COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TIME: 9:06 A.M. EDT
DATE: TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a short update on the transition
process and then General Kimmitt has a briefing, and then we will be happy to
take your questions.
I just want to give an update here on the status of the operational transition
of the respective ministries in government. Right now nearly 60 percent of the
Iraqi government has already been transitioned to Iraqi control. These
institutions are the ministries of Oil, Foreign Affairs, Health, Education,
Public Works and Municipalities, Science and Technology, Agriculture,
Displacement and Migration, Culture, Water Resources, Industry and Minerals,
Planning and Development, Youth in Sports, Environment, and the Ministry of
Transportation. That is 15 ministries of Iraq's 26 ministries.
Seven hundred and thirty-seven Iraqi workers are covered in those ministries,
reporting to Iraqi supervisors, reporting to Iraqi ministers. These Iraqis are
already making the decisions, carrying out the day-to-day responsibilities of
their own governments for their own people, and these ministers are already
responsible for their own policies, strategies and budgets. So as the
coalition's role in governance and operations management decreases, the amount
of Iraq's authority over its own affairs increases. And that will continue as we
lead up to June 30th, and then of course, afterwards.
The Ministry of Agriculture, for instance, has approximately 11,000 employees,
but only five coalition consultants will remain after June 30th. The Ministry of
Electricity has 45,000 employees, but only nine coalition consultants will
remain after June 30th. The Ministry of Communications has more than 15,000
employees, but only 20 coalition consultants will stay behind post-June 30th.
The Ministry of Industry and Minerals, which has approximately 130,000
employees, will have one single coalition consultant after June 30th. And the
largest ministry, the Ministry of Education, with 300,000 employees, will have
no coalition consultants or technical assistance post-June 30th.
In addition to the progress being made within the ministries, all provincial
governments are operating, and about 90 percent of Iraq's municipalities have
operating city councils or town councils. And there was once, as you know, a
single political organization that Iraqis were forced to participate in, the
Ba'ath Party; there are now hundreds of political parties through which Iraqis
are freely and peacefully expressing their political views and preparing their
Much of Iraq is already in Iraqi hands, and the remaining 11 ministries will
transition in the next two weeks, bringing the total number of Iraqis operating
their own federal government to more than 1 million workers. Those that will
transition in the coming days are the ministries of Defense, Interior, Justice,
Communications, Electricity, Finance, Higher Education, Housing and
Construction, Human Rights, Labor and Social Affairs and Trade.
So, while we have said from this podium for some time that we should expect
violence in the days leading up to June 30th as those foreign regime diehards or
foreign fighters and international terrorists that come into this country and
are going to try and throw the transition to sovereignty off track, and we
should expect the violence, unfortunately, and prepare to defend against it, it
is important to note that the Iraqis are moving forward with taking control of
their government in spite of the violence. And they have made it clear to us,
and certainly Prime Minister Allawi has made it clear to us that they do not
intend to slow down this process. That as I -- as you can -- this process is
illustrated by these statistics, they do not intend to slow down this process
that has begun in earnest many weeks ago.
GEN. KIMMITT: Good afternoon. The coalition and Iraqi security forces continue
operations to establish a stable Iraq leading to transfer of sovereignty to the
Iraqi people. To that end, in the past 24 hours, the coalition conducted 1,884
unilateral and joint patrols, 16 offensive operations, and captured 36
anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday at Abu Ghraib, over 400 detainees were
released, and over 100 will be released in the next 48 hours. The next release
is anticipated for mid- to late June.
The Iraqi air force this week purchased its first two aircraft in Jordan as part
of a plan to provide surveillance capability to the growing Iraqi security
forces. The two reconnaissance aircraft represent the initial acquisition of a
tentative force of 16 aerial observation and surveillance aircraft intended to
assist in the protection of electrical and oil assets as well as border and
coastal security. Delivery of these airplanes is scheduled for mid-July.
Twenty-five Iraqi police service officers began a joint FBI and DEA-sponsored
criminal intelligence course. The 10-day course is the first of four that will
be offered over the next two months. Training on fighting organized crime,
political corruption, terrorism, as well as developing intelligence information
and intelligence information sharing amongst ministries.
In the northern area of operations, an ICDC compound in Mosul was attacked with
indirect fire, leading to the injury of three Iraqi civilians, including two
children. The three were taken to a local hospital and are in stable condition.
