COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 9:07 A.M. EDT
DATE: WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a couple of items and then General
Kimmitt has his opening briefing. And then we will be happy to take your
Earlier today Ambassador Bremer held his weekly recurring meeting with the
Governing Council. This is something he does, as I said, on a weekly basis.
Discussions continued about the formation of the interim government, which is
being led by Mr. Brahimi. Later today -- in fact, right now -- Ambassador Bremer
is having other meetings with other individual members of the Governing Council,
including the current president, Sheik Ghazi. These are individual member
Following his full GC meeting earlier today, Ambassador Bremer held an event
here to announce the formation of the special task force on compensation for
victims of the former regime. He cited the countless Iraqi families who suffered
under the regime of Saddam Hussein and announced this task force. Ambassador
Bremer also announced that Dr. Malik Dohan al-Hassan, the president of the Iraqi
Bar Association, has accepted our invitation to head the task force.
Many Iraqis lost jobs, were imprisoned or were executed because they were
accused of having opposed the regime, refused to join the Ba'ath party or simply
were related to someone considered by the previous regime as an opponent. The
history of these abuses is complex and involves many thousands of people. The
coalition is establishing this task force to ensure the responsibility for
judgments about how justice is to be done will be taken by Iraqis. The coalition
is setting aside initial funding from the Development Fund for Iraq to bolster
this important effort on behalf of the Iraqi people. The initial set-aside is
for $25 million.
Dr. Malik, along with two assistants that he will select, will work with victims
and with ministries to define the types of injustice for which compensation
should be provided. Other than those issues already being dealt with in other
areas, such as the Iraqi Property Claims Commission, we will also consider how
individuals can demonstrate their eligibility for such compensation, make
recommendations about the level of compensation that should be received and the
mechanisms through which it should be delivered.
GEN. KIMMITT: Good afternoon. The coalition continues operations to establish a
stable Iraq in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and
transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people. To that end, in the past 24 hours the
coalition conducted 1,874 patrols, 24 offensive operations, 40 Air Force and
Navy combat sorties, and captured 55 anti-coalition suspects.
On Friday there will be a release of between 550 and 600 detainees from Abu
In the northern zone of operations, coalition Public Works Team delivered over
$1.1 million U.S. worth of USAID donated and CERP funded equipment and supplies
to the Nineveh water and sewer department in order to repair breaking
Today 156 former regime police officers graduated from the three- week
transition integration program course in Mosul. To date, 14,628 police officers
have been retrained. The TIP training educates former policemen and reenforces
democratic policing methods, emphasizing respect for the rule of law, as well as
training, professional standards of conduct.
In the north central zone of operations, anti-coalition forces driving a black
Opel attacked the Al-Khalis chief of police with small-arms fire in Baqubah. The
chief of police sustained a gunshot wound and later died at the Baqubah
hospital. His driver was also killed.
In Baghdad last night, coalition forces conducted operations in Sadr City
against Muqtada militia and other anti-Iraqi forces.
As you can see from the story board, these yellow dots represent 21 separate
engagements in Sadr City against small teams firing small arms and
rocket-propelled grenades, and all of these operations resulted in no casualties
to coalition personnel or equipment.
In the western zone of operations, Fallujah has been quiet with (sic) any
cease-fire violations over the past 24 hours, nor have there been any cease-fire
violations since the 3rd of May.
Reconstruction efforts continue, with over 1,200 Fallujans employed in
reconstruction projects, not including those in the Fallujah Brigade. Over the
coming weeks, the coalition will hire an additional 1,900 Fallujah residents.
In the central south zone of operations last night, the town of Karbala was
quiet, and Iraqi police continued to extend control throughout the city.
Yesterday coalition forces conducted a search of two buildings near the
Mukhaiyam mosque, finding a significant weapons cache. The ordnance was blown in
place by an explosive ordnance team, which may have led to the false reports of
coalition demolition operations in the vicinity of this mosque.
