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News Transcript

Presenter: Lawrence Di Rita, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs; and Brigadier General David Rodriguez, Deputy Director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 1:30 p.m. EDT

Defense Department Operational Update Briefing

MR. DI RITA: Good afternoon. I thought it would be a good opportunity to just kind of catch people up on some things. We'll let General Rodriguez give an operational update, and then we'll be happy to take some questions.

And I know that there's another briefing by, I think, the attorney general at 2:00, so we'll try and get out of here. I know that there'll be some interest in that.

General Rodriguez.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Okay, thank you, Mr. Di Rita. And good afternoon.

Along the Haitian-Dominican Republic border, elements of multinational ground forces in Haiti are providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief to residents who are suffering from the effects of severe flash floods and mudslides. Combined Joint Task Force 80 has airlifted more than 35,000 pounds of water and 10 pallets of food supplies. Additionally, we have dispatched a Civil Affairs and Marine security team to assist U.N. and host nation government officials with relief efforts. We continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will assist wherever we can.

As mentioned in General Kimmitt's briefing today, U.S. and coalition forces continue to train and work with Iraqi security forces to provide a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq as we move forward toward the transition and transfer of sovereignty.

In Fallujah, there have been no cease-fire violations since the 3rd of May. U.S. Marines continue joint patrols with the Fallujah brigade, and more of the local people are being employed in city reconstruction projects.

Iraq security and coalition forces are aggressively conducting offensive operations and joint patrols, gaining momentum against the Sadr militia every day. There are strong indications of decreasing support for al-Sadr in Najaf and in Karbala. We are focused and committed and will remain until our mission is complete.

And with that, we'll take your questions.

MR. DI RITA: Charlie?

Q Larry, on the decision yesterday, announced by the secretary, that he's going to delay any decision on the air refueling proposition until November, could this open the door to reopening the whole competition in November, perhaps letting Airbus back in to compete, or even changing the type of planes you might use? What are the ramifications of this?

MR. DI RITA: Well, the principal ramifications are a couple. First of all, the Defense Science Board did its analysis at the secretary's request, and determined that tanker recapitalization is an important issue, but that some of the earlier concerns with respect to the cost growth of the existing tanker program for renovations and some concerns about corrosion weren't quite as exigent as everybody may have once believed; so we had time.

On the basis of the additional time that the Defense Science Board concluded was available, it seemed prudent to accelerate some of the studies that could provide a broader range of analysis for some of the options that you've mentioned, and perhaps others. So there's really no -- with respect to an outcome, there's really no specific implication, other than we're going to have time to develop perhaps a more analytical basis on which to develop the range of options that we might be able to pursue.

Q So what you're saying is that despite the deal signed with Boeing, $23 billion, that this whole issue could be reopened again. Is that one of the --

MR. DI RITA: Sure. It could be. It could be -- we could -- there could be some combination of capability that could be determined after the analysis of alternatives as well as the mobility study. This deal that currently exists could be considered a reasonable option. There could be some other options. And it's just -- I think it would -- I wouldn't want to speculate on what the range of those options would be. But I think the general view is that we want to make sure that we've considered all the alternatives in as systematic a way as we can.


Q I have two questions that are Geneva Conventions-related. The first one: Do the Geneva Conventions apply to any foreign fighters that may be captured in Iraq? Presumably, they would fall under the terrorist rubric as opposed to combatant parties. Amnesty International yesterday reported that they have credible evidence that a Chinese delegation was allowed to question detainees, their detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and I was wondering if that's true, and if you could tell us why.

MR. DI RITA: I don't know on the second question whether that's a fact or not. I know that there have been countries that have been allowed to send delegations to Guantanamo for the purposes of checking on detainees of their national origin. But I don't know as to your specific question --

Q Checking on their well-being or interrogating them?

MR. DI RITA: I don't know if -- I don't know. And it's been done I think in a number of cases. And I'm not sure when they're down there exactly what they're doing, if they're just, as you said, checking on well-being or if they become part of the interrogation. It seems to me the latter is unlikely.