Coalition forces and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers conducted operations in
the vicinity of the point of origin.
Coalition forces also conducted three offensive operations in al- Shura (ph),
south of Hammam al Alil. Ten persons were detained, including three primary
targets. The ten have ties to an FRE cell believed to be responsible for
terrorist activities in Mosul and Hammam al Alil.
In the north-central zone of operations, gunmen ambushed four ICDC soldiers
waiting for a taxi in the vicinity of Al Dululah (ph). Two ICDC and an Iraqi
taxi driver received minor wounds from small arms fire. The wounded were
evacuated to a medical facility and are listed in stable condition.
In Baghdad yesterday, a GE contractor convoy was attacked by a suicide car bomb
in the Sadun district of central Baghdad during morning rush hour. Five
contractors were killed, five injured. And according to the Ministry of Health,
eight additional Iraqi civilians were killed and 69 injured. Iraqi police have
the lead for the investigation and will be supported as required.
Yesterday coalition forces conducted a cordon and search in Baghdad to seize
arms, ammunitions and explosives. The unit found five rocket-propelled grenade
launchers, 131 RPG rounds, two 50-caliber machine guns, seven additional machine
guns, 13 light anti-tank weapons, 411 blocks of C-4 explosives, 50 pounds of
other types of explosives, and over 46,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition. The
unit detained seven individuals as part of this operation.
In the western zone of operations, Marines were attacked with an RPG and
small-arms fire in the vicinity of Ar-Ramadi while conducting a patrol in
response to an earlier incident, resulting in a series of small engagements
going on for about four hours. The Marines responded to enemy fire and cleared a
number of buildings suspected of holding the anti-Iraqi forces firing on the
In the center-south zone of operations, the Polish CMIC group completed
renovation and equipping of two schools in al-Mashru (ph) and al-Qasin (ph.)
Additionally, the Polish CMIC group accomplished five projects related to the
renovation of roads in al-Faruk (ph). The total cost of these projects was over
365 (sic) U.S. dollars.
Yesterday, approximately 350 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers and Iraqi police
service members conducted joint reconnaissance patrols in An Najaf in the
vicinity of the (Gary ?) IP station. There were no incidents in relation to
The 1st Armored Division continues operations to successfully isolate Sadr and
his militia through rewards and rebuilding programs in both Karbala and Najaf.
To date, over 550,000 American dollars has been paid for weapons and ammunition
in those two cities.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we would be happy to take your questions.
Q Hi. Two questions. First, Dan, President Ghazi said today that he'd like to
see the palace vacated as soon as possible. And if you could clarify what the
plans are for the palace, and also the embassy, clarify what the plans are on
And also, to both of you, you've continually warned of violence in the run-up
before June 30th. But do you have any evidence or good reasons to believe that
the violence will diminish after June 30th?
MR. SENOR: On your first question, obviously, we need substantial space,
property, for the U.S. mission here. This will be the largest -- one of the
largest U.S. missions in the world -- I briefed on that over the weekend --
close to a thousand U.S. employees, close to 600 to 700 Foreign Service
nationals. The largest USAID mission in the world will be here. And the Iraqi
interim government recognizes that if we are to continue to play the role here
that they are hoping we will play going forward, we will need not only the
requisite property from which to operate, but in an area that enables us to
maximize, to the extent that we can, the security of our U.S. citizens working
here. And so we are going to work out with the interim government -- and this
has been the basis of discussions that Ambassador Bremer has had with Prime
Minister Allawi as to what's basically made available. Certainly nobody intends
to use space permanently. It's just a matter of what we can use here in the near
future that meets the criteria that we've laid out, and the prime minister has
been receptive to that.
Q Where's the embassy going to be then?
MR. SENOR: It's going to be within the current Green Zone. And we will be --
certainly when Ambassador Negroponte arrives -- but Ambassador Jeffrey, who's
the deputy chief of mission who's already here, will be, I think, providing some
tours to the press and providing information to show you the facilities that we
will be using. The current idea, the current plan is to use the existing CPA
headquarters as, effectively, some office space for the embassy, sort of an
annex, if you will. And then the actual main embassy building will be in a
different location nearby, but within the perimeter of the current Green Zone.
