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TIME: 9:07 A.M. EST



MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. We have a slight technical glitch. Only one of the plasma screens here will be working. So we should have that fixed within the next couple days.

I've just got a brief few words, brief opening statement. Then General Kimmitt will do a short presentation, and then we are happy to take your questions.

We are joined by Hamid al-Kifa'i, who, as you -- many of you know, is the spokesperson for the Governing Council. And he is here to answer any questions you have with regard to the Governing Council.

Ambassador Bremer today welcomed the news of the Governing Council's announcement of its new de-Ba'athification policies and procedures. Ambassador Bremer said that this marks the final step in the transfer of de-Ba'athification authority to the Governing Council and the Iraqi people. Ambassador Bremer signed the first de- Ba'athification decree on May 16th. It was one of the first actions he took after his arrival here. It was the first decree he had signed. And then he signed -- he delegated authority over to the Governing Council on November 4th. And then yesterday marks the final step, with the Governing Council announcing its new procedures.

Ambassador Bremer said that the Governing Council now has full command of de-Ba'athification. The policy is appropriately tough on senior-level Ba'athists and strikes a balance between being tough on senior-level Ba'athists while it also allows for the reintegration of nominal Ba'athists into society. It reintegrates those Ba'athists, those nominal Ba'athists, with a sense of dignity and with an effort to ease the poverty and desperation that many nominal Ba'athists have faced since their dismissal.

Ambassador Bremer has said all along that de-Ba'athification should be a policy that is implemented and managed by the Iraqi people. And this signifies another important step in the transition of authority overall to the Iraqi people, which will culminate on June 30th with the hand-over of sovereignty.

General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you. Good afternoon.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 17 engagements daily against coalition military forces, just over two attacks against Iraqi security forces and just over one attack daily against Iraqi civilians.

The coalition remains offensively oriented to kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people, and to establish a safe and secure environment. To that end, the coalition conducted 1,768 patrols, 24 offensive operations, 32 raids and captured 114 anti-coalition suspects in the past 24 hours.

In the northern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted 192 patrols, four cordon-and-searches and detained 14 individuals in the past 24 hours.

On 12 January, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers were attacked just north of the airfield in Mosul. The ICDC guards returned fire, and the enemy broke contact. The coalition forces provided an outer cordon of the buildings where the fire originated from, and the Civil Defense Corps conducted a search of those buildings, resulting in the capture of four individuals.

Coalition forces also conducted three cordon-and-knock operations in Mosul. They detained six targeted individuals. The first operation, on a hotel in central Mosul, captured a facilitator for Sayf Hasan al-Rawi, number 14 on our list of high-value targets. In a second operation, four brothers suspected of distributing funds for Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri to former regime elements was captured. In a third operation, a targeted enemy who was a suspected leader of a former regime element group, the missing shadow group, was captured.

The Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company completed a 48-kilometer cable project from Mosul to Dohuk with donated fiber optic cable from Bell South. This is the first wide-area, high-speed intercity public- access connection in the north. This communications path will provide increased capacity for the telephone system and will eventually be used for a high-speed data network to connect banks, airports, hospitals, universities and government agencies. A second like project is planned for Erbil and should be completed within the next few months.

The United States Agency for International Development has allocated 500,000 (dollars) to medical and health-related projects in Al Sulimaniyah. In the north-central zone of operations, coalition forces conducted 155 patrols, five raids and captured 43 individuals. Coalition forces conducted a raid near Baqubah, targeting Lufta Kalid al-Oghali (ph) and Ibrahim Kalid al-Oghali (ph) and others, all involved in attacks on coalition forces. Captured in the raid were five individuals, including four targets. The fifth detainee, a female, was searched by a female soldier, and hidden on her person were four hand grenades.

An informant led coalition forces to a group of approximately 40 Iraqis with AK-47s and 10 to 15 vehicles attempting to steal fuel from a pipeline south of Samarra. Forces attempted to apprehend the Iraqis, but the Iraqis opened fire on them. The units returned fire, killing seven personnel and destroying three fuel tankers.

Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and coalition soldiers captured two individuals suspected of attacking an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in Samarra. One Civil Defense Corps soldier was wounded and was brought to the battalion aid station for treatment of a gunshot wound.

