COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 10:20 A.M. EDT
DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. Sorry we are running a little late. A couple of
Ambassador Bremer received word earlier this week, and it was finalized today,
on something he'd been working on with the World Bank and the Iraqi Ministry of
Education, which was the largest grant issued by the Bank in 30 years, a $40
million emergency grant to print new textbooks for the 2004/2005 school year
here in Iraq. The World Bank grant will finance the printing and distribution of
approximately 72 million textbooks for 6 million students in all provinces for
the upcoming school year. This quantity covers over 600 titles for all 12 grades
of the primary and secondary system. Criteria for the selection of textbooks to
be financed by the grant give the highest priority to primary and secondary
textbooks with special attention to final grades of each phase. The World Bank
and Ministry of Education, as I said, are in the finalization stages. And an
additional agreement for a second grant of $60 million to finance the
rehabilitation of schools is being worked out.
As far as Ambassador Bremer's schedule today, he continues to work on these
consultations in pursuit of the formation of the interim government. Mr. Lakhdar
Brahimi, the U.N. special representative in Iraq, is doing the same. Today
Ambassador Bremer met with members of the Governing Council, including Mr.
Jafari. He met with Dr. Rouj (ph), who is Mr. Barzani's deputy on the Iraqi
Governing Council, and who is a leading Iraqi political figure. And this morning
Ambassador Bremer met with the Iraqi Ministerial Committee on National Security
for their regular weekly meeting on the overall security situation on the ground
here in Iraq.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you. Good afternoon.
The coalition continues offensive operations to establish stability in Iraq in
order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and transfer sovereignty.
In the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,879 patrols, 14 offensive
operations, 29 Air Force and Navy sorties, and captured 43 anti-coalition
suspects. Four hundred and seventy-two detainees will be released from Abu
Ghraib tomorrow beginning at 08:00.
In the northern zone of operations, the mayor of Bayji was attacked at his
residence by a drive-by shooter two days ago. One Iraqi policeman was killed and
another wounded, although the mayor is safe. The Bayji local police responded
and detained the assailants and have the lead for the investigation.
This afternoon, 206 new police officers completed the eight-week initial entry
training program at the Mosul Public Safety Academy. They will begin patrols
In the north-central zone operations yesterday, coalition forces conducted a
hasty raid of four houses west of Samarra. The search resulted in four detainees
and the confiscation of multiple weapons and miscellaneous Osama bin Laden
Yesterday three mortar rounds impacted west of Samarra. After conducting an
investigation of the impact area, Iraqi police reported that three children were
injured in the attack and one of the children died en route to the Samarra
In Baghdad, the 1st Cav conducted 521 patrols and captured 14 anti-coalition
Last night coalition forces were patrolling in central Baghdad when one of their
helicopters came under fire from two to three enemy personnel. In the attack,
one Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldier was grazed by gunfire and two insurgents
were killed. A reenforcement unit was sent to the scene and they too came under
fire while en route. One coalition soldier and one Iraqi were injured from a
hand grenade with minor injuries.
Later, while conducting a cordon and search for the attackers, two hand grenades
were thrown at coalition soldiers, killing one coalition soldier and wounding
three others. Additionally, one Iraqi interpreter was killed and one ICDC
soldier was wounded.
In Sadr City, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cav has started a weapons
rewards program. The program, initiated on Saturday, has been an overwhelming
success, so much so that it has been extended two more days. Citizens are given
money for their weapons at equal to or above black market prices and, for
example, the cost of an AK-47 can actually feed a family in Sadr City for three
months. Any illegal weapons not turned in during this amnesty period will be
seized forcibly upon completion. But as of 20 May, there have been over 3,200
AK-47s, 530 rocket rounds, 187 RPG launchers, 141 machine guns and 87 tank
rounds turned in. Coalition forces have paid out over $1.2 million to
In the western zone of operations, the security situation in the Al Anbar is
improving. Fallujah remains quiet, with no violations of the cease-fire since 3
May. Two days ago in Fallujah there were two 82-millimeter mortar systems, 15
rocket-propelled grenade launchers and three RPK machine guns turned in as part
of the heavy weapons turn in. Coalition forces have turned over the northern
joint checkpoints to Iraqi security forces and continue to maintain a joint
checkpoint on the eastern side of the city.