GENERAL KIMMITT: Regarding the post-30 June security situation, we've seen mixed
intelligence reports, some suggesting there will be continued violence, with
that violence directed at trying to demonstrate that the new government is
shaky, wobbly and won't hang in there. The coalition forces will continue
military operations, continue to assess that intelligence, continue to stand
ready for that additional violence along with our Iraqi security partners. So
our assessment is whether it happens or not, we'll be prepared to handle it.
MR. SENOR: And I would just add to that, if you look at the statements made by
Prime Minister Allawi in the recent days, this is a government that seems
prepared for the fact that they will be tested post-June 30th. Terrorists and
the Ba'athist diehards that are looking to wreak havoc in this country probably
have every good reason, according to them, to test the will of the new
government. And I think the statements from the new leadership have been quite
strong in that regard, that they will do everything they can to beat back this
terrorist threat and not allow it to throw this path to democracy off track.
Q Just two questions. With regard to the prisoners that were released yesterday
and are being released from Abu Ghraib, who are they? Are they security
detainees? Are they reformed security detainees? Are they petty criminals?
And just also, with regard to the issue of handing Saddam over to the Iraqis for
trial, if we could get commentary on that that would be great. Thank you.
GENERAL KIMMITT: All the persons that have been released over the past 24 hours
and anticipated to be released over the next 24 to 48 hours are security
internees. We do not release the criminal detainees; those are handled by the
Iraqi Central Criminal Court through their provisions, through their procedures.
These are all security internees who were deemed to be no longer a threat to the
imminent security -- an imminent security threat to Iraq. And hence, as we've
always said, if they are considered to be a security threat to Iraq, we have a
responsibility and obligation to continue to detain them. Once it is
demonstrated that they no longer are a security threat, they are released.
MR. SENOR: To your other question, shortly after Saddam Hussein was captured,
President Bush was quite clear. He said that Saddam Hussein would receive the
justice he denied to millions and that the process of prosecuting Saddam Hussein
would be led and handled by Iraqis. And our commitment to that remains. Under
international law, however, we cannot hand Saddam Hussein over to a
non-sovereign government, and the government will be fully sovereign June 30th.
We also do not have to hand him over until there's a cessation of active --
cessation of active hostilities, and the repatriation doesn't begin until after
that. Hostilities, unfortunately, continue.
But our goal, our priority is to get him into Iraqi hands as soon as possible,
and we expect sometime after June 30th to be able to do that. It is the basis of
discussions with the interim government, as Prime Minister Allawi has recently
said. And this is something we'll work out as to what the appropriate time is
after June 30th, once there is a sovereign government here and once the Iraqi
special tribunal is ready to receive him.
Yes. Go ahead.
Q Sorry. Catherine Philp, Times of London. Are you suggesting that there has to
be a complete cessation of hostilities before that can take place?
MR. SENOR: No.
Q Ayman Weldon (sp) with CNN. If I could just follow up on that. Are there
current negotiations under way, as Prime Minister Allawi indicated, regarding
the fate of Saddam?
MR. SENOR: Yeah. I wouldn't call them negotiations. I would call them
discussions. And we -- both sides have an interest in handing Saddam Hussein
over to the Iraqis, and the only matter is when is the appropriate time, and
that is something we are discussing with the prime minister right now. It is not
a negotiation; it is a discussion. We both have the same goal.
Q Yeah, Micah Garen, Four Corners Media. This is for General Kimmitt. Question:
on June 11th, Ambassador Bremer and General Sanchez issued a directive in
response to the damage caused to the archeological site of Babylon. Are you
familiar with that directive?
GEN. KIMMITT: Mm-hmm.
Q Okay. I have a couple of questions regarding that. The first question is, they
-- the directive says they're halting all activity, and I'm wondering what
activity that is specifically? The second question is, why did this happen? And
the third question is, what are you doing to ensure the future protection of the
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, again, there were some concerns that were expressed by a
team that had gone down and reviewed the situation. We did have some
construction activities in the vicinity of Babylon. The archeologists determined
that that might be too close to the actual location, so as prudence would
dictate we halted all construction activities in the vicinity of the military
operations that are going on down there.
We've called for an investigation. I think it's prudent to let the experts go
down there, investigate to see what's going on, to see if there has been any
damage done to either the actual location and the walls that we all know as
Babylon, that Saddam had built on top of, or the surrounding area that might
have some archaeological or historical value.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Dan, the Red Cross has said quite explicitly that if Saddam is not charged or
released by June 30th, and the occupation finished, under the Geneva Convention
you will actually be in breach of international law if you're still hanging on
Now you say that there's these discussions, but are you going to hand him over
by the end of the month, or are you going to be in breach of international law?