In Baghdad, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces conducted four offensive operations. Forces conducted 473 patrols, resulting in the capture of 33 enemy personnel. Coalition forces continue to work with Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers and conducted a cordon and search in the area which included 500 vehicles and 250 houses to disrupt enemy activities and safe haven operations. The operation captured 23 personnel and included five companies of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, who also executed the post-operation management.

Coalition forces prepared Commander Emergency Response Program project proposals in Baghdad and developed an automated project tracking system for the $32 million proposals working in the city. Over $9.3 million in coalition projects have been submitted to the Japanese for possible funding under the Japanese grassroots grant program. Over $4.1 million in projects for Baghdad have been submitted to the Coalition Provisional Authority Program Review Board for possible new funding.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health will fund construction of approximately 270 clinics throughout Iraq, with an estimated 15 to 20 percent of those to be constructed in Baghdad using part of a 100 million U.S. dollar primary care allocation fund.

In the western zone of operations, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces conducted 195 patrols, captured 18 individuals and denied entry to 105 persons at the border, but turned away nobody at Husaybah, Tanif or Ar Ar for improper documentation, only at al Trebil.

Coalition continued training 329 border police and 240 police recruits throughout the western region and began in-processing a class of 520 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps recruits from Fallujah at the Navea Training Center northwest of Hit. Two hundred seventy-six Iraqi Civil Defense Corps graduates are also undergoing advanced training.

Civil Affairs personnel in the Al Anbar Province met with local sheikhs at al-Jaseem (ph) to initiate payment for three CERP-funded projects. A total of nearly 25,000 was approved -- U.S. dollars was approved to conduct repairs on two primary schools and the local health clinic. Omar Faraj Sultan Futiyez (ph) from the Abushaban (ph) tribe provided 50,000 U.S. dollars to repair four local schools.

In the central south zone of operations, coalition forces detained and deported 151 illegal persons to Iran for illegal border crossing. Civac (ph) teams funded with CERP dollars presented special medical equipment valued at $10,200 to a pediatric hospital in Karbala and provided medicine for a hospital at al Hai (sp) as well as furniture for schools in al Numaniyah. Coalition forces supported the Criminal Investigation Team exploitation of a possible mass grave site near Karbala City, and the mission concluded today.

In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a cordon and search north of al-Kurna. Six males were detained, including one targeted former regime element who is believed to be the former leader of the Ba'ath Party in al-Kurna responsible for the provision of intelligence.

MR. SENOR: We'll be happy to take your questions. Yes, sir?

Q Sir, now that the Shi'ite religious leadership has made it abundantly clear that they do object to key parts of the November 15th agreement, is that enough for you to amend the agreement, or will you continue with your efforts through third parties to persuade the Shi'ite religious leadership to come to your view of how that transitional council should be elected or selected?

MR. SENOR: Iraq is now on a new path. There are two models. One model for governance of Iraq is a strong centralized, dictatorial path. The other path is a free, democratic path that allows and celebrates the diversity of opinions that exist in Iraq.

And that is what is thriving from north to south today in Iraq. Now that the Saddam -- Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, individuals and political leaders and religious leaders have the first time to speak freely and articulate an agenda and articulate their own vision for the way Iraq should look. We view this as a healthy sign, that there is this diversity of opinion, and that that diversity of opinion is freely expressed and protected.

As for individual political leaders, we -- Ambassador Bremer has tremendous respect for Ayatollah Sistani. Ambassador Bremer has said repeatedly that Ayatollah Sistani has a strong following in this country and he represents deep traditions and, as I said, has tremendous respect for him.

But the November 15th political agreement, which was signed and published and agreed upon between Ambassador Bremer and the Governing Council, is now being implemented. We are working very closely with the Governing Council on the next steps to move towards a basic law, to move towards a status of forces agreement, to move towards the establishment of a transitional government for the summer.

And so while individual political and religious leaders may take issue with various parts of the political agreement, we view that as a healthy sign and as something for the Governing Council to engage with those leaders about. But we are working closely on implementation.

I don't know, Hamid, if you have anything to add.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: Well, I just want to add one thing, which is very important. It is difficult for us to trust the information, records left to us by the regime of Saddam Hussein. There are at least 5 million people absent from these records.

That's why it is important to, you know, postpone elections, proper elections, until we have a proper census and everyone is on record. And Ayatollah Sistani and the Governing Council and everyone else agrees, you know, that we need to have a proper census; we need to have an electoral law; we need to have infrastructure for elections ready before we can, you know, carry out any proper elections -- elections that will be safe and sound and trusted by the people of Iraq and internationally.

