify it immediately, and
that's also what we do.
Q Excuse me -- I'm Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald -- but this doesn't
sound, sir, like individuals slipped through the cracks, it sounds like four of
them were properly ID'd with the former Hussein -- regime police officer; you
had a cell.
MR. SENOR: I'm sorry?
Q It sounds like you had a cell.
MR. SENOR: Well, we're not going to comment at this point on those sorts of
details, because there's a lot of mixed reporting and what you are referencing
is not necessarily confirmed beyond first reports. So we really want to wait and
let this investigation play out here.
Q But you're confident that four of them were valid, credentialed, current
GEN. KIMMITT: No, what we said is that four of them had current and we believe
valid Iraqi police service identifications. But that's going to be determined as
part of the investigation. It could be forgery for all we know.
MR. SENOR: But to your -- I think to the other part of your question, what we
aren't certain of is how clear their previous ties potentially to the former
regime, their previous criminal records if they existed, any previous -- any
personal details or professional details about their previous roles before the
liberation -- that information isn't clear yet -- and how that information
factored in or didn't factor in, depending on the case, to their hiring in the
Iraqi police force. Those sorts of issues obviously we'll be looking at in the
days and weeks ahead.
GEN. KIMMITT: And frankly, even though they were all caught in the same vehicle,
we don't know if all of them are connected to this crime.
Q They were caught in the same vehicle with the Iraqi victims?
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, that report we believe to be a false report initially, that
the vehicle did not have the victims in it.
MR. SENOR: I would also just caution everybody here. The first reports that I
have read in the news have been all over the place and pretty inconsistent not
only with one another, but inconsistent with reports we have received from
different individuals involved with the investigation. So I'm not laying blame
or suggesting that some are right or some are wrong, but there just seems to be
a lot of inconsistencies. And I would just caution everyone to be patient as we
get information -- as we develop information and develop a theory that we're
significantly confident in to release.
GEN. KIMMITT: And there's also a human side to this as well. We would rather not
play this tragedy out in the press for the families that are currently grieving.
So, please, let's let this investigation go forward. Let's let the families of
the victims be the first ones that hear the exact details of what happened once
the investigation is complete.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Well, two questions. One, you say this is a robust investigation. How much
time do you spend investigating one police officer? Because it seems like you
have to put a whole bunch back on quickly. And number two, just a bottom-line
question. How do we or you trust police now when they stop us at roadblocks? How
do we know they're not going to shoot us, or you know, you, the coalition
MR. SENOR: I think the way we approach these issues is the way we approach all
issues with regard to vetting. When Ambassador Bremer -- just to take as an
example, when Ambassador Bremer announced his de-Ba'athification policy he made
it very clear in the de- Ba'athification policy, like all of these policies,
that would have vetting efforts. Some individuals, like in vetting processes
throughout the world, even at the most efficient and developed governments
around the world, some vetting processes result in individuals slipping through
the cracks. And you have to have confidence in the fact that when it applies to
a majority of the individuals, the majority will be properly vetted and the
majority will be clean, if you will, and that we can have confidence in the
individuals that are in those positions. But from time to time, you will
encounter imperfections. That is the case.
For you to suggest that we shouldn't operate -- we or you should not operate in
Iraq until we have perfection in our ability to run our broader longer law
enforcement programs and our broader security programs I think is unrealistic in
the short term. I mean, part of the risk of operating here is that there will be
criminals who act, there will be terrorists who act, and some of them in this
case, as may be the case and we'll wait for the case and the investigation to
develop -- but if, in fact, individuals infiltrated an Iraqi security service,
it's cause for great concern; we'll seek to address it. But you're asking a
broader question: How can we function here when we have a crime and terrorist
problem? That's the issue at stake here.
GEN. KIMMITT: The other comment I'd make is that you made the assertion that how
can you trust the police to roadblock based on a police report or based on a
news report that there was a roadblock involved. Even the notion that this was a
roadblock at which the victims were stopped at is being investigated, because
further information indicates that might well not be correct as well; that they
may have been chased or run off the road. So again, let's let the investigation
bear itself out; let's take the time and put the right assets against this and
let it reach its natural conclusion.
MR. SENOR: Ned?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: Can you use the microphone?
Q Yes, sure, yeah, absolutely. Do you think these people that were caught
definitely are the ones who killed the CPA employees?
GEN. KIMMITT: That's for the investigating officer to determine, not for us to
judge up here.
