COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
WITH DANIEL SENOR, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE CPA;
AND BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR,
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 9:03 A.M. EST
DATE: TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a few announcements on Ambassador
Bremer's schedule, and General Kimmitt has an opening statement. And then we
will be happy to take your questions.
Today the Ministry of Education, the Iraqi Ministry of Education, hosted more
than 200 Iraqi education, business, civic, political and religious leaders, who
have traveled from across the country for a two-day national symposium focusing
on the future of Iraq's educational system. The symposium included a specific
focus on the development of Iraq's curriculum as the nation prepares for the
transfer of sovereignty in less than a hundred days. Media were invited to all
sessions throughout today, and the program, the symposium, will continue
On March 31st, Dr. Alwan, the minister of education, will -- which is tomorrow
-- will hold an English-language press conference to review the events and
outcomes of the two-day symposium.
Earlier today Ambassador Bremer hosted a meeting of Iraq's 25 ministers. It was
approximately a two-hour meeting, in which a number of issues were addressed,
including early preparations for the ministries' 2005 budgets. And other issues
that came up included oil- for-food program documentation, as there has been
several investigations brought to our attention with regard to the oil-for- food
program. And Ambassador Bremer has issued a directive to all the ministries
regarding providing cooperative -- cooperating and providing documentation.
Ambassador Bremer later on in the day had a meeting at the Al- Malrain (sp) law
school, where 50 law school students attended, and he announced continued
appointment of inspector generals to the various ministries. In fact, eight of
the inspectors generals (sic) were in attendance.
And about an hour and a half ago, Ambassador Bremer held a town hall meeting
with approximately 50 Iraqi university students -- and this is for broadcast on
Al-Iraqiyah; it should broadcast within the next 24 hours -- in which a whole
host of issues were addressed. They were -- the questions were posed by the
students, and it was just a free give-and-take.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thanks, Dan.
Good afternoon. The area of operations remains stable, although there has been a
slight uptick in the number of attacks against coalition forces in the past
week. There have been an average of 26 engagements daily against coalition
military, just over five attacks daily against Iraqi security forces and just
over three attacks daily against Iraqi civilians.
Nonetheless, the coalition continued to conduct precision offensive operations
to kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people, in
order to obtain intelligence for future operations and to ensure (sic) the
people of Iraq of our determination to establish a safe and secure environment.
To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,383 patrols, 14
offensive operations, 12 raids, captured 56 anti-coalition suspects and released
In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces
conducted 115 patrols, four offensive operations and detained three
Yesterday Iraqi police were attacked with small-arms fire from a house in Mosul;
two Iraqis were wounded and one apprehended. Inside a vehicle nearby, police
found and confiscated two rocket-propelled grenades and three hand grenades.
Yesterday forces reported that a contractor security patrol was attacked with
small-arms fire northwest of Mosul. The attack resulted in three injured
security employees, later medevac'd to coalition medical facilities. Today three
coalition soldiers were wounded by IED during a patrol of Mosul. There was minor
damage to two vehicles, but all the injured soldiers returned to duty.
Yesterday two Coalition Provisional Authority vehicles were engaged by
small-arms fire. They broke contact and sought refuge at an Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps checkpoint. The ICDC protected them and deployed a quick-reaction force to
the site. After a brief firefight, the ICDC captured two individuals.
In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces
conducted 254 patrols, one raid and captured eight anti-coalition suspects. Two
days ago, coalition forces conducted a raid in southern Kirkuk. The purpose of
the raid was to capture targets suspected of facilitating the entry of foreign
fighters into the area of operation. The force captured a man they believe to be
the target and is currently in custody for identification and interrogation.
In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 620 patrols, 31 escort
missions and captured eight anti-coalition suspects.
Yesterday an Iraqi drove through the do-not-pass sign at a checkpoint. The
guards manning the checkpoint signaled for the driver to stop but he continued
to move forward. The soldiers fired a warning shot, the vehicles stopped for a
few moments and then proceeded forward again. Once the vehicle passed the
no-penetration line, the unit fired one round inside the vehicle wounding the
Iraqi citizen in the arm. The Iraqi citizen was treated on-site and then
transported to the 31st Combat Support Hospital for treatment, and an
investigation has been instigated -- initiated into this incident.