Q Yes, but following up on that -- how troubling is it that this freedom of speech that the Iraqis are now getting, that Sistani is using that freedom of speech to use references to violence when he's talking about what his goals are? It's not explicit, but he's basically saying, "If you don't go the way I want to go, there's going to be more violence in this country." I mean, how troubling is that to you that violence and his political goals are being uttered in the same sentences?

MR. SENOR: What I hear from Ayatollah Sistani and the full range of religious and political leaders that are speaking out is a vision for Iraq, a democratic vision for Iraq. Ayatollah Sistani has been very clear that he wants democratic direct elections. That is a clear vision for Iraq based on democratic principles. We may have discussions -- the Governing Council may have discussions with various leaders about how best to get there, what procedures are in place or what needs to be put in place in order to get there. But the political leaders and the religious leaders we're hearing from share the basic principles with us about the need for a democratic, free Iraq.


Q (In Arabic.) GEN. KIMMITT: If I did not make myself clear in the statement, what I said was that the operation conducted in Mosul captured a facilitator for Sayf Hasan al-Rawi, number 14. I did not say that we had captured number 14. Only a facilitator. In Mosul.

MR. AL-KAFA'I: (In Arabic.)


Q Hi. Jill Carroll from ANSA. There were reports of demonstrators in Kut on something about unemployment, people looking for jobs, I guess similar to what happened in Amarah. Do you know anything about that? And do you guys have any kind of plan to address what happened in Amarah; you know, why these people are so upset about not having jobs? Any kind of program or other action?

MR. SENOR: We are moving forward every day with the reconstruction, which includes deployment of billions of dollars in this country for economic renewal, for rebuilding the infrastructure, the economic infrastructure of this country that was devastated, that was chronically underinvested-in for 35 years by Saddam Hussein and his kleptocracy. Now, whether it's the oil infrastructure, the electricity infrastructure, the security infrastructure, it was all in terrible condition, which makes the economic conditions even worse, and only compounded by the fact that this was a totalitarian-run economy.

That said, over the last six months, approximate six months, we have completed 17,000 reconstruction projects. If you average it out seven days a week over six months, it approximates to 100 reconstruction projects per day. And that is project by project, community by community, rebuilding the economy, putting Iraqis to work.

When you add to that the billions of dollars, the $18 billion- plus package that the U.S. Congress has appropriated to Iraq and you consider the economic impact that will make, both in the short term and the long term -- when we are looking at contractors and subcontractors, it is very important to us that contractors agree or at least place as a priority the subcontracting to Iraqi firms, small and medium-sized businesses, putting Iraqis to work. Take the Bechtel contract, the past contract. They put over 40,000 Iraqis to work. We want to see more of that.

It is very important to us not only to put Iraqis to work but to do capacity building within various industries, like construction, for instance, so that there is an economy in place here after we're gone, and it is not only a public-sector economy but is also a private- sector economy which over the long run will address Iraq's economic needs.

Q But is there anything specific for Amarah, since people there obviously are really upset? And do you know what will happen in Kut today, if anything?

MR. SENIOR: I would need more information with any specifics on Kut.

But Amarah is part of our overall economic reconstruction plan for Iraq, which is going to take time. You cannot improve -- you cannot fix an economy that was devastated for over three decades in just a few months. It's going to take time. But we are deploying billions of dollars, an amount almost twice the size of Iraq's GDP, which will improve the economic situation in Amarah and throughout the country.


Q (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: We believe it is a priority to step up the -- or to stand up the Iraqi security forces. When we arrived in Iraq after the war, when the reconstruction team arrived in Iraq after the war, there were zero Iraqi police on the streets. Today there are over 60,000. That has helped to contribute to the decrease in crime, for instance, in Baghdad, the decrease in violent crime in Basra. We have graduated two battalions of the new Iraqi army. The third battalion of the new Iraqi army is scheduled to graduate on January 24th. The fourth one is already recruited. We're on track to graduate 27 battalions by September.

The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, as General Kimmitt has spoken to in the past, is already at work involved in missions, sometimes leading operations or working side by side with coalition forces and operations. The border guard is deployed. The Facility Protection Service is deployed. The Diplomatic Service Protection Corps is being trained and deployed, the corrections services security is being deployed -- trained and deployed.

