COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS,
AND DANIEL SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 9:43 A.M. EDT
DATE: SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good evening. I just have a couple of details on Ambassador
Bremer's schedule, and General Kimmitt has an opening statement, and then we
will be happy to take your questions.
Ambassador Bremer spent the morning today at our headquarters holding a number
of internal meetings. This afternoon, he traveled to Fallujah, where he spent
the afternoon. He just returned recently. His visit to Fallujah was part of our
overall effort to reach a peaceful resolution to the situation in Fallujah.
Ambassador Bremer's chief deputy, Ambassador Richard Jones, has also been there,
continues to be there. Ambassador Jones, as you know, has made a number of trips
to Fallujah over the past few days, working with the Governing Council
representatives as part of a Governing Council -- joint Governing
Council-Coalition negotiating team to work in discussions with Fallujan leaders.
Those discussions continue, and Ambassador Bremer, as I said, was in -- was in
Fallujah today as well.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you.
Well, we've been talking about the Fallujah discussions for quite some time,
ever since the signing of the agreed statement. I thought it would be helpful,
based on the discussions out of Fallujah today, to give you somewhat of a report
card of how the coalition sees the discussions going in terms of what had been
agreed to by the representatives from Fallujah and what had been agreed to by
the coalition representatives.
This is what was expected based on the agreed state -- the agreed statement --
that all of these activities would be delivered by the Fallujah representatives,
and the coalition in turn would deliver those items as well. Now, in our mind,
we gave ourselves a scorecard, green means yes, we have delivered on those
points, no we haven't, and amber means partially. And it ought to be seen, as we
walk our way through this, that there still is some measure to go in the way
that the Fallujah representatives have been able to delivery.
Obviously, we talked about a cease-fire amongst the Fallujah representatives and
the people inside Fallujah have not delivered a cease-fire. As recently as
yesterday, the cease-fire report we had indicated yesterday nine small arms
attacks, six indirect-fire attacks inside Fallujah alone. So, right now our
grade is, in the minds of the belligerents inside of Fallujah, they don't see it
as a cease-fire or they certainly are not honoring the cease-fire.
Collect and deliver weapons, starting on 18 April, those heavy weapons we've
talked about, the score seems to be somewhat of an amber. That's a pretty
liberal amber, based on the conditions of the weapons that you've seen from the
pictures that we showed. It is true that yesterday some different weapons came
in. In fact, there were a couple of good Dragunov rifles, but for the most part,
the vast majority of weapons that have been turned in are not functioning very
well, rusted, corroded. The ammunition is dangerous, can't be used in a military
setting. And the numbers of weapons that have been turned in don't approximate
any expectation of what we would have seen coming out of Fallujah, or frankly,
what's been fired at our Marines.
We established police and ICDC in the city starting 18 April. There are small
numbers of ICDC and IPS that are inside the city, but it is hard to say that
they have restored order in that city, or if they even are a credible
organization inside that city.
Obviously, coalition and Iraqi Security Force routine patrols, not happening.
Police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, supported by coalition forces to remain --
eliminate remaining foreign fighters and criminals, not happening.
Condemn foreign fighters and criminals who want to continue the violence. We had
an expectation that the leadership would stand up and condemn those responsible
for the violence inside Fallujah. It has not happened.
Issue positive public statements and positive mosque speeches. There have been
one or two, but certainly not the volume and the quality that one would expect
if the heart was in it.
Initiate investigations into criminal acts -- the four U.S. contractors and
attacks on the Iraqi police station from -- in February, hasn't happened.
By contrast, it's important for people to understand that the coalition
certainly understands that it can use force at any time. It has more than
sufficient force to go in, conduct offensive operations, and end the
hostage-taking of the town of Fallujah that has been conducted by the foreign
fighters, the ex-Saddam fedayeen, the ex-Mukhabarat, and those inside of
Fallujah. But we have adhered to the provisions of the cease-fire.
We have allowed our Marines, as is their inherent right, to return fire in
self-defense. We have allowed humanitarian access to the village -- to the city.
The curfew has been adjusted.
