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News Transcript

Presenter: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations; and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
Wednesday, May 12, 2004 9:38 a.m. EDT

Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

MR. SENOR: Good evening.

I have a couple of opening announcements and General Kimmitt has his regular operational briefing, plus an announcement about the ongoing investigation and court martials at Abu Ghraib.

Firstly, on Ambassador Bremer's schedule, today he attended a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the official handover of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Iraqi minister. At the ceremony Ambassador Bremer spoke to the many accomplishments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the past number of months -- all the work that the minister, Hoshyar Zebari, has done to facilitate Iraq's welcoming -- integration into the international community and the number of international organizations that Iraq is now a part of. Mr. Zebari -- the foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, spoke at the ceremony as well.

Following that Ambassador Bremer attended his weekly Governing Council meeting, which is part of where they discussed the ongoing consultations on the political transition, and then that was followed by internal meetings Ambassador Bremer had with the CPA.

Secondly, I have an announcement regarding Mr. Nicholas Berg.

On Saturday, May 8th, coalition forces discovered a body on a roadside near Baghdad. The body was later identified as Nicholas Berg, an American civilian. Mr. Berg had registered with U.S. Consular Affairs in Iraq. He had no affiliation, however, with the coalition. He was here -- it is our understanding that he was here of his own accord. He did not work for the Coalition Provisional Authority and we do not believe that he worked for any Coalition Provisional Authority contractors. It is also my understanding that he reported that he entered Iraq through Jordan and was here for business purposes.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Berg family and their community. Sometimes the banality of terrorist acts speak for itself. I know there are images being broadcast -- I know in this part of the world and I think in the West as well -- of Mr. Berg's grotesque and brutal murder, and this is clearly and tragically one of those terrorist acts.

Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the Berg family and their community.

General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yes, and on behalf of the coalition military forces, we also would like to extend our sympathies to the Berg family.

Good afternoon. The coalition continues offensive operations to establish a stable Iraq, in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and transfer sovereignty.

In the north central zone of operations yesterday, there was an attack in Kirkuk - yes, in a Kirkuk neighborhood market -- using an improvised explosive device consisting of a rocket, C-4 explosives and propane tanks. Four Iraqi civilians were killed. Twenty-five Iraqi civilians were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility, and the Iraqi police service has the lead for the investigation.

This morning the Au Mutawaka police station was attacked with rockets in Samarra. The Iraqi police station is located a block south of the green mosque, and four to five rockets impacted on the building. The attack resulted in three Iraqi police service wounded, as well as major structural damage to the police station.

In the western zone of operations, on 9 May, a convoy of 20 vehicles belonging to a Turkish company acting as a subcontractor was attacked with small-arms fire. The subcontractors were delivering living containers and had entered Iraq from Syria. The convoy was originally attacked near a fuel station east of Arupah, where they were forced to download three of the truck containers. The convoy was again stopped 70 kilometers east of that location and were forced to download four more containers.

The attackers destroyed a total of seven of the vehicles in the convoy and hijacked eight of the trucks. Five trucks made it to their final destination in Baghdad. All 20 drivers are accounted for, four of which sustained wounds from the attacks.

The situation in Fallujah remains calm. There have been no cease-fire violations for over a week. Reports indicate religious leaders have contributed to this environment with peaceful messages from the mosques.

Coordination continues with the Fallujah Brigade for follow-on operations, demonstrating freedom of movement in Fallujah. Further adherence to the provision of the cease-fire remains the focus.

In the central south zone of operations, offensive operations continue against Muqtada's militia.

Throughout recent operations in Karbala, coalition forces have come under fire repeatedly from the 12-building Al-Mukayam mosque and shrine complex. The shrine complex had been used by Muqtada's militia as an operation base and an ammunition-and-weapons holding area. It had also been the subject of discussions three weeks ago between the Iraq Religious Endowments Directorate of Karbala and the Iraq Ministry of Health in reaching an agreement on the transfer of the mosque to the Karbala Directorate of Health for use as a specialized health clinic.