Yesterday two persons in a vehicle threw grenades at the Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps recruiting station on the 14th of July Road. The guards returned fire and
the attackers broke contact. There was no damage to personnel or injuries
resulting from this incident. Two days ago, coalition forces conducted a cordon
and search to capture suspected anti-coalition cell members. The unit captured
three persons, two of them targets from the cell.
In the western zone of operations, a 13th Corps Support Command convoy was
attacked with an improvised explosive device in the vicinity of Al Asad
yesterday. The explosion caused one of the convoy's vehicles to run off the
road, killing one soldier and wounding another. After the wounded soldier was
evacuated by helicopter, the ambush site came under attack with small arms. The
second attack resulted in the detention of seven Iraqis.
At 9:15 this morning, a dismounted patrol was attacked with an improvised
explosive device near Ar Ramadi. The attack resulted in one coalition troop
killed and one wounded. The wounded troop was air medevac'd to the 31st Corps
Support -- Combat Support Hospital.
In the central south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces
conducted 122 patrols, established 54 checkpoints and escorted 39 convoys.
Yesterday coalition forces and Iraqi police conducted a joint operation in Ad
Diwaniyah to close an alleged Shari'a court. One machine gun was confiscated,
and two militants believed to belong to the Mahdi Army were arrested.
Civil Military Cooperation soldiers and the Humanitarian Assistance Center in
Emendi (ph), central south, established a delivery distribution plan for donated
medicine worth 500,000 American dollars.
Six Iraqis, including the bodyguard of the chief of Babil Province were injured
this morning when a suicide bomber killed himself detonating a car bomb near the
chief's home in Al Hillah this morning. The wounded were transported to the Al
Hillah Hospital, where their conditions remain unknown. The Iraqi Police Service
has responsibility for the investigation of this attack.
In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces were tasked to evict
trespassers from local government buildings in Basra yesterday. Forces were
assaulted by a crowd of 50 to 70 personnel who surrounded them, throwing stones
and vandalizing vehicles. After a short period of time, the incident resulted in
two minor coalition casualties, later evacuated to the military hospital nearby.
United States Agency for International Development partner Bechtel is
constructing 56 kilometers of branch rail lines from Umm Qasr to the Shawaba
(ph) Junction and 16 kilometers of port rail sidings to improve the Basra region
MR. SENOR: And with that, we will be happy to take your questions. Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Concerning the arrests or detention of some suspected
near Karbala, as in a statement that there were five suspected which were
detained. Who is this terrorist organization to which they belong? Is it the
first time you discover a terrorist organization in Karbala? And then Mr.
Bremer, did he meet with the delegation of the United Nations which is visiting
MR. SENOR: On the first question, Mr. Bremer has met with one of the teams. Only
one of the teams from the U.N. is here, arrived a few days ago. Mr. Brahimi's
team has not yet arrived, but the first team, led by Ms. Perelli, has been here
for a few days. Ambassador Bremer has met with them on several occasions.
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of the report you're referring to regarding the
apprehension of five terrorists in the vicinity of Karbala. It is not the first
time, if it did happen, that we have apprehended persons with ties to terrorist
organizations in the vicinity of Karbala. As you remember, after the bombings
earlier this year during Ashura we did pick up a number of people north of
Karbala that we believed had associations with a terrorist cell. So again, I'm
not sure which report you're referring to, but it is certainly not the first
time that we have seen persons with terrorist connections in that region.
MR. SENOR: Yes, go ahead.
Q Dan Murphy from the Christian Science Monitor. I guess this is for General
Kimmitt. Why do you think the security situation seems to have deteriorated so
badly in and around Mosul? Thanks.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, that's an assessment that you may be making;
it is certainly not an assessment being made by the personnel up in Mosul. They
did have, over the past few days -- I believe on the 28th and 27th -- an uptick
in the number of attacks. It normally gets somewhere in the order of four to
five attacks per day. On one particular day it spiked up to 12. They are not yet
ready to suggest that it's either a trend as much as it might just be one or two
bad days. They've had a very good day for the last two days, and I know when I
talked to them today they felt that the situation at this point still remains
manageable and they're not really to suggest -- they are not ready at this point
to suggest that the security situation has changed in any appreciable manner.
