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MR. SENOR: Good afternoon.

Just a couple of items on Ambassador Bremer's schedule. He has spent the past 24 hours meeting with individual members of the Governing Council on a number of issues relating to next steps in the political process. He attended a full meeting of the Governing Council this morning, or a partial meeting; I don't know if -- I know a number of members of the Governing Council are out of town, but there was a regular business GC meeting this morning that he attended.

Separately, just following up on the announcement of the other day on borders, we are moving forward with implementation of the program. This was the announcement to decrease the number of ports of entry along the Iranian-Iraq border from 19 ports to three. It is to decrease the number of foreign nationals crossing the border, increase the number of immigration officers at border points, to install the PISCES electronic computer tracking system, to increase the number of border patrols, double the number of border police, increase -- decrease the length of stay of foreign nationals crossing the border into Iraq, and begin to get in motion a process for passport presentation and entry permit application for foreign visitors.

We are now beginning to look at implementation of all those components of the program. Some will take immediate effect; for instance, reducing the number of ports of entry from 19 to three -- that will take place within a few days as I said, over the weekend.

General Kimmitt.


Good afternoon. The area of operations remains relatively stabile. Over the past week there have been an average of 21 engagements daily against coalition military forces, four attacks daily against Iraqi security forces and just over three attacks daily against Iraqi civilian targets. To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,448 patrols, 15 offensive operations, seven raids, capturing 52 anti-coalition suspects and releasing seven detainees.

In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 28 patrols, four offensive operations, and detained 29 anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday a regional government convoy was attacked in Mosul with small-arms fire. Two individuals were killed: the secretary of Labor and Social Affairs, Watsum Abdul Rahim (ph); and his driver. The Iraqi police are investigating this incident.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 255 patrols, four raids, and captured 10 anti-coalition suspects.

Two days ago, the former Ba'ath Party headquarters in Dawar was attacked by a missile fired from a vehicle. The missile did not detonate, and no injuries or damage to equipment were sustained. Also two days ago, an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps convoy was attacked by two car bombs west of Samarra. The convoy was transporting the commander of the 202nd ICDC battalion, and it may have been an assassination attempt on the battalion commander. The battalion commander was not injured, but two soldiers were wounded during the attack, and they were transported and are being treated at the Samarra hospital.

Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid east of Balad. Three targets were suspected of conducting rocket attacks against coalition forces. Forces captured six individuals, to include three targets.

In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 561 patrols, 40 escort missions, and captured six anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday coalition forces were attacked with a roadside bomb while traveling west of Baghdad. The blast killed one soldier from the 30th Enhanced Separate Brigade and wounded one additional soldier.

In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 184 patrols, including 16 independent ICDC patrols, and detained seven anti-coalition suspects. Two days ago, coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-search of five target locations near Khalidiya to kill or capture enemy personnel in the area. The targets were bomb makers and are believed to be directly responsible for an attack on coalition forces that killed one coalition soldier on 29 September. The operation resulted in the capture of three enemy personnel, including the two primary targets.

Yesterday coalition forces conducting another mounted patrol were attacked near Khalidiya. A small pickup truck crossed the median of the road and aimed his vehicle towards a moving fighting vehicle and detonated --

Q (Off mike.)

(Q ?) The translation is very quickly.

GEN. KIMMITT: Apparently we're having some problem with the translation. Let me start over.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: They're working on it.

GEN. KIMMITT: Is the translation working again? Okay.

MR. SENOR: All right.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yesterday, coalition forces conducting a mounted patrol were attacked near Khalidiya. A small pickup truck crossed the median of the road and aimed the vehicle towards a moving coalition fighting vehicle but detonated before reaching the vehicle The driver dove from the vehicle and was subsequently hit by several other cars and killed. At the same time, another bomb was detonated along the right side of the road next to the vehicle in front of the fighting vehicle that was targeted by the car bomb. A coalition soldier suffered lacerations to his forehead but was returned to duty.

In the central-south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 114 patrols, established 37 checkpoints and escorted 37 convoys.

MR. SENOR: And with that we are happy to take your questions.

