COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
WITH BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DANIEL SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 9:09 A.M. EDT
DATE: TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2004
Q (Through interpreter.) Before we just start the conference, we would like
to stop out of respect for the two, our friends who were killed, in Al-Iraqiyah.
So please stand up, all of you, for two minutes. (Pause.)
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I have a short opening statement. Then General
Kimmitt has a statement. And then we will be happy to take your questions.
Yesterday, many of you know, we reported progress on discussions in Fallujah
with regard to pursuing a peaceful solution to the situation there. We are now
obviously working on the implementation of a number of the issues agreed to
yesterday. These include unfettered access to the Fallujah General Hospital,
providing unfettered access to the Fallujah General Hospital; removal of the --
removal and burial of the dead; provisions for food and medicine in isolated
areas of the city; lifting the curfew from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; allowing for the
passage of official ambulances through the city. We've begun today the --
allowing 50 families, Fallujan families, to return to the city per day.
We are also reemphasizing critical components of this agreement, which is
Fallujans turning in illegal and heavy weapons. We want to begin the regular
patrols involving joint patrols between coalition forces and Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps forces. And of course it is incumbent upon all parties to work towards the
removal of foreign fighters, of criminals, drug users and other individuals that
are using Fallujah as a basis -- as a base of operations to engage in violence
and terrorist acts in Iraq.
I think it's important to emphasize that we communicated to all parties
yesterday that we are very serious about these talks. We are very serious about
a peaceful resolution to the situation in Fallujah. But everybody must recognize
that in the absence of a true cease-fire, major hostilities will return on short
notice. We do not want that solution, but if the peaceful track does not play
itself out and there is not a serious effort by all parties, major hostilities
will resume on short notice.
As far as Ambassador Bremer's schedule today, he had a meeting with the
Governing Council this morning. Later in the day he met with the ministers, the
Iraqi cabinet. They addressed a number of issues there. The Iraqi minister of
planning briefed on the 2005 budget, dealt with a number of issues relating to
the challenges inherent in the 2005 budget.
Later in the afternoon, Ambassador Bremer held a long meeting with female
political leaders in Iraq, the National Women's Conference of Iraq. And they
dealt with issues related to what needs to be done now so women can get to the
25 percent goal that is detailed in the Transitional Administrative Law for the
transitional assembly, how to get women involved in consultations that the
Governing Council will begin and the U.N. will begin when Mr. Brahimi returns,
that we are beginning -- the coalition is beginning right now, wide
consultations with the Iraqi people on the formation of the interim government.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thanks.
Good afternoon. Coalition offensive and stability operations continue throughout
Iraq. The area of operations has remained relatively stable over the past 48
hours, and all units remain focused on the elimination of extremist threats
throughout their zones.
In Task Force Olympia, the area of operations remains quiet. Rhetoric in mosques
and local media condemning the death of Razidi (ph) has diminished, but remains
a concern. Today Iraqi police apprehended four individuals who attacked the
Mosul police headquarters with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades,
and coalition forces detained five enemy suspected of executing attacks in
southeastern Mosul last night. In Tall Afar a coalition soldier was wounded when
his patrol was attacked with a hand grenade. The patrol returned fire and
apprehended two of the assailants. In Hammam al Alil and Dohuk the situation is
quiet. West of Erbil there was one incident where the ICDC discovered an IED
composed of four large- caliber mortar rounds on the main Mosul-Erbil road.
In the north-central zone, units report a generally calm area of operations
despite an increase in ACF -- anti-coalition force -- attacks over the past 24
hours. Near Tikrit and Samarra enemy forces have continued offensive operations.
An Iraqi Civil Defense Corps checkpoint received small-arms fire from forces
near Al-Ojah (ph). There were no casualties as a result of this attack. Earlier
today there was an attack on a convoy that resulted in one coalition soldier
wounded. In Baqubah there were three improvised explosive device attacks against
coalition forces resulting in four coalition wounded. Near Kirkuk and Tuz the
situation remained quiet and stable.
Two employees of Al-Iraqiyah Television Network were killed and one wounded
after their vehicle was fired upon by coalition forces in Samarra yesterday at
about 4:15 p.m. The individuals were observed filming Iraqi Civil Defense Corps
and Iraqi police checkpoints, a coalition base, and routes to and from these
While filming outside their vehicle, coalition forces fired warning shots into
the river. After the warning shots were neglected, the individuals got into
their vehicle and drove towards the coalition base. As the vehicle approached
the base, additional warning shots were fired, in attempt to halt the vehicle.