Q And the first question on the --

MR. DI RITA: It's a complicated question. As the general -- as has been described now at some length, in Iraq, the Iraq conflict itself is governed by the Geneva Conventions. And prisoners of war in that conflict are governed by the so-called Geneva III. And then everybody else that may be in a detained status is covered by the protected persons question of Geneva IV -- you know, people that are in the country that we are responsible for as the coalition, as the occupying power.

I understand that there have been legal determinations or there may be legal determinations that -- or legal precedent that would provide for in individual instances for a foreign fighter, in the case that you asked, whether or not a determination could be made that they were not in fact subject to the Geneva protections. And it's a complicated question. I think it's one that would be managed -- that would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, given the status of an individual who may be captured.

Q So have any foreign fighters been (exempted ?) on a case- by-case basis?

MR. DI RITA: I don't know. I don't think so. I think for the moment everybody has been treated as has been generally described, either Geneva III or Geneva IV. But I've been asked this question by others, and it is a -- there is a body of law which suggests that there could be individual cases in which, while the general provisions apply, an individual case could be exempted.

Q Could we get an answer, please?

MR. DI RITA: I'll do what I can.

Q It sounds to me like you're opening the door to something, though, that you all have -- you all have said before that any -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that any captives in Iraq are covered by the Geneva Convention. Now you're saying that there's a possibility that some captives might not be covered.

MR. DI RITA: No, I'm just -- I'm saying what you said at the beginning, which is that that has been our posture. I'm simply -- I understand that there is a -- there has been -- I -- what I mean when I say legal analysis in the case -- specific case of Iraq, there are lawyers that would suggest, and I believe there's been some analytical work that's gone on with respect to this kind of thorny and complicated question of a foreign terrorist who shows up or a foreign person who shows up in a country in which the Geneva provisions apply, but on an individual case-by-case basis might not be considered subject. And I'm not saying that that's been applied or intended to be applied. I'm just -- I was answering the question. It's a complicated legal issue.

Q Do you mean lawyers here or --

MR. DI RITA: Lawyers across the government.

Q Well, can we get some clarity on this? When you say analytical work being done --

MR. DI RITA: Has been done.

Q Has been done. In what form, by what government agency? These --

MR. DI RITA: If I can provide more information, I will.

Q These are the questions I would hope you could take. In other words, has there been a written opinion? Could you help us out with that? And could we get that opinion or any written documentation about this analytical work? Could we also find out if there have been any requests, if that's the correct verb, for any foreign fighters in Iraq to be treated other than under the Geneva Convention? What would that process be if there's analytical work done that says it can be done? And just to confirm that none of them have been.

MR. DI RITA: I'll see what additional information may be made -- may be available. It was in doing research and response to somebody else's question that I was made aware.

Q All right, all right. So I'm to understand we're not sure?

MR. DI RITA: Yeah, but at the moment what we've said until now holds and stands, and it has been the case that we have been treating people in accordance with Geneva III and Geneva IV. There's no intention, as I understand it, to change that.

Q May I ask a different question?

MR. DI RITA: What do you guys think? Okay, go ahead. (Laughter.)

Q It's for General Rodriguez. Sir, most of the time or many times now when we have military briefings, we suddenly hear about enemy body counts. We get very specific numbers. There was this engagement or that engagement, and this specific number of insurgents or whatever you were -- will -- were killed.

Now understanding that you have the capability to do that, nonetheless it had always been the position, I understand, of the Defense Department that the U.S. military does not engage in enemy body count. Can you help us understand why you're now doing that so much?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: That is the policy, and we continue to use that policy. In certain situations -- because, one, it's either well known or it's easily understood that there was a significant number of casualties -- they will give a casualty estimate. But -- that's all they are. But we don't continue to track those on individual basis, but in certain engagements, they'll come out and say, you know, they lost approximately this number of people.

Q That is new, though. That hasn't been done. Until perhaps two months ago, that had not been done -- (inaudible).

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Right. And it's real -- like I said, it's really because of the situation -- in the individual situations where, you know, everybody understood what happened and how it went down and what was going on -- so we acknowledge that, and that's really it. It's not a policy change nor -- or will we continue to try to do this count like that.