Yes? Go ahead.

Q (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: That is an issue that will have to be addressed by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, specifically the Department of Border Enforcement and Immigration Controls. It is something they are considering is issuance of a new Iraqi passport, or just beginning to issue versions of the, you know, versions of the old Iraqi passport for new users. But hold up of issuance of passports will not be an issue, regardless of whether or not they go for a new passport or continue to use the old one.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, last night at about 23:30 hours we received a report from the 4th Infantry Division that one of their patrols in the north-eastern portion of the country, one conducting routine border operations was in fact shot and fired upon by what is believed to be personnel wearing uniforms resembling those worn by Iranian border guards. Once being fired upon the soldiers took self-defense measures, returned fire; soon after that broke contact. And as you might imagine, we are now trying to ascertain what actually happened at that scene, and I know that both military and the diplomatic sides of the house are working on this. And we don't see this as revolutionary nor do we see this as a major incident.

MR. SENOR: Yes, Rachel?

Q In today's security briefing about the daily operations, there was a reference to -- that there had been some attacks on air assets. I was wondering if you could go into a bit more detail as to when those attacks occurred and what kind of attacks they were.

GEN. KIMMITT: No, I don't think I mentioned that there were any attack (sic) on aerial assets.

Q This was in the operational -- daily operational briefing that gets e-mailed out, that gets sent out to the various news organizations.

GEN. KIMMITT: That must have been by one of the particular units. I haven't seen that report. Do you know which unit it was?

Q I'm sorry. I don't.

GEN. KIMMITT: Okay. Well, let's take that question, and we can talk about it right after the press conference.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead.

Q Can either or both of you comment on the announcement by the winner of the Spanish election that he's going to withdraw Spanish troops from the operation here?

MR. SENOR: That -- a response to that issue I would defer to Washington, to the U.S. Department of State or the White House. I know they're both -- at least the White House will be holding a press briefing later today, and the State Department likely will as well.



Q Richard Beeston from The Times. Sir, can I just follow up quickly on that one, while we're on the subject? Could General Kimmitt just describe the -- what the Spanish have contributed here and the value of it and how difficult they might be to replace?

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, the Spanish down working in Multinational Division Central South are doing a wonderful job, like all the other coalition forces here. They've had some tragedies over the past few months, as most nations here have, when their colleagues in the Spanish military were attacked on road going down south to Baghdad.

They, like all the coalition forces here, are conducting routine security operations. When necessary, they're conducting cordon-and- search operations to kill or capture enemies of the Iraqi people and the coalition.

We see them as a full partner in the coalition. We certainly see them as no different than all the other major contributing nations, as providing a significant presence here. That not only demonstrates our capability to provide a safe and secure environment, but that this is more than just one or two nations conducting this operation, but it's a coalition, not only in name but in fact, of 35 different nations.


Q Sewell Chan from The Washington Post. General, could you tell us a little bit more about the stabbing of an Army officer early yesterday morning near his residential trailer inside the green zone? Specifically, has anyone been apprehended in this stabbing? It is believed to have been conducted by an Iraqi or by a non-American? And also, what security precautions are you urging civilian and military employees of the CPA to take?

MR. SENOR: Let me just give you the facts first on the incident. During the evening hours of March 13th, a CPA employee was attacked while walking inside the green zone. The victim suffered serious stab wounds to his torso, head and neck.


The victim was transported to the 31st Combat Support Hospital. The victim is a U.S. Army officer. There is an investigation into this incident. It's under way right now. The victim has been transported -- was transported last night to a U.S. military medical facility in Germany and he's in stable condition. Obviously, as I said, there is an investigation under way right now. So we have no details -- no certain details about who the individual was who carried out the stabbing.

Q If I may ask a quick follow-up, do you have any information about whether this is the first such attack within the Green Zone?

GEN. KIMMITT: To my knowledge, this is the first attack of its kind inside the Green Zone.

Alice, here.

Q A question for both of you. Dan, first of all, could you tell us what was the outcome of Ambassador Bremer's meetings with a Sistani representative in Kut at the weekend?

