COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: SATURDAY, MARCH 13, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon.
As many of you know, we were not scheduled to have one of our regular briefings
today, but Ambassador Bremer issued a statement this morning on the CPA's and
the coalition's new border control policy and we were asked to brief on it. The
statement has been issued; we've been asked to answer questions on it, provide
any further details. So we will resume the regular briefings within the next 48
So some of the other questions that I know you all are -- all have pertaining to
stories, with regard to the incident in Al Hillah, the civilian deaths last
week, I can just tell you up front, we have no new details. The investigation is
still ongoing, so we will not be taking any substantive questions on that issue
or any others.
We're going to focus today on the border control, answer any questions you have,
and then get you out of here as quickly as possible so you can get back to what
you are doing. Again, we apologize for the short notice.
Ambassador Bremer today issued the following statement on our new border
Foreign terrorists are present in Iraq. The numbers are not known with precision
but recent attacks and their continuing presence underscores the importance of
improving security at Iraq's borders. That is why we are accelerating border
The program we are announcing today is the first stage in a multistage effort to
address security problems exacerbated by Iraq's porous borders, but it will also
assure that when we turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30th
that government will have equipment, staff, training and materials necessary to
operate each of its 20 major border crossing points.
We will monitor, limit and control the number of people crossing into Iraq from
other nations. We will do this with a combination of increased personnel, new
technology and tighter procedures. Right now there are about 8,000 law
enforcement personnel devoted to border security. We will double that number and
then determine if more are needed. We have tested and will begin deploying a
system called PISCES, a system to positively ID everyone entering or leaving
Beginning with the Iranian border, we will limit the number of ports of entry
across Iraq's borders. The Iran-Iraq border will be reduced to three ports of
entry. All visitors arriving to Iraq by land will need to present a passport,
fill out an entry form, be issued a temporary entry card and be entered into an
immigration monitoring system.
Data from entry cards will be loaded into the PISCES system, which will also
provide border enforcement officials a means to conduct checks for wanted
subjects and provide a photograph of each visitor.
We expect this process will increase security without unduly burdening
legitimate travelers or commerce.
We are aware of and have taken into account the importance of religious pilgrims
visiting Iraq's holy sites. Special procedures will be put into place to
accommodate increased flows during religious holidays.
We recognize the challenges inherent in trying to secure Iraq's porous borders,
but we must continue to do more. We owe this to the Iraqi people. And having
consulted with the Iraqi minister of interior and other Iraqi officials, we will
begin implementation of this program.
With that, we are happy to take your questions. Jim?
Q I'm just wondering which agencies will have access to this PISCES system. Will
any U.S. agencies, especially intelligence agencies or law enforcement agencies,
have access to this? Will it be networked back to the States, so that folks in
Washington can keep tabs on folks coming in and out of Iraq, A?
And then B, will you be collecting biometrics at all, photos, fingerprints, iris
scans, anything like that?
MR. SENOR: The PISCES system has been used for a number of purposes in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has -- it is a multi-use technology system. No
final determination has been made at this point about the expansiveness of the
program and the degree to which it will be used to address some of the issues
you've raised. That was something we will look into and consider as we begin
Q Alistair Wangton (sp), Fox News. During Saddam's days, the border with Iran
had only a couple of border crossing points open. When did so many open up? And
what was the thinking in allowing such freedom of movement --
MR. SENOR: There are 19 ports of entry right now along the Iranian border. We
are reducing that number to three.
Some of those ports have been in dilapidated condition for some time and have
effectively been non-functional. But despite the fact that they have been
non-functional, some individuals have been able to sneak through when they were
closed. And while we have opened others, even though they have been
dysfunctional and have been, as I said, in a dilapidated state, they have been
accessed by individuals attempting to cross the border.