In Najaf last night, coalition forces conducted operations, engaging forces in
five separate engagements. At 0330, 10 enemy personnel were observed carrying a
mortar tube, RPGs and AK-47s near the cemetery. At 0340, two enemy were observed
running towards the mortar site and were also engaged. At 0358 enemy personnel
with RPGs and AK-47s were observed loading a pickup truck with ammunition and
weapons, and at 4:10 a two four-man -- two four-man RPG teams were engaged. As a
result of these engagements, there were no damage or injuries to coalition
forces or equipment.
Also in Najaf last night, coalition forces conducted operations to capture key
Muqtada militia leadership targets. One target captured, Said Riyad al-Nouri
(sp), is considered a key lieutenant of Muqtada al-Sadr and is related to
Muqtada by marriage. He is being handed over to Iraqi authorities to comply with
an outstanding warrant for his arrest in connection with the murder of Ayatollah
Abdul Majid al-Khoei in April 2003.
In the southeastern zone of operations, the Basra Iraqi Civil Defense Corps
reported that there was a protest gathering outside the oil metering station on
the al-Faw Peninsula southeast of Basra. The locals were protesting over a lack
of fuel for the town's power generator. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps was
deployed to ensure public order. They requested and were provided coalition
assistance, and the protest later dispersed peacefully.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ali Nasser al-Korashi (ph) from Al Zaman and from Al
Ahar (ph). Mr. Kimmitt, Mr. Dan Senor, good afternoon.
The citizens are demanding the release of the detainees. Some of the detainees
are innocent. The Iraqis are happy now before the transfer of sovereignty on the
30th of June. All Iraqis are demanding this. How do you reply to this request?
GEN. KIMMITT: We are certainly going through the process of reviewing all the
case files on the detainees, and as we've said we are going to be releasing as
many as 600 in the next few days. But the fact remains we are not holding
innocent personnel in detention.
We have a very thorough process to screen those persons before we put them in
detention. The evidence is reviewed before a judge, and these persons are being
held as security threats to the Iraqi people. These IEDs on the road don't
appear by magic. These VBIEDs don't explode by magic. There are persons in this
country who are an imperative security threat to the people of Iraq. These are
people who fire rocket-propelled grenades. They fire mortars. They fire small
arms. They kill innocent women and children. They kill innocent Iraqi people.
They kill innocent coalition forces.
When these people are found building bombs in their houses; when these people
are found counterfeiting money and passing that money on to terrorist groups;
when these people facilitate terrorist groups so they can go out and drive
VBIEDs into Karbala, into Khalidiya, into the 14th Street Bridge, into
Assassin's Gate, outside the convention center; we have a responsibility -- a
moral responsibility -- to ensure those people are put in detention until they
no longer are a security threat to the people of Iraq.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Ayman Wylden (ph) with CNN. Dan, there was some speculation that Mr.
Shahristani will be named as the prime minister of Iraq. I was wondering if you
could comment on that and more about him, and if such an appointment does have
the endorsement of the Governing Council.
MR. SENOR: Yeah, my understanding is that initial report about Mr. Shahristani
is incorrect and the report that there is actually a candidate nailed -- a
candidate nailed down is incorrect as well. I would refer you to the United
Nations because it's Mr. Brahimi who has the lead on this effort.
The initial report that ran in The Washington Post quoted mid- level State
Department officials, I think anonymously, about Mr. Shahristani when in fact
this effort is being led by senior-level U.N. officials on the ground here in
Iraq. So unless there are any statements or quotes attributed to any U.N.
officials about who or who is not a front-runner, I would be very cautious about
reading too much into them.
Q (Through interpreter.) Abdu Nafa Jamil (sp) from Al- Hurriyah. Mr. Dan, before
the beginning of the military operation, the United States announced that these
troops are targeting the regime itself because it constitutes a threat to the
region, and this is true. There was a boycott before -- there were economic
sanctions before that, which lasted for 10 years. What was the target of these
economic sanctions? Was it the Iraqi people or the Iraqi regime? The United
States promised to provide the requirements for the Iraqi people. But these
promises were not put into action, especially that the Iraqi people were in bad
need for the collapse of this regime to provide these requirements.
