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Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense.
News Transcript

Presenter: : Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 9:03 a.m. EST

Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I have two short announcements, then General Kimmitt has an opening statement. And then we will be happy to take your questions.

One hundred and fifty-six Iraqi police officers will graduate tomorrow in Amman, Jordan from a six-week course that prepared them for staff- and commander-level responsibilities in the Iraqi armed forces. Sorry, 156 Iraqi army officers will graduate tomorrow in Amman, Jordan. These officers were trained in leadership, law, planning, coordination, communications, tactics, operations and logistics. They will soon return to Iraq and assume command in staff- level positions within their army's newly organized battalions and brigades.

As for Ambassador Bremer's schedule today, he spent the first half of the day in a long meeting with the Governing Council. This is part of his regular weekly meeting with the Governing Council; it's recurring. And then this afternoon he had internal CPA meetings at the headquarters.

General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Thank you. Good afternoon.

Despite an uptick in localized engagements, the overall Iraqi area of operations remains relatively stable with negligible impact on the coalition's ability to continue progress in governance, economic development and restoration of essential services.

Over the past week there's been an average of 28 engagements daily against coalition military, five engagements daily against Iraqi security forces and just under four attacks daily against Iraqi civilians. The coalition is stepping up its offensive tempo to kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people in response to the latest increase in engagements. To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 1,416 patrols, 20 offensive operations, 11 raids and captured 52 anti-coalition suspects.

In the northern zone of operations, there were three attacks on Iraqi security forces in Mosul yesterday. In the first incident the Iraqi police service reported a drive-by shooting on an Iraqi police service patrol in Mosul at 17:00 with no injuries. Fifteen minutes later a drive-by shooting wounded a facility protection service employee at the Mosul television station. And at 17:30 the Iraqi police service reported a drive-by shooting on a traffic control point at Mosul, again with no injuries.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a series of raids in connection with Operation Centur Rodeo yesterday, focusing on interdicting and reducing weapons- smuggling operations in the vicinity of Baqubah. Three detainees and a large quantity of weapons were seized.

This morning two bodyguards for the governor of Diyala Province and three bystanders were wounded in Baqubah when a suicide car bomber pulled up in a white Fiat beside the governor's car and killed himself by detonating the car bomb. The bomb was estimated to consist of three to six artillery shells and approximately 25 kilograms of TNT. One truck, two vehicles and one building were damaged in the explosion. The wounded were taken to Baqubah Hospital, where their condition remains unknown, but the governor was unharmed. The Iraqi police are investigating the incident.

Yesterday coalition forces initiated Operation Tiger Fury east of Balad in order to deter anti-coalition activities and capture noncompliant forces in the region. The operation resulted in 19 detained, with no injuries or damages to coalition forces.

In Baghdad, based on information provided by an Iraqi citizen, coalition forces raided a Baghdad safe house last night to capture Basim Ali Rahim and Khalid Mahmoud. Mahmoud (sp) is a former soldier in the Iraqi army and a former member of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, and he and Rahim are said to be directly responsible for the attack on the Berj Al Hyatt Hotel on 18 March. These personnel are also wanted for their involvement in a cell consisting of former regime elements operating in Baghdad.

Yesterday coalition forces conducted a raid to capture a group of suspected bomb makers calling themselves the Medical City Group. The unit searched several houses in the area, capturing 11 personnel, seizing weapons, various containers of chemicals, books on bomb making, and poisons and assorted small-arms ammunition. Two of the prisoners tested positive for explosives with a vapor tracer device.

Monday night a coalition patrol searched a house in the Adhamiya neighborhood based on a humint tip (Human Intelligence). The patrol confiscated 13 million Iraqi dinar, 30,000 U.S. dollars, extensive weapons and ammunition, and three suspects were captured in the raid.

This morning five U.S. Soldiers traveling in a military vehicle were attacked by an explosive device northwest of Habbaniya. A quick reaction force secured the scene and medevac was completed by 0750. Also this morning, two vehicles carrying four coalition contractors were attacked in Fallujah.

In the center-south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 114 patrols, established 47 checkpoints and escorted 42 convoys. Leaders in Multinational Division Central South are continuing a series of meetings with representatives of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Iraqi police, traffic police, health, general hospital, ambulances and firefighters in order to coordinate support plans for the upcoming Arba'in observances.