Q Sir, there's an individual, a soldier who served down at Gitmo, who has since returned -- he's a Kentucky Guardsman -- who claims that in an exercise, the training exercise, where he was playing the role of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, that the exercise got so out of hand and some of the MPs down there who were guarding and participating in the exercise sort of lost track of the fact that he was a soldier and beat him so severely that to this day -- he's out of the military now -- he has some sort of nervous system damage.

I'm wondering: Are you familiar with that incident? Can you give us any update on it? And what does that say about how a detainee is being treated down there at Guantanamo Bay, which -- we had no access and no independent way to verify how they're being treated -- if a soldier is beaten that severely in one of these exercises?

MR. DI RITA: I just don't -- I -- it's the first I've heard of it. I don't know if you've heard anything, General.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: I just saw that in the paper piece, and we're trying to backtrack that. But the bottom line is, on all those situations, whether it be training or anything else, if the people have acted improperly, what happens then is the chain of command initiates an investigation, just like is being done at every other -- at Abu Ghraib, et cetera, to get to the bottom of it, just like the alleged ones who have died in captivity -- the same goes.

Q All right. What's the status of the IG investigation of General Boykin? And also, could you say -- explain what was his role in helping to develop interrogation procedures for Iraq?

MR. DI RITA: The status of the investigation, as I understand it, is that he -- that the inspector general drew its preliminary conclusions, provided him, General Boykin, with its -- the inspector general's preliminary conclusions regarding his speaking circumstances. And General Boykin then reviewed the preliminary findings, provided his response, and that is now back with the inspector general. So it's the opportunity -- General Boykin has the opportunity to make his own assertions prior to the final conclusion of the report. And I think that's where it stands as of about the last couple of weeks. So we -- I guess the next step would be we would await the final report of the inspector general.

Q All right. And the other question on his role.

MR. DI RITA: The procedures regarding -- the interrogation procedures are procedures that were -- in the case of Guantanamo -- because in the case of Iraq, I think we've exhaustively concluded that they were done in theater and improved in theater. At least that's what the commanders, including General Abizaid and General Sanchez, have testified to. And that is, in fact, everybody's recollection and understanding. There was no oversight or approval of any procedures and techniques being used in Iraq here in the Pentagon.

Q But wasn't there a time when General Miller briefed General Boykin and/or Cambone on what he was recommending be done in Iraq?

MR. DI RITA: I think that's been -- General Miller was in Guantanamo, was there sometime in '02 forward. While in Guantanamo, he developed procedures which were approved as standard operating procedure. In the context of his responsibilities of Guantanamo, he was asked to go to Iraq as the detention operations in Iraq were becoming more robust through the course of mid-'03, and was asked, given the experience and procedures you've developed in Guantanamo, go there and see what you can do to perhaps assist.

I think the fact and the circumstances of his visit by now I think are reasonably well known. He's testified about it, and talked about how he went there and provided some insights into how he was doing it in Guantanamo; left some of his procedures behind. Colonel Warren, commander, Joint Task Force 7, has testified to the committee that those procedures were then reviewed in the context of the Iraq circumstances, which were somewhat different from Guantanamo, and from that they developed their own procedures.

So that's the extent to which General Miller affected the Iraqi operations. And the involvement of really anybody here in the Pentagon with respect to the Guantanamo procedures was one that was done through this process which we've discussed in another forum, this working group that was established that included intelligence oversight, it included the lawyers, the judge advocates, a number of components within the department that worked as a working group to develop and fashion those procedures.

Q Was General Boykin in it?

MR. DI RITA: I don't know if General Boykin personally. I know that the DIA was represented on that working group. And for policy oversight, the undersecretary for intelligence has supervisory over -- or policy oversight of the DIA. But it's a sort of one-off relationship, if you will. But the DIA was represented on this working group, the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Q Larry?

Q A couple quick ones for you. Can you give us a status report on the hottest defense story in the world, yesterday's Sanchez replacement -- when his replacement is going to be named?

And then I have a second question on a different subject.