MR. SENOR: I don't want to get into great detail about policy decisions made
before the coalition arrived here. I speak on behalf of the Coalition
Provisional Authority. But my understanding is that the sanctions could have
ended at any time, had Saddam Hussein taken actions that were quite obvious and
clear, to him and to everyone, to end the sanctions. He himself was in a
position to do so. And those sanctions were directed at the regime, not at the
Q (Through interpreter.) What are the priorities according to the coalition
forces in providing security for the Iraqi people at this moment?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, the -- it is simply the requirement to provide a safe and
secure environment inside of Iraq, so that the other three lines of operation --
reconstruction of the infrastructure, revitalization of the economy and passing
of governance on to the people of Iraq -- can continue. That is our priority.
That is our requirement.
MR. SENOR: Yes, ma'am?
Q (Through interpreter.) I have two questions, my first question to Mr. Dan and
to Mr. Kimmitt. Mr. Dan, the crisis of fuel has come again. Why from time to
time the crisis of fuel is coming back, especially that we are an oil-producing
country? My question to Mr. Kimmitt: Yesterday night, at 12:00 at night, the
American forces attacked an Iraqi police officer. They attacked his home. During
the raid they threw hand grenades on this family and they are all in hospital
now. They are a good family; I know them. The coalition force has taken them.
They are in the al-Haziriyah (ph) area. Do you have any knowledge about that?
MR. SENOR: On the oil infrastructure, Iraq right now -- and I'd refer you for
the specific details to the Iraqi oil ministry -- but Iraq right now is
producing well over 2 million barrels per day that -- or exceeded prewar levels.
The problem is the infrastructure is quite weak and we are engaged right now in
a massive reconstruction effort to improve the quality of the infrastructure and
the durability of the infrastructure.
During the process, while it's being upgraded, the infrastructure is quite
vulnerable to attacks. The refinery infrastructure is vulnerable to attacks, the
pipeline infrastructure is vulnerable to attacks; and therefore, those who are
trying to turn the clock back on Iraq, trying to throw the reconstruction off
course, those who are really enemies of a free Iraq and of the Iraqi people who
are trying to take a big stab at the efforts to improve the Iraqi -- the
economic situation of all Iraqis, have engaged in attacks against the oil
infrastructure. And until the reconstruction meets its goals, it will be
vulnerable to these attacks.
There's not a great deal of redundancy built into the system; there wasn't by
Saddam Hussein. There was virtually no maintenance put into the system, so this
equipment was chronically under-invested in for decades and we're working on
improving it, and we are doing our best. And we think we are on track to
continue the upward trend we've been on. But from time to time, there will be
setbacks when these attacks occur, and we are dealing with equipment and
infrastructure that is in very poor shape because of the way it was taken care
of under the former regime.
GEN. KIMMITT: As for your points about the family last night being attacked, if
we could get together after the press conference, you could give me the name of
the family, where they live. We could do some investigation. I find it somewhat
incredulous that we would have coalition forces throwing hand grenades at a
family, so I -- we'll certainly take a look in, if you can give me that
information. And we'll get an answer back to you.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Thank you. Mark Stone, ABC News. Can you give us any numbers, a ratio of the
number of people that -- of those that you're releasing from Abu Ghraib, those
that have been released because they've served their time and those that are
being released because it turns out they're innocent?
And my second question refers to the command structure of the multinational
force after June 30th. The IGC president said today that some of the units of
the Iraqi security forces will be under multinational command, but other units
won't be. Could you give us some clarification on that?