It is very important that Iraq's security is protected by Iraqis, not just the coalition. And we are pleased to say that today there are more Iraqis in positions securing their own country than there are Americans on the ground securing Iraq. It's a priority. It affects everything we do. It affects our ability to get to the economic renewal. It affects our ability to work with the Governing Council on returning a sense of normalcy. Security is critical.

GEN. KIMMITT: And if I could add, that is just not the coalition speaking, but it's the Iraqi people speaking. Every poll that we've taken, time after time, as recently as the poll that came out last week, indicates that the Iraqi people trust the Iraqi Police Service above any other security institution. One number that just struck me was that if asked the question, 86 percent of the people that were polled said they would like to see more Iraqi Police Service, Iraqi policemen, in their neighborhoods providing security. So we think that's money well spent and a great investment for the Iraqi people.

Q (In Arabic.)

(Off-mike conferral among briefers.)

GEN. KIMMITT (?): Go ahead.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: (In Arabic.)


Q Maureen Fan, Knight Ridder. I'm wondering if you can address some of the criticisms from Army officers about the process for standing up the new Iraqi army. Specifically, the application process distinguishes or asks you identify whether you're a Sunni, Shi'a, Christian, Kurd, and people have said to us that might lead to soldiers protecting their own, rather than defending the entire state. And they've also complained that the Americans aren't turning to the right people to help choose the new Iraqi Army.

MR. SENOR: My understanding is that the new Iraqi army has recruits in every single battalion that include -- that represent Shi'as, Sunnis, Kurds. So it is a very diverse security force, as are all the security forces.

And with regard to whether or not we're choosing the right people, over 150,000 Iraqis have been recruited. They have stepped forward. In many cases, like -- particularly with the ICDC, for instance, we have sometimes five times as many individuals seeking employment with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps than there are positions available.

So it seems to us that working and serving with the Iraqi security forces, whichever security force we're dealing with, is very popular. It's something Iraqis want to take a serious role in. And given the fact that they are beginning to play a critical role, not only as supporting us but providing us intelligence and serving as an interlocutor in dealing with the local culture and the language and the -- having a sense for rhythm of life in Iraq, but they're also on the front lines, leading their own operations. So -- and doing a very effective job. So I would say that we are very pleased, and the Iraqis seem to be very pleased, if you just look at some of the polls that General Kimmitt cited and some of the comments made by Hamid. The Iraqis seem to be pretty enthusiastic about the security forces.

But there is still a lot of work to do. We got to get to close to 220,000, so we are forging ahead with that.


Q Yeah. Daniel Williams, The Washington Post. Referring back to an earlier question, no one on the dais seems willing to either agree with Sistani's remarks that if early elections are not held, there will be violence, or to disagree. Now, does everyone agree that there will be violence, or you don't want to say that you don't agree that there will be violence?

MR. SENOR: I guess what I would say is that I don't respond to hypotheticals.

I can tell you that Ayatollah Sistani has spoken out with his vision. Many Iraqi political leaders and religious leaders have spoken out with their visions. We respect and think it's a healthy process when all these individuals are able to have a healthy debate and discussion in this country; it's something we want to protect. And we look forward to implementing the political agreement we worked on with the Governing Council.


Q Had a couple questions for General Kimmitt. Jim Krane with the AP. On the Dutch discovery of those shells with the suspected blister agent, wondering if there's any test results back that confirms that those were indeed blister agent.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, we have got the Iraqi Survey Group moving into that location today to do the final testing. The rounds that we did find exhibit some characteristics that we would expect from blister agents. The age of those would indicate that those were quite probably 10 to 20 years old, indicated to us that that probably was from the Iran-Iraq War, particularly in the location that they were found, so near the border. So I think we'll probably have some results in the next couple days confirming it.

Q Great. I had a second part to that.


Q I heard also that there was some search under way for some clues or a site that was somehow related to that downed pilot, Scott Speicher. I was wondering if you could elucidate on that.

GEN. KIMMITT: No, I can't. I'd refer to the DOD for that. We're not involved in that, that I'm aware of.


Q Bob Sullivan (sp), Fox News. By my count, there's more than 50 soldiers who have been killed from surface-to-air missiles in about two months' time. And we've had the incident with the C-5. Two questions: have there been any other such in-flight emergencies from Baghdad International Airport that maybe you didn't tell us about? And what is the impact of this type of activity on the overall plan to transfer troops?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, I am not aware of any in- flight emergencies that have been declared at BIA, Baghdad International Airport, that we haven't been forthcoming with. So I would have to go through the record to find out what you knew and what you do know.