MR. DI RITA: Well, his replacement will be named when it's all ready. And General Sanchez has been in-country now for over a year. He will have been there for probably 14 months by the time he rolls out of there. He's done a terrific job. And in the context of the transformation of the military command over there, as General Abizaid discussed back in January-February time frame, the responsibilities that General Sanchez holds are being more or less split out between two different commanders. There will be a commander to replace General Sanchez as the multinational force of Iraq and then the coalition commander as well.

So that's just -- the decisions aren't quite yet final. They're moving forward. Obviously with the transition in progress, it's hopeful that can all get buttoned down within the coming period of time.

Q Two or three days, or more like --

MR. DI RITA: I wouldn't think two or three days. I think these things tend to take time. The secretary makes a recommendation, the president approves, the Senate reviews. All those things take time. Nothing happens in two or three days.

Q The New York Times today quoted from a May 5th Army Criminal Investigative Command summary of all the cases to date. Can you authorize release of that summary or an updated version of that, so that -- and in the interest of transparency that, you know, you guys have strived for on the subject --

MR. DI RITA: Yeah, we've tried to pump as much information out on those issues as we can. I think a lot of what I saw in that story today was actually based on a briefing that we held down here last Friday. We put a lot of that information out and we're putting it out as it becomes more readily available. And I suppose that that stuff is -- if the documents themselves become available and they are available for release, we'll release them.

We're at a point where we're -- as we're learning more about each of these instances, we're trying to provide sufficient briefing. And as we've got more documentation that we're allowed to put out, we'll put it out.

Q You're not in principle objecting to the release of that document or whatever else the CIC thinks they could give out --

MR. DI RITA: I mean, obviously, anything associated with a criminal investigation has its own restrictions on what can be released. And some of these are in fact criminal investigations.

Q Just to follow up on that question. Based on the briefing we had last Friday, does the -- you folks have sort of maintained that what we're seeing in the photos is really the actions of a few. But based on that briefing Friday, we now have three or four different detention centers, handful of different units, starting in Afghanistan with two deaths in '02 all the way through, you know, last year and this year. How can you say this is still -- these allegations are still just the actions of a few when you now have really a widespread -- 37 different cases you're looking at.

MR. DI RITA: There's probably 300,000 soldiers that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last two years. So let's stipulate to your premise that there's 37 people involved. What does that come out to? I don't know, but it's a -- I mean, it is -- it doesn't describe something systematic, but it certainly describes something that is worth the level of investigation that it's getting, and it's getting an awful lot of investigation. There's probably more than a half-dozen investigations going on, initiated as the result of military commanders taking this situation very seriously.

So I don't think anybody's trying -- I mean, to the contrary: we're trying to pump this information out as quickly as we're -- as we feel that we've got enough conviction about it to provide briefings on it. And we'll learn if it was more widespread. Clearly, there were instances that occurred outside -- beyond Abu Ghraib prison. I mean, that was the essence of that briefing on Friday. We know that. We know some of these occurred in Afghanistan. So there's this -- I think seven or eight different investigations going on, and time will tell exactly where it all ends up.

Q Larry?

Q To either of you. We understand there are conclusive tests now on that shell, that artillery shell that exploded in Baghdad a couple of weeks ago, that it did contain sarin. Can you give us an update on that? And you haven't been pumping information out about this particular case. And I'm wondering, is there a sense that you're gun shy about talking of weapons of mass destruction, even when you find one?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Well, that was a pre-Gulf War shell is what it was determined to be, first of all. So that's, you know, in a different category, obviously, than you know, other chemical weapons out there. But --

Q But is it a concern? Is it significant? Is it --

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: It's -- well, we continue -- like I said, it's the only two that we've seen the entire time. We continue to operate the same way we did before, and we'll continue to continue to pursue it with everything that we -- every intelligence asset we have.

But it's been proved to be sarin, as you stated. We think we've covered that with everybody, and we continue testing and checking into it. But it was a 155 (millimeter) shell from pre-Gulf War.

Q But let me say, is that --

MR. DI RITA: Let me just follow up.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Pre-Gulf War. It's 1980s.

Q 1991 Gulf War, not the --

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Right. Pre-Gulf War in 1991.

Q But does that make the sarin any less dangerous, or --

Q How old?