And going further, how can you reconcile Secretary Powell's comments with those
of Prime Minister Blair yesterday? They appeared, in my view, to contradict
themselves somewhat, with Mr. Blair suggesting that the Iraqis could veto any
MR. SENOR: On the third point, I would refer you to the State Department for
Secretary Powell's comments and refer you to No. 10 Downing in London for Prime
Minister Blair. We obviously have been clear about the command structure and how
these issues will be addressed, but obviously it will also be addressed in a
number of other fora, including the U.N. Security Council as we begin to work on
the resolution. So there will be time to work through all these issues. But as
for a specific difference, I haven't seen the different statements, so I don't
want to comment on one statement against another. I'd refer you to their
Q I'm sorry, Dan. Could you then -- you said you've made it clear before. Could
you just make it clear again, how do you see the command structure being? Will
the Iraqi security forces be able to veto any such decisions?
GEN. KIMMITT: Let me go to your first question, the percentage of persons that
were released because they've served their time. That percentage is zero. The
number that were released because they were innocent? That number, too, is zero.
Persons are held at Abu Ghraib because they are determined to be security
threats, imminent security threats here in country. That is a clear guideline
established by the Geneva Conventions for the forces that are conducting
operations inside any country, for example in this case the country of Iraq.
If it is determined that they are an imminent threat to the security of this
nation, then we have not only the authority, but the obligation to detain them,
to keep them off the streets, to ensure that they're not out killing their
fellow Iraqis, to make sure they're not out there building bombs, to make sure
that they're not contributing to the deaths of over 350 Iraqi police,
contributing to the deaths of over 100 to 200 Iraqi Civil Defense. So we don't
put them in Abu Ghraib to detain them for a period of time or to detain them
until proven innocent. They are deemed to be a security threat by a judge
through multiple sources of evidence. It's that simple.
If they were innocent, they wouldn't be at Abu Ghraib. If they were there
serving time, that would be under the Iraqi court system. There is a review
board that is set up that is done far more frequently than required by the
Geneva Conventions where a board takes a look at that person's case. And after a
period of time, when those persons are deemed to no longer be a threat to the
security of the nation, then they are released.
On the issue of the command structure, let me go through that. It has not been
firmly established in the post-30-June environment what the relationship will
be. Broadly, it will be a partnership, just like we have the coalition partners.
Right now we have a multinational force with a multinational force commander.
Every country that contributes to the coalition is part of that force. In this
case, it could well be that Iraq is considered another coalition partner.
But just because you are a part of that coalition does not bind you to every
decision made by the coalition commander. There are national rules of
engagement, where some units cannot participate because it exceeds what their
nation permits them to do. They have an opt-out clause. Every nation that
participates in this coalition has an opt-out clause. It could very well be that
that is the same structure that is determined to work best in terms of the
relationship between the Iraqi forces and the multinational forces.
But these are what are going to be hammered out over the days and weeks ahead,
with an eye towards making sure that we have a solid, understood chain of
command between the multinational forces and the Iraqi security forces as part
of that broad partnership that we will take forward from 1 July on.
Q Can I just follow up? There have been some suggestions that large operational
matters will be under the command of whoever is in charge, the American general,
but that -- sorry -- but that -- and that Iraqis would be -- must approve this,
but that smaller, sort of self-defense issues would -- the Iraqis would not have
to approve. Does that --
GEN. KIMMITT: Again, these are the kind of discussions that they're going to be
having in the next couple of weeks as they hammer out these points to take
Q So as yet, it's not be worked out?
GEN. KIMMITT: As yet it's not been determined. But we still have some time. And
there's no doubt in our mind that this will all be resolved by 30 June.
MR. SENOR: And I would add that the United States has had relationships with
several countries, some relationships lasting some 50 years, whether it's with
Japan or North Korea (sic) or Germany, where we form these sorts of
partnerships. And we have no doubt that we'll be able to work out an arrangement
with the Iraqi government. Everybody seems to want it. So I think it's very
GEN. KIMMITT: And every time we do that, the countries that participate in the
coalitions, whether they're coalitions of the willing or whether they're
coalitions or alliances such as NATO, every country retains sovereign decisions
over their force that they can invoke at any time.