MR. SENOR: Actually, the individual who said that yesterday was the Baghdad
representative for the International Red Cross. That's since been corrected by
the Geneva headquarters of the International Red Cross. So the -- a spokesman
for the actual headquarters has said that that statement, that characterization
that you just quoted, is incorrect.
Q Just two questions. One, on the issue of detainees and June 30th, Allawi has
said that he wants not just Saddam but all detainees to be handed over in the
next two weeks. My understanding is that the American administration would like
to hold on to anywhere from 4(,000) to 5,000 detainees by June 30th. So if you
could just clarify what position you're taking on that, that would be helpful.
The second issue is on whether American contractors will be answerable to Iraqi
law after June 30th. I know that there's -- this is a subject of debate between
Allawi's office and the American administration here. Can you clarify where that
is right now?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. I think, on the issue of detainees, the U.N. Security
Council resolutions are quite explicit. They certainly give us the authority and
the responsibility to remove and to detain imminent security threats here in
Iraq. We believe that 1511 -- and we interpret that 1511 -- provided that, and
we interpret that 1546 provides that as well.
We certainly are in discussions with -- between the coalition and Iraqi
government officials in terms of how those detention operations will be
conducted post-June. There have been some novel thoughts about how that can be
done jointly, should it be done jointly, in what manner can it be done jointly.
But I think it would be unhelpful at this point to to prejudge the outcome of
But it is important to understand that we certainly have the authority to detain
and the responsibility to detain. But we certainly want to do that as part of
the partnership with the Iraqi governmental authorities on this.
MR. SENOR: And to your second question, under CPA Order Number 17, there is
limited immunity extended in matters -- for contractors, extended in matters
clearly related to their contract performance. This does not protect them in
matters related to criminal activities -- rape, murder, anything of that sort.
It is clearly stated that it must relate to their contract performance and their
responsibilities and duties within the contract performance for the immunity to
be provided. So we have made clear that any contractors that are here that are
engaging in criminal activities, they are not provided immunity. And going
forward post-June 30th, obviously, this is a matter that will continue to have
to be fleshed out between the prime minister and his government and the embassy
here and the U.S. government. But right now that public order stands.
Q Just to follow up on that, when you say there's immunity for work related to
their contract, can you just be more specific about that and exactly what that
MR. SENOR: Well, I don't want to start speculating. I'm just telling you that
these contractors who are here to work on the reconstruction of Iraq and are
here to help get this country back on track in every area, whether it's building
electrical infrastructure or refining, retooling oil production facilities, all
these projects are done in coordination with their ministries, with their
respective ministries. So the ministries are supportive of the work here that
they are doing, and we hope that support will continue post-June 30th.
The interim government has made it clear that they hope that the contractors'
work continues. And so there will be certain responsibilities in those
contractors. I don't want to start speculating on examples, but if situations
arise where the contractors were performing their duties and there was a legal
issue that arose, they would have some limited immunity from being charged in an
Iraqi court to perform that. Again, it does not apply to criminal acts outside
of the -- obviously outside of the universe of their responsibilities.
Yes, in the back.
Q Jonathan Steel from the Guardian. Back on the question of Saddam. What's the
reason why he hasn't been formally charged up till now? I mean, surely there's
no lack of evidence. And secondly, the other members of the so-called deck of
cards, who are POWs under our definition, will they also be held as long as he
is and then transferred to the Iraqis with him, or will some of those be
released in the next few days?
MR. SENOR: I would defer your first question to the Iraqi special tribunal. They
are still in the process of building this process out. They are hiring
investigative judges, they are hiring prosecutors, so to speak, they are
bringing on international consultants. They are in the lead in building the case
against Saddam. And once they build that case, of course, and establish all the
evidence, they will file the formal charges. That's okay that it has not
occurred yet, because the Iraqi special tribunal is a body that reports to a
non-sovereign government. Post-June 30th, they will be reporting to a sovereign
government and under international law will be in a position to allow Saddam
Hussein to be tried by that body. But right now, it just simply cannot be done.