Q Right. And the Karbala police, they've confirmed that at least some of those
people were -- some of their people were arrested, active police officers.
GEN. KIMMITT: We certainly understand that the Karbala police believe that some
of their people have been arrested. But you're suggesting that they were
actually the perpetrators of this crime. That's why we'll do the interrogation,
that's why we'll do the investigation, and if necessary, that's why we will talk
about the prosecution thereafter.
MR. SENOR: And the FBI is involved with the investigation as well, and that
process is under way, and once they start providing us some follow-up
information of their own it will help to confirm some of the theories about the
case and we will have more information.
John (sp), yes?
Q Dan, General, perhaps I could ask you to answer your own question that you
just posed. You said, how do we function here when we have a problem with
criminal activity and terrorism? This week we're beginning to see the reward of
contracts for the $18.4 billion of reconstruction over the next three years. I
understand that as much as 20 percent of that sum may have to go to security. So
can you attempt to grapple with the question of how vulnerable is that program
since it's so key to what the United States is attempting to achieve here? It
looks like it might be a very vulnerable part of what you're trying to do. They
don't have to kill a lot of people to disable any particular program.
MR. SENOR: I would actually argue that it is -- that the deployment of the $18.6
billion is central to our efforts here to defeat the terrorists and to address
the crime problems. The fact is, we'll be deploying a sum of funds here that
almost will double, if you will, the Iraqi -- existing Iraqi GDP.
We have said all along that there's a two-tier track to our overall strategy in
combatting the terrorists and the former regime elements in Iraq. One is the
military strategy, which is what General Kimmitt frequently speaks about, which
is the very aggressive and effective and certainly successful campaign to
capture or kill the terrorists. But it's also a strategy to politically and
economically empower the Iraqi people, and that's the other tier, if you will.
And through political and economic empowerment of the Iraqi people, we will
isolate the terrorists and make it more difficult for them to operate here.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Mr. Zarqawi, who explicitly talks in his
battle plan for Iraq -- he explicitly talks about the fact that he's in a race
against time; that as we get closer and closer to June 30th, as you have a
self-governing Iraqi democracy here, it'll be more difficult for him to operate.
He will lose his pretext, his excuse to operate here. That speaks for itself.
And the economic element is a part of that, implicitly. And so deploying these
funds here, we believe, is critical. A large focus of the funding is on the
electrical infrastructure and the oil infrastructure, which are both key to
getting Iraq on a path to self- sustaining economic independence. A large
portion of the funds are dedicated to the training and equipping and deploying
of security forces, Iraqi security forces. All of these intersect, John. It's --
there's not a reactive strategy here. It's all part of our proactive strategy to
get this country moving forward.
And while -- to your specific question, while there may be added costs that are
necessary in order to make contracts or contractors less vulnerable to attacks,
the overall plan is to use those funds, use the broader $18.6 billion, to
engage, in many respects, the terrorist and crime problem.
Q (Through interpreter.) Good evening. Sabah newspaper. General Kimmitt, you
have said the Iraqi press said that checkpoints or police people killed the
three CPA employees. Can we know from you the details of the accident (sic) and
how it happened, so we have a clear view of how the accidents (sic) happened?
GEN. KIMMITT: First of all, just as a matter of correction, I did not say that
they were killed by the police. It is alleged that they were killed by the
police. That's why we have the police in custody pending an investigation.
They're going through interrogation now.
Second, more than anything else, I hope we have demonstrated up here that the
facts surrounding the circumstances of the deaths are still very, very unclear
and unsure of. We do have the Federal Bureau of Investigation down on the site
trying to recreate the crime scene. And we don't have that report yet. As we get
more information and we can confirm what we've been reading in the press, we'll
be in a much better position to either acknowledge, confirm or deny the earlier
Q (Through interpreter.) Where were they killed? What time were they killed?
These informations are still unclear. When?
GEN. KIMMITT: We agree with you that information is still unclear. We believe it
happened generally at around 1800 on -- (to Mr. Senor) -- Wednesday?
MR. SENOR: Tuesday.
GEN. KIMMITT: Tuesday. And let's the FBI go ahead and try to get as much facts
on what happened down at the crime scene to see if they can reestablish. Because
there were no people on site that saw the event happen except those that we
currently have in custody, and they may or may not be related to that. So we
have to recreate the crime scene, take forensic evidence from the site -- tire
tracks, vehicles, so on and so forth. It's going to take time. And let's just
have patience so that when we do and can stand up at this podium and give you
the facts, we won't have to come back the next day and say, "Well, we have a new
fact that we didn't know then."