Last night at approximately 2300, coalition forces conducted a cordon and search of the area in order to eliminate the enemy presence there and to restore Iraqi security force control. Early in the operation, coalition forces were attacked by two rocket-propelled grenades, striking a Bradley and wounding one coalition soldier. Coalition forces requested close air support, resulting in five enemy killed.

Approximately four hours after the initial engagement, coalition forces reported that Muqtada militia members had reorganized and established a fighting position in the nearby Mukayam shrine. By 0400 this morning, Iraqi security forces cleared the shrine while coalition forces maintained the outer cordon. By 9:15, the Iraqi police service had retained security to the area. Coalition forces also rescued five Iraqi police officers who were discovered bound and gagged inside one of the Mukayam complex buildings. In the mosque itself, coalition forces found extensive weapons caches, and three other weapons caches were discovered in the nearby area.

In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 259 patrols and captured four anti-coalition suspects. The governance area in Basra City will continue to be heavily patrolled by coalition forces to deter any further moves to take control of key points by anti-coalition forces. Coalition forces are also continuing to dominate al-Amarah and have started to carry out routine patrols from static locations within the city. Al-Amarah is relatively quiet and seems to have adapted to the increased coalition presence without adverse reaction.

Three final notes. First, 315 detainees are scheduled to be released from the Abu Ghraib prison on 14 May at 0900. The next release at Abu Ghraib is scheduled for 21 May. And the diagram to the right shows you how many of those detainees will be returning to each of the multinational division areas.

Second, I want to clarify a comment made at a previous press conference regarding the chain of command relationships for the 372nd Military Police Company in Abu Ghraib from 19 November 2003 until recently. On 19 November 2003, a fragmentary order was issued by CJTF-7 that placed the 320th MP Battalion, the parent organization of the 372nd MP Company, under the tactical control, TACON, of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Tactical control, or TACON, provides authority for the 205th MI Brigade to assign missions and tasks to the 320th MP Battalion. However, the 800th MP Brigade was still responsible for command oversight, leadership, discipline and training for subordinate units, of which the 372nd Military Police Company was one. While the 205th MI Brigade was given TACON for the purpose of assigning missions or tasks, its FRAGO did not change the command relationship or responsibilities within the 800th MP Brigade.

Last, we are announcing two additional court-martials related to Abu Ghraib.

The charges were referred against Sergeant Javal S. Davis to a general court-martial. The five charges are conspiracy to maltreat subordinates, dereliction of duty for negligently failing to protect detainees from abuse, maltreatment of detainees, rendering false official statements and assault.

Charges were also referred against Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick III to a general court-martial. The five charges are conspiracy to maltreat subordinates/detainees, dereliction of duty for negligently failing to protect detainees from abuse, maltreatment of detainees, assault and wrongfully committing an indecent act by watching detainees commit a sexual act.

The charge sheets for these court-martial cases and the case of U.S. v Specialist Jeremy Sivits will be available after this press conference.

MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll happy to take your questions.

Yes. Go ahead.

Q Yeah, Bob Moran with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Can you elaborate or give any details on the detention of Mr. Berg? You know, I guess he was picked up by Iraqi police and at some point he was in -- transferred to U.S. custody or at least to be released. Can you elaborate on that?

MR. SENOR: Sure. Mr. Berg was arrested by the Iraqi police in the Mosul area on March 24th. I would refer you to the Iraqi police as to why they arrested him. My understanding is that they suspected that he was involved/engaged in suspicious activities. U.S. authorities were notified. The FBI visited with Mr. Berg on three occasions when he was in Iraqi police detention and determined that he was not involved with any criminal or terrorist activities. Mr. Berg was released on April 6th and it is my understanding he was advised to leave the country. He, as you know, was found dead on May 8th and his family was notified on May 10th.


Q Peter Hermann from the Baltimore Sun. Is there a date for the general court-martials, and will they be held here in the convention center as Mr. Sivits'?

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, right now those two cases have not been docketed, but our expectation is that we will conduct a review of the convention center's utilization after the first court martial. It is certainly our intent to continue using the convention center if it works out.


Q Thank you. Charlie Mayer from NPR. Are you keeping track of the number of Americans who are missing now in Iraq? And if so, can you give us some sense of those numbers?