Right now, we will be investing substantial funds in improving -- refurbishing
the three sites that we will be limiting all access to. If you look here --
(steps away from microphone) -- (off mike) -- Muntheriyah (ph) is in the best
shape. That one will only require approximately half a million dollars to
refurbish. The two others that we will be working on will require $2 million
each to repair. So that total cost will be $4.5 million. It's Muntheriyah (ph)
that only requires half a million, and Zurbatiyah and al-Shalamija (ph), if you
go north to south, require $2 million each. We will get those -- like I said,
like some of the other 19 or some of the other 16, two of the three that we will
be limiting access to are still in rough condition. Temporary, short-term
measures; we'll be bringing in trailers and other facilities to serve as a
stop-gap while we are expending the funds to get them up and running.
Q Thanks, Dan. Mark Stone, ABC. The issue of border control has been an issue
for quite some time now. Why has it taken two huge bombings and the deaths of
scores of Iraqis for you to sort out the borders? As one Governing Council
member told me today, it's too little and it's too late.
MR. SENOR: Well, we have said all along that Iraq's borders are difficult to
secure. They are very porous borders. It's a topographical fact of life that
these borders are longer than the U.S.-Mexican border, for example -- totality
of Iraq's borders. And you know the difficulties and the extremes with which we
go to protect the U.S.-Mexican border. That's the first thing.
Secondly, we would hope that some of the governments of countries that border
Iraq take more aggressive steps to stem the flow of individuals, specifically
foreign fighters who are using their borders to access this country. That is a
problem that we have seen to be on an increasing scale recently, not decreasing.
And so we would also encourage governments bordering Iraq to do more to stem the
flow of individuals crossing illegally.
Finally, Mark, shortly after the liberation, and even as recently as the past
couple of weeks, there have been a number of Islamic religious holidays that
have involved religious pilgrimages. It's the first time in 35 years, really,
that Iraqis and Muslims in this country, and their co-religionists from other
countries, could freely move across these borders to participate in religious
pilgrimages. This is something we wanted to encourage, not discourage, and it
continues to be something we want to encourage, not discourage. And so we
thought it inappropriate to try to shut down the borders immediately, just when
there was this burst of activity among a newly liberated Islamic population
here. And even if we had wanted to shut it down completely, I would argue that
we couldn't do it anyway, because of the reasons I said earlier: these are very
And finally, in December Ambassador Bremer signed the CPA Public Order Number
16, which imposed a border policy, albeit difficult to enforce. It required
entry permits to be filled out, to be, you know, applied for and filled out and
granted. And in order to execute the program there was a dependence on not only
border control stations along the border, but border control stations in other
countries, relying on Iraqi embassies.
When we have spoken to Iraqis who have returned to their respective embassies,
particularly officials who have returned to the Iraqi Embassy in the United
States, for example, these embassies are in terrible condition; they are
completely dilapidated; they are, effectively, just totally abandoned; in some
cases people have not been operating there in years. People who did operate
there in many cases were former Mukhabarat agents. It would have been very hard
to -- with regard to Public Order 16, which was our first effort to improve
border control, it would have been very difficult to rely on some of these
border stations to implement the entry permit program.
GEN. KIMMITT: And I would also take issue with your comment at the beginning,
that nothing had been done. I've stood at this podium, we've stood at this
podium for many months talking about the number of personnel that are stopped on
a daily basis -- at Tanif, Arar, Trebil -- turned back, sent back to Syria, sent
back to Jordan, sent back to Iran. I don't think this is a matter that we are
coming out here saying we have done nothing and now we are going to do
something. It is clearly a case that we have been saying for months and months
that we have been doing something and we're now going to do something more.
MR. SENOR: And actually, to General Kimmitt's point: We have over 8,000 security
personnel along the borders already; we're going to be doubling that and doing
much more. And certainly the immigration processing staff is going to increase.