Allow 50 families per day back into the city for three days. We did that for
about a day-and-a-half. Had to cut that off because of the risk to those
families as the enemy continued firing inside the city.
ICDC set up checkpoints before the cloverleaf coming in from the east side of
Fallujah and the old bridge. It's been done.
Access to the Fallujah General Hospital to treat the sick and injured, it has
Facilitate passage of official ambulances through the city, especially
checkpoints. It has been done.
Allow engineers to fix the water problems at Fallujah Dam. It has been done.
Allow tribal sheikhs to enter the city. It has been done.
Allow some fuel tankers into the city. When the fuel tankers show up, we will
allow them into the city. We are prepared to allow them, but they just haven't
showed up yet.
By any scorecard, by any measure, it would appear to us that the coalition is
demonstrating a full faith effort to achieve a peaceful resolution in the town
of Fallujah. We would ask the people of Fallujah who are being held hostage by
the foreign fighters, by the Saddam Fedayeen, by the former Mukhabarat, to do
MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions. Yes sir.
Q Mukhdah Mohamed Ali (ph) from Al Qasa (ph) Newspaper. We have heard about
confrontations in Sadr City between coalition forces and a few of the armed
resistance. Can you please clarify these attacks, and why has there been an
escalation in these attacks in the city?
GEN. KIMMITT: The most recent attack in Sadr City, I'm sorry to say, was in fact
some mortar rounds that were fired by an organization -- certainly not the
coalition -- resulting in a total of six killed and 38 wounded today. That was
in an area near a coalition base, down by the old cigarette factory.
Why that's happening, I would have to ask those who are attacking not only the
coalition forces in Sadr City but attacking their own people inside Sadr City.
However, we don't think that it is a significant up-tick or an up-surge in
violence in Sadr City, but as there have been two incidents in the last 24
hours, it is -- they have been -- there have been two incidents there, one of
which was an attack on a patrol going through Sadr City, a coalition patrol that
was fired on by RPGs, a couple of our soldiers injured, and we hope soon for
their recovery, and the mortar attack from last night that we talked about
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (Coughs.) Excuse me. Jim Chu (sp), NBC News. This question is directed to
General Kimmitt. Just picking up on my colleague's question here, there seems to
be a -- more sort of incidents of attacks, not just sort of in Baghdad or in
Fallujah but throughout the country -- Kut, Taji. We heard about the car bomb in
Tikrit and then another roadside bomb in Iskandariyah I believe. Is this a trend
that you're seeing here in terms of increased attacks? And also, because of the
coalition is focused on the events in Fallujah, do you think this is sort of --
that the insurgents are sort of concentrating in other areas throughout Iraq
GEN. KIMMITT: I don't think so. We've had a number of attacks in the last 24
hours. It doesn't seem to be anything extraordinary. For some reason, these
happen to be a bit newsworthy. We did have a dreadful attack on a coalition base
this morning north of Baghdad. But the numbers that we are seeing over the past
two weeks, 10 days, are demonstrably lower than we'd seen in the first two weeks
in April. They certainly are much higher than they have been by about a factor
of 2 1/2 to 3 in the time period December to late March, where we were seeing
roughly on the order of 20 attacks trending per day. Over the last -- the first
part of April, it was far above that, three or four times that. Now it's
trending in the 37 to 42, and we're continuing to push those numbers down on a
day-to-day basis. I think today we just had a couple of incidents. I think it
will be quite a few days before we can make an assessment whether this is
another trend, an up-turn in the trend, or if it was just one day.
Q And just to follow-up, General. Any developments on who carried out the
attacks down in Basra? And also, any other sort of idea of -- better idea of who
these insurgents are?
GEN. KIMMITT: On the attacks in Basra, there were some reports that came out
from some media networks that were discussing a report that had come from the
Basra chief of police that linked five members who had an association with al
Qaeda to those bombings, and apparently had been led to some large amount of
explosives. We haven't seen any more on the report. But as we continue to say,
as we look at what happened in Basra, the method that was used, the techniques
that were used, the fact that you got suicidal car bombings on symbolic targets
in an attempt to get a very, very spectacular, newsworthy event, those are the
hallmarks of groups such as the Zarqawi network and the al Qaeda network.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Samir Morad (sp), NHK Japanese TV. (Inaudible) -- against a market inside --
(inaudible) -- the people in the city say that this attack was done by the U.S.
forces. How do you respond to it?