The vehicle, apparently disregarding the warning shots, drove towards the
soldiers and their base.
After more warning shots, the vehicle did stop and continued to approach the
base's gate and was engaged with direct fire. Five signs clearly prohibiting
filming and stopping near the base were displayed in the area as part of local
force protection measures.
After examining the vehicle, coalition forces discovered two individuals had
been killed, one was wounded, and a fourth individual, an Iraqi police officer,
was unharmed. The three casualties were discovered to have Iraqi Media Network
press credentials. The two dead individuals were moved by ambulance to a Samarra
hospital. The wounded person was treated by coalition forces. He and the
unharmed individual were questioned and then released at approximately 6 p.m.
In Baghdad, 1st Cavalry Division conducted three separate cordon- and-searches
of suspected weapons dealers, detaining three suspects. There's been an overall
reduction in attacks in the Baghdad area, and we continue to assess that the
majority of population remains neutral with respect to the increased violence,
and most are eager for a cessation of hostilities.
We have initial reports that 18 mortar rounds were fired earlier this afternoon
at the Baghdad confinement facility. Preliminary reports indicate that more than
21 detainees were killed and more than 100 wounded. The Iraqi Red Crescent has
been contacted for assistance in the post-attack requirements.
In the western zone of operations, the current situation is stable. The enemy is
continuing attacks against coalition forces in and around the region, with five
reported attacks in the area over the past 24 hours.
In Fallujah there was one report of hostile fire in the last 24 hours, resulting
in no casualties or damage to infrastructure.
In Ar Ramadi, the situation is under control. There was only one reported attack
over the last 24 hours. The enemy attacked coalition forces in the region with
indirect fire, resulting in the wounding of three Marines.
The performance of the 36th Iraqi Civil Defense Corps Battalion during recent
combat operations in Fallujah is worthy of note. In the view of the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force, the battalion distinguished itself as a trustworthy and
capable Iraqi security force and will serve as a benchmark for ICDC performance
in the future.
In Amiriyah, the Marine Expeditionary Force conducted a reconnaissance in force.
The Marines were expecting heavy anti- coalition resistance when entering
Amiriyah but instead found the area desolate, with no anti-coalition forces and
very few civilians present. One individual was detained near the mosque in the
center of the city.
Offensive operations continue in the western Al Anbar province. The Marines will
continue offensive patrols in al Qaim and continue to cordon and search selected
targets in Husaybah.
Multinational Division Central South remains relatively stable. There were three
attacks in the AOR in the past 24 hours. Last night in Karbala, a U.S. military
police patrol was attacked by RPGs and machine-gun fire, but there were no
Anti-coalition force activity has increased in the vicinity of Al Hillah. In the
past, attacks in Al Hillah have been minimal, but in the last 15 hours there
have been two attacks. The first attack in weeks occurred last night when Camp
Charlie was attacked by mortar fire. There were three impacts; two inside the
compound, one outside the compound, with no reported injuries. The second attack
occurred when coalition forces were engaged by anti-coalition forces with
rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. There were no reported injuries
during that attack, either.
There were no attacks in An Najaf, al Diwaniyah or al Kut in the past 24 hours.
Yesterday a coalition patrol was ambushed east of Al Kufa by a platoon-size
force. Two coalition soldiers were evacuated to the 31st Combat Support Hospital
with non-life-threatening injuries.
In the southeastern zone of operations, the current situation remains stable
with five reported attacks over the past 24 hours. In An Nasiriyah and al-Samawa
(ph) the situation is calm with no reported attacks. In al-Amarah there were two
indirect-fire attacks against coalition forces with no wounded or damage to
infrastructure. In Basra, there were two attacks against coalition and Iraqi
security forces which resulted in one Iraqi police officer wounded.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Off mike) -- you just mentioned the accident that took
place was accidental. So when will be an end for these accidents, and when are
going to stop violating and posing harm to the Iraqis? So I'm from the
journalist union, so we are trying to defend the right of the journalists. How
come the journalists are being exposed to fire and no one is there to defend
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, I would say at this point we can -- we've released as much
information, I think, that we are comfortable in releasing until a full and
comprehensive investigation has been complete. Let's let the investigation move
forward, let's let all the evidence surrounding the incident be collected,
evaluated, reviewed, and then at the end of that investigation, let's hold
judgment and make the determinations at that point.