Q The second part of the question was what about the other deck of cards people
who are held? Will they also be held as long as Saddam, or will some be released
MR. SENOR: Again, I don't want to speculate on the timing of each release. The
focus of the discussions right now has been on Saddam Hussein. But the criteria,
the same criteria applies, by and large, for that -- for the others in the deck
Yes? In the back.
Q Gregor Mayer from German Press Agency. What exactly is the status of Saddam
Hussein after June 30 if he is not charged and the military occupation has
ended? Is he still a prisoner of war without occupation as well?
MR. SENOR: Technically, he could still be a prisoner of war, because there has
not been -- there will not have been -- at least we don't expect there to have
been a cessation of hostile activities. But that does not preclude charges being
filed against him for war crimes, for acts of genocide. So these areas are not
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. KIMMITT: When we capture personnel as part of our military operations, it
could be for any number of reasons. If you take a look at the reasons, it could
be for attacking coalition forces. It could be for attacking Iraqi citizens,
Iraqi women, children. It could be for attacking Iraqi democratic institutions,
as we've seen over the past couple of months with groups such as Muqtada's
militia. Now that is what we detain them for, for their activities.
Now in terms of their associations, certainly we have picked up some in the
conduct of military operations that you would consider to be terrorists. Some
are foreign fighters that have come into this country to create and sow dissent.
Some have been associated with former regime elements, Special Republican Guard,
Fedayeen Saddam, special intelligence services, those who would try to bring
this country to back to a totalitarian regime.
There are some that are just common criminals, that have picked up a weapon for
any number of reasons, perhaps because they've been handed money to shoot at a
coalition force or to shoot at an Iraqi citizen working as a contractor or to
just shoot at an Iraqi citizen for the purpose of creating chaos within the
So in terms of what they're picked up for, typically for presenting a security
threat in this country, their associations have run the gamut from terrorists,
former regime elements, to common criminals.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: On your first question, I would defer you to the Department of
Defense. I have not heard any statements that reflect a position contrary to the
one I have articulated here.
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I can confirm that there was an attack against a
three-vehicle convoy west of Baghdad, over near the airport, where two of the
vehicles I believe had some persons in it that were killed, and there was a
third vehicle which was able to continue driving towards the coalition base at
-- nearby. I know that the persons in that vehicle were all safe. The vehicle
was shot up a bit. We don't have the full report yet, but we have a preliminary
report that said yes, there was an attack, small-arms fire attack shot from the
overpass against three vehicles passing, and we don't have any more information
other than that at this time. That was at about 1:30 or 2:00.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. KIMMITT: It was a coalition convoy, not a military convoy.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: As I said earlier, on the properties within the Green Zone,
particularly the palace here that is currently the CPA headquarters, we are
working out with the interim government now a means by which we continue to use
space not on a permanent basis, but until we have alternative operations set up
for the embassy.
And I think the military's -- you can speak to the military's use of palaces.
GEN. KIMMITT: On that first -- on the second question you asked, I'm not
familiar with that particular report. We've not seen any report that resembles
that at all. We do not throw families out into the street and take over their
houses. That would be punitive. We are forbidden to conduct punitive operations.
There are operations that are ongoing at any time where we will go after those
who have in fact may be building bombs inside the house, may be creating VBIEDs,
triggering devices. But in terms of actually taking a family and doing what you
suggested, we have no reports of that. I'd be interested in finding that
information, because I think it's very, very important that we can get to the
facts behind the case rather than suggest that this rumor that you're passing on
has any basis in fact.
Now in terms of military use of palaces, we are working under a very simple
premise. All the facilities that are being used by the coalition military forces
belong to the people of Iraq, and one day, those will be passed back to the
people of Iraq. We intend -- just like the civilian side of the operation, we
will return them in much better shape to the owners, the people of Iraq, than we
found them. So it is our intention that as we no longer have particular need for
facilities throughout this country, we will responsibly and respectfully hand
them back to the people of Iraq.
Q (In Arabic.)
GENERAL KIMMITT: And again, I would ask to see the police reports that were
filed in conjunction with that nighttime operation. I would like to see what the
Iraqi police have to say about that particular incident, the Iraqi Civil Defense
Corps units that are nearby. And if we can bring all that information forward,
it would help us hopefully quash this rumor that, in fact, coalition forces went
ahead and did what you're suggesting.
MR. SENOR: Yeah?