Right now there are just under a hundred who process cross-border entry and that
number will be now concentrated at three stations rather than the larger number
-- at least along the Iranian border. And we're going to increase that number by
next -- towards the middle of next year, to a thousand of immigration processing
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: We -- our experience thus far has been that the cross-border controls
have been tighter along some of Iraq's other borders -- the Jordanian border,
the Turkish border, Saudi border, the Kuwaiti border. We have recognized a lot
of problems along the Iranian border. We have recognized serious problems along
the Syrian border. This policy will apply to all of Iraq's borders, but it is a
multiphased implementation program and plan, and the first phase will be the
Iranian border. The second will be the Syrian. We have less concern at this
point about traffic along those other borders.
(To General Kimmitt.) Do you have anything? All right.
Yes, Tom. Go ahead.
Q Just to follow up on that question, really. Does this reflect intelligence or
beliefs that the greatest threat in terms of foreign fighters coming over is
over that Iranian border, and is that why this one was given top priority? Or
did that play into the decision to give this top priority?
MR. SENOR: I would just say -- I would just refer to Ambassador Bremer's
repeated statements -- not only Ambassador Bremer; several senior members of the
administration -- but in particular Ambassador Bremer's repeated statements over
the past few months that the Iranians must do more to discourage the traffic of
undesirables -- in some cases foreign fighters, in other cases undesirables --
from illegally crossing the border.
We have consulted with the Iranians on this policy. There is a delegation of
Iraqis right now who are in Tehran that departed earlier today. It includes
members of Iraq's Governing Council who are involved in the discussion. So this
is something we believe that the Iraqi leadership -- the Iraqi Governing Council
wants. It's something that the Iraqi Ministry of Interior supports. We believe
it's something the Iranians want, but we would encourage them to play a more
aggressive role in doing their part from their end to make it more difficult for
people to illegally cross the border.
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: Well, in one case the handover of sovereignty does not stop the
process of enhancing the border control and the border monitoring program that
we're putting into place. We will continue to have a responsibility to man,
train and equip the border police, and also continue to work side by side with
them to bring them up to a level of competence that would allow them at some
time in the future to carry on that mission independently. The handover of
sovereignty and the standing up, equipping, increasing the size and the training
of the border police are disconnected in time.
Q A few days ago, General Swannack was here briefing in this very room and was
raising a concern about the level of equipment the border patrol has in his area
of operations, which is Al Anbar province, which borders Syria, which is
obviously a concern to you guys in terms of infiltration. He said that they only
have about three to five buses and a couple of small trucks for their border
patrol, for that entire 800- or so kilometer border.
You guys have talked about having a staff of 8,000. You're going to double it.
When are you going to get the equipment these people need to patrol the borders
and to sort of do their job, so they can be out, you know, driving up and down
there to find people? Thanks.
MR. SENOR: Rajiv, in the supplemental that was passed, that Congress
appropriated last year, there was $300 million dedicated to the Department of
Border Enforcement, under the Ministry of Interior, a large percentage of which
is dedicated to equipment. We are deploying those funds -- we are in the process
of deploying those funds to increase the requisite
Just as an example, in one area right now, are we in the process of -- we -- the
Ministry of Interior has acquired 300 new four-by- fours -- four-by-four
vehicles, land vehicles, for border security. And those are going to be sent out
to accommodate personnel on the front lines.
But we have the funds dedicated. We're in the process of expending them. It's
all in motion right now. And it's certainly a high priority.
GEN. KIMMITT: And of that 300 (million dollars), 150 (million dollars) is going
-- directly going to the process of equipping and the products for the
equipping, as well as 107 (million dollars) for construction. The final 43
million (dollars) of that will be going to the training of the border police.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Shobi (sp) for NHK. I understand that senior officials in the Bush
administration have been quite busy naming and shaming the neighboring countries
before, like Syria. And can I understand that this new measure is like based on
goodwill, saying that, well, if we have time to blame others, why not we improve
our side first?
MR. SENOR: I'm sorry. What's the second part of your statement? If --
Q Is this new measure based on the idea that you guys realize that it's better
to improve the Iraqi side before blaming the other side?