MR. SENOR: I would just add that Ambassador Bremer wishes to express his
condolences to the families, the colleagues -- all of you -- and the friends of
the individuals that were tragically killed in the last 24 hours. He is fully
committed -- as General Kimmitt has articulated, Ambassador Bremer is fully
committed to a thorough and robust investigation to determine exactly what
happened here. That doesn't take away from the tragedy of it and the pain and
suffering being felt by all of you and by the families of those killed, but we
are committed to getting to the bottom of exactly what happened.
GEN. KIMMITT: And again, on behalf of the coalition military, let me also echo
those comments and also refer to the recent incident with the Al-Arabiyah
journalist in Baghdad where we were quite forthcoming in accepting
responsibility for that incident. We do not intend to be any less vigilant or
any less diligent in conducting this investigation as we were with that
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Gregor Mayer from German Press Agency. General Kimmitt, could you elaborate on
that incident, what I understood 21 killed? Was it a fact that prison/detainee
facility? And has the people who were killed ensured all been
detainees/prisoners, or has there been guards as well amongst them?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, as I've said, these are preliminary reports right now. We've
got them very -- in the last few minutes before we did the press conference. We
understand there was an incident. We understand at this point that the -- it is
our understanding at this point that the only persons that have been killed were
the actual detainees. Whether they were criminal prisoners or security detainees
we don't have those facts yet, but as soon as those facts become available we'll
get them to you.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (Through interpreter.) He's from Sound of (Grief ?) Society. You just
mentioned in your speech that the team of the Iraqiyah were engaged. Do you
think that they were holding arms while they were journalists and they were
disarmed? If they were armed, then how do you have been engaged in shots, with
direct fire with the people in the base?
GEN. KIMMITT: And again, those are all the facts that need to be looked at by
the investigators before they can make a determination. So it would be best if
all of us took some time to allow the investigation to proceed thoroughly,
diligently, and then at the end of that investigation let's see what the
determinations come out to be. I don't think -- we just don't have enough
information at this point to either assess blame, innocence or fault. So let's
let a thorough, impartial investigation move forward on this.
MR. SENOR: Yeah. I would just say that we understand this is an emotional time
for everybody affected by this. But to follow on to what General Kimmitt said,
it would be irresponsible, I think, for us to rush to judgment on exactly what
happened. We owe it to the colleagues and management of Al-Iraqiyah, we owe it
to the families, we owe it to you to get to the bottom of what happened. We are
thoroughly committed to that. And as soon as we have information that we believe
is reliable in that regard, you will know about it. We assure you that.
GEN. KIMMITT: And I would also echo his comments by saying, as we have seen so
many times in other investigations, what is first assumed to be fact in the
first 24 hours often, after you've done a meticulous investigation, turns out
not to be correct. So particularly for the families involved, who at this point
need to be going through the grieving process, let's go through the period of
grief while the investigation runs parallel, so that sometime in the future,
when all the facts are known and the family (sic) is ready to hear those facts,
they can be presented with those facts.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Kevin Seitz with NBC News. General, I didn't hear this in your overview, but
we had reports today of a roadside bomb in Mosul, possibly killing two U.S.
soldiers, if you can confirm that for us; also reports that 250 prisoners had
been released from Abu Ghraib. Any information on that?
GEN. KIMMITT: I have not received any reports on the first incident. The reports
are typically a couple of hours late. I would have expected to have seen that
report, but if it has happened, it may have happened very recently. But we have
no reports on that.
And as to the comment of 250 detainees being released, we have a regular and
routine release program. We release probably that number every week out of the
entire population. I don't have the numbers with me right now. We can certainly
check on that for you. But that's not a large number, that's not an incredible
number, and that's typically about the number that we would release on any
Q They wouldn't be related to any negotiations going on anywhere else in the
GEN. KIMMITT: Not at all.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Off mike.)
STAFF: Microphone, please.
Q (Off mike.)
Q (Off mike.)
STAFF: Microphone, please. Would -- (inaudible) -- his microphone?