MR. SENOR: For operational security reasons, we do not generally make those numbers public. We are attempting to track the numbers of civilians that have been taken hostage, either U.S. citizens or others here from coalition countries, or just any civilians who are here. And we try to communicate that information, obviously, with the host governments -- with the government of the countries that those civilians are from.

We are reluctant right now, Charlie, to make that information public. We don't want to provide an opportunity for kidnappers and terrorists to track that sort of information. It's not in anybody's interest but theirs, and therefore, I hope you understand why we are not making it public.

Yes, ma'am?

Q General Mark Kimmitt, how do you evaluate the command now in Fallujah? The command of Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif, how do you evaluate his command?

GEN. KIMMITT: Right now we're quite pleased with the command structure that's operating within Fallujah. Obviously we're starting to see some results. There have been no cease-fire violations in the last seven days. We are conducting patrols inside the city. We've actually had a joint patrol come in and depart the city. We still have objectives to attain, but at this point, I would say that the Marines are quite pleased with the efforts and the command of General Latif.


Q Josh Hammer of Newsweek. Do you have any more information about the circumstances of Mr. Berg's departure from Iraq and how he might have been captured? There was some speculation he was -- he had joined the convoy that was attacked on the day he disappeared.

MR. SENOR: We are obviously trying to piece all this together, Josh, and there is a thorough investigation under way. I'm reluctant to release any details at this point. We are committed -- the U.S. government is committed -- to a very thorough and robust investigation to get to the bottom of this. I think, as I said earlier, everybody is shocked by these horrific images and this terrorist act. And we are committed to getting to the bottom of it.

Yes, Dan?

Q Dan Williams, Washington Post. What agency of the government or the authority is investigating the Berg kidnapping?

MR. SENOR: There are multiple agencies that are going to be involved. We will be announcing who will be taking the lead. My understanding is the CID, the Criminal Investigative Division, DOD is involved, the FBI will have some role. And the lead agency we will announce shortly.


Q Bill Glauber with the Chicago Tribune. It appeared in the video that Mr. Berg was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. Are such orange prison jumpsuits used in any detention facilities in Iraq that you know of? And also, he was, I believe, released a day after a court case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Can you explain why that was?

MR. SENOR: He was released by the Iraqi police service?

Q Yeah.

MR. SENOR: I would refer you to the Iraqi police service on the exact day -- or the reason behind the exact day he was released. I am aware of the court case that was filed. It is public knowledge. But all I know about it is that it was filed. As for the exact moment or day, time that he was released, that's something for the Iraqi police to address.

What was your -- ?

Q He was pictured in an orange -- what appeared to be an orange prison jumpsuit.

MR. SENOR: Oh, the orange -- yeah. You know --

Q Are any such jumpsuits used in Iraq in any detention facilities, coalition and/or Iraqi?

MR. SENOR: I'll let General Kimmitt speak to security detainees. As far as criminal detainees that are under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi police service or the Iraqi Ministry of Interior or the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, I don't know of any policy that they have. I would -- you should ask them, you should contact them about uniforms that they require inmates to make. To my knowledge, there's no such case in which that is done. But I will check on that and check with the various ministries.

GEN. KIMMITT: And I'll check as well.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Iraq Radio. There are estimation about reestablishing discussions with Mr. al-Sadr. So how credible is this information?

MR. SENOR: I think you're referring to reports that the governor of Najaf was engaged in negotiations with Muqtada al-Sadr. He was not negotiating on our behalf; the governor was not negotiating on our behalf, and we were not consulted on any details of any discussions he may or may not have.

That said, we obviously encourage any and all Iraqis who want to step forward and play a constructive role in minimizing bloodshed and reaching a peaceful resolution in these matters to do so. We have been quite clear that we have some criteria, however, relating to Mr. al-Sadr. One, he must submit himself to Iraqi justice. There is an Iraqi arrest warrant out for him relating to a murder. Two, Mr. al-Sadr must disband his illegal militia, must return government assets, must order his militia to withdraw from government buildings.

Now there are a number of concrete steps that Mr. al-Sadr must take. That is our starting point and our ending point.