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Where did the crime take place?
GEN. KIMMITT: It took place approximately 70 kilometers south of Baghdad.
Q May I?
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Okay. My name is Kim Rosson (sp), Kyoto News. My question to the general is
about the security local control. General Sanchez told us yesterday that the
coalition forces will stay in command even after the June 30th, remain in power,
remain in command, because Iraqi security forces are not ready yet. Now, could
you tell us what is the legal basis for staying in power? Because Iraq is
supposed to be a sovereign country by then, and there is no security agreement
established so far.
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not a legal expert. I would refer that for the complete detail
to one of our lawyers, who we can make available. The current belief is that the
United States -- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 may provide and
probably does provide for the presence of a multinational force to conduct
operations, and that may be considered -- the bulk of the lawyers at this point
believe that that may provide the legal basis for continued operation and
command-and-control arrangements. However, I'm very hesitant because of my
absence of legal training to stand up here and profess myself as an expert, but
we can make a legal expert available to answer those questions in the level of
detail I think you're looking for.
MR. SENOR: And I would just add that any of the Iraqi leaders with whom we're
dealing, there seems to be a consensus that there is a desire on behalf of the
Iraqi people to have some U.S. force presence here post-June 30th. We expect
that to be the case with the future Iraqi government that takes hold here. It's
something we hear everywhere we go, whether it's dealing with Iraqis -- just
Iraqis on the street -- Iraqi political leaders, regional leaders, religious
leaders. There seems be, by and large, a consensus about the importance of a
need for a troop presence here.
GEN. KIMMITT: It would certainly be our desire, though, on June 30th that we
would be able not only to pass over sovereignty, but pass over a fully equipped,
fully trained, experienced Iraqi security apparatus -- Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps, police service, Iraqi army -- all working for a Iraqi ministry of defense
and a joint forces command. That won't be the case on June 30th. It may be the
case a year later, but we do not see that calendar date to be a date where we
can then remove the coalition oversight, the coalition partnership along with
the Iraqi security forces. It is as important on July 2nd that not only is this
country now maintaining sovereignty and achieving sovereignty, but also the
security situation kind of looks like it did the couple of days before, if not
better. If we were to pull all those apparatus apart from each other on June
30th, we believe that that would not be able to be achieved.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q General, there is television footage of an Iraqi policeman who pulls somebody
out of an ambulance after the Karbala attack, argues with them, punches them,
and then shoots them in the leg and kicks them in the head. Do you feel the
Iraqi police are equipped to deal with a crisis of such a magnitude, and what is
your screening process?
And secondly, there are Iraqis in the team preparing Saddam's trial saying that
there are too many detainees being released without consulting them, and
basically that's -- you know, you're throwing away evidence. Could you respond
to those allegations?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, well, first of all, I haven't seen that film, so I really
can't answer to it. However, we do have an Iraqi police force that is coming
along in terms of those prior policemen that have had a significant amount of
field experience going through a three-week process where they learn not
necessarily just new techniques for crime and public security, but also how to
do that in the context of Western values and a free and democratic society.
We also have just graduated, as I said today, another class out of the Jordanian
police academy, where we have taken Iraqi citizens that have had no prior police
experience -- taken them through an eight-week course, through a very, very good
course led by Steve Bennett, who also ran the same program in Kosovo to set up
the Kosovo police service.
With regard to the specific incident, I can't really address it, because I
haven't seen the film. But I would tell you that obviously we are very careful
to try to train the police to the highest standards. And if there are
exceptional incidences, I would just argue that that is not unique to this
country, nor is it unique to any country on this Earth.
As to the second point, about detainee release, when we release, for example, a
security detainee because he or she is no longer an imminent threat to the
security of this nation, that does not absolve or preclude Iraqi authorities
from bringing those people to justice for other charges that they may have. So
just because that person no longer meets our criteria for detention under the
security detention conventions within the Geneva Conventions, that does not
preclude the Iraqi authorities from taking further action.
Q Two questions about the unfortunate events near Hillah. Number one, any idea
what the motive was and whether it had anything to do with Ms. Holland's work
with women in the region? And number two, whether you guys have any hard and
fast rules about security for CPA employees who travel outside of secure areas?