And for the general, the 113th mental health unit rotates out today. Could you tell us what emphasis the Army has been placing on putting combat stress support up on the front line? Thank you.

MR. SENOR: Ambassador Bremer from time to time meets with regional political/religious leaders around the country. Certainly there is much activity on the political track right now, following up to the signage of the Transitional Administrative Law, and it was just an update meeting to touch base and provide details and discuss next steps.

GEN. KIMMITT: Regarding the combat stress facilities that we provide to our soldiers, I am not a psychiatrist. I am not a doctor. But as an operations officer, as a former commander I can tell you that they provide a significant battlefield multiplier in those cases where we see individuals who may be having stress reactions or even indicators of stress while in a combat zone. They are able to, one, diagnose, and two, treat the early stages of what has been called in the past combat stress, combat fatigue, by any number of names. And what we have found as commanders, that the sooner we can get our young soldiers to a professional who has a chance to diagnose and treat, the better chance that we have of getting that soldier back to his unit -- his or her unit -- and be able to provide -- and be able to function within that unit and provide a significant contribution, as opposed to the times years ago when the soldiers were sent out of the theater, lost to the unit, lost to their friends. And as I understand the further away one gets from their unit the less chance there is of that soldier coming back to the unit.

This way it's capability, remedial action, diagnosis and treatment very, very close to the unit. And as a result it can be diagnosed quicker, treated better and the mental health of that individual can be turned around faster so that soldier can get back on the line, doing what he or she really wants to be doing, which is working with their buddies and accomplishing the mission.

MR. SENOR: Ali (sp), go ahead.

Q (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: Regarding the question that you brought up about the borders, we are reducing the border crossing points between Iraq and Iran from 19 to three and looking at other borders with the other countries in the region, and what effect will that have, can that have on preventing or precluding incidents such as we had in Kadhimiya here in Baghdad and Karbala. That is one of many actions that we are taking to try to enhance our capability to identify, preclude these attacks in the future, prevent these attacks in the future, and in those rare occasions when they do occur to better investigate them in the future.

But as we've said many times from up here, the borders are just one element of an overall anti-terrorist, counterterrorist campaign that is being waged in this country, and sadly in many, many countries in the world, as we've seen most recently and most dreadfully in Spain. Everybody's got to be involved in this fight; it can't be left just to the Iraqi security forces, it can't be left just to the coalition forces. Everybody must come together in a partnership against terrorism so that we can identify early, grab those that would try to inflict such horrible damage and horrible casualties on your fellow citizens and my coalition soldiers. And if we work together on that, that is our best chance and the best program we have to reduce these attacks from happening in the future.

MR. SENOR: To your other question, I didn't read what Larry Diamond said, but I can tell you this: Not only did he not put the finishing touches on the interim constitution, he didn't put the first touches on it. The interim constitution was drafted by a drafting committee of the Iraqi Governing Council, chaired by Dr. Adnan Pachachi, and it was unanimously agreed to, article by article, after much negotiation and much compromise, first by subgroups -- caucuses, if you will -- of the Governing Council, and then ultimately by the entire 25-member council. So. I know that Larry Diamond is involved with democracy workshops and important work around the country in that regard, but I don't recall him having a direct role in the interim constitution.

Christine, go ahead.

Q Can you just update us on any information about the two civilian CPA people, if there's any more information on what you know about the investigation. And also, on this stabbing, was the U.S. military person conscious at the time, and did he identify an attacker? And was it American or was it Iraqi; do you have any idea?

MR. SENOR: On the second question, and General Kimmitt can answer the first, we do not know at this point whether or not the attacker was an Iraqi or an American. It's part of the ongoing investigation. We just don't know at this point. He was not conscious immediately after the incident.