In Karbala yesterday morning, coalition forces came under attack by small-arms
fire and 10 separate RPG attacks. The units returned fire, killing six. And that
evening, six RPGs and small arms were fired at coalition tanks. Coalition forces
returned fire, resulting in three enemy killed.
Between 2330 and 0030 this morning, seven rocket-propelled grenades and small
arms were fired at coalition forces, vicinity of the Mukhaiyam Mosque. A
coalition aircraft engaged three times, resulting in 10 enemy killed and two
In a separate incident, enemy forces fired one rocket-propelled grenade at a
coalition tank from the second floor of the Abbas Shrine. Coalition forces did
not return fire.
In An Najaf yesterday at 1330, 12 to 14 mortar rounds impacted near the Najaf
main Iraqi police station. At 2300 last night, an additional 11 rounds impacted
near this police station. And this morning between 0100 and 0200, a coalition
base camp, vicinity An Najaf, was attacked again with five to six mortar rounds.
There were no injuries or damage to equipment from these attacks.
In the southeastern zone of operations, the CPA building in An Nasiriyah is
still under a temporary withdrawal order of all noncombatants. Coalition forces
and Iraqi Civil Defense continue to guard the CPA building and secure the
bridges over the Euphrates River. Coalition forces are still patrolling the city
with no signs of armed militia and no impediments to freedom of movement.
Last night, the Cimic House in al-Amarah was attacked three times with seven
mortar rounds. All explosions were outside the perimeter of the base and
resulted in no coalition injuries or damage to equipment.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we are happy to take your questions.
Q Owen Fay, Fox News. Dan, Ahmed Chalabi has just given a press conference in
which he said that at least some of the documents seized today were related to
the oil-for-food investigation. Could you tell us the primary thrust of the
reason behind this raid and how significant a role the oil-for-food is playing?
MR. SENOR: I would refer you to the Iraqi police on that issue. My understanding
is they are the ones who seized any documents. It was an Iraqi-led
investigation, it was an Iraqi-led raid. It was the result of Iraqi arrest
Q Stephanie Halasz, CNN. Same topic. Ahmed Chalabi today described his
relationship with the CPA as non-existent. Your comment, please.
MR. SENOR: Ahmed Chalabi, like many members of the Governing Council, has worked
closely with us over a number of months as we have worked to set Iraq on a path
to political sovereignty.
Q As well as describing his relationship as non-existent, he said it was an
unwarranted raid led by a former Ba'ath party official. Could you comment on
And on a slightly separate issue, although I guess it's not too separate,
considering it has to do with honest people involved in the rebuilding of the
country, could you comment on the -- are you troubled by the record of some U.S.
civilian contractors -- sorry, correction advisers who have been involved in the
rebuilding of the prison system out here? There's some concern that some of them
have got somewhat of a checkered past.
MR. SENOR: American contractors or Iraqi contractors?
Q U.S. -- I'm sorry, the second is U.S. contractors.
MR. SENOR: And you're saying there's an allegation that they have a checkered
MR. SENOR: If you can show me specifically who you're talking about and what
you're talking about, I'm happy to look into it.
On your first question, your first question was --
Q As well as being a non-existent relationship now, he says that it was an
unwarranted raid led by a former Ba'ath party official.
MR. SENOR: Again, you should -- I would take that up with the Iraqi police and
the Iraqi investigators, and certainly the Iraqi judge, the investigative judge
who led the investigation.
Certainly, when we are looking to put former Iraq officials back onto the
government payroll, we subject them to a very robust vetting process in order to
ensure that former senior-level Ba'athists, those with Ba'athist (sic) blood on
their hands, those who had a hand in the regime's former crimes, do not have a
role in the new government. I'm not saying that some don't slip through the
cracks, and when that's made available to us -- and we hope officials who have
information, like it sounds like the incident you're referring to today, Mr.
Chalabi may have information, they should get it to us and we do our best to
rectify the situation. But again, as to a specific individual, you should take
it up with the Iraqi police.
Q Yes, Steve Komarow with USA Today. We were just informed by a senior official
that the raids today were part of a process that included Ambassador Bremer. Can
you explain how much knowledge he had of these raids today, and whether he
intervened in any way?