GEN. KIMMITT: I can categorically deny that the attack, the mortar attack in the
vicinity of the cigarette factory was conducted by coalition forces.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Who did Ambassador Bremer talk to in Fallujah today, and what did he achieve?
MR. SENOR: We are not releasing the names of the individuals with whom he met. I
can just tell you that as part of his broader effort to reach a peaceful
resolution in Fallujah, he himself visited Fallujah today for some meetings
related to the situation there.
Yes. Go ahead.
Q Thanks. Just on that, is it right, though, that he met with Fallujah
MR. SENOR: I'm not going to comment on who he met with.
Q And the other question, are there plans, General Kimmitt, because I've heard
speculation about this, that there be another time window in Fallujah for when
all the civilians would be told they should leave or given another chance to
leave, or what's the status on that?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, the civilians inside of Fallujah are free to leave at any
time. They're certainly not being held up by the coalition forces in any manner.
If civilians present themselves to the coalition checkpoints, they will be
allowed to pass through. They will also be given humanitarian assistance if
needed. We have set up humanitarian assistance spots outside the checkpoints
where they can receive food, they can receive water, but it is certainly not in
the -- within the desire of the coalition to bottle people up in Fallujah.
It may be on the part of the insurgents inside of Fallujah that they would want
to keep the civilians inside Fallujah for the purposes of wrapping themselves
around the civilians to try to cause large numbers of civilian casualties, but I
don't think the people in Fallujah are going to play that game, and certainly
the coalition will not prevent the movement of civilians out of Fallujah for
that very reason.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (Inaudible) -- Rahim of Zamaa (sp) Newspaper daily. Mr. Dan, my question is, I
notice that there's a change in the political -- American political status in
Iraq. There are a lot of different new directions that are being taken by the
Coalition Provisional Authority, such as the de-Ba'athification process,
returning to the ministry of defense. Is there anything that the coalition is
thinking about, and the American administration is thinking about to build a new
relationship with Iraq? That is the first question.
Second question is related to the negotiations in Najaf. It is said that the
coalition authority has specified that Muqtada Sadr has -- Sistani has to
approve and sign anything that be done in the negotiations. Sistani said that he
is not responsible for the negotiations. Why have you requested Sistani's
participation in this?
MR. SENOR: On the first (sic) question, those questions you'll have to take up
with Ayatollah Sistani and his representatives, and Muqtada al-Sadr and his
representatives. I'm not going to comment on any discussions that clerics may be
having with one another.
On your first question, Ambassador Bremer expressed concerns regarding these --
the implementation of procedures on de-Ba'athification some time ago to the
Iraqi Governing Council's de-Ba'athification Committee. This was done before the
incidents in Fallujah over the last couple of weeks. It was purely a technical
point. Thousands of teachers who have been granted appeals were not having their
jobs reinstated. Thousands of teachers who were pursuing appeals were not
getting the answers back about whether or not their appeal had been granted for
lengthy periods of time.
And so in an effort to rectify that technical point on the procedure, Ambassador
Bremer, as he articulated in his address to the nation, instructed that all
those granted appeals, all those teachers, should be re-employed at their
positions immediately, and that anybody going forward among those individuals
who applies and pursues an appeal will get an answer within 20 days. Purely a
technical point on a procedural matter.
The overall policy on de-Ba'athification remains the same. Senior levels of the
Ba'ath Party and senior levels of the ministry who, by virtue of the positions
they had, were technically senior members of the Ba'ath Party, individuals with
blood on their hands, individuals that had a hand in Saddam's atrocities and in
running Saddam Hussein's totalitarian regime do not have a role in the new Iraq,
period. That was the policy when Ambassador Bremer issued it last May. That was
the policy when Ambassador Bremer delegated the de-Ba'athification authority to
the Iraqi Governing Council in October. That was the policy on January 10th,
when Ambassador Bremer and the Governing Council reached agreement on
procedures. And that is the policy today. There's a lot of reporting out there
suggesting that there's been some change. There has been no change. The policy
remains intact. And in fact, its technical points were raised by Ambassador
Bremer several weeks ago.