In the southeast zone of operations, a British convoy was attacked by an explosive device southwest of Basra, resulting in three casualties. All personnel have been medevac'd to the local military hospital for treatment.

MR. SENOR: And with that, we are happy to take your questions. Rachel, go ahead.

Q Yeah, I have a question for both of you. First to General Kimmitt.

What we've been seeing in Fallujah now, after the 3rd ID, 82nd, now the Marines are there, it seems like this is an area that is still out of control. We'd like to know what it is about Fallujah that makes it so hard to crack. And what do you plan to do about it? That's for you.


Q The second question is for you, Dan, is, how does it make you feel to see what happened today in terms of those civilians that were killed, people rejoicing at such brutality, people that we are here to help? What was your reaction to that?

GEN. KIMMITT: Fallujah remains one of those cities in Iraq that just don't get it. It's a former Ba'athist stronghold. This was a city that profited immeasurably and immensely under the former regime. They have a view that somehow the harder they fight, the better chance they have of achieving some sort of restorationist movement within the country. They fight. We work with them.

It is a small minority of the people in Fallujah. Most of the people in Fallujah want to move on with their lives, want to move forward, want to be part of a new Iraq. There's a small core element that doesn't seem to get it. They're desperate to try to hold out, desperate to try to turn back the hands of time, and that just isn't going to happen.

Just like the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment behind it -- before it, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is dedicated to going into Fallujah at any time to restore order, to establish a safe and secure environment, and to get on with the progress that's being denied to the vast majority of citizens in Fallujah.

Q Can I just follow up quickly? What is it that they can actually do? I mean, this is now -- what will they do differently? That's already been tried by -- you know, we've been a year now here. So what is it that you -- are there new tactics? Are there -- how are you now planning to correct it or take control?

GEN. KIMMITT: The Marines, like their predecessors, will continue to maintain control. There often are small outbursts of violence. As we've seen today, they will go in, they will restore order, and they'll put those people back in their place, so that the majority of the people in Fallujah, who want to see progress, who want to see democracy, who want to see individual liberty, can truly be the voice of the city of Fallujah, and not the few and the desperate.

MR. SENOR: Rachel, to your second question, the people who pulled those bodies out and engaged in this attack against the contractors are not people we are here to help. They are people who have a much different vision for the future of Iraq than the overwhelming majority of Iraqis. They are people who want Iraq to turn back to an era of mass graves, of rape rooms and torture chambers and chemical attacks. They want to turn back to the era of Saddam Hussein. Those aren't people we're here to help, and it is not surprising that they are engaging in attacks as we increasingly make progress and we increasingly move along to handing over sovereignty and handing over a democratic Iraq at peace with itself, at peace with its own citizens, which is exactly what they're fighting against. And that is just around the corner. That is happening on June 30th.

And so it is strategic in that -- on their part it is strategic and they have a strategic goal. Their strategic goal is to throw off this progress. Their strategic goal is to turn Iraq back to the era of Saddam Hussein and all the torture and pain and suffering and the depravations that went along with it. Those aren't people we are interested in helping. Those are people we have to capture or kill so this country can move forward.


Q Yeah, Gregor Mayer from the German --

Q Jair Lipecki --

MR. SENOR: What? What?

Q Jair Lipecki (ph) from Reuters. I wonder if you'd just tell us what those contractors were doing there and whether they had a military escort. And can you confirm again it was just four people traveling in two vehicles?

GEN. KIMMITT: It is our understanding that there were four people traveling in two vehicles. What they were doing there I'm not sure of. Like most contractors, they have a responsibility throughout the country. As we work on governance, essential services, restoring the economy, we've got coalition employees throughout the cities, throughout the country trying to work with the people of Iraq, trying to work with the organizations.

Q And did they have a military escort at all, any military personnel traveling with them?

GEN. KIMMITT: Unaware.

MR. SENOR: Yeah.

Q Were U.S. troops able to reach the scene today, and if so, when? Or did you feel it too dangerous to get there to offer assistance or recover the bodies?

GEN. KIMMITT: It's my understanding that the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is currently either there or going there, working with the local authorities to restore order to that situation.

Q So do you know approximately how long after the attack they might have approximately reached the scene?

GEN. KIMMITT: I don't know.