MR. SENOR: I think both are necessary. It is important to send a very clear
signal to governments of countries that border Iraq that enough is enough, that
they need to do more to stem the flow of foreign fighters coming across their
border into Iraq's. That is one part of it.
Another part of it is to improve security along the Iraqi border, improve the
quality of the Iraqi border guard service.
The second element is a challenge for reasons I've said before, because the
borders are porous, because they are so lengthy. But as I said, it -- quoting
Ambassador Bremer's statement, it doesn't mean we can't do more. It doesn't mean
should try to do more. And certainly doing the things that we're doing --
decreasing the number of ports of entry from 19 to three, decreasing the number
of individuals that will be allowed to cross, increasing the number of
immigration officer staff, installing this high-tech PISCES system, increasing
the number of border patrols, doubling the border police force, decreasing the
length of stay that individuals are allowed when crossing, and requiring
passports for entry into the country -- the combination of all those tools and
elements will help improve the situation. And that, we believe, combined with
some of the other things we are doing, including encouraging foreign governments
bordered with Iraq to do more to stem the flow themselves, can make a
Q When do you plan to actually start this? But also, as you are doubling the
Iraqi personnel on the borders, are you planning to reduce the coalition
security forces there? And finally, sir, this is part of a multi-stage effort to
combat security problems. What is the next thing once you've got the security of
the border sorted out? Thank you.
MR. SENOR: We are announcing the first stage right now. We will give you the
details on the next stage when we are ready to announce it.
The reduction of the number of points of entry from 19 to three will take effect
one week from today, so within one week those 16 ports of entry will be shut
down. Doubling the border patrol personnel, increasing the number of immigration
officers on duty, doubling the border patrol from over 8,000 to 16,000,
increasing the number of immigration officers on duty from 86 to 1,000, both
those will take effect -- initiatives will take effect sometime in the middle of
next year. So over the next few months we will be working on those.
GEN. KIMMITT: With regard to the coalition forces, we do not see the doubling of
the border police as an opportunity to save force structure on the part of the
coalition. I'm not aware of any options where we're looking at this as an
opportunity to pull coalition soldiers away from this mission. It would be
additive to, not an opportunity to replace them.
MR. SENOR: And -- sorry, Deborah (sp) -- on the visas, visas will begin in
several months. We will begin the entry permits immediately over the next few
weeks, but visas, certainly tourist visas will begin in the next few months. The
requirements about length of stay and the related administrative items will take
effect immediately for new entrants coming into the country.
Q Thanks. Two things. Can you just clarify? Did you say the number of border
guards and so forth will take place sometime next -- in the middle of next year,
then a year from now?
MR. SENOR: Yes -- no, it's a gradual process. So we expect to have it completed
by the middle of next year.
MR. SENOR: Doubling the number of border guards and increasing the number of
immigration processing staff by almost tenfold.
Q Okay. And on the visas and permits of entry, what sort of things are people
going to have to present? Does this mean an Iranian, for example, will have to
go to an embassy in Iran, or will he be able to turn up at the border? Will you
have to pay and that sort of thing?
MR. SENOR: The way it'll work is, you will have to require a -- you will have to
present a valid passport. And there will be exceptions made on a case-by-case
basis for religious pilgrimages, where we can get advance verification of
manifests, for instance, of buses that are coming over, of people participating,
situations where we have in a concentrated period of time a large number of
individuals coming. We will still subject them to the PISCES tracking system so
we can monitor who's coming in, but we will make exceptions for expedited
processing on a case-by-case basis.
And what was the other question?
Q (Off mike) -- people have to pay? Will people have to go to an embassy in
advance and apply for a visa and sort of --
MR. SENOR: Yes. Yes.
Q So will there be a system of rejection for some of them?