MR. SENOR: Yeah.
Q Can you confirm that the man the BBC program "Panorama" named as the one who
having turned in Saddam Hussein was Mr. Musslit?
MR. SENOR: One of the things that we traditionally do in our -- among other
things that we do with the persons that come forward to provide information is
honor their desire for anonymity, and so we're not going to either confirm or
deny that that person that you're suggesting on "Panorama" had anything to do at
all with the apprehension of Saddam Hussein.
MR. SENOR: Fiona?
Q General Kimmitt, do you know anything about disturbances in Najaf today, in
which Spanish soldiers were injured?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, we heard that question being asked earlier, and we called
down to the unit. The unit itself, the Multinational Division Central South,
can't confirm that there were any disturbances in Najaf. Doesn't mean they
haven't had it; we just have had no reports of it.
MR. SENOR: Jennifer?
Q The shutdown of Al-Hawza -- were they warned at all? Were there any sort of
letters sent to them before this letter that Bremer sent? And what kind of
message do you think that sends to Iraqi journalists?
MR. SENOR: There was no warning. Under CPA Order Number 14, we are not required
to issue a warning. From time to time, there are cases that we think warrant a
warning, and then other times there are cases that we believe warrant swift
I think our overall message to the Iraqi people is quite clear in events like
this, which we hold on a daily basis. There are over 200 Iraqi newspapers that
have sprouted up since liberation. Many of them are represented at our daily
press conferences, free to ask any questions they want. A group of Iraqi
journalists meet on a weekly basis with Ambassador Bremer. We bend over
backwards to protect the free Iraqi press's right to exist and practice their
trade here in Iraq.
What we will not tolerate, however, is individuals or organizations that seek to
incite violence against the coalition or against Iraqis, whether they're news
organizations or not. We will not allow that sort of activity in an environment
in which are responsible for the security and safety of the local population and
of our forces.
We have a responsibility to protect, to strike a balance. And the balance is
between protecting against incitement of violence while at the same time
protecting the freedom of press. It's often difficult to strike the right
balance. But some cases are clear. And when you have a newspaper like Al-Hawza,
which repeatedly uses rhetoric designed to incite violence against U.S. soldiers
and against the Iraqi people, we have an obligation to step forward and shut
them down. And we did it for 60 days, and we hope that's all it will require.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Can you clarify what was within those five persons that
deserve to call them terrorists (sic)?
GEN. KIMMITT: The -- again, we still have not acknowledged that we captured five
persons who we're calling terrorists. But however, we typically talk about
terrorists -- people that will attack innocent civilians for the sole purpose of
trying to create spectacular effects, symbolic effects. Anybody who uses car
bombs to go against Iraqi police stations, killing a significant number of
persons in the process, innocent civilians, bystanders; anybody who will fire
rockets specifically to kill innocent civilians; anybody who will use suicide
vests to kill innocent civilians, we would label them, we think appropriately
so, the term terrorist.
MR. SENOR: Yeah?
Q Dan, in the wake of these basically protests coming from Ayatollah Sistani,
I'm wondering if there's been any effort at all to try to change his mind, to
get him to soften his criticism of the interim constitution, the TAL. And also
wondering if there's any chance -- are you ruling out the possibility that the
TAL could be changed before June 30th -- any changes to it, as he has been
MR. SENOR: We are moving forward with the TAL. We are moving forward with the
overall political process. The Iraqi Governing Council is engaged in this
effort. They are actually appearing and will be appearing over the next several
weeks in participating in a very organized public effort to promote the
transitional administrative law to the Iraqi people. I think Dr. Adel Mehdi, a
member, prominent member of the -- or deputy member, if you will, of the Iraqi
Governing Council, represents Shi'a community -- will be speaking I think
tonight on the Al-Iraqiyah, tonight or tomorrow night, about the transitional
So I would -- I don't think there's any sort of unanimity among one community on
the transitional administrative law. I think you have multiple communities, and
within those communities multiple voices speaking. We think that's a healthy
process. We would be concerned, as I've said earlier, if there was no
discussion, no heated debate, no difference of opinion after a document like
that was passed. It's a good sign that people are engaged in debate about this.