Q And was there a feeling that it was too dangerous to go in when it was --

GEN. KIMMITT: I don't think that there is any place in this country that the coalition forces feel is too dangerous to go into.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead.

Q Thank you. Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency, DPA. General, earlier this day the CPA press officers were telling us that five U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack in Al Anbar province. Is this incident identical with that one in Habbaniyah?

GEN. KIMMITT: No, those are -- well, yes, the incident that we referred to this morning when five U.S. soldiers were killed by an IED, vicinity Habbaniyah, that is in Al Anbar province. That is the same incident.

MR. SENOR: Yeah.

Q To save us all asking too many individual questions, could you perhaps just give us as full an account as you have before you of the incident in Fallujah today as it unfolded?

GEN. KIMMITT: I think everything has already been said. We understand that there was a two-vehicle convoy traveling through the town of Fallujah. That vehicle convoy was attacked. I think we've seen the results of that attack on the news, and at this point, with that information, the Marines who have responsibility for that region are taking action.

MR. SENOR: Yeah, Lisa, go ahead.

Q Thank you. First of all, I understand that there were military roadblocks leading up on the highway to Fallujah, meaning that cars had to travel on the road directly through the town. Why were the roadblocks put up? And did the foreigners who were killed today, did those two cars have to go through Fallujah because of the roadblocks?

GEN. KIMMITT: Don't know the answer to your second question. I think the roadblocks were probably there based on the fact that there were some recovery operations going in the vicinity of Habbaniya, which is somewhat half way between al-Ramadi and Fallujah. So it could well have been that those roadblocks were a result of that first incident which happened a couple of hours beforehand.

MR. SENOR: Yeah?

Q (Through interpreter.) The U.N. have announced that there have been some terrorists, and also it's very obvious that when you are announcing you are occupation forces there should be terrorists against you. So what's your comment regarding this announcement?

MR. SENOR: I'm sorry, can you repeat the question?

Q (Through interpreter.) The United Nations said that the American are occupation forces, and it's natural to have terrorists or to have resistance against occupation forces. So what's your comment regarding the announcement of the United Nations of identifying you as occupation forces?

MR. SENOR: I haven't seen the U.N. statement on that, so I'm not going to respond to something I haven't seen. I can follow up with you after and you can actually show me the reference.

GEN. KIMMITT: But nonetheless, I think the term "occupation forces" -- legally we are considered by the letter of the law occupation forces. We don't necessarily take that as a pejorative term, we don't take that as a negative term. We take that as a legal term. And those that would use that term are probably being legalistic in the use and not pejorative in its use.

MR. SENOR: Yeah?

Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible.) I have two questions to Mr. Dan Senor. There have been an announcement of the partnership between Iraq and the United States. This principle of partnership is based on $18 million (sic/billion) as assistance to the Iraqi people. What is the use of putting this amount of money for the Iraqi economy? What will the United States get and what is the risk that the United States is doing for allocating such an amount of money for a deteriorated economy? And Iraq has recently come out of a war. So what will be the useful for having this money put and allocated for Iraq?

MR. SENOR: Well, first of all, it is the supplemental funds that you are referring to. The $18.6 billion is the single-largest financial commitment made by the U.S. government in its history. It's probably the largest commitment made by any government. It is consistent with President Bush's overall goal, which he has made clear, which is to establish here a sovereign democratic Iraq at peace with itself, at peace with its neighbors, at peace with the international community. That last part relates specifically to the fact that Iraq right now is the central front in the war on terrorism. We know that, the Iraqi people know that, the terrorists know that. If you read Mr. Zarqawi's letter, he's quite clear about the stakes in Iraq for the international terrorists.

And the administration has pointed out on several occasions that we have a two-pronged strategy in achieving our goal here.

One is the military strategy, which are the things that General Kimmitt talks about as we seek to root out, hunt down, kill or capture foreign terrorists and elements of the former regime.

There's also a political and an economic strategy, and that is to say that the more we politically and economically empower the Iraqi people, the more we isolate the terrorists and the former regime elements, the more difficult we make it for them to capitalize on any sense of despair or hopelessness -- hopeless future, hopeless sense of a hopeless vision for what comes next, what comes after we hand over sovereignty. And so by deploying this $18-plus billion we are making a substantial investment, not only in security, which is a large part of the supplemental -- several billion dollars are dedicated to standing up and training Iraqi security forces -- but to get the economic infrastructure in place.