MR. SENOR: The entry form can be filled out at the border, at the border
station. And the card will be issued -- the entry cards or the entry permit,
before visas are available, will be issued at the border. And the fees are being
determined. There possibly will be some sort of levy. We will -- and that could
be processed either at the border or at an embassy. That's going to be
determined in the days and weeks ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Off mike) -- how will you deal with these illegal
GEN. KIMMITT: We will continue to deal with the illegal crossing points the way
that we have been up to this point. We will use a combination of military and
border police forces to either be assigned to that area, spot checking that as
necessary, patrolling as necessary, using technical aspects to keep an eye on
those areas, also using other -- unattended ground sensors, for instance. But we
expect that there will still be a capability, along with this program, for
coalition forces and Iraqi security forces to maintain some level of visibility
on those illegal crossing points.
MR. SENOR: Yes. Go ahead. Yeah.
Q Hi. Jill Carroll with ENSA (ph). I thought I heard you guys say earlier that
part of the PISCES system would be to monitor people that are within the country
after they cross. Did I misunderstand that, or what would that entail if it did?
MR. SENOR: Well, the way it works is when you enter the country, you will have
to apply for a permanent entry card, which will be issued, and the information
from that card will be entered into the PISCES system. And that way an alert
goes off, so to speak -- the individual's monitoring traffic, based on using
that system -- we'll know if someone hasn't crossed back through the border.
So there will be a limit on how long individuals can stay. That limit is being
determined right now. It will be a much more narrow time period than the 90 days
currently allowed in CPA Order Number 16. It will be a much shorter period and
we will know when people enter, and then if they're violating that we will know
who we need to look for for possible deportation.
Right now with the PISCES system, it's a very sophisticated, high-tech
instrument, and we have 36 individuals -- Iraqis trained for use right now that
we can begin to deploy. We are also going to be deploying two trainers who are
more senior within the border guard who can increase the number of individuals
that will be staffing that system.
Q Sorry, this is a multi-part question.
MR. SENOR: Sorry?
Q Multi-part, I'm sorry.
MR. SENOR: Multi-part.
Q Can you tell us -- give us your estimate of the number of Iranians who did
come in here for the Ashura? Can you tell us what intelligence you can divulge
about the involvement of Iranians, if any, in the Ashura attacks?
And finally, General Kimmitt would certainly and the U.S. forces would certainly
understand, given the entry of the special forces into Iraq in the weeks and I
believe months before the war, how you can cross large sections of this border
undetected because they're desert, not because they're mountains. Is it
realistic to think -- you know, you go down south of Amman in Jordan to the
Bedouin areas there and they will tell you that for -- you know, for the time of
Saddam that if you couldn't get a visa, which many of us couldn't, we'll get you
to Baghdad in 24 hours if you give us $1,000, no problem. How realistic is it to
think that you can do a better job than Saddam Hussein, who goodness knows had
his means of control?
MR. SENOR: I can answer the first question. We don't have an exact number at his
point with regard to the number of individuals that came in for Ashura. We do --
and we intend to background on this shortly -- we do have data that we feel
confident in with regard to the hajj and travel that went to, fro and through
Iraq during the hajj. We are still trying to compile information for Ashura. It
is difficult, John, to compile, as you can imagine, under the loose system that
has existed up to this point. We -- certainly with the implementation of the
PISCES program, we hope to be able to better monitor, better track, better
account for --
Q Are we talking about tens of thousands?
MR. SENOR: I don't want to -- I really don't want to get drawn into numbers
here. We are compiling that information, and when we are confident in the
information we have, we will make it available to you.