MR. SENOR: He -- Ambassador Bremer has the authority for referring any Central
Criminal Court case to the Central Criminal Court, of which there have been
hundreds. According to the public order, he is required to refer the respective
cases. But that is only after there is a very serious detailed and thorough
investigation that is initiated and run by the Iraqis. That has been the case
with all the -- some several hundred, I think it's between 100 and 200 -- I can
get you the exact number -- cases. Every single one has been Iraqi- initiated,
Iraqi-led, it's been a thorough investigation, and only then will Ambassador
Bremer, as a procedural matter, refer it to the Central Criminal Court. Today's
-- the result of today was not inconsistent with that process.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ali al-Nasr al-Korashi (ph) -- (affiliation not
translated). Mr. Kimmitt, Mr. Dan Senor, my question is to Mr. Dan Senor. In
case you stay in Iraq, are you -- do you have the decision to reconstruct Iraq
like building bridges at the time being? Not carrying out the reconstruction of
Iraq has caused traffic congestion. When will you start these projects, please?
MR. SENOR: We are in the process of deploying $18.6 billion for the
reconstruction of the country. That cuts across a number of areas: obviously,
training and equipping of Iraq's security forces, which $3.2 billion is
dedicated; Iraq's electrical infrastructure, which is the number one line item
in the spending package, what we call the supplemental package for the
reconstruction of Iraq; billions of dollars dedicated to the reconstruction of
Iraq's oil infrastructure; and then other areas, schools -- opening schools,
courts, hospitals are all the focus of the supplemental.
That's the -- the spending has begun. In fact, we are employing many Iraqi
workers and many Iraqi firms at the subcontract level in pursuit of meeting the
reconstruction goals. The process has begun. It's going to -- some areas will
take a couple of years. Some areas are seeing very quick results, determined on
a project-by-project basis.
Q One for you, General Kimmitt, and also Dan.
The first one. Can we have a few more details about what happened yesterday with
this wedding party? Specifically, you mentioned there were 2 million Iraqi and
Syrian dinars. How much of each? What does that come down to in U.S. dollars?
What kind of weapons specifically? Those were mentioned also in the press
And on the second issue, about Chalabi. Can you -- how many things is he being
-- or group being investigated? There seems to be confusion. One has to do with
oil-for-food program and there seems to be other allegations about Iraqi -- the
new Iraqi money coming out and his involvement with that. Can you specify?
MR. SENOR: Sure. On the first question, I will say that, to my knowledge -- and
I just saw the list today, but to my knowledge, Mr. Chalabi is not actually
being pursued for anything.
Q His group. His -- INC. That's --
MR. SENOR: And I don't think the INC is, either. I think there are individuals
who may work for the -- individuals, a number of them.
As to the details of what they're being charged with, I would refer that to the
investigative judge and to the Iraqi police.
Q That's --
MR. SENOR: We really -- we really, Rachel, don't have anything to do with the
investigation or the arrests.
As far as the oil-for-food program is concerned, the investigation for that is
an entirely separate issue, has nothing to do with what transpired today. The
oil-for-food investigation is in the hands of the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit,
which is an independent agency, an Iraqi professional oversight agency which is
not -- does not consist of political officials. They are -- it is an impartial
Ambassador Bremer several months ago signed a public order to empower the Board
of Supreme Audit to lead the Iraqi investigation for the oil-for-food scandal --
or fraud in the oil-for-food program. There are three investigations going on
that I'm aware of. There's the U.S. congressional investigation; there's a U.N.
-- imposing its own investigation; and there's an Iraqi investigation.
And the Iraqi investigation, as I said, is being led by the Board of Supreme
Audit -- independent, politically impartial agency. Ambassador Bremer told them
months ago that they would be the lead on it. He dedicated funding for it and
has made it clear and has been very public that they would be the lead on it. He
informed the Governing Council several months ago that the Iraqi Board of
Supreme Audit would be on the lead. So I don't know what's going on, how that
intersects with what happened today.
I am aware that Mr. Chalabi was looking into an investigation of his own. That
may or may not be the case, but that certainly isn't the Iraqi government
investigation. The Iraqi government investigation is being led by an independent
professional agency, Board of Supreme Audit. Mr. Chalabi and other members of
the Governing Council have been aware of that for a number of months now because
Ambassador Bremer told them shortly after the oil-for-food fraud in the
oil-for-food program broke.