Q CNN. If I can just go back to Mr. Berg real quick, can you give us an idea of when he entered the country? You said he registered with the U.S. Consular Service. When did he register with them?

And also, we've tried to contact the Iraqi police, who have not responded to any of our inquiries about why he was detained and why he was released. So we've seemed to have reached, you know, a dead end with that. So can you elaborate on maybe why that happened, or what do you know about it?

MR. SENOR: Where have you -- which police department have you contacted?

Q I believe we've contacted both Iraqi police in Mosul as well as Iraqi police here in Baghdad.

MR. SENOR: Okay. Mosul would be the one to contact. I don't -- obviously I don't handle their communications. So I can look into why they haven't been responding. It may just be that they're pretty busy right now, as you can imagine, and I would keep trying.

As to the exact date, let me get back to you on that. We don't have -- I don't have with me the exact date he entered the country. I do know that he met with U.S. Consular Affairs, and I could check with them on the exact date upon which he entered the country.

Yes, ma'am?

Q Inge Hoff with Neue Zurcher Zeitung. Can you tell us how many detention facilities are run by the Iraqis? How many people are detained there? Are there any other foreigners detained? And do you check these prisons as far as Iraqis -- (inaudible) -- right now?

MR. SENOR: Do we what? What's the last question?

Q Sorry. Is there any kind of checking in - checks in these detention centers? Is there anybody going there --

MR. SENOR: Sure. Sure. My understanding is that there's between 2,500 and 3,000 individuals in detention in the Iraqi criminal system -- criminal detention system -- that have been designated as criminal detainees.

I don't know of any other foreign nationals. That's not to say there aren't any. We can check on that for you.

And yes, we are obviously concerned about conditions within the Iraqi prison facilities. In fact, Ambassador Bremer just today conducted a meeting with senior coalition staff relating to this issue of monitoring and getting more information on the state of the Iraqi prisons. It is obviously, in light of the incidents at Abu Ghraib, something that we want to keep an eye on, and that stimulated Ambassador Bremer looking closely at it.

Yes? In the back.

Q From al-Watan al-Arabi. General Kimmitt, two days ago you said when a person is captured, nobody can put a hood on his head. And you have also stated that women will not be detained. When will a decision be passed by the coalition forces not to detain women?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, I said two days ago that we have stopped the practice of hooding our detainees. I don't believe at that time we made any categorical statement referring to no longer detaining women. If anyone is a security threat, an imperative security threat, to the country of Iraq and to coalition forces, they will be detained. That's our obligation.


Q General Kimmitt, peace be upon you, from the Iraqi Press. Did you discuss with the religious and tribal leaders in al-Sadr? Why did you strike a federal office?

GEN. KIMMITT: We had an operation two nights ago, three nights ago, against the al-Sadr Bureau in Sadr City. That is a bureau that was not anything more but a place being used by the Sadr militia, by Muqtada's militia to organize, plan and execute attacks against the legitimate democratic institutions of Iraq. From this bureau building, they had planned attacks against Iraqi police stations, against Iraqi media, against Iraqi government buildings. That was a security threat and remains a security threat to the coalition forces but, more importantly, to the people of Iraq. From that location, they were planning and executing operations against the Iraqi people. That is why we attacked it and that is why we have destroyed it.

MR. SENOR: Yes. Go ahead.

Q Kater Ingam with the Romanian Radio. Dan, you said that Mr. Berg was detained by the Iraqi police, but I was told that when he came back to Baghdad from Mosul, he said that indeed it was the Iraqi police that detained him, but then they surrendered him to the coalition forces, and he stayed in coalition custody for two weeks. So I was wondering if you can explain these conflicting reports, and why, if what I know is true, why would an American citizen be held by American forces for two weeks without charges?

MR. SENOR: I saw a similar report. To my knowledge, that information is incorrect. He was detained by Iraqi police -- he was arrested and detained by Iraqi police. American authorities, the FBI, had contact with Mr. Berg and met with him on three occasions and made their own determination that he was not suspected of being involved in any criminal or terrorist activities. But he was at no time under the jurisdiction or within the detention of coalition forces.