As far as the army is concerned, Ambassador Bremer, when he issued the order for
disbanding the ministry of defense and the army, always said that it was
important to shut down the former regime's military for a number of reasons, not
the least of which was that it was a symbol of Saddam's repression, it was a
tool of Saddam's repression -- not only repression of the Iraqi people but of
Iraq's neighbors -- and it was important to shut it down operationally. It was
effectively already shut down because the army effectively disbanded itself
following April 9th, but from a symbolic standpoint, it was also important to
shut it down. And at the time, Ambassador Bremer said we will now rebuild new
Iraqi security services, a new Iraqi army.
And at some point when it's appropriate, we will appoint a new minister of
defense, in the free Iraq -- not a minister of defense from Saddam Hussein's
regime -- and that we will build up the ranks, starting with the junior levels,
and ultimately we will build up a command structure in the senior levels. He
talked -- Ambassador Bremer talked about this almost a year ago when the
military was -- when the old military was disbanded. Again, that policy remains
intact as well.
Q Mr. Dan, however, there's still a disagreement between members of the
Governing Council and Ambassador Bremer. Members of the Governing Council,
according to what we heard, they say that he's taking decisions without
consulting them. Is this truly the case?
MR. SENOR: On that particular issue, on de-Ba'athification?
Q In general.
MR. SENOR: Well, I can tell you, specifically on de-Ba'athification, the
Governing Council was consulted several times, going back weeks. Ambassador
Bremer meets with the Governing Council on a weekly basis as a group. He has
individual meetings with members of the Governing -- individual members of the
Governing Council and the leadership of the Governing Council almost every day,
so there is a very fluid relationship with constant communication back and
And, now look, under international law, Ambassador Bremer has certain
authorities and certain responsibilities. We are ultimately responsible for
promoting a safe and secure environment in this country. We are ultimately,
under international law, temporary custodians of the Iraqi government --
temporary custodians of the Iraqi government. That requires Ambassador Bremer
often to make decisions.
But, he goes to great lengths to delegate as much authority to the Governing
Council as possible, to delegate as much authority to the ministers as possible.
You've seen over the last few weeks that Ambassador Bremer has been
systematically handing over total authority for the management of the ministries
to the Iraqi ministers and their ministries. This is something that is part of
his broader effort to hand over sovereignty, get Iraq ready for sovereignty on
June 30th. He delegates authority, like he did with de-Ba'athification, he
delegated authority to the Iraqi Governing Council.
The guidelines announced on January 10th were announced by the Governing
Council. Those were guidelines they proposed -- albeit we consulted, but it was
-- those were their guidelines. So, there's a -- there is a very vibrant
relationship of consulting, with each party consulting the other, that goes on
almost on a daily basis.
Q General Kimmitt, two small points. Do you have an estimate for the number of
insurgent fighters that are inside Fallujah, and how many of them are believed
to be foreign, how many not?
And then also, could you clarify the -- I may have come in late and missed it --
the attack on the base in Taji, how many injured, how many killed, and whether
there was any -- whether U.S. forces were able to find the people who launched
GEN. KIMMITT: The estimate that we've used for the last couple of weeks in terms
of what we believe is inside Fallujah, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000
fighters, of which probably 15 to 20 percent of those we believe are foreign
fighters. That is our template. That will be validated, of course, once those
people are in coalition hands.
Regarding Taji, this morning we had an attack at about 0530. We had four
soldiers killed in action and seven wounded at that time. Subsequent reports
indicate that one of the soldiers died of wounds, so the number is now five
soldiers killed and six wounded.
A quick reaction force, including attack helicopters, responded to the scene.
They destroyed a truck that had been used to launch the rockets. We don't know
if there were any personnel inside the truck or near the truck at this time.
Haven't -- don't have that report yet.