Q The question about the wedding.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, on the first question. The reports we have -- it says that
there will be more detail coming up in later op-sums, but on the weapons,
several shotguns, handguns, rifles were left on site; several automatic AK-47s,
pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, machine guns recovered from the location. In
terms of the dinars, it's about -- if you add it all up, it's roughly about
$1,000 worth of dinar that were located on site.
Q Iraqi dinar.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, Iraqi dinar.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q Hello. (Name inaudible) -- Four Corners Media. Were you aware that two days
ago the museum in Nasiriyah was burned and looted, possibly by the Mahdi Army?
And there's continued looting at sites all over the south of Iraq including
reports of about 200 looters a night at Uma (sp). And I'm wondering why this is
still happening a year after the war ended and what plan you have in place to
MR. SENOR: We have built up an Iraqi security force. If you look at all the
security forces -- the Iraqi police, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the new
Iraqi army, Facilities Protection Service and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the
Iraqi border patrol -- five security forces, some 200,000 Iraqis in security
positions. We've built that up in about a year.
When Ambassador Bremer arrived here last spring there wasn't a single Iraqi
police officer on the streets. Today we have recruited and deployed an Iraqi
police force of approximately 70,000 individuals. The building up of the Iraqi
security forces, plus the reinforcement role that American and coalition
security forces have played, has drawn down -- resulted in the reduction of
looting dramatically. I mean, just -- in the aftermath of the war, there was
significant looting. Now there's virtually none.
In certain areas you've seen a direct cause effect where we've dedicated either
coalition forces or, more primarily, Iraqi security forces, you've seen a
dramatic reduction. Take political sabotage attacks against the electrical
lines, or the oil infrastructure. While we've seen a spike in the last week,
you've got to understand, for about the past year, past 10 months, we've seen
virtually none. Immediately after the war, electrical lines were being taken
down on almost a weekly basis. And we went for about 10 or 11 months and we see
none of it, and that's because we have built up a Facilities Protection Service
of Iraqis in the number of tens of thousands, who are now securing the
electrical lines. And that has done two things. One, it has made the marginal
risk for those who engage in these attacks that much higher. When they try to
take down a line, the odds of them themselves getting killed or captured have
increased significantly. Also, our investment in the electrical infrastructure
has meant there's more redundancy in the system, so the marginal benefit to
those engaging in these attacks against infrastructure, and the looting, has
gone way down because when they try to take down a piece of infrastructure, when
they try to knock down an electrical line, it either doesn't have the desired
effect -- electrical power doesn't go out, or our ability to put it back up
increases that much more significantly.
So overall, you've seen dramatic improvement. That's not to say there aren't
isolated pockets where there are still problems. Certainly, in the United States
of America, where we have millions and millions and millions and millions of
people in security positions, we still have crime. We're still going to have
areas where there's looting in Iraq. Our goal is not perfection, our goal is
making it that much more difficulty for those who engage in those attacks to
complete them successfully, and we've done a very good job on that. The Iraqis
have done an outstanding job on that. And we've got to continue to improve it.
Q Just a quick follow-up. Could you tell me if you think that the Italian Army
is suited to fight the Mahdi army and some of the challenges they've seen?
GEN. KIMMITT: The Italian army has done a wonderful job in Bosnia, side by side
with us along in Kosovo, and they've demonstrated equal aptitude down here in
MR. SENOR: Campbell?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: If you could use the mike, please.
Q Yazmi Lukisar (ph) from --
MR. SENOR: No, she was going to ask a question. She just needed the mike. Sorry.
Q I know you can't comment on an ongoing investigation, but can you tell us how
many investigations are under way relating to abuse within any military prisons
at all within Iraq? And just generally, do all of the prisons operate under the
same guidelines that relate to holding and interrogating prisoners?
And if I could just ask you one follow-up on the wedding situation, too.
GEN. KIMMITT: Okay. On the first question, I know that we have the Major General
Fay investigation ongoing. That investigation is not only going to look at the
specific allegations that came up in the Taguba report and through the CID
report, but it also is very, very encompassing. So if there are other minor
investigations going on at any of the other detention facilities we have, that
certainly would fall under there as well.
I don't have the exact numbers about how many specific investigations are going
on at any one time, but you can be assured that anytime a prisoner lodges a
complaint about his maltreatment or mistreatment, that starts an investigation.