GEN. KIMMITT: With regard to the Hillah killing of CPA employees, that investigation, of course, is ongoing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is actively involved in it. Spoke with the agents yesterday. Did not seem as if there was any new information that had come out from either the investigation or the recreation of the crime scene, which would, as I mentioned the other day, indicate that the car of the CPA employees was followed by another car; that car, the car that held the killers in it, came astride the CPA vehicle, shot into the vehicle, and then, in fact, went in front of it, slowed it down, stopped it; and that vehicle, when the shooting was done, veered off to the side of the road, went into, I believe you mentioned, the gully, and that's where -- and then the lead car, with the killers in it at that point, then took off.

It was later on that the car with the alleged killers in it was apprehended. Those personnel are still in custody and the interrogation is ongoing. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no admissions yet or declarations that have come out of those, but it will still be some time before we have all the investigation results and as this case is brought forward.

MR. SENOR: Nigel, go ahead.

Q (In Arabic.)


MR. SENOR: In a democracy, one would expect there to be much heated debate and demonstrations and discussions before an interim constitution is drafted and finalized, and certainly after, certainly once it's released and publicized. And the fact that that is going on right here in Iraq we view as a good sign that Iraqis are thoroughly exercising their newfound freedom of speech. So long as the protests and the debate are nonviolent, we have made tremendous progress.


Q Hi. General Kimmitt, I was wondering if you could tell us about an attack of some sort or an incident of some sort near Baqubah where there was a house destroyed? There's been some reports that five Iraqi civilians were killed, five wounded, and initial reports from the area are saying that it was a U.S. attack. Have anything on that?

GEN. KIMMITT: I don't. We'll see what the latest reports have, but that sounds like one of those reports that would have come in quick and we would have already had the information on it.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead.

Q (In Arabic.)


GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, about the number of attacks against civilian vehicles as they're traveling on the roads in the west from Syria or perhaps Jordan, we do have a significant coalition presence out there. We do have significant Iraqi police service presence out there, as well as the border police service.

It is our procedure that if we see an attack going on, that coalition forces and the Iraqi police services will of course intervene. I'm not sure that at this point it is flawless out there, that every attack on a civilian vehicle transiting that area is stopped, nor is it actually -- is there always an opportunity for the coalition and the Iraqi police to intervene. But that's probably a process more -- just as we continue to grow the size of the Iraqi security services in the west, we may have a better coverage of that area.

MR. SENOR: As to your first question, any negotiations about future status of Spain in the coalition will be addressed in the U.S. capital by the White House or the State Department. So I will defer to them.

But obviously Spain is valued member of the coalition, as General Kimmitt has said, that has -- the Spaniards have performed heroically and are critical to our efforts here. But any process issue relating to their role going forward will be addressed by others, not by me.

Go ahead.

Q Steve Inskeep from National Public Radio. Two-part question, but at least they're about the same thing. You alluded earlier to the changes in the border crossings and mentioned that this might prevent attacks like the ones at Kadhimiya and Karbala. First off, is there any evidence to date that there was some kind of foreign involvement in those attacks? And secondly, Ahmed Chalabi, I believe, has been quoted in the last day saying that after June 30th, he would be inclined to roll back your border changes and reopen the border crossings. Whose responsibility will the border crossings be after June 30th?

GEN. KIMMITT: With regards to the ongoing investigations of the attacks in both Baghdad and Karbala, I'm not sure that we are yet at the point where we can as certain whether this was done by Iraqi citizens or if it was done by persons that came in from outside.

MR. SENOR: On your second question, most of the security issues post-June 30th will be issues for a sovereign Iraqi government to address. We will have a bilateral relationship with the Iraqi government, and we'll work on these issues with them. Our tools at our disposal will switch from being tools of occupation to tools of diplomacy, and we will have a very involved relationship in Iraq, for obvious reasons, not the least of which is, we'll be deploying close to $20 billion just in the U.S. side here post-June 30th. So we'll be very involved. But our status will be that of an invited guest, rather than an occupier, and so a number of these issues will have to be made by a future Iraqi government, in coordination with us. But they will be the lead on it.

Q I mean, statements -- if I could follow up, statements have been made that substantial security authority will remain with the United States. Do you know specifically about border control?