Q Actually I meant to ask you also about Iskandariyah. How was there -- there
was also some kind of explosion down in south of Baghdad later this afternoon.
Do you know anything about that?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'll check my reports. I don't have a report on that yet.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Two questions from Vince -- (inaudible) -- Chicago Tribune -- one for Dan
Senor and one for General Kimmitt.
There was a report in today's Washington Post that sort of indicated that
members of the -- or would-be members of the interim government were being
winnowed out. In particular, Mr. Chalabi's name was mentioned as having been
excluded. I wanted to know if there's anything you could add to that, because we
talked to some people who were in the IGC and they were expressing concerns that
decisions were being made in Washington without consultation with them. That's
the first question.
The second question is -- I don't know if this is the same question that was
just asked to you, but the place we were thinking of was a place called Hazwa
(sp), where there was some kind of explosion, and reports said 14 people were
MR. SENOR: I think everybody here has to -- I think it's important we all put
our seat belts on and take a step back. We are still waiting for Mr. Brahimi to
announce the final recommendations of the details of his political proposal for
Iraq's political transition. He is scheduled back here soon. He's been here. You
know he spent some meaningful time here. He will return. He has said that he has
consulted widely with Iraqis. He will continue to consult widely with Iraqis, as
will we. We continue to consult widely with Iraqis on the shape of the interim
government. The Governing Council is consulting widely with Iraqis. In fact,
there is -- my understanding is Dr. Mouwafak al-Rabii is holding an event here
tomorrow dealing with the transitional administrative law and interim
constitution with a couple hundred Iraqis that are being consulted.
Let's let this process play out. Once we have a -- more time invested in the
consulting process, we will have a better sense of which personalities, which
individuals, which leaders may or may not play a role. We will have a better
sense when Mr. Brahimi returns and he begins to make final recommendations about
how we'll go forward.
GEN. KIMMITT: I have a report on an incident up in Tikrit but not in Hazwa (sp).
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Hamza Hashim (sp), al-Farat (sp) international newspaper. You have started by
turning over the ministries to the Iraqis. However, we have not heard about a
plan to turn over the ministry of defense and ministry of interior. How about
the rest of the ministries that have been turned over? Is there a real plan to
turn over these ministries to the Iraqis before handing over sovereignty of
MR. SENOR: Yes. In fact, every single ministry will be in Iraqi management hands
by June 30th.
Q (Inaudible) -- the Union of Journalists. Mr. Dan, is there a red line from the
White House to the civil administration in Iraq? And is returning the Ba'athists
to Iraq from the White House, or is it a result of the hardship that the
coalition forces are living right now?
MR. SENOR: As I said earlier, the procedural matter that Ambassador Bremer
addressed in his address to the nation was a technical point. It does not
involve a change in policy. It does not involve bringing back those Ba'athists
to power who are supposed to be de-Ba'athified under the policy. Hasn't changed.
There is no effort to bring people back who should -- who were disqualified
earlier for reasons, because of reasons of being involved with the Ba'ath Party
beyond just in name only, but because of active participation at the senior
levels in the former regime.
This was based on discussions and comments Ambassador Bremer had with thousands
of Iraqis who expressed particular concern with regard to the issue of teachers,
some 10,000 teachers who were out of jobs despite, in the case of many of them,
having successfully appealed their disqualification and looking to have their
jobs reinstated. Despite all that, their jobs had not been reinstated. Others
complained that they had submitted appeals, never heard anything.
So, Ambassador Bremer just sought to correct that technical point, and he made
the decision to do that after hearing from a lot of Iraqis several weeks ago.
This was communicated to the leadership within the Governing Council, including
the de-Ba'athification committee of the Governing Council, well before there was
any violence in Fallujah.
So, there's just simply not a connection on the lines that you're -- that you're
stating it. Ambassador Bremer over the past several months has heard from many
people. He sought to address it. And this was before the events of Fallujah of
the last couple of weeks.
Q (Inaudible) -- Nelson with Knight-Ridder Newspapers. As you indicate on the
chart over there, there have been -- there's been very little progress on the
Fallujah discussions. At what point do you declare that it just doesn't work and
you take the next step? And what will the next step be?