But I want to make -- respond to something you said. The funding is not dedicated to war damage. In fact, if you look at the sophistication of the precision guided bombing technology, for instance, that was used during the war, there's virtually no collateral damage in this country as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most of the funding is dedicated to rebuilding infrastructure -- building, not even rebuilding -- building infrastructure that was effectively underinvested in -- chronically underinvested in for 35 years. The electrical infrastructure, the oil production and refinement infrastructure, the medical infrastructure -- these are things that need to be up and running and up to speed with modernity if Iraq is going to be on a path towards economic independence.

Q (Through interpreter.) If you allow, that's what you talk about Iraq, but I say what is the plan of the United States? It's true that you are trying to help Iraqis, but will be the advantages of having the United States allocating such an amount of money for helping the Iraqis and rebuilding the economy of Iraq? So I'm talking about the United States part.

MR. SENOR: I think from our perspective, and most of the Western world's perspective, to have a democracy in the heart of this region, which could hopefully some day be a model for the region, that is self-sufficient, in which the quality of life is at much higher standards than is known or has been known in this country for the past three decades, and that is known in much of this region; to have a country where Iraqi citizens can hold their governments accountable; to have a Iraqi society where people are free to speak out and free to assemble; and have a bill of rights that protects them, protects their freedom of religion and protects basic individual liberties that we in the West take for granted; if we can build alongside working with the Iraqi people; if we can build something like that here in the heart of this region, we will do more to set back the cause of the terrorists than just about anything else we could do. And again, I refer you to Zarqawi's letter in that regard, because it is clear from what he says that their greatest fear is a self- governing, effective Iraqi democracy.


Q Thanassis Cambanis from the Boston Globe. I've got one for each of you. General, can you tell us if all four contractors actually died and who they were working for?

And then, Dan, can you tell us about the discussions today with the Governing Council about the structure of the new intelligence agency in the transitional government?

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, on the first, we are going to reserve the right of that information to the families that are going to get a dreadful knock on the door today. It is our understanding that all four have passed away. But as regards to what company or what country they're from, let's let the families find that out before we put that in the press.

MR. SENOR: To your second question, a number of -- a range of topics were discussed. The discussion about various security services that will be addressed over -- in the coming days was expanded upon for probably 45 minutes to an hour. There was a discussion about the investigations into the oil-for-food program. And Ambassador Bremer updated the Governing Council on the meeting he had yesterday with all the Iraqi ministers in which he talked to them about document collection and preservation and assisting with the investigations that are ongoing. He talked about investigations that the Iraqi Governing Council, Iraqi officials may want to conduct on their own. There was discussion about the state of the de-Ba'athification policy and its implementation. The way these meetings typically go is there's about six or seven agenda items and they roll through over several hours. And so those are the range of topics that were addressed.

MR. SENOR: Yeah?

Q General Kimmitt, can you tell me about the current status of PKK/KADEK way up in the north, what are kind of relations like right now between the U.S. military and this organization? And where does it stand right now? Has that group disbanded? Are there any plans to do that in coming months?

GEN. KIMMITT: We have a clear policy of militias inside this country. We've talked about the militia policy at length inside -- at the press conferences. And we would expect, like all militias, in the days and weeks ahead, their time is numbered, and we would expect to go through a process with many of the militias of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration into society.

Q Sorry. This is the Turkish Kurd separatists --

GEN. KIMMITT: I fully understand.

Q All right.

MR. SENOR: Carol?

Q Hi. It's Carol Rosenberg with The Miami Herald. If contractors can't safely get in and out of Fallujah, how are you going to help the majority of Fallujahns, who do "get it"? We understand that the Marines came with a half-billion dollars to rebuilding projects across the province and have started doing assessments and surveys to try to figure out how to rebuild and help the people who presumably this money is intended for. Can you confirm that they were part of that assessment team? And while I understand you don't want to give their nationalities, can you say whether or not they were USG or DOD employees?

GEN. KIMMITT: The -- with regard to your first question, I didn't really understand it. I don't think, again, that there is a lack of the capability of freedom of movement for any military force inside this country.