MR. SENOR: His microphone's on. You may want to -- it may not be working. Want
to use the one --
Q (Through interpreter.) As you know, there has been widespread of (sic) the
incidents where Arab and Iraqi journalists have been killed. So what after the
death of the two Iraqi reporters? Does you know that all of the reporters here
also are threatened? So what can you do to secure our lives? And why all of this
-- why are you taking the lives of our reporters as unvaluable lives?
Now you say that there is a free Iraqi journalism. Where is the freedom of this
journalism where our reporters have been killed?
GEN. KIMMITT: You are perhaps making an assertion regarding intent that we're
not prepared to agree to up here. You're somehow in your statement suggesting
that the coalition forces intentionally went out of their way -- when
recognizing that they had journalists in front of them, that they intentionally
went out of their way to kill them. That hasn't been proven. It hasn't been
proven in any of the investigations that have been conducted thus far.
The fact remains -- is we operate in a hostile environment. This is a combat
environment. It is sad that -- when these incidents occur. It's hard to say this
is understandable, so I'm not even going to suggest that it's understandable.
But the very fact that oftentimes the story is very near the gunfire often
brings the press at that location where the risk comes up tremendously. And
unfortunately, it leads to days like today, when we are up here trying to
explain to you why another event is happening.
Again, we deeply regret the loss of any life, in particular two Al-Iraqiyah
employees, who were working for their country, and any journalist who in the
performance of his or her duty loses his or her life on the battlefield.
MR. SENOR: I would just say that this in no way should be interpreted as
anything related to our commitment to the freedom of press in Iraq. We have gone
to great lengths to protect a free press in Iraq.
As a point of historical comparison, I would say -- I would point you to
post-World War II Germany, where -- someone recently showed me a report that
during the occupation of Germany post-World War II, literally every single
German newspaper and radio station was shut down by the occupation authorities.
And they were only reopened something like a year later if they were shown to be
broadcasting or printing an overtly pro-American message.
You contrast that to the situation in Iraq today, where we have been diligent
about protecting the freedoms of the press here, whether they are critical of
things we do or supportive. It's something we take very seriously. We believe
that the press in Iraq is the freest in this part of the world. We'd put up the
freedom of the press in this part of the world against the record of any press
environment anywhere in the world, not just this part of the world. I recently
heard from someone from Dubai Media City who told me that, from a reporter's
standpoint -- an Arab reporter's standpoint -- Iraq is the best place to operate
right now. It is the freest press environment in the entire Middle East. That is
something we take very seriously. We think it's important.
We think freedom of speech and a free press and freedom of assembly are just
some of the critical pillars of building a democratic society, which is what we
are trying to do here. And we will continue to go to great lengths to protect
those freedoms, and we think it's important that those freedoms are also
articulated and protected in the interim constitution. That is part of what we
have been working on. It's not just what we protect while we are here, but what
is protected once we -- once Ambassador Bremer and the coalition civilian
occupation forces withdraw.
Q Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald. With Honduras' decision to depart --
remove its troops from theater -- what can you do with what's left of the
Spanish brigade? And has anyone else notified you that they're withdrawing their
And for those of us who don't know, who's responsible for the Baghdad detention
facility; I mean, is it the coalition? And how many prisoners are there? And
where is it?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, as to the Baghdad confinement facility, this is the one that
we've talked about at length many times from this podium, and why don't we take
that question and walk you through how many we have in there as we have many,
many times before and who's in charge after this press conference.
With regards to the issue of Honduras, the understanding that we have is that
Honduras will depart soon, but they want to make it an orderly departure.
Currently, inside that brigade we have -- excuse me, inside that division,
Multinational Division Central-South, there is a Spanish brigade which has the
Latin American contribution, there is a Polish brigade and there is a Ukrainian
brigade. Neither the Poles or the Ukrainians have suggested that they are going
to depart anytime soon.
Within the Spanish brigade and the sub-units of the Spanish brigade -- the
Hondurans, the El Salvadorans, the Dominican Republic -- the Dominicans -- some
of the nations have made sovereign decisions about their future contributions.