GEN. KIMMITT: The Department of Border Enforcement will continue to receive policy and -- from the follow-on to the Coalition Provisional Authority, working with the Ministry of the Interior. For the time being, as the coalition forces continue the process of manning, training and equipping the Iraqi border police service, they will continue to work with the coalition forces, under their control, through agreements that we would expect to be completed before June 30th.

Q Hi -- (name inaudible) -- from CBC. I just have two questions, one with regard to implementation of checkpoints and traffic re-routing around the city and the countryside. In discussing these sorts of things, these sorts of protection things for the Iraqi people and soldiers, in implementing these checkpoints is there any discussion about whether the cure might be worse than the problem? Whether in implementing these checkpoints and traffic re-routings that you might sort of create additional sort of frustrations for people that might indeed make them more hostile toward you?

And also, what's up with Saddam? I mean, what's -- where is the guy? I mean, what's he doing? What's happening with him? Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: Let me tell you what's up with Saddam. He is currently in coalition custody in a safe location.

With regards to the question about traffic control points, checkpoints, re-routing of traffic, I've read that there is an old Arab expression, "Don't do a good thing and then throw it into the river." We have to be very careful about balancing the security needs on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the people of Iraq and the coalition forces aren't attacked by terrorists, aren't attacked by IEDs, aren't attacked by gunmen along the roads. To do that, you need to be out there, you need to be visible, you need to be present and you need to be taking action. At the same time, you don't need to turn it into such a totalitarian highway system that the people of Iraq can't get from point A to point B and get on with their lives.

Where is the balance point? That balance point is what our troops and our soldiers are out there every day trying to establish. And understanding with the people of Iraq that these inconveniences are not done for any other reason than for their protection; that these impediments to their travel are to ensure that that travel is safe. And I hope that every time you pass a coalition soldier who is doing his or her duty that they have a smile on their face and they appreciate that you along with them are sacrificing for the betterment of this country.


Q (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: To your first question, there can be changes and amendments so long as a majority of Iraqis support it in a referendum and the only thing that could prevent majority support -- sorry, the only thing that could prevent majority turnover of any provision within the interim constitution is if two-thirds of three provincial governates vote the opposite direction and that it provides to some of these key elements within the interim constitution.

To your second question, we have no doubt that there will be some violators of the new border policy, but that is no reason to not get aggressive in enforcing our border policy. And because some individuals will slip through the cracks and we'll continue to have an illegal cross-border problem, we still must move and forge ahead to address this issue. And we believe this policy that we've announced will do more to improve the situation than less. It will be a net positive.


Q (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, on the first issue, of the inconveniences that are borne by the people of Iraq as coalition forces are conducting their operations, as I said earlier, the issues of blocking the roads, this is one of those balance points that we need to find providing security but also providing liberty.

GEN. KIMMITT: But on the second point, about the killing --

Q Excuse me, sir, but I mean -- (off mike) -- Baghdad, not -- (off mike).

GEN. KIMMITT: And I'm talking about throughout the entire country.

Q (Off mike.)

GEN. KIMMITT: And they certainly do. And of those accidents, we have a very good claims procedure, where any minor accidents -- or any major accidents, for that matter -- where a citizen of Iraq believes that there have been some problems and they are seeking compensation, they are able to make claims to the coalition forces through the Iraqi security forces. Many of those claims, over 5,000 of those claims have been determined and have been finalized. Right now I believe the number is somewhere on the order of 4 billion Iraqi dinars have been paid out in compensation.

In those unfortunate incidents where there are shootings, as we peel back -- as we say, peel back the onion, we understand -- all of us must understand the frustrations of driving the roads that have a significant amount of checkpoints, convoys going past and forth, that we all must be very calm and very careful on those roads so that frustration and that aggression that is building up does not lead to an unfortunate incident where, because of the speed, because of the aggressive nature of the driving, that the coalition forces don't mistake that frustration with an attempted car bomb coming at them, because they will have to act in self-defense.

So, we all need to work together on this to just try to avoid and try to mitigate as much frustration and aggression as there is out on the roads so that we can get on with our lives, both the coalition and the Iraqi security forces can do their job, the citizens of Iraq can get on with their lives, and we can reduce the amount of tension and the amount of violence to an absolute minimum.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead, sir.