As for Ayatollah Sistani, we have tremendous respect for him, his point of
views. He represents a long tradition and a great number of Iraqis. And he is a
key voice in this debate, as are all Iraqi political, religious and regional
leaders. And he -- my understanding -- has sent correspondence to the United
Nations with regard to the interim constitution and there is purportedly some
sort of exchange, or could be some sort of exchange, between him and Mr. Brahimi.
And I don't want to speak on behalf of two statesmen, two leaders -- speak on
behalf of the communications they're having with one another. But we welcome all
voices in this process and we're glad that they are contributing to a vibrant
Q Do you know anything about reports from Mosul that 300 police officers have
GEN. KIMMITT: We were asked that last night. We contacted the military units up
in Mosul. They have no knowledge of any such massive resignation on the part of
any number of police up in that region.
MR. SENOR: Here.
Q General, how are Marine operations going in Fallujah? And, Dan, is there any
assessment that these daily Hawza demonstrations are also going outside the
bounds of freedom of expression?
MR. SENOR: They're going -- the demonstrations are going outside the bounds? How
are they going --
Q But do you have any concern that, by expressing their anger or building in
numbers or churning around town daily, this is going to become a problem?
MR. SENOR: Carol, fortunately since April 9th we have seen many people speaking
out and organizing demonstrations, sit-ins. They have -- I attended a Governing
Council meeting once where a group of people were organizing a protest. We've
seen dueling press conferences inside this country since April 9th. This is all
part of the language and rhythm and tone of a free society, and we think whether
individual Iraqis support the measures we take or are critical of the measures
we take that they would all probably agree that freedom of speech, freedom of
assembly is a good thing, and the liberation that came on April 9th was a
welcome development in their daily lives.
As for the individual incidents that are taking place regarding the closing of
Al-Hawza, to my understanding they have been nonviolent and to my understanding
they have not reached the level that would cause concern. But I don't know the
most up-to-date situation with regards to demonstrations. You may have more
information than I do. But to my understanding there has been no real concern
about incitement of violence against the coalition or against Iraqis, which
would obviously be a concern for us if that were occurring.
GEN. KIMMITT: The operations in Fallujah. The Marines are quite pleased with how
they're moving, progressing forward. There was a short period of time, perhaps a
misjudgment on the part of a small number of insurgents out there that believed
with the changeover between the 82nd Airborne and the Marines that somehow there
could be exclusionary zones and areas where the coalition could not or would not
The Marines, knowing that they have a responsibility for a safe and secure
environment throughout the entire Al Anbar province, and fully understanding
their requirement to have freedom of movement throughout the province, went in
there. Some people challenged them. Some people tested them. Some people failed
the test. And the Marines are enthusiastic about, one, maintaining security, but
more enthusiastic about the second aspect of that, which is getting on with the
notion of providing support in that region, so that all citizens in the Al Anbar
province, all citizens in the town of Fallujah will not be terrorized by a small
number of insurgents, but in fact can profit from the significant amount of
civic action projects that they can bring into the town of Fallujah.
So the Marines are quite pleased with how things are going in Fallujah, and
they're looking forward to continuing the progress in establishing a safe and
secure environment and rebuilding that province in Iraq.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q General Kimmitt, Robert Fisk of The London Independent. I notice in your
narrative today that there seems to be a distinction, in what you say, between
terrorists or terrorist cells and insurgents, which is the word you always use
about Fallujah. Could you define the difference between the two words and why
you use the two different words, please?
GEN. KIMMITT: Sure. Yeah. Many of the reporters that have been here for a couple
of months -- I think we have gone through this process of understanding the two
different types of threats that we have seen out over in the region over the
past few months. You've got former regime elements, paramilitary trained in the
Iraqi army, Iraqi intelligence service, who had -- and perhaps still continue to
have -- some sort of idea that they can return, if not a Saddamist government to
power, perhaps could bring some sort of authoritarian Ba'ath-like structure back
to power. They -- those types of insurgents are the ones that we've seen at
length out in Fallujah.
We've seen that most evident in situations such as the attack on the Fallujah
police station about a a month ago, where somewhere on the order of 75
paramilitary attacked the Fallujah police station.