Q -- does the pre-Gulf War status make it any less a significant find, or does it make it any less --

MR. DI RITA: Okay, let's let me take that on for a minute. It's too early to tell if that's -- how much of a concern this is. But here's -- but we do know some things about sarin and Saddam Hussein.

We know that he produced -- and this is through defectors as well as his own declarations -- that they -- well, first of all, we know that they used sarin in Halabja. That's what killed 5,000 Kurds. So we know that he's got a demonstrated use of this chemical. We know that they tested sarin shells. Defectors told us that they tested these things. We also know that he produced somewhere between 7 (hundred tons) and 850 tons of this stuff and only accounted for the destruction of about 70 tons of it.

So it would -- I think it's too early to say that it's a serious thing that we just know has got to be worse, but it's also too early to say that this is no big deal. I mean, this could be a very big deal. It's just too early to tell.

There's obviously a lot more interest in trying to determine, is there another stockpile of these shells out there. As I said, we know that he was testing them. We know that he had undeclared -- or he had stockpiles of it that were not conclusively proved to have been destroyed. And we know that he used this particular chemical.

So, you know, there's an awful lot of smoke here. There's no question about it. And sometimes where there's smoke, there's fire. And it's just too early to say that it's -- I certainly don't dismiss it as, "Well, it's pre-war, no big deal," because it could be a lot -- it could be a lot more; it could be nothing. And it's just too early to tell.

But the ISG is over there, the Iraq Survey Group. They're doing their work. Charles Duelfer, I saw him on TV today. He's systematically going through the assessments that they've made thus far based on the intelligence haul. There's an enormous amount of intelligence and documents that still haven't even begun to be mined. And I just think -- I certainly am not trying to suggest that we know more than we know. But I'm also -- in the category of things we don't know we don't know is how big a deal this is.

(Groans from the press; laughter.)

Q I have a follow-up.

Q Question on --

MR. DI RITA: You guys follow that? (Chuckles.)

Q Can you help clarify what happens on July 1st. How much authority will a new Iraqi interim government have in terms of approving or vetoing any future U.S. military operations.

MR. DI RITA: Well, it is a policy discussion that's taking place right now. The secretary of State spoke a little bit about it yesterday. Obviously the United States forces will always have the right to defend themselves. There's no indication as of yet, no significant indication that the emerging Iraqi body politic wants the coalition forces to do anything other than what they're doing now, which is to provide security for that country. There's clearly no substantial independent Iraqi capability to do that. They're getting better. They're getting more integrated with the coalition capabilities, and in some areas are better than in other areas. But certainly I think there's a general understanding inside that country that the coalition forces are going to have to continue providing the vast bulk of the security capability in that country for some time. And that's certainly the intention. And the specific details just remain to be worked out, and they will be worked out.

Q Well, will they have any veto capability if they deem an offensive too sensitive, too politically sensitive, such as Fallujah?

MR. DI RITA: Well, you know, nobody has a veto capability now, and yet there's an awful lot of interaction that goes on between the coalition forces and local Iraqi leaders to make sure that it is something that is done in a way that achieves the desired military objectives without causing a political backlash. And it's -- I think that's the -- I mean, we -- the United States has a lot of experience in working in other countries -- we've done this in Bosnia; we've done it in Kosovo -- where there's an emerging political class, and that emerging political leadership understands that there's capability that only the coalition -- and in this case, the U.S. -- is providing. So it's -- it will have to get worked out. And it would be difficult to say that there can be a single policy that would address every issue. I mean, each of these cases in some respects is going to have to be dealt with.

If there are circumstances, as you mentioned, similar to Fallujah, then it would be worked through together with the local political leadership, much in the same way that it was done this time.

I don't know if you have anything on that.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: We're doing it right now in Afghanistan. We've done it -- it's just working with allies. It's the way we always do it. And on the ground, they continue to coordinate and cooperate. And we did do it in Fallujah. We did the same type of thing, working with the IGC, and came to, you know, a course of action and execute it and continue to work that way. And we'll continue to do that with all allies.