The very fact that two vehicles traveled through Fallujah today and were attacked is a tragic event, but it is not indicative that there somehow is a barrier for any coalition vehicles to get through there. The coalition vehicles go through there every day without incident and without trouble. Every once in a while, sadly, there are incidents such as this. And we're working our hardest to try to reduce those to a minimum.

It will be a process of undetermined length that the Marines will take to get inside Fallujah, to restore order. That could happen tomorrow. It could happen the next day. But they are determined in Fallujah, the way every coalition force is throughout this country, of restoring -- of establishing order, restoring order in some towns, establishing order throughout the country, so they can get on with their primary purpose, which is to rebuild this country and pass governance on to the people.

One isolated incident in a town such as Fallujah, even though it has happened with a frequency that we're not particularly pleased about, has not stopped the process of building inside this country. It has not stopped the process of moving on towards passing governance on to the people of Iraq. And it has not stopped the restoration of essential services in this country.

While this one incident was happening in Fallujah, throughout the rest of the country, we are opening schools. We're opening health clinics. We are increasing the amount of electrical output. We are increasing the amount of oil output.

So is this tragic? Absolutely it's tragic. There are four families in this world today that are going to get knocks on the doors. And you don't want to be on either side of that door when it happens, either hearing the news or delivering the news. There will be five military families that get that same news today. But that isn't going to stop us from doing our mission. In fact, it would be disgracing the deaths of these people if we were to stop our missions.

So, while it is perhaps newsworthy that we show small, localized incidents, the entire tableau of the country of Iraq is far more than a couple of small, localized incidents. They are tragic. We grieve for the families. We know what it's like to be those families. But the most important thing that those soldiers and those contractors would say today, they would tell us were they here today, "Keep up the work. Don't disgrace us by buckling under to a small group of insurgents." And we don't plan to.

Q So the coalition is still telling contractors that they should go inside Fallujah? And what about the question about whether they're USG or DOD employees?

GEN. KIMMITT: In due time, after we've had an opportunity to tell the families of those people of their circumstances, we will pass on the information as to their employment.

With regards to contractors going through Fallujah, the contractors stand side by side with the Iraqi security forces, side by side with the coalition forces. Every time they go out, they know they're taking risk; and they're willing to take that risk for many, many reasons, one of which, they understand that they're part of this process of bringing this country a future that they have not had for 35 years.

MR. SENOR: Just adding on one point General Kimmitt made. We have completed approximately 18,000 projects, reconstruction, individual reconstruction projects, in this country over the past nine or 10 months. Some of them fall into the categories that General Kimmitt referenced: opening schools, installing generators in health clinics, building community centers, helping local police forces get stood up. It averages out to about 75 to 100 projects per day. So when the sun goes down today, 75 to 100 projects will be completed that weren't completed when the sun went up this morning, and that's despite the fact that there were attacks in this country today.

The fact is, this process moves forward, progress is being made at very impressive rates, and it will continue to move forward. And there will be more attacks, sadly and tragically, but as General Kimmitt spoke to, these individual reconstruction projects, the sum of which will contribute to our overall goal, will continue.


Q Sarah Rosenberg, ABC News. A lot of people have been comparing this small, localized incident in Fallujah to that in Somalia, and if not, at least visually. What is your comment on that?

GEN. KIMMITT: My comment is, sometimes false comparisons are not helpful.



Q (Through interpreter.) Satar Husseini from Almada. The Coalition Authority detains a group of terrorists, but the strange thing about that, we haven't seen these terrorists and we don't know anything about their confessions. What is the destiny of these interests? I have asked Mr. Bahr al-Uloum about this issue. He told me the same thing. He doesn't know anything about them. They are at the hands of the Coalition Authority. Why don't you show them on TV so that people can see their confessions?

GEN. KIMMITT: It's very simple why we don't show them on television or publish their photos in the newspapers. We are signatories to the Geneva and Hague Conventions. One of our prohibitions in meeting the Geneva Conventions is that we don't subject our detainees nor our prisoners to public ridicule or humiliation. It is the interpretation of the signers of the Geneva Conventions that what you're suggesting -- putting them in the newspaper, putting them in front of television so they can give their confessions -- would equal, and we would agree would equal, public ridicule and humiliation. We are prohibited from doing that and we won't do that.

MR. SENOR: Jennifer (sp), go ahead.