That is a different tactic, and we believe they have a different motive than
what we've seen in other regions of Iraq, where you have a term -- a number of
terms -- suicidal, symbolic and spectacular attacks, done by groups such as
Ansar al-Islam, the Zarqawi network, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,
who, rather than target the coalition in what we would euphemistically call
stand-up fighting, would rather target soft targets using car bombs, going into
masses of people, to try to create a spectacular event with a large number of
civilian casualties, against a symbolic target. Typically this happens against
foreign hotels, Iraqi police service stations. It's happened against the new
Iraqi army recruiting station. It's happened against mosques and against town
halls. And we have often seen with that the use of a suicide car bomb sort of
And those are two different types of threats that we've seen through this
country over the past six to 12 months. The former regime element has something
we spent many, many months working against, fighting against, and we've seen
that threat diminish, but it has not yet been eliminated. The terrorist threat,
which we started to see some of the preliminary signs and signatures and
handiwork, such as the U.N. bombing, the International Committee of the Red
Cross bombing, we've seen that over a period of time too, and in fact, the
latter, the suicide terrorist types of attacks, there's been a minor uptick in
that over the last couple of months as well.
We think this is all coincident with our projections that as we got closer and
closer to handing over governance to this country that there would be those two
distinct groups, sometimes they merge together for common efforts, but who are
trying to stop the people of Iraq from moving to a secure, independent and
sovereign nation, and would either like to see a restoration to an
authoritarian, Ba'ath- like regime of five years ago, or even worse, an
apocalyptic, extremist, sort of Afghanistan/Taliban/al Qaeda type of environment
of five centuries ago. Both of them work together at times, both of them work
independently. They certainly have different motivations. But both of them have
different signature, different characteristics, and we believe, in the end,
MR. SENOR: Yes, go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Can you clarify the nationality of those five that you
recognize them as being terrorists?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm sorry, would you please repeat the question?
Q (Through interpreter.) What are the nationalities of the five that you
mentioned and you consider them as terrorists?
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, the question was asked earlier, can I affirm that there was
an arrest and detention of five terrorists in the vicinity of Karbala. As I
said, we have no reports of those terrorists being apprehended in the city of
MR. SENOR: Yeah?
Q Colin McMahon from the Chicago Tribune. General, a couple of questions back to
Mosul. One specifically, that incident in which the car with the four people
attacked coalition forces and then they shot them dead, was there any indication
that those people in that car had been involved in any of the attacks of the
previous couple of days or that day even? That's the first question.
The second one is, notwithstanding that this uptick may or may not be a change
in security situation in Mosul, you talked last night about the possibility that
there may be some tribal or criminal elements involved. Do you have anything
more on that?
GEN. KIMMITT: On the first, we don't believe that the incident the other day,
where there was a drive-by shooting against coalition forces, where fire was
returned and four persons were killed in a car, we can't at this point establish
any linkage between that incident and any of the other incidents of the past few
With regards to whether we can definitely link many of the activities up in
Mosul to either criminal or to tribal disputes, politics, that is something that
we continue to look at. We haven't made the exact link. We suspect there is some
criminal activity up there, which would cause some of this violence. But the
sooner we find out the answer to those questions, the sooner we can go to the
heart of it and try to get Mosul back to -- either prevent it from having a
trend line, where we're going to see more and more attacks, and get it back to a
stable and secure environment, which it's pretty much been over the last few
MR. SENOR: Yeah? Yeah, go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, concerning the attack on the Spanish.
Can you give us more details? There are witnesses who said that there are many
accidents that happened in Najaf between the Spanish soldiers and the people
asking for employment.
Second question for Mr. Dan Senor, concerning the meetings of the United Nations
teams. Can you give us more details? How far have you reached in these meetings
and will Lakhdar Brahimi arrive in Iraq today?
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, as I stated earlier, we called down to the unit responsible
for Najaf and the Spanish unit. At this point they did not have any reports on
the incident. As soon as we have those reports we will let you know. We may have
something by the end of this press conference, so please ask us after the press
conference; maybe a report will have come in of that incident. Sometimes the
press is much closer to the action and, as a result, sometimes you get the
reports before we do.
MR. SENOR: On your second question, I'm not going to comment on the travel plans
of Mr. Brahimi for obvious operational security reasons. As for the team that is
here, led by Ms. Perelli, that team is primarily focused on the formation of the
interim government. They just arrived here; they're just in the early stages of
-- I'm sorry, I have those mixed up. Perelli's team is focused on the direct
elections, Mr. Brahimi will be focused on the interim government.