So I mean, I can look up the exact number, but that number changes on a
The important thing is that the major investigations to the detention systems
and the interrogation systems in the military intelligence -- there's one large
investigation that follows on from the CID investigation and from the Taguba
investigation, and that's the Fay investigation, which is ongoing.
Q And the guidelines?
GEN. KIMMITT: The guidelines remain the Geneva Conventions.
Q And on the situation yesterday, you said that you were fairly convinced this
was not what some of the Iraqis were saying, a wedding party that was hit, but
-- and part of the justification was the weapons and everything else you found.
But it sounds like, you know, $1,000, a few weapons are not that unusual here.
Do you have other evidence that would suggest this is definite, and will there
be an investigation?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, certainly because of the interest that's been shown by the
media we're going to have an investigation. Some of the allegations that have
been made would cause us to go back and look at this. But it's important to
understand that this operation was not something that just fell out of the sky.
We had significant intelligence which caused us to conduct a military operation
into the middle of the desert, 85 kilometers south of Husaybah, al Qaim, and 25
kilometers inside from the Syrian border. Relatively barren area. We had a group
of people there, not Bedouin. They were -- would appear to have been town
dwellers. You saw 4x4s, jewelry. This is one of those routes that we have
watched for a long period of time as a place where foreign fighters and
smugglers come into this country.
We have consistently talked inside this forum about the foreign fighter flow.
This was clearly, in our -- the intelligence that we had suggested that this was
a foreign fighter "rat line," as we call them, one of the way stations. We
conducted military operations down there last night. The ground force that swept
through the objective found a significant amount of material and intelligence
which validated that attack. And we are satisfied at this point that the
intelligence that led us there was validated by what we found on the ground, and
it was not that there was a wedding party going on.
MR. SENOR: Sewell.
Q Sewell Chan with The Washington Post. One question for each of you, please.
Dan, you said earlier in this press conference, quote, "We really don't have
anything to do with the investigation or the arrests," end quote, relating to
Ahmed Chalabi and his associates. Are we to infer that Ambassador Bremer only
learned about this operation today? And if not, when did he learn about this
MR. SENOR: He learned about the investigation when it was effectively completed,
and it was referred to him because those leading the investigation wanted it
referred to the Central Command -- (off mike) -- procedural matter. He referred
it, which is what he does almost always in cases -- (off mike) -- when they
reach the stage that they're ready to move into court.
As to what he knew about the actual operation, he was notified today by an aide,
who was notified -- I think someone from the Governing Council notified one of
his aides to let him know that this operation had occurred, and that's when
Ambassador Bremer learned of it.
Q But you're saying that he did not have any effect whatsoever --
MR. SENOR: Again, he knew --
Q -- indirect or direct, on the timing?
MR. SENOR: Sure. He knew the investigation -- he was aware of the investigation,
but he was not involved with the operation. He did not know that the operation
-- (off mike) -- today. He was notified after the fact.
Q For General Kimmitt, sir. There was footage shown on Associated Press
Television Network yesterday that seemed to depict civilians who were
purportedly killed in the incident near the Syrian border. Is the military
disputing that any civilians were killed? There were graphic images of dead
children. Does the military have a position on whether these children were
killed in this incident?
GEN. KIMMITT: The persons that we had on the ground did not find -- and they
were on the ground for an extensive period of time -- they did not find any dead
children among the casualties of that engagement.
Q Did they find any people who were not suspected to be involved in this foreign
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm sorry; I have problems with double negatives. Say again?
Q I'm sorry. Is everyone who was killed believed to have been involved in this
foreign fighter cell?
GEN. KIMMITT: At this point, the intelligence that we have and the intelligence
that we drew on to conduct this operation was sufficient for us to believe -- to
conduct that operation. We believe that we operated within the rules of
engagement for that operation.
MR. SENOR: Yes, ma'am.
Q (Through interpreter.) I have two questions, to Dan Senor and General Kimmitt.
My first question is to Mr. Dan. There have been two years for Iraq and the
Iraqi people are suffering from outages. This is not a very difficult issue for
the United States.
My question to General Kimmitt. Can you give us a statistic about the Iraqis and
the Americans killed in Karbala and Najaf?