That is one brigade in an organization that has roughly 30 brigades inside the
country of Iraq. It is a manageable military problem to make some determinations
of how that contribution will be replaced. It could either be replaced with
existing forces on the ground, it could be replaced with new contributions, it
could be replaced by simply taking that area of operations which was previously
covered by three brigades and now redrawing the boundaries so that two brigades
cover it. Those are some of the courses of action, some of the considerations
that I'm sure the planners are looking at right now. This is a common military
problem, and it should come to a fairly rapid resolution as soon as we
understand which countries will be leaving and at what time.
Q But are they all leaving, sir? All of the members of the Spanish brigade?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I think you and I have read the same accounts. The Spanish
have announced their withdrawal, the Hondurans have announced their withdrawal.
We understand the El Salvadorans have decided to stay in the country until their
departure at the end of July, beginning of August. And I don't know that the
Dominicans have made a decision at this point.
MR. SENOR: Yeah?
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible.) My question is to Mr.
Dan Senor. First, I was -- I thought that the -- I think that what you said,
that you expressed your condolences to the Iraqi press, but it seems that you
are indifferent about (that team ?), only this time about this condolence. But
can you tell us what's your opinion about the -- whenever the Iraqi press was so
important for the Americans so that they can express their condolences towards
MR. SENOR: I'm not sure I understood the question. Are you asking when did the
Iraqi press become so important to the Americans?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: Well, from the moment we arrived here, and the moment the
reconstruction began, following the liberation on April 9th, we have been
committed to a free press. Many of you have been covering press conferences in
this room since the second week of April, 2003. And maintaining a strong
relationship with the Iraqi press, protecting their freedoms, protecting the
freedom to criticize the things we do, criticize the things that Iraqi officials
do has been something we have been quite consistent on and we've maintained our
relationship throughout. As you know, Ambassador Bremer meets with a group of
Iraqi journalists on almost a weekly basis. He appears on television programs
with Iraqi journalists in which he takes questions regularly. So we've been very
But whenever there is the killing of a civilian, an Iraqi reporter or not, we
recognize the tragic nature of it. And certainly a number of you here today
expressed your concerns, and we respect that and we are expressing our
condolences. We recognize it's a hostile environment and these things sadly
happen in a hostile environment from time to time. It doesn't make them any less
painful, and we appreciate that.
Q Nick Riccardi, L.A. Times. Two questions, the first on the Iraqiyah. I want to
try and clear something up from the opening statement. And maybe I misheard it,
but, General Kimmitt, I think you had said that the car advanced toward the
base, stopped, and then they fired as it was advancing. Does that mean that,
according to the earlier reports, that the car was proceeding, stopped, and then
proceeded again, or did the car proceed continuously to the base without
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, that's the initial reports, that it stopped and then
started again even after the warning shots had been fired.
GEN. KIMMITT: But it is again important to let the investigation bear out and
prove out many of these initial reports. As we've seen in so many cases before
this, those initial reports don't stand the scrutiny of a careful investigation.
Q I had one other question, on Fallujah. I'm just wondering if you folks have
seen any progress towards the goals outlined yesterday, particularly if you're
seeing some of the heavy weaponry being turned in or if that's not happened yet.
MR. SENOR: We're not -- we're going to withhold commenting sort of minute by
minute or hour by hour on how the implementation is going. We'll have a report
for you at some point, but -- in a couple of days -- but we're not going do the
sort of hour-by-hour update.
But I think it's important to reemphasize that time is running out. And while we
believe that the Fallujan negotiators -- the Fallujan delegation were quite
serious about their intentions, we continue to question whether or not they will
be able to deliver on those intentions, on those commitments. And while
everybody, we believe, recognizes that a peaceful solution is the goal, we also
communicated to everyone and continue to communicate to everyone that, in the
absence of a true cease-fire, major hostilities could resume on very short
Q Savi Marad (ph), NSK. Are you going to compensate those families of Fallujah
for destroying their house and shops, or just to consider it as natural cases in
the field of conflict? And what are you going to do if the fighters of Fallujah
keep on fighting you and never surrender? Are you going to kill everybody and
make the city as a deserted village or a city of ghosts?
GEN. KIMMITT: I think we're both embarrassed to admit that we had our headphones
on and were waiting for the translation, which never arrived. Sir, could you
repeat the question, please?
Q Yes. Are you going to compensate those families of Fallujah after destroying
their houses and shops, or just you consider it as natural cases in the field of
conflict? And what are you going to do if the fighters of Fallujah keep on
fighting you and never surrender? Are you going to kill everybody there and make
the city a deserted village or as a city of ghosts?