GEN. KIMMITT: On the second question about intelligence pinning towards Iranian
influence and Iranian participation in the Ashura bombings, one would hope that
we are not trying to connect that the first effort on border control increase on
the Iranian border is somehow either responsive to or linking the Iranians to
bombings in Ashura. That is where we are putting our first priority because
that's where we feel we need to put the first priority. But we have no evidence
at this point, no intelligence that I'm aware of, that links the bombings in
Karbala and Baghdad to any Iranians that we currently have under custody -- or
And on your third question about a reasonable expectation of what can be
accomplished in terms of border control, border sealing, I think a better term
to use would be "border monitoring." We have the capacity and the capability to
monitor the borders. As you said, at 3,600 kilometers, it would be impossible to
control and seal the borders of Iraq. That's why we see border control, border
monitoring, as only one of the aspects of how we are going to prevent foreigners
from coming in this country, operating with impunity inside this country, and
presenting a risk to the people of Iraq. We have said time after time that this
is one of the aspects, but it has to be to prevent terrorism coming from outside
the borders from Iraq, this cannot be stopped simply at the borders; it must be
fought and it must be controlled throughout the width and breadth of the country
The borders are the first line of defense. The second line of defense is within
your own towns, within your own cities as you rely on your Iraqi security forces
to hunt down these people that are trying to kill your fellow citizens. The
third line of defense is every citizen inside this country who is responsible
for taking their knowledge of people that don't belong in their neighborhood,
who come in and out at night, and in the back of their trucks they're loading
and unloading items that you don't really understand what they're doing; taking
that intelligence, taking that information, passing it on to the Iraqi security
forces, to the forces of public security, to the coalition forces so we can use
that information to go after those persons and preempt and prevent the kind of
terrorist attacks which this whole program is trying to accomplish.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: And we don't disagree with you. In fact, I wrote a note that we
should be taking more questions from the Iraqi press.
Q (In English.) For the Iraqi end, because -- (laughs) -- you always give
everything to the Europeans.
(Continuing in Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: We are hoping that the Iranians, as I said earlier, will do more to
stem the flow of illegal border traffic across their border with Iraq. And we
have sent that signal to them on multiple occasions. We have sent that signal o
the Syrians on multiple occasions. There is a delegation of Iraqi officials that
are in Tehran today that will be addressing, among other things, among other
issues, they will be addressing border issues with the Iranian government. So we
hope for more cooperation from the Iranians.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: Certainly we have no way of knowing an exact percentage, but
sadly, we must acknowledge that the number of detainees that we have in the
detention facilities at this time are roughly around 10,000. And of that 10,000,
less than 150 are persons that hold foreign passports. So as a rough percentage,
for every 100 Iraqis who we detain as an imperative threat to the security of
Iraq, we will detain about one to two foreigners.
While it is true that those numbers alone do not measure the capabilities and
the destructiveness, and it could well be that a well-trained foreign terrorist
who comes into this country is a force that exceeds a hundred, perhaps, Iraqis,
for the amount of destruction he or she can cause, simply the facts are that at
this point far more Iraqis -- Iraqi citizens are being held as security threats
to this country than foreigners, by a very, very large measure.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (In Arabic) --
MR. SENOR: You're learning from your American colleagues.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Off mike) -- that would be played by the coalition
forces even after handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis.
MR. SENOR: There are 27 border points -- ports of entry across all of Iraq's
borders right now. The Iranian border consumes 19 of those. And within one week
of today, that number will be reduced to three, the three that I indicated
To your question about religious visits, pilgrimages, we recognize that special
circumstances will dictate expedited procedures on a case-by-case to accommodate
the large influx of individuals participating in religious pilgrimages. And we
will address those on a case-by-base cases (sic). But it doesn't that because
Iraqis on the receiving end of religious pilgrimages, that we cannot work with
the Iraqis to develop a broader, more comprehensive, more aggressive border
security policy that applies throughout the year, including during times of
religious holy days. And that's what we're doing.
Do you want to answer the --
GEN. KIMMITT: And the Iraqi border police, as one of the Iraqi security forces
-- to your question about what will be the role of the coalition forces
post-June 30th, we will continue to work along with the Iraqi security forces in
a partnership to enhance capability, to equip, to help recruit and to train
those forces. The border police are included in that overall program. So we do
not anticipate stopping our efforts on June 30th, but will continue to work side
by side to see this program through fruition.
MR. SENOR: Carol, go ahead.