Yes, go ahead.

Q Hi. Aram Roston at NBC News. The first thing is you said that the FBI asked him or requested or advised him to leave the country. Do you know why that is, and whether it was a specific reason? And also, what was the role, if any, of Zarqawi?

MR. SENOR: On your first question, I'm not certain that it was the FBI that advised him. I know U.S. authorities who speak on behalf of the U.S. government advised him to leave. I'd point you to the fact that the State Department had a travel advisory issued well before this incident warning American citizens about travel through Iraq and the risks involved, and I think that the American authorities were furthering that advisory in their contacts with Mr. Berg. As to who did it -- FBI, consular affairs -- I can check on that for you.

As to your second question, as I said there's an investigation under way. I can let General Kimmitt speak to suspicions about Zarqawi.

I mean, I will tell you that we have our own -- we've had our own -- concerns that Mr. Zarqawi has been operating inside this country for some time. We believe that he has taken credit for a number of terrorist incidents in this country. We believe that he has planned other terrorist incidents or terrorist acts in this country. We've obtained a document that we believe was headed for senior al Qaeda leadership in which Mr. Zarqawi outlined his battle plan for Iraq.

We have seen these acts of terror, whether they are Zarqawi-type bombings or brutal mutilations and murders like we've seen the last couple days with Mr. Berg or the four American civilian contractors in Fallujah a few weeks ago. We've seen these grotesque acts of terror here for some time. Whether or not Mr. Zarqawi is directly involved remains to be seen.

GEN. KIMMITT: I mean, the only indication we have right now was the claim made on the website entitled, "Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi Kills an American." We don't know -- we don't have at this point any other intelligence corroborating that either he was or was not involved in the murder.


Q Patrick McDonnell, Los Angeles Times. Have you heard of any agreement or has any agreement been presented to you by clerical and civic leaders in Najaf that would essentially result in the disarming of Mr. Sadr's militia and the turning of the militia into a legitimate political party? Has that come to your attention at all or been presented to the military?

MR. SENOR: It has not come to my attention nor the civilian side of the coalition.

GEN. KIMMITT: And all the negotiations and discussions that we're having are tied with the CPA and the government officials. So we have not received a separate offer that we're aware of with regards to this disarmament.

MR. SENOR: Pat, I would just add that we do know that there are a number of notables, Iraqi notables, who are working towards a peaceful resolution in Najaf. As I said earlier, we encourage it. We think it's a positive sign. Even if it doesn't lead to a peaceful resolution, we do think it's a positive sign that Iraqi leaders are stepping forward and they are trying to make a constructive contribution to minimize bloodshed in their own country, particularly when they're speaking out against their fellow Iraqis like Muqtada al- Sadr, who has been engaged in orchestrating so much violence. But those individuals are not speaking on our behalf, and in the case of the Najaf governor, was not consulting us in those discussions.

Q Just one follow-up. Would any such agreement have to be approved in any way by the coalition or by the military, by the coalition military?

MR. SENOR: Well, certainly we are demanding that Mr. al-Sadr face justice. We are demanding that his militia be disbanded. We're demanding that he withdraw from government buildings. We're demanding that he turn over government assets. So clearly, if there's an effort to minimize bloodshed and reach a peaceful resolution, we would have to be the ones who make the final determination as to whether or not those conditions are met.


Q David Lynch, USA Today. Dan, can you provide any more detail on the FBI contact with Mr. Berg, what the dates of the interviews were, how many agents, how long the individual sessions lasted?

MR. SENOR: Let me follow up with you. I don't have that information here. I just know that they met with him on three occasions.

Yes, sir? Sorry, do you have another question?

Q No.

MR. SENOR: Okay, go ahead.