Do they always have to armed guards, always have to have armored vehicles, or is
it flexible on kind of a case-by-case basis?
MR. SENOR: To your second question, there are rules. We have strict force
protection rules and procedures. For obvious operational security reasons, I
would prefer not to discuss them in a public forum. We don't want to tip off
those who may be considering organizing attacks exactly how we seek to protect
To your first question, we regard this attack as an act -- we regard -- to your
first question, we regard this attack as an act of terrorism against American
civilians and an Iraqi civilian. If you look at the work, as to your question,
that they were engaged in, one was involved in developing women's rights and
democracy training centers in Iraq; Bob was involved in helping to develop a
free press in Iraq, both institutions -- both endeavors that are central to
building a functioning democracy in Iraq. And certainly Sawa (sp) was working
with the coalition, working hand in hand in this effort. And so this is clearly
an attack against the work we are doing here in Iraq. This is clearly an attack
against the progress that we are making in Iraq, and we are going to evaluate
this in the context of a formal act of terrorism against the coalition, against
civilians and against the Iraqi people.
Q One quick follow-up for you: How much training do Iraqi police get? Do you
have -- is it three weeks, eight weeks? Does it vary from province to province?
GEN. KIMMITT: Three weeks -- (off mike).
MR. SENOR: Oh, the eight-week program is for new Iraqi police and that's the TIP
program; it doesn't vary from province to province. The three-week program is
for Iraqi police that served as police prior to the liberation and are recruited
to serve in the new police force since they have some training already and have
some experience in service. The three-week program is just to train them in
professional -- professionalizing their investigative skills, training them in
basic human rights-related issues, how it is -- how to function in police -- in
a democratic environment with democratic rules in a democratic government. It
doesn't vary from province to province.
Q So it's fair to say a minimum of three weeks, up to eight weeks? Each Iraqi
policeman has --
MR. SENOR: Yes. Now, with the police that have been recruited as police
officers, who previously served as police officers, they are recruited and are
subjected to the three-week training; some of them are asked to serve before
they go through the training. But the training -- the three-week training
program, the TIPs program is to occur as quickly as possible.
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: Sorry?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: Can you use your --
GEN. KIMMITT: No knowledge.
Q Had these police involved in the shooting gone through the three-week training
program or had they not been trained yet?
GEN. KIMMITT: No, again, we don't have any results yet from the crime scene;
none have been provided to us by the FBI nor from the Iraqi police. So at this
point, all we know is some very, very preliminary data of who we picked up. We
haven't seen any of the results of the investigation nor have we seen any of
their files, and do not expect to until nearly the point where the investigation
Q (Through interpreter.) Al-Iraqiyah TV. Iraqi police lack equipment to deal
with terrorists. What did you do in regards to this issue?
MR. SENOR: We are in the process of equipping all of the Iraqi security services
with the equipment they need to get the job done. We have been doing this from
the moment we began to deploy Iraqi security forces. But recognize that our
focus has been on recruiting and deploying a large number of Iraqi security
officers as quickly as possible. The fact is, when you have Iraqis on the front
line, not only for enforcement of laws and protecting security but also for
intelligence gathering, they can play an enormous contribution. And so we have
really been focused on getting these individuals into place and deploying them.
Whether it's knowledge of the local language, knowledge of the local culture,
knowledge of the local rhythm of life, they can do a better job than we can of
making determinations, "this one's a foreign fighter, this one's a domestic
insurgent." They can interact with the local communities in the way that the
ICDC can, in a way that enhances our overall effort to combat terrorism here,
and really plays an important complementary role.
That's the focus: recruitment, training and deployment. We are equipping, but
there's no -- the priority has been on the recruitment of the size that's
necessary in order to have the sort of front-line resources that we need and to
have the intelligence gathering that we need. We want to move into a mode here
where the Iraqis are increasingly playing the enforcer role and the coalition is
playing the reinforcer role, and you can't have that unless yo have the
requisite number of individuals recruited, trained and deployed.
We now have over 150,000 Iraqis in those positions. We are equipping them. We
believe they have the resources that they need, but we also recognize there's
room for improvement, and we are constantly improving the situation.
Someone who hasn't asked a question. Yes? You may want to -- there you go --
Q Sorry about this. Shobey Prinicka (ph). I'm really sorry, everyone, to change
the subject, but --
MR. SENOR: (Inaudible.)