Q Well, we have the DHL and the C-5, and that's all I have. Do you have any more?

GEN. KIMMITT: Let's you and I talk about it afterwards. We can go through the records.

The second question?

Q The impact of this sort of thing on the overall transfer of power with troops going in and troops going out.

GEN. KIMMITT: We have numerous airfields that we use throughout the region, and we take appropriately -- we do an appropriate risk- management and force-protection analysis of each one of those airfields on a daily basis. We don't believe that there's going to be an impact. Were we to lose one or two airfields because of heightened force protection -- which we do not have right now -- we don't think that would impact on our overall plan. We always have some contingencies for that.

MR. SENOR: Yes? Use the microphone, please.

Q The news agency, Reuters, has lodged a formal complaint with the Pentagon and the U.S. military authorities here about the arrest and treatment in custody of three staff journalists arrested on January the 2nd in Fallujah. Given their complaint, I just wondered whether you would now accept that their arrest was a mistake, and whether you had any comments on the allegations that they were mistreated by U.S. soldiers while in custody?

GEN. KIMMITT: No, I don't think we would accept any of those allegations because the investigation is not yet complete. We're going to run a full and thorough investigation with the information provided not only by our troops on the ground, but by the Reuters journalists as well. So it would be premature to make any conclusions or take any action until that investigation is complete.

Q But you confirm you have the complaint?

GEN. KIMMITT: I'm sorry?

Q You confirm you've received the complaint?

GEN. KIMMITT: I can confirm that.

Q You can?

GEN. KIMMITT: And I can also confirm that we have an ongoing investigation as well.


Q Every time the subject of direct elections has come up, for quite some time now, myself, I think seven months ago in this same room, heard the response that there needs to be a census before that's able to be done. Could you talk about how much times there needs to be to set up an apparatus to do a census, and sort of the mechanisms behind that; what sort of plans in the near, distant future there are for doing that?

MR. SENOR: We have not specifically said a census is needed. What we have said is that there is no electoral infrastructure in this country to institute direct elections immediately. There are no voter rolls, there are no electoral districts, there is no history of direct elections in this country. We've heard various estimates from various experts about how long this sort of process takes. The time frame we often hear is approximately 14, 15 months. But again, those range sometimes higher, sometimes a little lower. But it tends to be at least a year, is what we've heard from a number of experts that we've consulted.

Q If I could, I suppose what I'm asking is how far along the road of setting up that sort of thing are we? I mean, what to date has been done to facilitate that?

MR. SENOR: The first direct elections, in the November 15th agreement, are allowed for electing drafters to the constitutional convention, which is, you know, within the first quarter, approximately in the first quarter of next year, end of the first quarter of next year. And so the Governing Council -- and Hamid can speak to this -- has set up a committee to look at what needs to be put in place in order to get the process moving forward.

But our immediate focus right now is on the drafting of the basic law and getting that process going forward because the deadline in the November 15th agreement for the drafting and passage of the basic law is February 28th. And in that basic law, it lays out the specifics for the timeline of the political process going forward, including the mechanics for the lead-up to the June election -- the caucuses leading up to the June election of the transitional government, sort of parliament, if you will, followed by that body's election of an executive branch which would take over sovereignty the beginning of July.

(To Mr. al-Kifa'i) Do you want to --

MR. AL-KIFA'I: Just to say that it is not easy to just conduct a proper census just like that with the country functioning as it is at the moment. We need to improve services, we need to improve a lot of other functions in the country before we can really, you know, do this, what you have asked about, which is have a proper infrastructure for electoral process.

So at the moment we are proceeding with the agreement that we have reached with the coalition. And hopefully the timeline, the timetable that we have agreed upon, will be adhered to.

As Dan has just said, we are hoping that by the beginning of next year or in the first half of next year, we will have elections for the electoral committee, the committee which is going to draft the constitution. After that, you know, the state administration law or the basic law is going to -- which is being drafted at the moment, is going to specify all the other details. So we'll leave that until we finish with the basic law.


Q (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: I'm sorry. I missed the first part. What's your -- what's the specific question?