MR. SENOR: Are you talking about electrical -- electricity outages, power
outages? Yeah, okay.
INTERPRETER: Yes. She's talking about electrical outages.
MR. SENOR: We are in a situation now where we are -- we've exceeded prewar
levels in terms of electrical generation. When we arrived here, Iraq was
generating something like 300 megawatts of power a day. And the prewar levels,
as many of you know, was approximately 42 (hundred), 4,400, which we exceeded in
October of last year. Even when Iraq is generating its prewar peak, which was 42
(hundred), 4,400 megawatts, it's only meeting two-thirds of the country's
demand. The country needs 6,000 megawatts. So even under Saddam Hussein, the
country -- the government was only generating two-thirds of the country's
Many parts of the country had very severe power outages. Now, you may have lived
in Baghdad, which had it far less worse than other parts of the country. Some
areas like Basra, under the former regime, were sometimes getting two, three,
four, five hours of power a day; Baghdad, I think, ranged, depending, 18 hours
What we first tried to do is, as I said, rebuild the infrastructure, the
electrical infrastructure. We've dedicated -- the largest area of the funding
we're dedicating to the reconstruction of Iraq is in the area of electrical
We first tried to equalize the situation. So Saddam Hussein used essential
services as a tool of repression. He gave some areas a lot of electrical power
and he gave some areas virtually none. Then what we tried to do is reach the
overall prewar levels. As I said, we did that last October after spending a lot
of money and doing a lot of work. It was work that involved American civilian
engineers and coalition military forces working side by side with Iraqi
engineers to get this done. It was a real milestone.
And now our focus is on reaching the country's demand, which is 6,000 megawatts.
So it's -- we have to get to about another 15 (hundred) to 1,600 megawatts of
power here, which is not easy. And it will be far higher than the electrical
power that was generated this country at any time in the last 35 years. Our goal
for that is sometime this summer, to get to 6,000 megawatts this summer.
And even though the Coalition Provisional Authority and Ambassador Bremer leaves
here on June 30th, we are still going to have civilian reconstruction resources,
both in terms of individuals and dollars and other resources on the ground here
that will stay after June 30th to get this job done.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. KIMMITT: I don't have the casualty figures for Najaf and Karbala. They're
quite shocking because they're so disproportionate, and if I had those numbers,
I would tell you that the numbers would be somewhere on the order of 50 to 100
casualties taken by Muqtada's militia to every one taken by the coalition. And
it kind of is sad to see a militia like that, so poorly led by a thug like
Muqtada that he would allow those young men to fight against an Army as
disciplined, as well led, as well trained, as well equipped as the coalition
forces, only to see them fight to their death for no reason at all.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Yes, Mike Georgia (sp) from Reuters. There are relatives of a well-known
wedding singer who say he and his brother were killed in this incident near the
Syrian border. And they brought the bodies back to Baghdad. Are you willing to
sort of review your assessment of what happened in terms of civilians and
combatants at this point?
GEN. KIMMITT: Oh, absolutely. We said we're going to do an investigation. We're
going to take a hard look at that.
Obviously, for operational and security reasons, I can't reveal much of the
details of what got us there and what we did while we were there. But I am
persuaded that, again, the purposes that caused us to conduct that operation in
the middle of the barren desert in the early mornings (sic) of the hour, which
is kind of an odd time to be having a wedding, against what we believed to be 34
to 35 men and a number of women, less than a handful of women, which doesn't
seem to be numbers that one would associate with a wedding, by a group in their
four-by- fours, well away from any town, in a known RAT line, which is being
used by smugglers and foreign fighters frequently, and other intelligence that
we found on the ground, pretty well convinces us that what got us there had a
Are we going to take a look at it, are we going to review it, are we going to
conduct some measure of investigation based on some of the things that we're
hearing here? Of course we are. I think that's the only prudent thing to do. And
we may find out new information that we don't have currently. But we are
satisfied that the intelligence that we had, the multiple correlated evidence
that got us there, and the actions of our forces on the ground, what they found
and what they brought back -- foreign passports, money, weapons, satellite
communications -- would be inconsistent with a wedding party for sure, and
fairly consistent with what we have seen throughout this country time after time
after time, which is the flow of foreign fighters to come in to terrorize and
kill the Iraqi citizens.