Q (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: Well, first of all, let me say that there is an Iraqi arrest warrant
issued against Muqtada al-Sadr that ties him to a brutal murder, and I don't see
how he would be eligible for political office before that matter is resolved.
Secondly, the coalition is working right now, in consultation with the prime
minister's office, to establish a political parties law before June 30th. This
will be formally announced in the days ahead. But based on early drafts, it also
precludes political parties from participating in the process that are
associated with illegal militias. In fact, the exact language I have seen is no
political entity may have or be associated with an armed force, militia or
residual element, as defined in CPA Order Number 91, which is the regulation of
armed forces and militias within Iraq that Prime Minister Allawi recently
So unless those issues are resolved, I just don't see how Muqtada al-Sadr can
plan for a political life.
GEN. KIMMITT: And with regards to the security in Iraq right now, I would --
let's start from the notion and evaluating objectively the threat inside Iraq
right now. There are numerous groups that want to see the Iraqi experiment --
moving towards freedom, sovereignty, individual rights, individual freedoms,
freedom of the press -- to fail. They want to see this country brought back to
perhaps an authoritarian regime, as you had under Saddam, or perhaps an
extremist regime that we've seen in so many places, like Afghanistan.
If you start off with that as your principle, the question is, who is going to
defend and who are going to defend the people of Iraq, the children of Iraq, the
families of Iraq, from those threats? I think all of us objectively recognize
that there's a partnership between the Iraqi security forces, as they get
larger, more capable and stronger every day, and the coalition forces, who are
standing side by side with them, number one.
Number two, I think all of us recognize that there will be some period of time,
certainly recognized by Prime Minister Allawi, that the Iraqi security forces
will need some form of training, some form of equipping, some form of
partnership with coalition forces. That time will not be forever. That time will
not be infinite.
We certainly expect that as the Iraqi security forces get stronger and stronger,
the need for coalition presence, multinational presence, will get smaller and
smaller. We certainly understand that there will be a day when the Iraqi
security forces are able to say, "We are capable, we are credible, we are able
to provide for the internal security and the external security of our country."
And on that day there will no longer be a need for coalition forces. But I think
all of us objectively realize that that day is not going to be this week, this
month or possibly even this year. So the coalition forces will continue to stand
and fight and, sadly, in some cases receive wounds and die working side by side
with your fellow Iraqis who bravely are standing up to these threats as well, in
a partnership. And that partnership will continue after June 30th.
Q Shukran. Najim al-Rubaie, Distor. (In Arabic.)
MR. SENOR: If Mr. Barzani did not comment on the specifics of his confidential
conversations with Ambassador Jones, then neither will I. But I can tell you
broadly speaking that what the coalition has communicated to Mr. Barzani and Mr.
Talabani and Mr. Salih is that the principles and the spirit articulated in the
recently passed U.N. Security Council resolution, in the preamble, where it says
that Iraq's federalism and commitment to minority rights protections will be
respected and strongly adhered to, is consistent with the discussions they had
in a more specific level with the Kurdish leaders.
GEN. KIMMITT: And with regards to your point about American soldiers and
multinational forces have immunity from Iraqi prosecution, let's make sure we
understand what we're saying. We are not saying that these soldiers will have
immunity from prosecution; it's just that that prosecution will be conducted by
their home country. Let's take a look at these soldiers from Abu Ghraib. Yes,
these soldiers who committed these heinous acts at Abu Ghraib are not facing
Iraqi prosecution. They are immune from Iraqi prosecution. They are not immune
from prosecution. And we have demonstrated in the courts martial to this point
and we will continue to demonstrate in the courts martial going forward that
that immunity from Iraqi prosecution does not mean immunity from prosecution.
You are observing and you will see a fair, a thorough system of justice whether
it's done with our judges or, quite frankly, whether it would have been done
with your judges. But nonetheless, it is common international convention in
these types of operations that the nation that provides the forces takes as its
responsibility the judicial actions of its soldiers in the vast majority of
cases. But don't mistake immunity from Iraqi prosecution to somehow suggest that
these soldiers are immune from justice because they are not.
MR. SENOR: Deborah.
Q Hi there. I've got a couple of questions. Can you just explain again the
attack on the convoy? It wasn't very clear. You said two of the vehicles were
stopped and people killed. Who were they? Were they foreigners? How many?