Q I have two quick questions. One is how many were on the border force before,
and is this new reconstituted force largely the previous border patrol? And the
other thing is it sounds like you're consolidating on the Iranian side to do a
better job of profiling, so has intelligence indicated that some of these
attacks by foreign fighters have been carried out by people who came through
legitimate border posts as opposed to the mountainous region that John (sp) was
MR. SENOR: On your first question, I don't have a number of the size of the
border patrol pre-April 9th. But the way the program right now is being
implemented is there is a eight-week training program for new hires, individuals
that have never served in a police capacity. They effectively go through the new
hire police training program that we have in place for the Iraqi police service,
and then there is an additional training program after that that is unique to
border patrol. We also have an expedited program for individuals that served in
some sort of border policing function under the former regime that just need a
shorter program not so much for the basic border patrol skills, but addressing
issues that involve border patrol in a modern, democratic Iraq.
Do you want to answer the role of the coalition?
GEN. KIMMITT: The coalition will continue to work alongside the border police.
We have no substantial evidence that specifically points to the border crossing
-- the authorized border crossing points as being the source of our largest
problems. However, it certainly is the case that the amount of equipment, the
type of equipment that we've seen come across and used in some of these attacks
would have to either come from inside the country or transported from abroad. It
would be very difficult in many of these illegal crossing points, since they're
in some cases just small trails, breaks in the woods, so on and so forth, for
them to get through. So if you are a foreign fighter who wanted to bring
equipment into this country, if you know you had a large amount of equipment
that you wanted to bring into this country and you knew that the border crossing
sites, the points of entry, were not well monitored, that would be the best
place to go through. So that's why we're looking at that -- those authorized
border crossing sites as the first place to tighten up. And frankly, all we're
talking about today is what we are going to be doing on those border police
points and not talking about other military operations and other military
actions that the coalition may take in those non-guarded points along the
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: Immediate deportation. When we determine that someone is in the
country illegally, we will seek, and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior will seek,
to apprehend them immediately and deport them.
Q First of all, did the decision to shrink the number of border crossings -- was
that reliant on any complicity in any way from Tehran? Secondly, is Iran going
to be held in any structured way of -- in the number of people that they may put
into their own borders, in any way that they will be held accountable for
reenforcing those borders?
MR. SENOR: On your first question, the reason the three ports of entry that were
chosen were chosen was because they are the largest and the most frequently used
by Iranians. We made the decision that in order to get a better control of the
border we just needed to reduce the volume of locations, the number of locations
that people could cross through and concentrate the staff, concentrate the
expertise, concentrate the knowledge in just a select few areas And we picked
the ones that were the easiest to get up and running, the easiest to improve
upon, and where the most traffic already occurred.
What was the second question? Sorry.
Q Will the Iranians be held to any accountability? Are you looking for hard
figures in numbers of their reinforcing their own border?
MR. SENOR: No decision has been made at this point in terms of what we are
specifically asking of the Iranians from a tangible standpoint, anything short
of our broader message, which is that they have to play their part here and they
have to do a much better job, they have to be much more aggressive at stemming
the flow of cross- border traffic. We will be limiting the overall number of
individuals that can come into Iraq, and certainly that will affect Iranians.
And once we begin to make determinations about those numbers, we will,
obviously, communicate them.
Q Could I just follow that up? Are you concerned in any way that these new
strict measures might precipitate sort of a "hurry up" offense for the people
that have been coming into this country?
GEN. KIMMITT: No.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: The policy is quite clear. There will be no effort to discriminate
against individuals that want to come into this country legally and who are
willing to abide by the specified requirements in terms of length of stay, and
certainly individuals that do not have ill intentions for Iraq. So we have no
reason to believe that commerce here in Iraq will be affected negatively by the
implementation of this policy. In fact, one could argue that commerce and
general economic life will be improved to the extent to which this policy helps
deter and helps collapse efforts by foreign fighters to come into this country,
who have been coming into this country and, we have from time to time reason to
believe, played a role in wreaking havoc in this country, which certainly
doesn't make it a friendly economic environment for Iraqis or foreigners. And so
hopefully, it will play a small part in helping to turn that tide.