Q Regarding a very different angle, sorry. Regarding the policies of the
civilian compensations for the Iraqis that the coalition forces by mistake have
killed or wounded, is it true that if it's someone injured or killed before May
1st, they're not a target of compensation? Because the case that I met this
morning was, like, a nine-months pregnant woman that was killed in April, and
the family was told that, as it's before May 1st, she doesn't fall to be target
And two how many applications have been so far given by the civilian casualties?
And so far, how many cases have been paid, and how much were they paid? And
three, at the time one year later, you really don't have any guesses of how many
civilian casualties have been caused due to the occupation forces?
GEN. KIMMITT: The Foreign Claims Act that most of the case law is based on --
and again, I am not a lawyer, but we have set up a claims and compensation
system for noncombat-related accidents. For example, if someone in the CPA or
someone in CJTF7 is driving down the road and, incidental to that driving, got
into an accident, noncombat- related, there is a claim system, a very robust
claim system by which Iraqi citizens are able to file claims. I believe the last
number is somewhere on the order of 11,000 claims have been filed. Approximately
5,500 claims resulted in compensation. I know that over $2 million has been
provided in compensation.
Also our commanders in the field certainly have the authority to make solatia-like
payments out of their Commanders Emergency Relief Program and deploy those funds
around -- surrounding incidents where they believe in their judgment there
should be some method of compensation to persons in their area of operation. I
don't have the exact amount of money or knowledge about who much money has been
paid out under that program, nor the number of claims. But I do know that under
the formal program, there has been generally somewhere on the order of
5,000-plus claims made and satisfied, resulting in the payments of approximately
2.1 (sic) or near that amount dollars, which would translate to about, oh,
4-plus trillion (sic) Iraqi dinar -- billion dinar.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. KIMMITT: We have been asked that question many times, and frankly, there
have been no major organizations in Iraq capable of collecting all of those
numbers into one central database. We are able to provide or obtain some
numbers, but to suggest that we have the total numbers -- it would be virtually
impossible either to give you an accurate number, and frankly it would be almost
as difficult to give you an estimate. We would be going on anecdotal evidence
from some reliable, some unreliable sources. And so we have averred from
providing any type of number in that regard.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- Al Dousor (ph) newspaper. I have
two questions. General Kimmitt, some press reports said the next Iraqi defense
minister is going to be a civilian. Then you talked about the security
agreement. What is the form of the security agreement? For how long? Are you
going to be signing with the GC or with the national assembly?
MR. SENOR: To your second question, any security arrangements we make will be
negotiated with the interim Iraqi government. The Governing Council -- despite
one article within the November 15th agreement detailing that a future security
arrangement would be addressed by the Governing Council this spring, the
Governing Council has requested that we delay any formal discussions and
arrangements being established until there's a sovereign government in Iraq, and
so we'll wait to address that with the post-June 30th interim government.
GEN. KIMMITT: In answer to your first question, it is clearly one of the
cornerstones of civilian control of the military that the defense minister
should be a civilian and not a uniformed military officer, and that is the
direction that we are going at this time.
MR. SENOR: And the Governing Council has announced that. The Governing Council
-- Dr. Pachachi, in his last week as president of the Iraqi Governing Council a
couple of months ago, announced that that would be the path they were going.
This is something the Iraqi Governing Council feels strongly about, as we do,
and in fact in the transitional administrative law civilian control of the
military is something that is emphasized.
Yeah. Go ahead, please.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm sorry. Would you translate that again, please?
INTERPRETER: General, is the next MOD going to be under the political control of
the Governing Council?
GEN. KIMMITT: Would you ask the question again, please?
Q (Through interpreter.) The MOD -- is the next minister of defense is going to
be under the same pressures as the current ministers? Is he going to be part of
a certain political party?
MR. SENOR: The minister of defense will be determined by the Iraqi Governing
Council and, obviously, in coordination with Ambassador Bremer. Ambassador
Bremer ultimately has to sign off on any -- under international law, he has to
sign off on any major government appointments, the minister of defense being
among them. But the recommendations, the nominations for the senior members of
the Iraqi Ministry of Defense will be made by the Governing Council.