Q Mr. Dan and General Kimmitt, the case of al-Sadr is an Iraqi case. The Iraqis have the full ability to resolve this problem if the coalition consents to this. They should consent of letting the Shia leadership in Iraq to take decisions regarding the case of al-Sadr, decisions such as postponing the demands for the arrest of Mr. al-Sadr till after handing over sovereignty. It can also be resolved by the tribal leaders which have quite an experience in this field. Because us, as Iraqis, are very well rooted and committed to our tribes. So why doesn't the coalition allow the Shia leadership to take decisions in this case to save bloodshed? Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, one thing I would say is, as you heard last night from General Dempsey, he is fully engaged with Shia leadership, tribal leadership, clerics, a very large number of persons, for the purpose of coming forward to find a resolution of this problem in a peaceful way that satisfied everyone's objectives. So in fact, as you described, that's entirely what is happening, that there is a multi-disciplinary track towards this -- from both the government side, clerical side -- and everybody is working together to try to achieve a peaceful resolution consistent with the objectives set out.

MR. SENOR: Yes, go ahead. Carol.

Q Carol Rosenberg with the Miami Herald. Back to the Abu Ghraib business. Have there been any additional people criminally charged since the initial seven on March 20th?

And two more questions for our continuing course in UCMJ for dummies. What's the maximum penalty for the convictions in those two court martial packages today? And this one seems to be -- these two seem to be a general court martial; the first was special. Can you explain to us the distinction?

GEN. KIMMITT: I can help you with one out of three, and then we're going to have to bring the professor in afterwards so she can go through each of the different characteristics of a general court martial versus a special court martial, and what the maximum penalties in both are.

There have not been any further criminal charges levied against anyone, either in relation to the criminal investigation division, investigation of criminal charges of maltreatment or the administrative review or the currently ongoing investigation of military intelligence.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir. Right there. Go ahead.

Q General Kimmitt, you mentioned earlier today that you have started not hooding the detainees when they are arrested. So let us say that we may have achieved some progress in this field. But is this the only face of the violation of human rights? When you block 76 streets in Baghdad, doesn't this represent a violation for human rights? When U.S. soldiers behave with a bad manner with Iraqi people, doesn't this represent a violation of human rights? You are only concentrating on terrorism and explosive devices, but there are many faces for violations of human rights.

Can you comment on this?

Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, simply I would say that those 76 roads inside Baghdad that are being blocked are being blocked for security measures because they are trying to probably uphold the greatest human right, which is the right to life. Those streets are not being blocked for inconvenience. They're not being blocked to somehow make life more difficult. They're not being blocked to somehow irritate the people of Iraq. They are blocked because there are security threats out there.

If you can imagine the 14th of July Bridge a week ago, had it not been blocked and that explosive device had been able to come over the bridge and into one of the housing areas on the other side of the bridge, there would have been massive loss of life. Those barriers, which are -- I agree are an inconvenience, saved lives. It is our only intention for putting up the barriers, our only intention for running those tanks up and down the streets, and our only intention for having American soldiers walk up and down the streets of this fine nation, is to save lives. They are the ones who are most concerned about human rights.


Q Toby Harnden from the Daily Telegraph. Could you give us some more details about the finding of Mr. Berg's body? Who found it? Exactly where was it found? Was it suspended from a bridge? And was the head at the scene?

MR. SENOR: We'll have more information as this investigation plays out. Obviously, a number of these details are impacted and will impact the investigation, and we do not want to compromise those. As I said earlier, Mr. Berg was found on a roadside near Baghdad, and I'll just leave it at that for now.


Q Usam Hamad from Al Harabetz, and salaam. In a press interview conducted in Mosul, many citizens of Mosul complained of security violations by some people who hire children to carry out terrorist acts, and there are machineries carrying out operations in Mosul. And in Fallujah, the Fallujans said that a 15-year-old boy was detained. He was recruited by an American woman, and she sent him to intercept the opposition forces in Fallujah. How far are these information correct?

MR. SENOR: Oh, I don't think they're correct at all. And that's one of the great things about a free Iraqi press, is that you now have the opportunity to go check those facts with other witnesses to see if those facts can be corroborated. But I can tell you that those facts as you've laid them out are entirely false.


Q Yeah, Dan, I was wondering if you could tell us how the investigation by the Governing Council is proceeding into the oil-for- food. And also, is there any threat to the funding of this investigation by Ambassador Bremer?