MR. SENOR: Charlie?
Q Thanks, Dan. Two questions. Can you talk a little bit about efforts to
reimburse the families of Iraqis who -- innocent Iraqis who are killed in
coalition operations? That's first.
And second, General Kimmitt, would you say that you're making progress with
Muqtada al-Sadr? Do you think that, you know, there will be some sense of
increased urgency to have this wrapped up by June 30th?
GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, about compensation for noncombatants, there
is a process by which noncombatants can put forward compensation claims to the
coalition. That happens regularly and routinely. I think the last time I
reported on it, by that point, there had been over 11,000 claims on the part of
noncombatants, and somewhere on the order of $2.5 million had been paid out.
So there is a process. There are many different ways. Whether it's done formally
through the compensation or commanders invoking their own authorities,
compensation is a regular and routine part of what the coalition does on a daily
basis on those rare instances where there is effect upon noncombatants or their
Second question --
MR. SENOR: What was the second question?
Q Are you making progress with al-Sadr? Right.
GEN. KIMMITT: Al-Sadr certainly has less forces today than he did yesterday. Al-Sadr
certainly has one less lieutenant today than he did yesterday. One more person
associated with the murder of Ayatollah Majid al-Khoei is now going to face
Iraqi justice. We are constantly chipping away at his militia, his illegal
militia that was attempting to occupy Karbala by force and had for a long period
of time. We are chipping away at the forces that attempted to take over the
cities of Diwaniyah, al Kut, Samarra. We are continuing to chip away his militia
that is there in Najaf, as we saw from operations that we held last night.
We still are committed to finding a peaceful resolution to this problem. But
until that peaceful resolution comes forward that shows Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraqi
custody to face Iraqi justice for his part in the murder of Ayatollah al-Khoei
and the disarmament of his militia, we will continue to conduct military
operations directed against his forces.
MR. SENOR: Yeah.
Q Yes, hi. Steve Komarow with USA Today. Two unrelated questions.
One is following up on the question last night about the airport. I realize it's
impractical right now, but on June 30th could the sovereign government here
order the U.S. to vacate the airport so it would be a civilian airport again?
And the second question is if there's any comment on the Amnesty International
report that's come out that's quite critical of the U.S.-led coalition's
MR. SENOR: In answer to your question about the airport, we all have an interest
here in getting this airport reopened, and it's not an issue of whether or not
coalition forces are located there or not. It's whether or not the airport is up
to international standards in every single area in order -- in every single area
related to civil aviation in order to be reopened, and whether or not the
security assessment around the reopening of the airport gives us enough
confidence and gives the Iraqis enough confidence to reopen it.
We all have an interest in getting this airport reopened, but it's not an issue
of coalition forces being located there. That's not -- coalition forces being
located there is not the reason the airport isn't open today. The reason the
airport isn't open today is because everyone agrees, including the Ministry of
Transportation, that there are standards that need to be met, international
standards in the area of civil aviation, and those right now are not all met.
And there's a security issue that needs to be addressed as well.
Q I'm not so interested in the practicalities of it, I'm just interested in the
MR. SENOR: You're interested in the theory.
Q -- in the sovereignty question. I mean, it's a national asset, and I mean,
they in theory could say, okay, the U.S., you can have that airport and we're
going to make something else into our national airport. But I'm wondering if
they have the authority under the --
MR. SENOR: After June 30th, Steve, the Iraqis will have sovereignty over this
entire country and they will have control of their assets and they will have
control of their national resources. We can start to cite what about this
example or what about that example, what about this facility, what about that
asset? I'll tell you right now, our working assumption is that the Iraqis will
be in control of all their assets and all their national resources.
Q I'm sorry -- on the Amnesty International.
MR. SENOR: I haven't seen the report.
GEN. KIMMITT: I haven't read it either.
Q It's just been in the news, a critical report. But if you don't have it -- you
haven't seen it --
MR. SENOR: Did it just come out today?