Q Thanks. Sewell Chan of The Washington Post again. General Kimmitt, could you
tell us more specifically about what kind of background checks are done for
anyone trying to join the Iraqi security forces? Like in the United States, you
can type in someone's Social Security number into like the FBI's NCIC database,
learn about their entire arrest record from throughout the country. Obviously,
that's not possible here. But do you have, you know, a directory of former
Ba'ath party members? Do you, you know, look through the computerized files of
the Mukhabarat? How do you verify what someone's background is, where they're
from, you know, what their occupational history is, and most importantly,
whether they have a criminal record of a history of association with the former
MR. SENOR: Well, we -- I don't want to -- for similar reasons I've articulated
earlier, I don't want to divulge all the details on how we vet individuals. But
I will say that we have within our government entities that are experienced at
doing this sort of work. And I will also say that as we capture more and more
senior members of the regime, as we come into possession of documents of the
regime, in some cases large volumes of documents of criminal records, it helps
us, and certainly Ba'ath party membership documents, documents from prisons, we
are able to gather information relating to individuals that may or may not be
applying for positions in the new Iraq.
Q A very quick follow-up question. How confident would you say you are in the
background and vetting process right now? Very? Somewhat? Not too confident?
MR. SENOR: I'm not going to use your adjectives to characterize it, I will use
mine. And the adjective that I have been using is robust; we have a very robust
process. And the fact is we have incidents, like we had this past week. They are
incidents. They are isolated. They are exceptions. They are not the rule.
The fact is you do not have a situation where every other day we encounter
problems with individuals within the government or the security services that
turn out to be individuals who have ill intentions when they join the security
services. When they happen, they are isolated incidents. We have to address
them, we have to rectify them, and we do. And sometimes they are able to impose
injurious results before we're able to rectify them. That's a risk in engaging
in what we are doing here, engaging in the sort of work we are doing here.
But by and large, the program is working. By and large, it is that robust. And
by and large, we will continue to do what we are doing. We will make adjustments
as we see fit. And obviously, if the investigation that we're engaged in right
now with regard the incident of this past week leads us to conclude that we do
need to make adjustments, we will make those adjustments. We will communicate
them to you.
But understand: by and large, this program and our vetting process overall has
been quite effective.
GEN. KIMMITT: And honestly, the shortcomings that we've seen in our process is
not unique to this country and, frankly, if we were to look back into our own
history, not unique to the United States' history as well.
MR. SENOR: Yeah, I -- let me just follow up. We have -- as I've said earlier, we
have over -- well over 150,000 Iraqis serving in security positions. And the
overwhelming majority of those Iraqis have joined the security forces because
they are patriotic citizens of Iraq; and they want a role in helping to rebuild
this country; and they feel a great sense of pride in protecting this country
against foreign elements, against the Zarqawi types who come into this country
to wreak havoc, to pit one community against another Iraqi community. They have
a great deal of resentment to Saddam Hussein's regime and the senior figures who
are associated with it, and they want to play a major role in preventing those
individuals from ever coming back to power and wreaking their own havoc here.
That is the characterization I would apply to the overwhelming majority of
Iraqis who are serving in the security services today.
In fact, the ratio in some recruiting centers -- for instance, in the ICDC -- is
sometimes six to one in terms of the number of Iraqis who show up for which
there are positions available for the jobs they're applying -- so they're --
this call to service is serious. It is real. It is something the majority of
Iraqis respect. It is something that we respect. And while we have isolated
incidents, as I said earlier, that is what they are; they are isolated
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. Particularly when -- in light of the fact that so many of
the security forces are doing such a spectacular job. Over -- we have had more
members of the Iraqi security services killed in the line of duty than coalition
forces, and it is -- I'm sure they feel the same way we do any time one of their
colleagues, any time one of their fellow IPS members go outside the line and
commit these heinous acts. They understand it's a reflection not only on the
person who committed it but the organization they belong to and the country
they're attempting to defend.
So I would just say, for those members of the Iraqi police service that are out
there every day, providing a level of support for the people of Iraq, we
understand that the vast majority of you are doing an honorable job, and your
country is proud of you.
MR. SENOR: Every police department -- and I know there's -- we'll just take a
couple more -- but every police department in the United States has an
anti-corruption division. Every police department in the United States has
dedicated personnel dealing with members of their respective police departments
that have ill intentions and dishonest motives and perhaps very destructive
goals for what they intend to achieve as part of their own service. And
unfortunately, Iraq security forces are not immune to that phenomena that you
see all over the world.
Q But you're confident that this young, new police force is capable of
investigating its own?