And as far the interim government is concerned, I'll tell you where we stand on
it. We believe that the interim government should broaden the representation of
the political structure of Iraq. We believe that the interim government should
contain some checks and balances within it. And we think it's also important to
remember, as I've said from this podium before, that the interim government will
only be in power for seven months. Its agenda will be limited to preparing and
beginning to manage Iraq's 2005 budget, managing the day-to-day operations of
the ministries or essentially overseeing the ministers, and preparing for Iraq's
first direct election. That will effectively be the parameters of the interim
government, as I said, which will only be in power for about seven months. And
we'll know -- we'll have a better sense of where we are heading and the changes
we are making to form that interim government once Mr. Brahimi arrives and
consults a broad number -- broad range of Iraqis.
Q (Through interpreter.) Joal Travul (ph) from Al-Arabiyah. Yesterday the Al-Arabiyah
office received the information concerning the martyrdom of two correspondents
from Al-Arabiyah. Let me read this report. "We are very sorry for the shooting
-- the incidental shooting on the Al-Arabiyah correspondents." Will the soldiers
who shoot the correspondents be tried? Is there any -- there is a law which
protects the coalition soldiers from any legal procedures. This law has led to
the soldiers using extra power. Will this law remain after the 30th of June?
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, as we said last night, we deeply regret the incident which
resulted in the death of two Al-Arabiyah reporters. The soldiers were
investigated. The incident was investigated. As you know, the soldiers were not
shooting at that particular vehicle, but were acting in self-defense at a
vehicle which was coming down after them, had hit one of our vehicles at such a
pace, at such a rate of speed that it pushed that vehicle back 10 to 15 feet.
The soldiers have an inherent right of self-defense. They were exercising that
right to self-defense. It was established that those soldiers acted properly
within their rules for the use of force and rules of engagement. And as a
result, at this point the investigation has determined that no further action
need be taken against those soldiers.
MR. SENOR: Sewell?
Q Hi, Dan. I have two questions, both related to the CPA's consultations with
the different U.N. teams. Obviously, one has not yet arrived. With respect to
the elections, what is the CPA's position on how best to form an independent
electoral commission that would have the legitimacy and credibility to be able
to administer actual polling? And what sort of information about the situation
on the ground with respect to the logistics of conducting an election is the CPA
sharing with the U.N.?
My second question is, you said earlier, just two questions ago, that you
believe that the interim government should be a broadening -- represent a
broadening of the political structure. Are you specifically saying that it
should take the form of an expanded version of the current Governing council?
MR. SENOR: On your first question, the U.N. has expertise in establishing the
requisite infrastructure for direct elections. It has expertise in doing it all
over the world, something like over 50 countries they have ongoing activities,
engage in this sort of work. And one of the things they do is form electoral
commissions, form -- work -- establish what's necessary for the drafting of
political party laws, voter roles, electoral laws. And so we are really, Sewell,
waiting for their input here before we take next steps on the -- what we would
design as the mechanics, if you will, of the electoral commission, the mechanics
of this legal infrastructure. And I really want to wait until they have some
time on the ground here working with us before we start indicating which
direction we will go.
At a very high level we have a sense of what is necessary. At a very high level
we recognize that certainly there's been no census held in this country, no
credible census for some 20 years. There needs to be a reliable mechanism to
account for every eligible voter in this country, and that is one of the things
that the electoral commission and the political party law and these other
mechanisms will address.
And your other question was, oh, making the Governing Council or, whatever, the
interim government more representative. First let me say we believe that the
Iraqi Governing Council is very representative of Iraqi society, of Sunni, Shi'a,
Kurd, Turkmen, Christian, men, women on this body. Certainly watching the pace
and ups and downs of the negotiations and ultimate drafting and finalization of
the interim constitution was indicative of how diverse this group is and the
diverse communities they represent. It is certainly the most representative
government body in the history of Iraq. It's arguably the most representative
government body in this entire region. It has been recognized as the embodiment
of Iraqi sovereignty by the United Nations Security Council. It has been
recognized by multiple international organizations, from the World Trade
Organization to the Arab League.