GEN. KIMMITT: I'll take the first question. Yes, I did mention at the -- during the briefing that we had in fact turned back 151 persons at the Iranian border for not having the proper documentation. The Iraqi border, like any other border in the world, requires proper documentation -- passports, visas -- to come across. Those people were not in possession of the proper credentials, and so the forces sent them back from whence they came.

MR. SENOR: What was the second question?

Q (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: (To Mr. Senor.) POW status for -- we're now calling him a POW. With all the crimes Saddam --

MR. SENOR: Sure. Sure. We have said all along that Saddam Hussein would be treated according to the Geneva Convention. And according to the Geneva Convention, Saddam Hussein is an enemy prisoner of war, until determined otherwise. So Saddam Hussein's final disposition is neither affected nor determined by this designation under the Geneva Convention.

Ultimately, the Iraqi people are going to have to make these sorts of determinations as they lead the pursuit of justice against Saddam Hussein.

Someone who has -- Ed?

Q Dan -- (off mike) --

MR. SENOR: Use a mike. Wait -- yeah.

Q As of today, have any prisoners been released under the guarantor program that you took great pains to announce last week?

MR. SENOR: The process is well under way. Ambassador Bremer made clear during his announcement, as did Dr. Pachachi, that 100 prisoners would be -- we were prepared to release 100 prisoners immediately, conditional upon, of course, the stepping-forward of the guarantors, which are community leaders, tribal sheiks, imams, university presidents, various individuals from the respective communities, and that the overall program in the near future schedule is to release a total of 500 prisoners. And we are in the process of implementing the program.

As I've mentioned before from this podium, I will not provide a day-to-day update on numbers released. There's a number of issues involved here, not the least of which is the privacy and the security of both the individuals being released and the leaders of the communities that are serving as guarantors. But we will let you know once we are near complete implementation of the program.


Q To just follow up on the that. Bremer said on Thursday, specifically that day, 100 will be released. So did that happen or not?

MR. SENOR: What Ambassador Bremer said was 100 would be released and we were relying on the guarantors to step forward. General Kimmitt later that day, the same afternoon, said that these releases were conditional upon the guarantors stepping forward. We're working with the guarantors now; we have 100 individuals ready to be released; we had 100 ready to be released the day the ambassador announced it. And now we are in the process -- immediately following the ambassador's announcement, we began the process of implementing the program.

Q As far as walking out the door, though, none have done that?

MR. SENOR: I said that day and I've said since then that for the interest of privacy and security of both the individuals and then also the community leaders, we will not provide information on the names of the people being released, where they'll be released from, what time they'll be released, how many are going to be released each day. I mean, there's a lot of sensitive issues involved here, as I'm sure you can understand. And so we will let you know certainly when the program is complete or near complete. But during the implementation phase, we just want to let it play out.


Q (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: Yes. Regarding the issue with Izzat Ibrahim al- Douri, what I said was that we captured four people who we believed were being financed by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri for the purposes of providing money to groups that will carry out attacks against Iraqi people and coalition forces.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: We have time for one more question. In the back, yeah?

Q Hi. Just wanted to ask, specifically with regard to the proposal that was given to the Governing Council a month ago to use the U.N. oil-for-food database, which is also kind of used in Kurdistan as well, in the Kurdish north, to set up elections within months: Has that plan been rejected outright at this point by the Governing Council and the coalition? Thank you.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: The Governing Council is studying all the possibilities. And now the state administration law is being drafted by a committee of the Governing Council. And we are studying all the possibilities. But it looks that it will be difficult to hold, you know, proper elections with the current information that we have. We have to, you know, gather more information about the electorate and we have to establish -- you know, we have to have electoral law before we can have proper, sound elections.

Q A follow-up. So this proposal has not been rejected outright; it's still under discussion at this point?

MR. AL-KIFA'I: Which proposal?

Q The proposal to use the U.N. oil-for-food databases, which fed -- which have the names and details of every single Iraqi, to do elections within months, instead of a year or two.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: All the, you know, proposals, all the possibilities are being considered. But, you know, even the U.N. information, even the U.N. cannot claim that it is accurate. So we cannot really rely on any old information. We have got to have, you know, a new -- we have to carry new census and do -- we have to gather more information about the electorate in Iraq, about the people who have come from abroad, who were refugees in Saudi Arabia and Iran, other countries, neighboring countries, in Europe. All these are Iraqis and they need to participate in the electoral and democratic process.

MR. SENOR: Thanks everybody.





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