Q Larry, the mandate for the multinational interim force in Haiti runs out on Monday, I believe. What's the status of the follow- on force? And when do the 3,000 Marines who are in Haiti start coming home?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Yes. We've worked out with the follow-on U.N. force that comes in there, and that follow-on force will begin to flow in at the beginning of June, and we'll start the transition at the beginning of June, and we'll have all the Marines home by the end of June, unless, you know, something significantly changes.

MR. DI RITA: And then I would -- we don't work on deadlines real well around here. So I mean, that's all sort of the plan.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: That's right.

MR. DI RITA: And then we'll just -- as the situation changes, we'll work off of it.

Q Does their status change when the multinational interim force mandate runs out? How --

MR. DI RITA: I don't know --

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we have a transition plan between us and the U.N., how that works. And it'll be determined -- and like you said, the two time frames where it starts adjusting are the beginning of June and end of June. And we have a plan to execute that.

Q Larry, could I ask your -- I was just wondering. As these various investigations of the Abu Ghraib situation and other detention facilities go forward, do you know at what level -- up to what level the investigators will be interviewing people? Will they be interviewing General Sanchez or General Abizaid or General Myers or Mr. Cambone or the secretary?

MR. DI RITA: My understanding is that the investigators will take their investigation wherever it leads them. And if that requires for them to draw conclusions, if it requires interviewing any of the people you mentioned, I'm sure they'll do just that. There's no -- there's certainly no predetermined level above which the investigators -- are off-limits to the investigators. The question will be whether their own investigation takes them there.

And it's just possible -- I mean, General Taguba certainly had a full rein -- a free rein, and he didn't interview some general officers, obviously, and I think that that's the way these other investigations will proceed as well.

Q Do you have any idea whether any of those people have been interviewed so far or whether any --

MR. DI RITA: I don't. I don't even know -- it's -- I suppose it's -- well, it's not. It's unlikely that General Taguba interviewed General Sanchez, because General Sanchez was the requesting officer of the investigation. So I don't know if any of those people have been interviewed or not.

Q Larry?

MR. DI RITA: Yeah?

Q With regards to the tanker situation, you mentioned that cost growth and corrosion weren't as urgent as originally thought, but the report --

MR. DI RITA: Well, that's what the Defense Science Board suggested in its findings.

Q Well, does that point to any potential wrongdoing on the part of the Air Force in terms of following federal acquisition management rules?

And also, their leadership went to the Congress under sworn testimony and said, you know, "We've studied this. This is the absolute finding. This is what we think we need."

MR. DI RITA: Yeah.

Q So what does this mean?

MR. DI RITA: I think everybody operated in good faith. I mean, there's -- let me just say this. One of the many reviews and assessments involving the tanker lease issue involves a criminal investigation. And obviously, the criminal investigation will sort through whatever it determines -- the investigators determine is relevant.

But I think -- my understanding of the situation -- and I'm not the expert, but as I listened to the Defense Science Board brief, there was a belief at some point that the corrosion problem was worse than it turns out it is. And I'm not sure that necessarily implies anything other than you learn more over time and you take maybe a more systematic look. The question of the tanker lease is one that has a lot of history to it, and it was -- there was a desire by some in Congress to proceed in a certain way, and they provided legislative authority to do that. So it's -- I don't know that -- the investigation, including the inspector general's criminal investigation, will play itself out. But --

Q Does your saying that they're acting in -- that you think they're acting in good faith predetermine the criminal investigation?

MR. DI RITA: No, no. And I'm not in the position to predetermine anybody's investigation. All I'm saying is that it's possible -- when I say people are acting in good faith, it is possible for somebody to have done an assessment of a certain technical situation and say, "This is what we conclude," and then have somebody come over, look over their shoulder and say, "Well, we think it's somewhat different," and that not to be bad faith.

We're almost out of time, because we do want to get done by 2:00.

Q Larry, yesterday's decision did not scrap the Boeing deal. There were some news accounts that suggested that.

MR. DI RITA: It didn't. All it does is keep it in its current status, which is essentially -- it suspends any further negotiations on moving forward on that contract.

Q Holding out the possibility that this thing could eventually in some form be signed at some point next year?

MR. DI RITA: As I answered Charlie, there's a range of things that could occur, and that is conceivably one of the things that could occur. There was nothing meant to be exclusive of that in the Defense Science Board's findings.