GEN. KIMMITT: First of all, I want to modify what you've said. There has been a
tremendous amount of progress on the discussions. It has been one-sided
progress, unfortunately. As you can see from what the coalition has done, there
has been a full-faith effort on the part of the coalition to meet every one of
the requirements, every one of the aspirations set out in the statement of
agreement of a couple of days ago.
What do we intend to do? We intend to continue to pursue a political track for a
period of time to try to resolve the problems in Fallujah, which, let me remind
you, are the restoration of Iraqi control inside the city of Fallujah. That
means restoration of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps inside of Fallujah. That means
Iraqi police walking up and down the streets of Fallujah. That means Iraqi
government officials making the decisions in Fallujah. That is our end state.
We also are looking at bringing out of Fallujah those that are trying to hijack
that sovereignty for Fallujah -- the foreign fighters, the former Saddam
Fedayeen, the Mukhabarat, who don't want to see Iraqi control of that city. But
we will continue to talk. We will continue to try to settle this peacefully. But
our patience is not limitless, and our patience is not eternal.
Should there not be a good faith effort, demonstrated by the belligerents inside
of Fallujah, the coalition is prepared to act.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (Inaudible) -- Newspaper. I have two questions. First question is for Mr. Dan
Senor. The second question is for General Kimmitt.
Mr. Dan, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi has stated that -- he's the U.N. representative in
Iraq -- he said he will relieve his position if the United States does not
respond to a number of requests. What is your -- what do you say to this? What
do you say to the fact that Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi is trying really severely to
place a plan, a final plan to improve the political process in Iraq?
General Kimmitt, today there was a number of bombings in Sadr City. What is your
information about that? And who was the person responsible for these explosions?
GEN. KIMMITT: On the second question, I think we have talked about the mortar
attack on the outskirts of Sadr City. There was a mortar attack that would
appear to have been aimed at the old cigarette factory where coalition forces
are occupying. Sadly, it did not land in an area in an open field. It neither
hit the coalition, but it did hit some of the citizens in Sadr City. We know of
six killed right now.
Who did it? We suspect the same people fired those mortars that typically fire
the rockets, that fire the mortar rounds at the Palestine Hotel, at the Sheraton
Hotel. These people, we believe, are the same group of people we see inside of
Fallujah -- former Fedayeen Saddam, former Mukhabarat, former regime elements
that are trying to push this process towards sovereignty and peace for the
people of Iraq off the rails.
MR. SENOR: On your --
Q I'm sorry, General Kimmitt, the operation -- the operation that occurred in
Sadr City was -- a military source said that -- he denied that there were
military soldiers or military vehicles in the city. However, the operation
occurred in a market, local market inside Sadr City, an area called Tuaida (sp).
It's a market that sells chicken and other products. More than three explosions
that occurred, and there was no military present, American military presence at
the time the explosions took place. This is what a military source stated. And
we want more clarification on this, please.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, the clarification I'd ask as "Who's your source?" Get
yourself a new military source, because he doesn't know what he's talking about.
MR. SENOR: On your other question, I haven't seen the specific comments that
you're referring to by Mr. Brahimi, but I can tell you that we have tremendous
respect for Lakhdar Brahimi and his experience and his diplomatic skills, and we
are grateful that the U.N. secretary-general has agreed to send Mr. Brahimi to
Iraq to play this role in helping to make recommendations and advise the Iraqis
and advise us on the formation of an interim government.
Q Regarding the new Iraqi army, from what we heard yesterday, have you gotten
any indications about the proportion -- (inaudible) -- being made up from former
Iraqi army elements?
GEN. KIMMITT: We have -- probably 60 to 70 percent of the membership within the
Iraqi armed forces have former affiliation with the old Iraqi army.