A couple more. Yes, sir?
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: There's $300 million in the appropriations package that the U.S.
Congress has passed last year and the president signed -- the president of the
United States signed into law for Department of Border Enforcement,
approximately 35 million (dollars) of which is for training. That is U.S.
taxpayer funding deployed for the training of Iraqi border police.
The British will be playing a role in their sphere, where they are -- where they
have an area of responsibility. They will be involved with some of the training.
The Ukrainians will also be playing a role in one section.
(To the general.) I don't know if you have anything to add.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. You asked if this was going to be us or the Ministry of the
Interior. When we refer to "us," we actually include the Ministry of the
Interior. I mean, obviously Mr. Badran and General Ibrahim are actively involved
in this program. We are -- this is not a coalition effort. This is a coalition
and Iraqi effort. The money is being provided primarily from external sources,
but with the manpower and the efforts primarily provided from the inside. This
is not meant to be done in isolation but, quite frankly, is meant to be a
partnership between the Ministry of the Interior and the coalition.
MR. SENOR: And I would add that just today Ambassador Bremer was in Wasat and
Kut and received a briefing from Ukrainian -- from our coalition -- from
coalition officials from Ukraine who are involved with border security issues
along the Iranian border.
Last question. I know you are waiting patiently back there.
Q Considering or talking about border crossings, can you just tell us if there
is a White House official going to be making a border crossing into Iraq any
time soon to talk to the Governing Council?
MR. SENOR: That is a very clever segue, I must say. (Soft laughter.) Do you have
a follow-up to that?
Q Actually, this is related to this: Do you expect that this program will any
way decrease attacks by foreign fighters inside Iraq in the foreseeable future?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yes.
MR. SENOR: Was that related to that question? Okay.
GEN. KIMMITT: But I don't want to trivialize the question, because it is an
important question. And it is just one of many programs that we have trying to
reduce not only the foreign fighter presence inside this country, but it's one
of those elements of an overall strategy to defeat all terrorist threats inside
When one looks at the marginal improvements, the significant improvements that
we are making as a part of this program, you can't take it in isolation, but you
must understand it in the entire context of this is just one aspect of the Iraqi
security forces that continue to grow on a day-by-day basis.
Of the coalition forces, approximately 130,000 coalition forces; Iraqi security
forces, 200,000 and growing -- every one of those forces dedicated to trying to
bring stability and security to this country.
If you take a microscope and simply think that this all going to be solved by an
increase in the number of border police, I think you'll be horribly
disappointed. It is entirely an overall approach to the security of this
country, which includes the Iraqi security forces, the coalition forces, the
Iraqi border police, the Iraqi police service, the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi
Civil Defense Corps, all of those growing every day, becoming competent every
day, the intelligence increasing every day. And we are hoping that those efforts
of the 350,000-plus are going to lead to fewer and fewer attacks.
MR. SENOR: And to your other question, your subtle segue, yes, I think there was
some confusion in some of the reporting. The visitor who arrived today is
Ambassador Robert Blackwill, who is a member of the NSC staff, who comes here on
a very regular basis, who's here probably every four to six weeks. Part of his
portfolio is Iraq and so he comes here regularly to help support Ambassador
Bremer and the team. Today's visit is just one of those frequent trips. He was
here a few weeks ago, he'll probably be here in another few weeks. So for
operation security reasons related to his travel, the White House -- any agency
within the administration -- never publicizes travel of senior level officials.
I know it adds to the intrigue when they won't announce it and someone leaks to
a newspaper that someone is coming, but this is part of his regular travel. He
was here a few weeks ago, he'll be back in a few weeks, so it is not an illegal
Q Is he meeting with officials?
MR. SENOR: Sorry?
Q Is he meeting with GC officials?
MR. SENOR: I don't know what his schedule is yet, but he comes from time to time
and consults with the coalition, meets with Ambassador Bremer, meets with Iraqi
officials. He's here every few weeks.