GEN. KIMMITT: Let's remember what our long-term aspirations are in Fallujah, and
rather than put it in spectacular terms, such as "a city of ghosts," what we
want to see is a city where the Iraqi Civil Defense Service, where the Iraqi
police service, where legitimate Iraqi government officials are running that
town; rather, let's look at a city and look forward to a city where the health
system is working, where the schools are operating, where it is functioning as a
lively city. Let's look at a city that understands what democracy is, what
freedom is, what sovereignty as part of a sovereign nation is. That's what we're
looking for in Fallujah.
That can be achieved peacefully. There is a method by which that can be achieved
peacefully. There is a process to achieve that peace. There is an end state to
achieve that peace. What has been laid out is a pretty good plan to get us to
the first steps.
But many inside Fallujah have got to make that choice: if that's the city they
want to see, or if, for whatever reason, they want to choose another path, a
path that works against the children of Fallujah, a path that works against the
families of Fallujah, it -- a path that works against democracy in Fallujah.
Let's keep focused on the prize. Let's keep focused on the end state, which is,
let's take whatever route is necessary so that Fallujah can have Iraqi control,
can have the elimination of foreign fighters, terrorists, former regime elements
holding the city hostage, and let's see if we can bring justice to Fallujah.
How that happens -- there are many different paths. There is peaceful track,
where it can be brought on by consensus, or it can be brought by force of arms.
MR. SENOR: Rajiv?
Q One question for each of you gentlemen. General Kimmitt, given that the 1
MEF's praise of the 36th Battalion of the ICDC, does the coalition have plans to
constitute similar such ICDC units, namely, made up of former members of the
peshmerga and other political party militias?
And a second question for you, Dan. Yesterday the Governing Council released a
statement that constituted pretty much of a broadside against Lakhdar Brahimi's
proposal, in which it asked for comment from the Iraqi population for a variety
of different proposed interim administrations post-June 30th, including one that
would be an expanded version of the Governing Council. I'm wondering if the CPA
has any comment to that official statement put out by the GC yesterday. Thank
GEN. KIMMITT: The ICDC is an organization that is available to anybody who comes
in who passes a strict vetting process and who swears allegiance to the nation
of Iraq. We seem to spend a lot of time focusing on the background of many of
these people inside the ICDC, whether they're former peshmerga, whether they're
former militia from other organizations. Where they came from is not important.
If they pass through the vetting process and swear their allegiance to the
nation of Iraq, they will make a tremendous contribution to the Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps, to the Iraqi police service or to the Iraqi armed forces. And
that should be the ultimate focus, which is, what can they contribute to the
defense of this nation.
Q But just to follow up there, I mean, putting aside, perhaps, the militia
background, what you did have was sort of a non- organic unit, that guys who
weren't from Fallujah serving in that area, which is different from the two ICDC
battalions you had previously constituted in the Fallujah area. I mean, given
the performance of this 36th Battalion, was the coalition perhaps looking at
changing its ICDC model from, you know, gathering people from disparate parts of
the country and having them serve outside the areas in which they live, which
seems to be the difference here with this battalion as opposed to the ones you
had existing in Fallujah?
GEN. KIMMITT: Now, that's a different question than you asked first. If you're
talking about the ability of the ICDC from other areas of the country to be able
to be used anywhere within the country, I suspect that's something that's going
to come up in the after-action reviews. The ICDC was originally established to
operate in their local areas, to sort of serve as a local guard, a local
national militia focused on their particular area of operation. It may well be
that in the after-action reviews, that there would be some merit in making the
ICDC an organization that could operate anywhere within the country to provide
internal security. I don't know if a decision has been made on that, but it's
little doubt that that's going to be one of the considerations as the campaign
is reviewed of a potential way forward.
MR. SENOR: Rajiv, to your other question, we believe it is very constructive
that the Governing Council is engaging in wide consultations with the Iraqi
people, or at least is prepared to begin engaging in wide consultations. The
Transitional Administrative Law calls for wide consultations. The initial U.N.
report following Mr. Brahimi's first trip here, earlier this year, called for
wide consultations. And certainly his most recent visit he followed by saying
that there should be -- or recommending that there be wide consultations; that
he himself and the U.N. want to engage in further consultations, that the
Governing Council should be engaged in further consultations; we, the coalition,
should be engaged in further consultations. So we think that is very positive.