MR. SENOR: Which we -- at the time of disbanding the military, the army, as I
said earlier, we said that we were not going to discriminate against members of
the former Iraqi army in recruiting for the new Iraqi army. We were going to
discriminate against members of the old Iraqi army who were senior Ba'athists,
who had blood on their hands, who were directly involved in the repression of
the Iraqi people. And we said all along that there's an enormous talent pool out
there of patriotic Iraqis who served but were not involved with the Ba'athist
crimes, and those individuals would have an opportunity to be recruited and be
considered to serve in the new Iraqi army. And that's exactly what our policy
has been over the past 10 months as we've built up the security services here.
Yes, last question. I'll take one from you also. Go ahead.
Q Truly I have numerous questions for Mr. Dan Senor. I don't know which one
that's for the Iraqi audience. I ask what the truth that was in the city of
Fallujah. You said that you will commit to a cease-fire, however the cease --
the fire is still ongoing in the city of Fallujah. Does this mean that you have
not -- have not gone with your negotiation? There's a geographical diagram
that's out of Fallujah. The coalition forces and the Iraqi police inside of the
city -- how do you explain to us who killed his father and killed his son, moves
in front of his eyes without being -- without anybody talking to him or anybody
And in terms of the hostages, General Kimmitt stated that there must be
resistance so that these hostages be released. How will they be released, how
will these hostages be released when they are -- when they have promised the
occupation forces that they will be traded, that they will be traded for people
that are detained by coalition forces?
Then there's a question about Muqtada Sadr. He will not turn himself in. What if
he does not turn himself in to the coalition forces, does that mean you will
attack in the city of Najaf as you did with the city of Fallujah?
GEN. KIMMITT: Where should we start? There is a cease-fire that was agreed to by
the coalition that has been in place for almost 13 days now. There has been a
unilateral suspension of offensive operations by coalition forces in Fallujah
for almost 14 days now. We have ordered our Marines not to conduct offensive
operations. We have not ordered our Marines to allow themselves to be picked off
by the insurgents. They have the inherent right of self-defense.
Every day we continue to get the cease-fire report that talks about what's going
on in the city of Fallujah, and, for example, how many violations of cease-fire
within Fallujah were committed by the enemy? In the last 24 hours, nine small
arms fire, RPG, RPK; indirect fires, six. No IEDs in Al-Shalat (sp). How many
weapons were turned in? Describe the flow of people? What went into the city
through checkpoints? How many Iraqi police and how many Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps came in?
We are documenting very carefully every instance of the cease-fire violation,
every instance of the violation of the law of land warfare, every opportunity
that the enemy has to try to draw the coalition into firing at an area that has
civilians. We have been very cautious about recording this information, and
conservative about this information because we intend to use this information in
the future in any number of venues to demonstrate time-after-time, wherever
necessary, that in fact what is trying to be represented by many media as a
gallant, noble, resistance operation inside Fallujah is nothing more than
foreign fighters, Mukhabarat, Fedayeen Saddam, former special security officers,
who are holding that city hostage.
And what they're holding that city hostage from is the people of Fallujah
enjoying the benefits of Iraqi control, Iraqi sovereignty, Iraqi police, Iraqi
Civil Defense Corps. They are preventing the deployment of some larger measure
of an $18.9 billion gift from the foreign countries to improve their health
systems, to improve their medical clinics, to improve their schools, to improve
their infrastructure, to make life better for the children of Fallujah. They are
holding them hostage, and in some cases watching them die as Marines are trying
to come to their assistance, as Marines are trying to provide humanitarian
assistance, as Marines are trying to provide civil affairs.
We've got to get beyond the polemics. We've got to get beyond the rhetoric. The
fact is that the people of Fallujah are being held hostage by a small number of
dead-enders who want to make Fallujah the last redoubt of Saddam, and they want
to prevent the people, in fact use the people of Fallujah as their hostages.
The coalition forces and the Iraqi security forces surrounding that city are
attempting to help them, not harm them, are attempting to bring them liberty,
not slavery. They're trying to bring them assistance.
So, I understand your question, and -- but again, the purpose of a free press in
Iraq is to ask responsible questions. They're supposed to be asking literate
questions, and well thought out questions. And perhaps if you want to ask that
question again in that manner, I'd be glad to answer it.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Hi, this is Jose -- (inaudible) -- from EFE, the Spanish News Agency. I have
one question for Mr. Senor and one question for General Kimmitt.