Q Apparently so.
MR. SENOR: Have you seen it?
Q I've only read the news reports.
MR. SENOR: Oh, okay.
Q (Through interpreter.) General Kimmitt, the release of detainees from
detention centers -- is it a part of your plan to improve the political
situation after the scandal of Abu Ghraib abuse?
GEN. KIMMITT: No, not at all. It was always our plan to accelerate the review
boards. We've been putting that into place for quite a few months now. That was
not necessarily prompted by any other purpose, other than the fact that we
wanted to try to keep the population size at a somewhat manageable level.
With the increased amount of operations we had been running over the
November-December-January time period, we were getting to the point where the
number of persons that we were bringing in was beyond the capacity of our
current review process. So we brought in -- and accelerated the review boards.
We're taking a look at their particular situation, and those persons who, as I
said earlier, are deemed no longer to be an imminent threat to the safety of the
Iraqi people, those people are allowed to go home.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) I have two questions concerning the trial of the
American soldiers who are accused of the abuse in Abu Ghraib.
We have seen the first court-martial in which Sivits was condemned. We want an
explanation about the high court-martial which will level accusations and try
the other soldiers accused of abusing detainees, other than the court-martial
which we have seen on the 19th of this month. We have different kinds of
court-martials. We want to know the details of the decisions taken by the court-
My second question: You have been releasing detainees. When you release them, do
you give them back their items, their properties?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yes, it is our practice that on any property that is not obviously
a threat -- for those that we pick up with explosives, those that we pick with
up detonators, those that we pick up with triggering devices, we're certainly
not going to give that property back to the persons. But their personal
belongings -- their money, their wallets, so on and so forth -- of course we're
going to give that back to the persons when we release them from Abu Ghraib.
On the question you asked about the other court-martials, they are now still in
the process. We have not put a date forward on when they will be held. Very
simply, those are higher-level, as you mentioned, court-martials. They are
general court-martials, as opposed to the special court-martial, which Jeremy
Sivits was tried at.
As a result, those take a little more preparation time, because the consequences
potentially could be more serious. There are other requirements to build it,
takes a little more time to prepare it.
But we will still continue to push forward to have those here, so that we make
them as open and transparent during the general court- martials that we did
during the special court-martial of Jeremy C. Sivits. So we would expect that
when those days come, we will follow the exact same procedures in terms of
transparency, in terms of access, in terms of reporting for those later
court-martials that you saw during the first court-martial on the 19th.
Q (Through interpreter.) But General Kimmitt, I have an observation here. We
have seen the release of detainees. Most of the detainees released said that
they didn't take back their items, they didn't receive any of their items. They
are now demanding their items. I have talked to the Governing Council about this
issue, and I am repeating this question before you. The detainees need these
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. And let me repeat my answer. It is our practice that those
personal items that were captured at the same time as the detainee will be
returned to the detainee when he or she is released.
If it does not happen, there is a method by which the detainee can submit a form
to the detention authority for a compensation, if that can be proven.
I don't -- there is typically a very careful chain of custody on any property
found on one of our detainees. And if you could give me a particular example of
a person who is claiming that they were released without their items, we would
be glad to take you through that chain of custody or, more importantly, take
that person through the chain of custody, so that the unit that was
participating in that capture can show them in fact what they picked up at the
site and what has been returned to them.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q Yes, Mike Georgy from Reuters. General, are you still investigating the case
of Nicholas Berg, how -- you know, his death, et cetera? And returning to the
prison, are you compensating those people that appeared in the photographs, and
how are you ensuring that the guys you're releasing now aren't going to turn
around and take up arms after these abuses? And just one last question. Can you
comment on the bombing today apparently northeast of Baghdad? I'm just trying to
GEN. KIMMITT: Okay. I've got a short memory. You might have to help me with
those last two.