But, that said, we should never stop working to make the political structure of
Iraq more representative. The Governing Council is a representative body, but
that's not enough. We should always be working to make whatever body we hand
sovereignty over here to more representative, and that goal doesn't give us
right now a clear path of the changes that need to be made to the current plan.
It just is a goal, and underneath that goal in pursuit of that goal there are
multiple paths we could go. There is no leading option right now. The November
15th agreement laid out a plan. We've said all along that it would be subject to
change, clarifications, elaborations; that is to the caucus plan. We are now --
we now recognize that it's going to be subject to substantial change, if not,
you know, total replacement. And that's what we're waiting for Mr. Brahimi's
team to arrive and begin to look at. But again, the high-level goal: broaden
representation. Underneath that goal there are multiple ways to go, and we are
-- once Mr. Brahimi arrives, we'll have deeper discussions. And after we consult
with a large and broad number of Iraqis, we'll have a clearer sense of what the
path looks like.
Someone who hasn't asked a question.
Q Melinda Liu, Newsweek magazine. A question for General Kimmitt. Just a minute
ago you explained two types of people who are involved in anti-coalition
violence; one being those who want to return to some kind of Ba'ath-type
authoritarian system, and another being al Qaeda types who want to return to
something like 5,000 years ago. I would assume that the latter, the al Qaeda
types, you would be referring to extremist Sunnis, Sunnis dominating the al
Qaeda movement. I was wondering, is there a role here being played by Shi'ite
extremists as well? Is there some groups that are also mixing up in that?
GEN. KIMMITT: I would be very cautious about trying to attribute any of the
extremist groups by either ethnicity, by region of the country, by background,
and in some cases, whether they're foreigners or internal to this country. For a
simple paratrooper like me, it's people who are working against a free and
sovereign Iraq, and those who working for a free and sovereign Iraq. And we're
not too particularly concerned about where they came from, but we are concerned
about what they can do; we're concerned about how they can derail the will of 99
percent of the people of Iraq who want to move to a free, democratic and
sovereign and united country. And we're going to continue our operations against
anyone who's not just anti- coalition, but who's anti-Iraqi and who's going to
try to take us off this path towards handing over freedom and sovereignty,
independence and liberty to the people of Iraq.
MR. SENOR: Fiona, go ahead.
Q Just following up again on the subject of insurgents and terrorists, where do
you classify people -- there's been an increasing number of drive-by shootings
which aren't particularly spectacular, but target softer targets like --
especially local politicians, policemen and Westerners as well. Who do you
think's carrying those out? Is that people who want to return to Ba'athist Iraq,
or people who just want to derail the process? Or who are they?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I was asked a little earlier about why do you classify them
as terrorists. When you start seeing people moving towards attacking soft
targets, innocent people, whose whole reason is to sort of create terror, to
sort of live by the terrorist credo of kill one, terrorize a thousand, I think
that it doesn't really matter what they started out and what their ultimate
purposes are, they clearly are terrorists -- domestic terrorists, perhaps
international terrorists. Anybody that attacks innocent civilians solely for the
purpose of intimidation -- I think, again, it doesn't really matter whether they
came, sent there by Zarqawi, or sent there by a former member of the Iraqi
intelligence service, we just consider them people who are working against a
safe and secure environment, and we are dedicated to killing or capturing those
Q I mean, really, are these people different from the former regime elements who
are still attacking coalition convoys all the time, who are still sort of
focusing their opposition on U.S. forces?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not sure trying to overly classify -- over- classify these
different groups is helpful. It might help somehow in the intelligence
community, in terms of trying to find out where they come from and try to find
some trails onto them. But on the operations side, we just call them targets.
MR. SENOR: Yeah?
Q General Kimmitt, Kevin Johnson with USA Today. Could you elaborate a little
bit on the Hillah incident? You mentioned a suicide bombing device there. Was
that a car bomb, a vest bomb? And the six people who were injured, could you
provide a little more about who they were, and so on?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, we don't have an awful lot about that incident right now,
other than the fact that we know that it was a car bomb. We know that one
policeman and five civilians have been wounded. We believe the target was the
police commander. I don't think we've gotten into the details of it enough at
this point to know whether it was a suicide bomber or just a vehicle that was
left outside the house of somebody who went away and triggered it. So we'll
probably know in about 24 hours.