Q I'm not sure if this is for Dan or for the general. Dan, you say you know who these people are who carried out these attacks. They're, you know, a small minority who are trying to, you know, take Iraq backwards or bring back the Saddam Hussein days. I'm curious how you know who the people are. You also just said that these are not the people we're here to help and they're a small minority, but this small minority dragged bodies through streets in broad daylight in a town in Iraq. Is there some way you should be trying to engage these people or trying to get to them so that the minority isn't -- I mean, if the majority in Fallujah truly believe what you're doing, how come a minority did what would be considered a horrendous thing in any culture?

MR. SENOR: Sure. Jennifer, the -- I can tell you this much. When we try to assess public opinion in this country -- and we try to do it through polling, which we recognize is not a refined art or science in this country yet and in any developing situation it is quite rudimentary, but yet we have been doing quite a bit of it and other organizations have been doing quite a bit of polling, and our results tend to be consistent with those. We conduct a lot of focus groups around the country, including in unfriendly parts of the country.

We have, throughout the 18 provinces, field offices. Two-thirds of the coalition staff are spread throughout the country and they spend their days talking to Iraqis, many of whom are in Ramadi and Fallujah and these more challenging areas. And what we hear over and over and over, whether it's in the statistical surveys or whether it's anecdotally, we hear three things. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful for the liberation -- 95, 98 percent are the numbers that come up. It's sort of the foil to the election results that Saddam Hussein used to get.

The second thing we hear over and over is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want an end to the occupation, which is understandable. Nobody likes to be occupied. We don't like to be occupiers.

But the third thing we hear over and over is that they don't want the coalition to leave. It's sort of this paradoxical set of results. On the one hand they want the occupation to end; on the other hand, they don't want the coalition to leave. And when you push a little further and try to understand why they don't want the coalition to leave, it's because they're worried about the security situation destabilizing, they're worried about sectarian warfare, or they're worried about the rise of elements from the former regime organizing themselves. That is, in our view, the mood of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis.

There are, we recognize, a tiny, tiny minority that is not included in those majorities. And that tiny, tiny minority are the sorts of people whose vision is polar opposite from ours and from the majority of Iraqis for what this country should look like going forward. And it is that mood that is reflected in what you saw today. Anyone who would conduct themselves against others like you saw today have a different vision for the future of this country than the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who are grateful for the liberation.


Q Kevin Johnson with USA Today. A couple of questions. One, on the attack against the Marines, the device that was used, was that something unusually powerful in the realm of the IEDs that you've been used to seeing carried out all over the country, and might it be indicative of what you were discussing yesterday of this marriage between Ba'athists and terrorists?

And second, understanding and respecting the fact that you want to allow next-of-kin to be notified, is it accurate, though, to describe the contractors as civilians?

GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, I've got to make one factual correction to what you asked. They were not U.S. Marines that were killed, they were U.S. Army soldiers that were killed. As to the size of the IED, it was a very large IED. As I understand, it had a crater somewhere on the order of 15 feet by 10 feet. That is not -- we have seen many IEDs of that size before. You can pack enough explosives into any device, put it under the ground however. So I would not suggest that that one was, from the size of the hole that we've seen, significantly exceptional.

And your second question?

Q Second question is understanding your interest in protecting the identities, whether or not it's accurate to describe them as civilians.

GEN. KIMMITT: Right, right. They were not military personnel, that is correct.

MR. SENOR: Got time for a couple more. Go ahead.

Q (Through interpreter.) From Iraqiyah. Some of the coalition officials weren't against escalating the terrorist actions before this period, which is the period of handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis. My question is to General Kimmitt. What are the precautions or procedures that have been taken -- or measurements that have been taken by you to stop or to put an end for these terrorist actions -- especially we are approaching the sovereignty -- handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis?

GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not really sure I understood your first comment about that somehow we have not done a lot of work towards our counterterrorism up to this point.

But what are we doing now? Again, as we talked about many times in here, the coin of the realm in anti-terrorist operation -- counterterrorist operation is intelligence. These are not very strong forces that we are facing but they're fairly elusive. The types of operations they're running can be carried out by small numbers of people with IEDs, with explosives, making car bombs. The hard part of this is improving our intelligence. And we have seen over the past few months that our intelligence is improving. There are many reasons for that. Among those reasons are the fact that the number of tips that we are getting from Iraqi civilians that are leading to actionable operations has increased dramatically. The 82nd, for example, was getting about 100 tips a month in January and by the time they left they were getting about 300 tips a month. That's one.