And just two more, since I finally got the questions --
MR. SENOR: We have called on you earlier, so this is really a second round.
Q Yeah, but I'm just trying to clarify some of the things that came up here.
Bringing in the FBI, does that preclude -- or include the possibility of a U.S.
prosecution of these people? And are they in any way monitoring the Iraqi
police, investigating the Iraqi police in killing the American employees?
And one more thing. You said that you don't want to reveal the regulations that
CPA members travel on. Fair enough. Were these people following their own
regulations when they were traveling?
MR. SENOR: All right, I'll work backwards. Your third question will be
determined as we move forward in the investigation of the entire incident. So we
will have more information as that investigation progresses.
Now, your second question. Under international law, as an occupying force, we
cannot try, we cannot prosecute the individuals who were involved in this
incident in the United States. They will be tried in the Iraqi legal system, the
Iraqi judicial system. The FBI will have a role in the investigation, and that
has already begun.
And your first question, anti-corruption across the board in government is one
of the top priorities of Ambassador Bremer in these remaining months here before
June 30th. He is working on developing institutions in this country that will
outlive our presence here, that will seek to combat the culture of corruption
that was certainly endemic in this country before we arrived, and is endemic in
many governments in this region. It is something that he views as one of our
most important legacies here. And that is why he works so closely with the Iraqi
Governing Council to develop the Commission on Public Integrity that sets up
inspectors general for every single ministry, including the Ministry of
Interior; it sets up anti-corruption arms that can work independent of the
minister and outside the influence of the minister to address corruption. We are
now working on assigning directors general for all the inspectors general
offices throughout the ministries; we are staffing it up. It is something that
is going to get a tremendous amount of focus -- building up these institutions,
staffing them, educating the Iraqis on how to run them -- this is going to get
an enormous amount of focus in the remaining months.
A couple more.
Q Just two quick questions. Number one, on the point that General Kimmitt just
raised, more Iraqi security forces being killed. Do you happen to have the
number of the Iraqi security forces who have been killed in the line of duty to
date, or if you don't have it handy could you e-mail it to us?
GEN. KIMMITT: We certainly can. I know that there have been over 325 Iraqi
police service members that have been killed in the line of duty. I don't think
the number of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps or Facilities Protection Service members
approximate that number, but I think in combination between the Iraqi police
service, the Facilities Protection Service, the Iraqi Civil Defense service,
those numbers exceed the coalition death toll up to this point.
Q Just to -- to put your point in the story, it would just be handy to have the
actual number to back it up.
GEN. KIMMITT: Sure.
Q And secondly, based on what you know now, do you have any information that
gives you an indication as to whether these coalition officials were, in fact,
targeted or identified as being coalition officials, or that would lead you to
believe that these were merely targets of opportunity because they were Western
faces or whatnot?
GEN. KIMMITT: There have been so many incorrect assertions made up to this point
in press reports that I wouldn't even want to begin to speculate on what I've
read in the press reports about motivations behind the crime itself. Let's let
the investigation carry that out.
MR. SENOR: But --
Q So you don't have any information yet that leads you in one direction or the
GEN. KIMMITT: That's for the interrogation and the investigating officer to
MR. SENOR: Here's what we know. Three civilians, two working directly for the
coalition, two working through a subcontractor, were killed. We know, as General
Kimmitt has said, they were killed by Iraqis. We view this as an act of --
targeted act of terrorism. One of the individuals was involved in women's rights
issues and building women's centers in south-central Iraq. Another was involved
in developing a free press in Iraq. A third was an Iraqi national working
hand-in-hand with the coalition.
Clearly those who engage in terrorism and those who are involved in the
insurgency in Iraq are against the sorts of activities that these three
individuals -- the two Iraqis and -- the two Americans and the Iraqi -- were
involved in. Clearly they were advocating issues and helping to develop a
democratic society in a way that the terrorists and the former regime elements
want to defeat. Now, do we know at this point exactly that that was their
specific motivation? No, but it is certainly something that's noted and that
we're going to consider.
GEN. KIMMITT: And to correct one comment made by my good colleague, we don't
even know that they were killed by Iraqis. We suspect -- we have persons under
detention right now that we suspect of being involved in the commission of this
crime. As I understand, we have no confessions, but there may be evidence that
suggests that. But we haven't been made privy to it, and I don't believe -- the
investigating officers are yet to make a final determination on the
reconstruction of the crime scene or the facts of the crime.
MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.