Q But six injured, you say?
GEN. KIMMITT: One policeman -- right. One policeman and five civilians are
MR. SENOR: Yeah? Right there, yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Regarding -- the CPA announced that they have
apprehended a number of the terrorists. Is it possible to -- is it possible to
put them on show on the TV so that people recognize them and know -- identify
them and know who is behind these terrorism actions? Is it possible to have them
on the TV so that the people recognize them and identify them?
GEN. KIMMITT: No matter how much -- how emotionally satisfying it might be to
use the techniques of the former regime to sort of put these people in front of
the cameras and demonize them, the fact remains that one of the bases of
democracy and justice is the notion of following rules and norms. And the rules
and norms that we follow for the purpose of security internees and civilian
detainees -- in the case of the security internees, such as these people you're
describing, we follow the rules of the Geneva Convention, which specifically
prohibit the photographing, presentation of the detainees for the purpose of
public curiosity or humiliation. Again, it may be emotionally satisfying to do
that, but we feel it's very, very important for us, as signatories, as -- all
the nations in the coalition being signatories to the Geneva Conventions, to
abide by those conventions.
MR. SENOR: Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Baram Hamad Ali (sp) from Al Mesheren (sp). Do you
think that there is a kind of coordination or you could find any documentation
that this leads to -- there have been some of the ex-elements of -- Ba'ath
elements and coordination between them and the Zarqawi people? Or is any group
-- are any one of those groups working independently?
GEN. KIMMITT: That's a good question. We have been concerned for a period of
time that as we have reduced the numbers of cells throughout the country,
through the active operations that we've run through the fall and the winter,
that some of the former regime elements, the former Ba'athists, Iraqi
intelligence service may in fact be attempting to collude with some of the
terrorist organizations inside this country. We've seen small indicators of
that. I'm not sure at this point that we can suggest that there is either a
pattern or definite linkage. But yes, we have seen some indicators that these
groups that formerly were working solely for the purpose of restoring Saddam or
a Ba'ath Party to this country are now colluding, perhaps conducting marriages
of convenience, to conduct attacks against Iraqi people and the coalition
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. General, salaam aleikum. What are the security
procedures that you adopt regarding precautional (sic) procedures for the
Arabaeeniyah (ph)? And how are you going to treat the situation? And how are you
going to stop those terrorists from doing the negative actions again and as it
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, we have a significant holiday festival coming up, Arba'in.
We have done a significant amount of work with the local communities. We have
done a significant amount of coordination, planning efforts, provision of
equipment in order to try to detect and preclude the types of attacks that we
saw on Ashura. I would love to be able to stand up at this podium and tell you
that I am absolutely certain and I can guarantee you that there will be no
attacks during the Arba'in festival, but that's a promise that we can't make and
that's a promise that no civilized country can make to their citizens.
What I can tell you is that the coalition, working with the Iraqi security
forces, working with the local government agencies, working with the local
significant authorities, are trying put together a plan so that we can do
everything we can reasonably and proactively to try to mitigate the risk. But I
would be afraid that no nation can say we will guarantee 100 percent performance
100 percent of the time.
We would appeal to the people of Iraq during this period to help us out with
this process, to provide intelligence on people that you don't really recognize
in your neighborhoods who may be possibly conducting operations that don't seem
to make a lot of sense: comings and goings at night, loading things into
vehicles, taking them out of vehicles. Go to your local coalition forces. Go to
your local Iraqi security forces. Provide us that intelligence so that we can
take those proactive measures to try an attempt to make Ashura -- excuse me,
Arba'in a religious event that it should be.
MR. SENOR: Last question. Go ahead. Do you have one? No? All right. Someone who
Go ahead, Mark.
Q Thanks. Mark Stone, ABC. Have you had any success in your investigations,
which I believe have involved the FBI, into the Karbala bombing, the Baghdad
bombing, the Mt. Lebanon Hotel, the CPA shootings, maybe the Assassin's Gate
bombing? Are there any results from the investigations?
GEN. KIMMITT: I can tell you, Mark, that the investigations are ongoing. We're
not ready to announce the results of those investigations. I don't think at this
point I'd either characterize those investigations as successes or failures. The
MR. SENOR: Thank you, everybody.