Q Is it possible that you were targeting these fighters and you hit a wedding
party next door? Is that possible?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I think let's let the investigation bear out. But this was
not "next door." This was in the middle of the open desert.
MR. SENOR: Yes, in the back.
Q I have a question -- German Television, Jurg Ahmeizer (ph). Do you know
anything about the pictures we saw yesterday evening -- who made them, who are
the people on the pictures? One older man was talking about two air raids and
that private houses were destroyed. Do you know anything about these pictures?
GEN. KIMMITT: I mean, there were some buildings out in that area, but nothing
that could be associated with a town or a village. Again, this is what's going
to cause us to review our photo imagery that we have of that area, talk to the
people that were on the ground, take a look around, hear the evidence.
So, there may be some new evidence that crops up. We will keep an open mind
about this. But what we saw in those pictures and what we saw on the ground at
this point are inconsistent.
MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible.) My question, the
question has been raised by one of the citizens from Maysan, Sheik Rahim Saudi
(ph), he is a deputy governor. What is the reason behind having a different
amount of money has been allocated for the provinces? There is a difference in
this amount, for example, in Salahuddin and in Maysan. And why not all the
bridges and highways are not treated equally in terms of the allocation of the
money, the highway that links Baghdad to Mosul?
MR. SENOR: We have dedicated and are in the process of dedicating, if you count
up all the reconstruction funding, $18.6 billion. That's in pursuit of the
reconstruction of the entire country, spread over a number of provinces. We've
not released any sort of province-by-province breakdown. That's not how we make
our determinations. We do it on a project-by-project basis. And I'll give you an
There are certain areas in the country where oil infrastructure tends to be
centralized. Therefore, there's a lot of funding going to get Iraq's oil
resources flowing again. There are certain areas where some of the electrical
infrastructure is hubbed. And while there are electrical lines across the
country, some of the central resources are centralized in certain parts of the
country. So because a lot of resources will be going to those areas, you could
make the conclusion that that particular province is on the receiving end of a
substantially -- on the receiving end of a disproportionate amount of money from
a another respective province. But it's not based on a province-by-province
decision-making process. It's not political -- we want to help this province
versus that province; it's purely based on where the needs are and where we need
to dedicate funds to get the reconstruction on track.
Q Thanks, Dan. Putting aside what's happened today with Ahmed Chalabi and his
associates, how would you characterize the way in which his relationship with
the coalition has evolved over the last couple of months? And do you think that
he's still a player in the forming of an interim government?
MR. SENOR: You know, Charlie, I would suggest you ask that question of the Iraqi
people. We are heading now down a path where there will be direct elections in
this country seven months after we hand over sovereignty. Iraqis will choose
their leaders and hold them accountable.
And in terms of having a speculative discussion, which I'm not terribly
interested in having, about the ups and downs and ups, trials and tribulations
of any respected political figure, that's a discussion to be had with Iraqi
newspapers and Iraqis on the street who are going to be engaging in a dialogue
about who they're going to elect in just a few months.
Q Right, but how has his relationship changed with the coalition over the last
couple of months?
MR. SENOR: There has -- I mean, I'm telling you that we don't sit there
evaluating one GC member's favored over another GC member. These are decisions
that the Iraqis are going to make about who they want in power, about who they
want running their country. That's how this process is going forward. The
Coalition Provisional Authority is disappearing in less than six weeks. Iraqis
will be choosing their leaders.
Last question. Yes.
Q Anthony Deutsch with the Associated Press. Is it not true that the raids that
took place today were the result of information provided by the coalition to an
Iraqi court, which issued the warrants that led to the raids?
MR. SENOR: Again -- and the details I just received in terms of the complete
warrants today, so my information is new. But to my knowledge, this was
information that was made available from the Ministry of Finance, and it was
from there. It was taken by the Iraqi Ministry of Finance by Iraqi staff at the
Ministry of Finance, and it was taken forward there by Iraqi investigators and
by the investigative judge. But for more clarity on that, I would refer you to
the investigative judge and any others involved with the investigation.
Q But just to clarify, it's not true that the coalition provided information
that led to this investigation?
MR. SENOR: No, my understanding is the information came from the Ministry of
Finance. But you should talk to the Ministry of Finance, talk to the
investigative judge, work with them on it. They took the lead on this process.
Thank you, everybody.