Second, the more we grow the Iraqi security forces, the more that we've got Iraqi citizens out on the beat, so to speak. They're watching, they're listening, they're talking to their friends, they're talking to their relatives, they're talking to the people in the neighborhood. Understandably, Iraqi citizens are far more comfortable coming up giving information to their own than they would be perhaps to the coalition forces. So from that source, the intelligence is improving.

As we've said earlier, when we captured Saddam Hussein, we were given intelligence as part of that capture which allowed us to understand the cell structure of many of the former regime elements much better. That allowed us to gain more intelligence. Every time we go out on a raid, we not only are trying to capture the target or achieve the objective, but we are also trying to get more intelligence as part of that raid. That is increasing our intelligence.

And by virtue of the fact that we have been here, every day the coalition is here, we enhance our intelligence-collection capabilities with our own assets.

So all of those are working together to set up a capability for the coalition to gain more intelligence against the terrorists, and that intelligence translates into operations -- operations which we conduct to kill or capture those terrorists. And we don't spend a lot of time talking about the number of attacks we have foiled or the number of terrorists that we have captured before they've been able to conduct their deeds, because we continue to concentrate on the ones that we have not yet caught, which is what we need to continue to do in the days and weeks ahead.

MR. SENOR: Sewell, last question.

Q I am Sewell Chan from The Washington Post, have two questions for General Kimmitt. The first is, General Kimmitt, today is, if not the most lethal day, I think, certainly one of most brutal days that people have seen in terms of the violence. Hours after the attack on the civilians, their bodies were dragged through the streets by a donkey-drawn cart. From -- specifically, what we're hearing is that there was not much Iraqi police presence and virtually no military presence from the U.S. as of about 3 p.m. local time, which is probably four to four and a half hours after the incident occurred. Can you address whether the military is happy with the response of Iraqi security forces and whether or not it signifies any need for more help from the U.S. military and from the Marines?

Secondly, if I could just ask a quick second question, the deaths of these civilians, if in fact they're foreigners, follow on the deaths of six Americans, two Finnish citizens, a German citizen, a British man, a Canadian citizen and a Dutch citizen, all within the space of the last three weeks. What are the military's concerns with respect to this apparent targeting of soft targets, as they've been called, of foreign civilians who do not have the same sort of protection and armor that you have, sir? Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: On the first question, about the performance of the Iraqi security forces and the military force in Fallujah, quite frankly, we don't yet know what has happened today. I think we'd be premature to either judge, criticize or even make any sense or assessment of what happened today until we have all the facts. So let's wait a couple of days till we really find out what happened. Could well be that many of the facts -- what are being presented as facts turn out not to be facts.

So I think what we need to do is give it a couple of days, let the Marines, let the Iraqi security forces find out what happened, and then we'll try to make some judgments from that point.

We have said for quite a while that one of the signs not only of desperation on the part of the terrorists and the former regime elements but also, quite frankly, the cowardice of these forces is that, in opposition to six months ago, when many of the attacks -- most of the attacks were against the coalition forces, we have seen over the past few months that they are starting to go after softer targets. That is a concern of ours, but it also ought to demonstrate the desperation of these people because they decide, rather than attack coalition forces and Iraqi security forces, they'll attack women that are working for the coalition, washing clothes to make their lives better. Their whole political act is nothing more than washing clothes to earn money for their families. Yes, we remain concerned about that. We remain concerned, which is why we continue to double and redouble our efforts to go after these people. But it's very important to understand not that this is as much a tactic as much as it is a sign of desperation.

We have predicted, and unfortunately we've been prescient with the fact that as we get closer and closer to passing off governance to the people of Iraq that they will, in a final act of desperation and self-justification, try to paint anybody that works anywhere near the coalition somehow as collaborators because they understand on June 30th, when the sovereignty of this country is passed off to the people of Iraq, that excuse no longer holds water. They will no longer be attacking collaborators, but they will be attacking the people of Iraq. And we won't permit it, the people of Iraq won't permit it, and we will remain resolved to prevent it.

MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.


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