MR. SENOR: No, not at all. The investigation into the oil-for-food program fraud case has been shifted by the coalition from the Governing Council to the Board of Supreme Audit. The basis for that shift is that the Board of Supreme Audit -- the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit is a more politically independent and objective body. But we are still overseeing the funding of that program and investigation, and intend to fund it.

As for who will conduct the actual audit, what firm conducts the actual audit, I've been told that the tender for that has closed on April 20th. And the Board of Supreme Audit is doing a technical review right now of the submitted proposals, and will have an announcement to make shortly. But the process is moving forward.

And I'd also add, Kim, that Ambassador Bremer, from the moment this broke and there was -- the U.N. announced that it was conducting an investigation, the U.S. Congress announced that it was conducting its investigation, Ambassador Bremer issued a directive to all the ministers and the directors-general of all the ministries advising them to collect all documents pertaining to the oil-for-food program and setting them aside so they could be collected and put in a safe location so that they could be used to assist all the investigations that are ongoing, including the one conducted by the Board of Supreme Audit.

Yes, ma'am?

Q Rolling Stone magazine. General Kimmitt, are there criminal investigations going on into abuse at other detention facilities besides Abu Ghraib? And specifically, could you comment on a report of a military trial now going on at a Marine base near Camp Fallujah regarding abuse at a small detention facility near there?

GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of any criminal trial going on. But as you can imagine, in any of the detention facilities there often are reports of maltreatment and misconduct. All those are completely investigated. Some lead to criminal charges.

But to my knowledge -- and we'll confirm it right after the press conference -- there have not been any additional criminal charges since the onset of the Abu Ghraib criminal charges. And I believe the last set of criminal charges were resolved in early January; those related to the Camp Bucca incidents. But we'll confirm that right after this.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Qadda Mushati from Iraqi News. We have submitted a memorandum of protest to Mr. George Bush. We said that the party of the people are condemning this act carried out by the coalition forces against the Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, the brutal acts which contradicts our Arabic traditions and our religion, and prohibited by all religions. Apology is not enough, and we advise John Kerry and we are calling on the Governing Council not to remain silent about these barbaric acts.

I was a detainee in Abu Ghraib for 14 years. During the past regime, I have never been subjected to such an abuse. Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: Is there a question?

MR. SENOR: There wasn't.

I will say that we share your outrage. We do. This -- what occurred at Abu Ghraib offends the sensibilities of all Americans. It offends the sensibilities of all Iraqis.

And we are committed, as you can see by our actions, to not only apologize and to not only express outrage, but to get to the bottom of what happened. And if you monitor events that occurred in Washington, D.C., over the past few days, or the sorts of things that General Kimmitt is talking about with regard to court martial announcements, the U.S. government is strongly committed to accountability and justice. And you can be assured of that.

GEN. KIMMITT: And as you say -- and we agree with you --

Q Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: -- apology is not enough --

Q Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: -- that in fact there will be more than apologies. We have six soldiers right now that are facing criminal charges, three that are facing court martial. We have numerous people in the supervisory chain who are going to potentially lose their careers because they failed to check, double-check and do what supervisors are expected to do.

We have another investigation going on that's looking even further into the conduct of the persons out at Abu Ghraib. So we do agree with you.

Q Thank you, Mr. Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: You're welcome.


Q Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency, DPA. General Kimmitt, some clarifications to the Karbala operations. What exactly was the number of enemies killed? Because this morning it sounded like 20 to 25. Now you mentioned five killed, perhaps only in one stage of the operation. And what is the exact number of coalition soldiers wounded? Because we had the release of the Polish division speaking about six coalition soldiers wounded. That was coalition.


Q You didn't account them -- for --

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. The total number, we believe, right now is 22 enemy killed, six coalition wounded. Four of those coalition wounded will return to duty.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q From Al-Zemin. After the clashes which took place in al-Sadr City and Karbala and Najaf between al-Mahdi Army and the coalition forces, what's your opinion about settling these clashes? Can you solve the problem through peaceful means without resorting to armed violence?

GEN. KIMMITT: We certainly hope so. You heard General Dempsey last night talk about all the efforts that he is making with those areas that he controls in Karbala and Najaf. And I'm certain if General Chiarelli was here, who could talk about Baghdad, he would say the same thing.