Q Larry, have the 2,000 missing pages of the Taguba report been forwarded up now to Congress? And have you determined how that happened, how those 2,000 pages happened to come missing?

MR. DI RITA: Yeah, I think that was -- on Thursday, last Thursday, May 20th, the committee staff said, hey, we've reviewed this thing and some pages are missing, some pages are out of order, there's some mislabeling. So we responded the next day with the committee to say okay, we'll provide the printouts of what we have -- which we had already done; I mean, we provided them what we had, essentially -- but here's a CD-ROM. And we gave them the disc as well. And the disc itself said -- the members of the staff said well there's portions that are in the printout that are not on the disc. So we spent over the course of Friday and into Monday kind of sorting all that out, and it eventually got sorted out. And I think we saw a statement from the committee yesterday that suggested that to a significant extent this was not -- I don't know if -- I don't want to characterize it as a misunderstanding, but it was an obvious -- this report has a lot of annexes. There were placeholders in what we had provided them that said Annex Charlie is Field Manual Umpty-Squat, and instead of providing you field manual you can get it separately. And so that was -- it was those -- that was the nature of the misunderstandings that occurred, and my understanding is that the committee is reasonably satisfied at this point that we're making every effort, which we were from the beginning, to provide the full report.

Q You confused me there. Were the 2,000 pages not submitted initially, or were they submitted and just lost in the shuffle?

MR. DI RITA: Well, I'm not accepting your number because I don't know if it's accurate.

Q Well, whatever. Whatever, then.

MR. DI RITA: What was submitted was what we had. The perception that was left was unfortunate, which is that we were somehow trying to withhold something from the committee. That was certainly not the case. When the committee advised us that, looking through what we gave them, there appeared to be things missing, we said, well, then here's the CD-ROM; it's got everything, we understand. Well, when they opened the CD-ROM, there was a disconnect between the CD-ROM and the printed submission, so we're -- that's a matter of kind of sorting it through, and that's what's being done right now.

Q Is any of this information considered particularly critical?

MR. DI RITA: No. I think -- as I understood it it was -- there were some -- some of the statements of some of the witnesses that were interviewed by Taguba were improperly labeled, so it was difficult to tell if they were looking at Sergeant Jones or Corporal Smith's statements. And so there was some mislabeling that was confusing.

As I understood it as well, there was this reference I made to annexes that were -- just placeholders were provided because if they want the field manual, we can provide you the field manual, but all that annex was was the field manual. So you know, in other words, it wasn't unique to the investigation; it was some organic document that's available otherwise.

And that was the nature of the confusion, and I think that's all been sorted out. It was, in my view and my understanding of the people that are working the problem, vastly overplayed in terms of what really happened.

Q Larry?

Q Larry, briefly --

MR. DI RITA: Last question.

Q When it comes to the interrogation techniques that Major General Jeffrey Miller took from Gitmo over to Iraq, did they include the use of guard dogs, muzzled or not, to intimidate or to frighten Iraqis? And if so, does the Pentagon believe that that is allowable under the Geneva Conventions?

MR. DI RITA: Those procedures were never used in Guantanamo, so I'm not -- I've seen General Miller's statements to that effect and I've talked to the combatant commander myself, and he was quite emphatic on that point.

Q But did he ever sanction their use in Iraq or suggest that they be used in Iraq?

MR. DI RITA: General Miller -- I don't think so. I mean, I don't -- the procedures that were developed in Iraq for use in Iraq were not procedures developed by General Miller; they were procedures developed inside of Iraq and approved by General Sanchez. So I'm trying to track your question, which is what's General Miller's responsibility, and General Miller was responsible for the procedures in Guantanamo. And in General Miller's strong assertions and the combatant commander's strong assertions, they never used guard dogs for the purposes that was described in that story.

Q All right. Just very briefly, what about the e-mail situation on Boeing? Has that been settled? Have you sent the e- mails to --

MR. DI RITA: We've had discussions with the committee, with Senator Warner about a possible way forward, and we're trying to work through that.

STAFF: Thanks a lot, folks

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