Q (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: I think there will be an announcement within the next couple of weeks on the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The Iraqi Governing Council, several months ago, Dr. Pachachi announced -- I think it was when his presidency was winding down, in his final press conference announced that there would be the establishment of a Ministry of Defense. And in the next several weeks there will be more information on it. It will be primarily a civilian policy-making ministry. And as the transitional administrative law dictates, Iraq will now have civilian control of the military.

We've got time for one more. Someone who hasn't asked a question.

Go ahead, sir.

Q General Kimmitt, you had mentioned earlier about this balance point that you're trying to achieve. We're coming up on an anniversary here of combat operations, and wondered if you could elaborate -- you and Mr. Senor -- on where you think that balance point is right now, both in security and in terms of the aftermath, the plan that was to be put in place after combat ceased.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, let's talk about the security situation. It is certainly not where we want it to be. Any time you have coalition soldiers getting killed, wounded, attacked by car bombs, attacked by roadside bombs, you know you've got some more work to do before we could satisfied with the security situation.

But if we also put this in context of where we were six months ago, nine months ago, 12 months ago, and recognize that the character of the security situation has changed so dramatically because of the work that is now being done by the Iraqi security forces -- zero on the job a year ago, almost 200,000 on the job now -- the character of the security situation is such that it is becoming more and more Iraqi as a percentage of the total coalition; that coalition, which includes the coalition forces from outside and from inside this country. So we're -- as the security situation is not where we want it to be. Any time you lose an American soldier, any time you lose a coalition soldier you can't be satisfied, but we are absolutely determined to continue to try to maintain a safe and secure environment in this country alongside of our Iraqi security partners and continue to build up the Iraqi security capacity for them to conduct those operations, when one day the coalition military forces from 35 nations have departed.

MR. SENOR: I would just add that what we have seen over the past year is a dramatic decline in sort of random acts of violence, the looting that we saw in the early days following the end of major combat operations. And what we have -- the most dominant form of violence is much more targeted. It is much more purposeful. It is much more politically motivated. It is terrorism. And we have been saying for some time that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terrorism and that those engaging and organizing these attacks are trying to turn back a tide that is moving very quickly towards democracy, towards sovereignty, towards Iraqi political and economic empowerment. And as that progress is made and as we surge forward and as the Iraqi people assume more and more power, it is expected that there will be more attacks.

And the terrorists recognize that the stakes are high in this country. There was a document that we recently released drafted by Mr. Zarqawi that talks specifically about the clock ticking; that time is not on the side of these al Qaeda types; that, as we move closer and closer to June 30th, they must engage in more and more attacks because once June 30th comes and goes, they will lose their pretext -- they will lose their excuse -- for wreaking havoc in this country. And so the attacks we are seeing sadly are directly linked -- in direct response to the progress we are making.

GEN. KIMMITT: But more important, you asked a question simply about security, but what we are doing here is far more that just about security. You look at the major lines of operations: where we are, where the economy has come to in the last year, where the infrastructure has come back over the past year. The oil is pumping. The electricity is flowing. The schools are opening. We often lose context, as we look at it in day-by-day basis, of how much this country has come along in the past year. We have a free, open and very friendly press corps here that asks tough questions. That couldn't have been heard of 18 months ago. Children in the schools right now are learning from books they never could own 18 months ago. The economy is coming back into a free market, not a statist economy.

Are we satisfied? No, we're not satisfied yet. We know we still have work to do. Are the people of Iraq satisfied with the conditions? They shouldn't be satisfied, because the future is going to be better than it is today.

So as we talk about the security situation and as we grieve for every one of those soldiers that we've lost, it's important for us to understand that those soldiers did not die for fortune, they did not die for oil, they did not die for land. They died so that they could bring this country to a condition that hasn't been seen ever but we certainly hope for the people of Iraq, which is a free, democratic and sovereign Iraq at peace with its neighbors and able to enjoy the same types of freedoms and liberty that I, as an American, am allowed to enjoy every day.

MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.



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