I want to be as specific as possible, again to (bang on ?) about this issue
concerning the de-Ba'athification. And I'm -- you mentioned on the one hand the
issue of people with blood on their hands, or people who have committed crimes,
and on the other hand, people with senior ranks of the Ba'ath Party. And I think
that it's not so -- you're not making it so clear for me.
I -- my question is, if I understand that 70 percent of that component, 70
percent which comes from the old Iraqi army is mostly troops and not officers,
and I understand that you are trying at the moment to fortify the new Iraqi army
with officers, and that in a way you're encouraging officers from the old Iraqi
army -- please correct me if I'm wrong -- because you have that need.
And my question is, if you had an officer coming along who didn't commit those
-- who wasn't involved apparently in any crimes from the old regime, but he was,
he belonged to one of the top three tiers, that is regional council branch or
section and not Firqa or below, would you accept him in the new Iraqi army if he
belonged to one of those three top ranks?
And my question for Mr. Kimmitt -- sorry, General Kimmitt -- concerning -- could
you explain for me what the troops down in Najaf are doing at the moment and if
there have been any changes in their numbers or any movement at all and what the
purpose of their presence there is, since population still feels -- or they
claim to be still under siege?
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, on the first question, I could probably answer that. The
short answer, that's a hypothetical question. Very simply, we have had a robust
number of former military officers that we don't have to go through those types
of questions. At this point, we are looking at a broad number of officers who
meet all the qualifications, who meet all the vetting restrictions and who meet
all the experiential requirements to bring them in. Since we haven't had to come
up to that type of situation, it probably is a moot point to even discuss what
our answer would be ahead of time.
MR. SENOR: And let me just add to that that Ambassador Bremer, when the de-Ba'athification
policy was drafted, the de-Ba'athification order last May, it's explicit in the
order that Ambassador Bremer has the authority to grant exceptions and provide
for appeals in cases where we believe there are individuals who are -- were
Ba'athist in name only, were innocent of the crimes of the former regime, are
competent and capable, and can play a constructive role in the reconstruction of
Iraq. And that authority applies across-the-board, to the civilian side and the
military side. And he has utilized that authority, on the civilian side, on the
military side, over the past number of months.
GEN. KIMMITT: On the issue of what the soldiers around Najaf are doing, they're
doing the same thing around Najaf that they're doing throughout the rest of the
country. They're providing a safe and secure environment. They're conducting
engagements with local leaders. They're conducting, as necessary, raids, cordons
and searches, traffic control, checkpoints, and any of a number of operations
that you see anywhere within this country.
Q (Inaudible) -- some 500 troops there? And concerning the exceptions that
Ambassador Bremer is capable of doing, does that mean that he could make an
exception for somebody above the rank of Firqa who wanted to come and join the
MR. SENOR: Yes.
GEN. KIMMITT: And with regards to the troops, there had been a recent rotation
of troops as we've reset the forces on -- within Iraq, returning some to the
bases have been operating and bringing others down in that area to start getting
ready for whatever eventualities come about. So -- but the overall number,
quality, and types of equipment are relatively the same that you've seen over
the past couple of weeks.
MR. SENOR: And let me just clarify before we go -- the appeals process that is
explicitly outlined in the January 10th procedures, allows for appeals for Firqa,
it's very explicit, only the Firqa level. But Ambassador Bremer still retains
the authority to grant exceptions to anybody. Now, he's used that authority very
selectively for obvious reasons. But from time-to-time there is an individual
who is made known to us that can play a constructive role -- this has -- this
has happened over the past 10 months -- and the authority is granted because
they were innocent of the Ba'athist crimes. What the January 10th guidelines do
is it explicitly outlines an appeals process for the Firqa. So it, in effect, is
a more progressive implementation of the policy. Those guidelines allow for more
progressive implementation of the original policy by explicitly outlining the
Firqa appeals process. But the fact is we have the authority to grant exceptions
at any level, and have, as I said, have exercised that authority on several
occasions over the past 10 months.