We still have two persons in custody that we picked up that we believe have some
knowledge or activity with the killing of Nicholas Berg. They have not been
released. They were originally picked up with two other persons who have
subsequently been released. Of course we are still investigating the brutal
slaying of Mr. Berg, and we will continue to make that one of our priorities in
the days and weeks ahead. We are hoping that something will break out of this --
these two persons that we currently have under custody, but we'll see where that
On the compensation for the persons that you saw in the photographs, I know that
there have been some discussions back in Washington, D.C. about the pros and
cons of that. I believe that Washington, D.C. is the one that's going to make
the ultimate decision on that, so I'd refer that question to the Office of the
Secretary of Defense.
On the explosion today in northeast Baghdad, I know that there was a bombing
today in southwest Baghdad, kind of the other direction. Is that what you're
referring to, at about 8:20 this morning.
Q I heard something northeast of Baghdad.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, we did have -- sadly, we had three Iraqis killed and nine
wounded, including two Iraqi police officers, when an IED detonated in southwest
Baghdad about 8:20 this morning. Two of those killed and one of the wounded are
suspected to have been involved in the setting off of the explosion, and the
surviving suspect has been taken into Iraqi custody.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (Through interpreter.) Ahmed Jamal al-Delani (ph) from Al- Iraqiyah. Assad
Kadhem, the correspondent of Al-Iraqiyah, was killed on the 19th of April
without any reason. What is the results of investigation in this respect?
GEN. KIMMITT: If you're referring to the unfortunate shooting of the Al-Iraqiyah
reporters, vicinity Samarra at that time, I don't have the results of that
investigation. Let me see what I can find out for you.
MR. SENOR: Yes, ma'am.
Q (Through interpreter.) Holu Dizaya (ph) from Ibn Al Balad (ph). General
Kimmitt, you said that you are working to provide security for the Iraqis and
you said that here were 21 engagements in al-Sadr City. The reason behind these
engagements is the presence of the American patrols in this city. Why don't you
withdraw these patrols outside of the city and let the Iraqi police patrol the
GEN. KIMMITT: The Iraqi police are absolutely the right persons to patrol the
city. When they have sufficient capability, they will be the ones to patrol the
city. But if we were to send the Iraqi police in last night, they would have
been 21 engagements and they would have been less armed than the American
forces, the coalition forces. They probably would have taken far more
casualties. They would not have had the capability. The American forces also had
helicopters and support. So the coalition forces, who were working side by side
with the Iraqi police last night in Sadr City, who have the responsibility to
ensure those rocket-propelled grenades and those small arms that were fired at
them last night were not fired at innocent civilians inside of Sadr city.
But if you're suggesting that somehow if the coalition moves out that the
situation would be calm, the situation would be peaceful, I would refer you to
the cities such as Karbala and Najaf, where the coalition forces were not
operating; Muqtada's militia went in, took over those cities, held those cities
hostage, stopped the tourism traffic inside those two cities. And when the
coalition forces finally come in and uprooted the Muqtada militia from those
cities, the people were quite grateful.
But I don't think that we can abandon our responsibilities to provide a safe and
secure environment everywhere in Sadr City, abandon our responsibilities to
provide a safe and secure environment in the city of Baghdad nor inside the city
of Iraq (sic). And any suggestion that somehow the departure of the coalition
forces from a place such as that would somehow cause that place to turn
peaceful, I think we have seen numerous cases when just the opposite has
MR. SENOR: Last question. Yes, ma'am?
Q Yeah, General Kimmitt, I wondered if you had any statistics about the number
of civilians or militia men who were killed overnight in Sadr City and Najaf?
GEN. KIMMITT: It is our understanding that no civilians were killed and a large
number of Muqtada's militia were killed.
Q Can you be more specific about what "a large number" is, please?
GEN. KIMMITT: Sadly, a very large number, a very large number of probably
wayward youths that were somehow convinced, corrupted, connived by persons such
as Muqtada al-Sadr into picking up weapons against the coalition and against
their fellow Iraqis.
MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.