We are willing to give a peaceful resolution a chance. We are seeking a peaceful resolution as our primary method. However, when our soldiers patrol through the areas and they're shot at; when our soldiers, along with their Iraqi counterparts, attempt to go into a building that has been handed over from one Iraqi ministry to another Iraqi ministry and they are met by gunfire and find out that that building has been used as weapon cache, they are invoking their inherent right of self-defense. We want to solve these problems in a peaceful manner.

We always seek peace and a peaceful resolution as our first option.

MR. SENOR: Yeah? Go ahead.

Q Hi, Tracy Wilkinson from the L.A. Times. You said that the FBI -- back to the Berg case -- the FBI visited him three times in the, I guess, 13 days that he was in custody. Do you know if he had any other significant contact with other American agencies, authorities, coalition authorities, consular officers? Anybody else who would have seen him in that period?

MR. SENOR: While he was under detention --

Q In Mosul.

MR. SENOR: Yeah. To my knowledge, no. But again, we are now gathering all that information, going through documents, getting to the bottom of it. If anything changes during the investigation, I'll let you know.

GEN. KIMMITT: On the military side, I've got a note that says the military police up in that area did monitor his treatment at the Iraqi police station to ensure that he was being fed and provided decent conditions. But that is the only military contact that I'm aware of.

MR. SENOR: As I said, on the civilian side, we'll check it. But to my knowledge it's just -- while he was in detention it was just the FBI.

Welcome back. Dexter.

Q Just on Berg. Was he ever a U.S. government employee while he was in Iraq? I think you said he wasn't a CPA employee.

MR. SENOR: He was not a U.S. government employee. He had no affiliation with the U.S. government, he had no affiliation with the coalition, and to our knowledge, he had no affiliation with any Coalition Provisional Authority contractors.

Q And can you be a little bit more specific about what the suspicious activity was that he was engaged in? I mean, was it political? Was it criminal?

And then, just briefly, to follow up on something Patrick said, the governor of Najaf has said he has been extensively engaged in consultations with the CPA throughout all these negotiations. I just want to make sure you would agree with that statement.

MR. SENOR: Make sure that I agree? I do not agree.

Q You do not agree. Okay.

MR. SENOR: (Laughs.) You don't have to make sure. I don't.

To your other question, Dexter, we would defer obviously to the Mosul police force who originally arrested Mr. Berg, in terms of the initial basis upon which they made the arrest. We, of course, are going to conduct our own investigation to get to the bottom of what actually transpired on the day he was arrested and in the weeks subsequent to that. And as we have that information, I will -- we, the U.S. government authorities, will make it available. We do not want to begin to speculate. Obviously, this is extremely sensitive. And it is an extremely difficult time for the family. And it would be highly irresponsible for us to begin having speculative discussions about what he may or may not have been involved in.

GEN. KIMMITT: And as we are talking about what he was not, he was not an American soldier, he was not an American government employee, he was not a CPA employee; he still was an American citizen. And that's why we checked on him and that's why we are so struck by the loss. Because there may have been a lot of things that he was not, but he was still an American citizen and a fellow American citizen.

MR. SENOR: And that is also why we are so committed to getting to the bottom of this and conducting a very serious and thorough investigation.

We have time for one more question. Someone who hasn't asked a question. Najim, go ahead.

Q General Kimmitt, yesterday General Dempsey talked about forming a force in Najaf to take charge. Will it be formed in the same manner in which the force of Al Fallujah was formed? And will it join the Ministry of Defense in order to avoid any problems that faced the force in Fallujah? Thank you very much.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, Najim, I think that it probably is going to look more like the 36th ICDC Battalion. General Dempsey had a significant amount of influence in the formation of that unit. That unit is a regular Iraqi Civil Defense unit that answers directly up through the normal hierarchy. So we'll have to wait and see, but I would suggest that probably if you wanted to look at a parallel between this unit that he is attempting to form, probably a better parallel would be with the 36th ICDC rather than the Fallujah Brigade.

MR. SENOR: Thank you, everybody.


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