And secondly, after that, we had reports of an attack on an oil pipeline in the
GEN. KIMMITT: I've got -- let me take the second first. I understand that there
was a pipeline rupture five kilometers southwest of Basra today at about 1330.
The Airnet (sp) security manager is calling this an oil leakage off at the
source. There may have been an IED in that location, but it apparently was a
very short period of time. The leakage is off, and it would seem that it's being
taken care of at this point.
Again, I only have the first reports on the attack that took place out on the
highway road -- actually, it was the north-south road that veers into the
airport road, and I got those reports firsthand from some fairly shaken up
contractors. They made an initial report on what happened, but I think we're
really going to have to get the Iraqi police on the site to in fact find out
what happened. But when we came upon them, we had -- there was one vehicle
there. It did look like it had received a couple of gunshots to it. All the
persons were safe. It was their judgment that there may have been some persons
killed in the previous vehicles, but I think it's best if we wait for the full
MR. SENOR: Jim.
Q Can you tell us who those folks were in the convoy? I just heard coalition
members, but --
GEN. KIMMITT: No, they were contractors.
Q Company name or anything like that?
GEN. KIMMITT: We're going to let the company announce their persons, their
activities. I think it's only proper that we allow them to do it. After they
announce it, then we'll sort of follow up with the details.
Q You said it was a coalition convoy, sir.
GEN. KIMMITT: Coalition contractor convoy.
MR. SENOR: Last question.
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SENOR: I need you to use your microphone.
Q Ken Joseph with the Japan Times. We received a notice that churches have been
contacted over the last few days, notifying that they have to increase the
minimum membership from 25 -- the current 25 to 500 or lose their registration.
Have you heard anything like that? And who would you suggest that we contact?
MR. SENOR: Who have the notices been coming from?
Q Directly to the churches.
MR. SENOR: From whom?
Q From one of the ministries, so I'm just trying to track down where that's come
MR. SENOR: I have -- it's the first I'm hearing of it. You should ask the people
who received the notices which ministry --
Q Do you know what ministry that would be under, or --
MR. SENOR: I do not. I would ask the Ministry of Culture, one of the -- I mean,
I would ask the respective churches you're dealing with to find out the --
Q This would under the Ministry of Culture then?
MR. SENOR: Sorry?
Q It would be under the Ministry of Culture in terms of --
MR. SENOR: I don't know. I think so. But again -- I mean, common sense dictates
that the easiest way to do this would be to get a hold of the people who are
claiming that the notices have been received, and then ask them what ministry
issued the notice and then contact that ministry.
Sorry. Yes, sir. Go ahead.
Q (In Arabic.)
GENERAL KIMMITT: Well, I first reject your initial premise that the coalition
forces, to include the Italian forces, have been unable to provide security for
this country. The stability that we brought to this country has allowed
reconstruction to go on, repair of infrastructure to go on, opening of schools,
opening of health clinics, more oil being pumped than prewar, more electricity
being produced than prewar.
Are we satisfied with the level of instability in this country right now?
Absolutely not. But to consider it in any way a failure I think is just not
consistent with the facts. We welcome the comments of Prime Minister Allawi. We
are continuing to work with the Iraqi security forces. We look forward to
assisting Prime Minister Allawi in his new government in providing security to
We would hope that one day we can wake up and there wouldn't be any attacks. We
hope we can wake up one day and there won't be any bombings. But hope doesn't
get us to that day. So we will continue to operate with the Iraqi security
forces in a strong partnership with our security forces so that our common goal
of providing security and stability for the country of Iraq is fulfilled.
MR. SENOR: This really will be the last question. Go ahead, ma'am.
Q (In Arabic.)
GENERAL KIMMITT: Well, we haven't been hiding the piece of information, because
it's incorrect. We do not currently have Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri in custody. When
we have him in custody we will be glad to announce that because that will be a
significant day for the people of Iraq, number one.
Number two, no, we don't have a plan for the coalition forces to unilaterally
conduct security operations. It is absolutely vital for us to have our Iraqi
security partners side by side with us. They add so much to the operations, both
in terms of their capacity to bring intelligence and to bring trained, competent
security forces to the fight. Those are 200,000 additional forces that are
contributing to the security of this country. It is absolutely instrumental to
our requirements on a day-to-day basis, and these Iraqi police, Iraqi soldiers,
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members, they're coming to work every day and making a
significant improvement in the security situation in this country.
MR. SENOR: Thank you, everybody.