As for a specific proposal or counterproposal or variation of the initial
proposal, we'll obviously let this process play out. We're still waiting for the
final details of Mr. Brahimi's proposed plan to be fleshed out. As you know, he
is outside of the country now; at some point will be holding meetings with the
secretary-general of the U.N. He'll come back, and after consulting further with
Iraqis, will recommend a final plan.
Our initial reaction, as you know, to his sketch, if you will, what he referred
to as his sketch of his plan, we were very receptive toward it. We thought it
was a very positive step forward. As you know, the president of the United
States has spoken out supportively of Mr. Brahimi's plan. We think it takes this
country in the right direction. But again, Mr. Brahimi and the U.N. have the
lead on it, and we want to see where they go with it and look at the final
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Zaman (ph) newspaper. Mr. Dan,
my question is to you personally. Whatever the condolences, the words would be,
it would not compensate the families. The accident that took place yesterday is
unique and it has never happened in Iraq. We do not want to wait until the
investigation takes place, and we have so many questions why there have been
shots fired and why they have started shooting the cars. And you have just said
that they have found some media network press credentials with them. And you've
said that there have been an officer also, an Iraqi police officer with them. So
we do want an answer for all these questions. It is not easy, and we cannot wait
or tolerate until the investigation takes place. Would you just give us an
answer for all these questions, a clarification?
MR. SENOR: Let me say this. First of all, you will get answers. There will be
accountability. In a free and democratic society, which is what we are building
here, authorities are held accountable. And we will provide information. You
will be able to assess that information independently. That is part of our
commitment to you, it's part of our commitment to the Iraqi people and what we
are trying to build here to hand over to the Iraqi people on June 30th.
I was asked earlier why we are so committed to a free press, why are we suddenly
so committed to an Iraqi free press. I said that we have always been, and our
actions demonstrate it. I was told by one of your colleagues that before we
arrived here, one of the last events they participated in this room was a,
quote, unquote, "press conference" held by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri in which he
fielded questions from reporters. The Iraqi press were the state-owned
newspapers they took questions from. And you can be sure if they asked any
questions other than exactly what Mr. al-Douri and the Saddam Hussein regime
wanted to hear, they would have probably had their tongue cut out, if they were
lucky. We believe that does not serve the interests of a free society in which
the government is held accountable, and that is why we are building -- working
so hard to build that pillar of a democratic society here, are you're all
central to that.
That said, we are in a hostile environment, and in a hostile environment there
are incidents that happen from time to time that are tragic and painful for
everybody involved. But it is part and parcel, sadly, with the environment in
which we're operating. For you to say that this has never happened in Iraq
before, I would submit that Iraq was probably one of the most violent societies
in the world prior to April 9th. Ask any of the families of individuals who
wound up in mass graves, the thousands and thousands, or on the receiving end of
chemical attacks up north, or in torture chambers or rape rooms. Ask them if
they believe that Iraq was a violent society. It was.
We removed the regime that imposed that brutality on the Iraqi people. However,
there are some individuals, sadly, who would like to see that regime return. And
there are some individuals, international terrorists, that have staked their
ground in Iraq and are trying to return Iraq to either some version of the
former regime or some version of some other evil regime, something akin to the
Taliban or something else. And we have an obligation to protect against that,
and we take that obligation very seriously.
That said, in pursuit of staying committed to that goal, we have to engage in
hostilities from time to time with people who want to turn this country
backwards and take it somewhere else, take it somewhere very, very dangerous and
very, very brutal. And in those situations, because the environment is hostile,
incidents such as yesterday tragically happen. As I said earlier, it doesn't
make them any less painful, but it is something that happens and we seek to get
to the bottom of it. We seek to try to prevent it from happening again.
And we seek to get you the information you need so that you are convinced that
our intentions were nothing but trying to stabilize and secure this environment.
Those were our intentions. Regardless of what happened yesterday, those were our
And you'll be able to make independent assessments based on the information we
provide you. But it would be irresponsible for us to quickly, rapidly get you
information that we don't have confidence in. We have an obligation, to you and
to our soldiers and to our civilians that are here working, to get you accurate
information. And it may take a little time to get you that, but anything less
would be irresponsible.
Thank you, everybody.