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Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense
News Transcript

Presenter: Lawrence Di Rita, Special Assistant to The Secretary of Defense; Brigadier General David Rodriguez, Deputy Director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff
Thursday, July 1, 2004 3:03 p.m. EDT

Defense Department Operational Update Briefing

MR. DIRITA: Good afternoon. We thought we'd take an opportunity to take any questions you may have.

But first, let me just mention Ambassador Bremer, who was in town yesterday, met with the president, met with the secretary, met with some of the Washington staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority. It was obviously great seeing him home. He's tangible proof that the Iraq transition to sovereignty is complete. He's home now. And I think I speak for the department, certainly for the secretary, in extending warm appreciation to Ambassador Bremer and his team of Coalition Provisional Authorities (sic), who performed so magnificently in a -- during this period of the Coalition Provisional Authority. And we welcomed him back home and obviously look forward to working now with our new partners in Iraq, the sovereign government.

And I'll ask General Rodriguez to say one or two things, and we'll take a few questions, if you have any.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Mr. DiRita. I just have a brief statement this afternoon.

Today General George Casey took charge of multinational forces in Iraq. General Casey replaced Lieutenant General Sanchez as the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, overseeing approximately 160,000 coalition forces in the region.

And with that, we'll take your questions.

MR. DIRITA: I would certainly just echo General Rodriguez's comments regarding General Sanchez, who's going to be, I guess, returning back to his command in Germany -- a place I don't think he's ever been in command, actually.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: (Chuckles.)

MR. DIRITA: He's been in Iraq this whole time, has done just a superb job, under some very challenging conditions, in command of the Joint Task Force 7. So again, we certainly appreciate his service to our country and to the coalition.


Q Larry, is the Pentagon considering moving prisoners from Gitmo back to the United States in response to the Supreme Court decision, in order to make them more available to U.S. courts, U.S. --

MR. DIRITA: The impact of the decision is being examined. It's not just by the Pentagon. There's work being done in the interagency process with the Department of Justice. Certainly the Department of Defense is involved to determine what -- how best to comply with the Supreme Court rulings, how -- to understand them first and foremost, and see what the intent of the rulings was.

Certainly the ability to detain enemy combatants at Guantanamo is not in question. What's in question is how -- what process is established to ensure proper treatment. We've established certain processes already. There are some number of detainees down there, and Secretary England was down here this last week talking about this, who may in fact be, after review, the types of individuals that can be repatriated wherever they may come from. So I don't think anybody has a desire to see that process -- I mean, if there are people that can be released after some due process of review that we've established, it's worth considering whether that's the right and next thing to do, and we can do that and remain consistent with the Supreme Court ruling. But the fact is no decisions have been made in that regard.

Q But that process doesn't give them lawyers or provide them with access to civilian courts.

MR. DIRITA: Right.

Q Is the building perhaps considering bringing them back to the country to give them access to U.S. civilian courts?

MR. DIRITA: They wouldn't need to be in the United States to have access to attorneys. So if the decision were made that the next step is to give everybody an attorney in Guantanamo -- and that is not the decision; the decision right now is to examine it and understand the impact -- it wouldn't necessarily have to be from here in the United States.

So in answer to your question, there's a range of things that are under examination to determine what is the best way to ensure that we're operating consistent with the ruling in the case of Guantanamo, but on the other side of the equation is everybody has a desire not to hold people that need not be held. And it's conceivable -- and I'm not saying this is the way it will end up -- it is conceivable that people who can be determined no longer needing to be held need not necessarily be part of a judicial process if we can make that determination short of a judicial process. That's all I'm saying, and those are the kinds of questions that are being evaluated right now. There have been no decisions as far as I know, and it's going to take time to sort through this.

Q Why has the Pentagon not yet submitted to Congress the ICRC inspection reports on Iraq that Secretary Rumsfeld promised? Why specifically have you not, and when do you plan to submit them?

MR. DIRITA: It's a question of -- when General Abizaid testified, whenever it was -- in mid-May -- he acknowledged what everybody knows, and that is our -- the process by which reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross are managed in this department is very uneven, and it's done primarily because everybody's trying to give deference to a process that the International Committee of the Red Cross feels must be managed a certain way.

And as I understand it, the ICRC is very anxious about ensuring that there not be any undue exposure to their findings and to their processes. And as a result, over a period of time, we've established a process and a relationship with the ICRC where reports very often come in at levels certainly well below the Pentagon, and very often at levels below the command level. And we did, in fact, see this in the case of the Iraq-related reports.

So there's been a clear intent and desire to provide the Congress such reports as we're able to pull together, collate and send over there. It's been a more challenging process than -- because of what I've just described -- than I think anybody had an appreciation for. We've been to the -- we've had lots of interaction with the committee staff and the committee leadership -- the Armed Services Committee -- in both houses, so that they understand our desire and our intent to do what the secretary said we would do. But as a practical matter, it's been difficult to sort of get in one place all of the reports that are available.

Last week we went up to both the House and the Senate in closed session, according to rules that we had agreed with the committee, to discuss the Guantanamo-related reports because we had a more complete understanding of those reports in terms of what was available.

So it's really more one of trying to make sure we know the extent to which these -- that we have these reports, that they are the reports. Certainly when we go up there thinking we have everything there is, there will be more. And we'll tell the committee that; that whatever it is we're providing them, we're almost certain to come up with more later. And so it's been a give and take. There's been no intent to do anything other than to comply with the secretary's intention, which is to provide the reports.

Q When do you expect to do this now? Even the first report, when will you make any of the reports available?

MR. DIRITA: Well, we've done that. We went up last week.

Q No, I'm sorry. But I don't think you've made any reports on Iraq available.

MR. DIRITA: Oh, I'm sorry, you said we'd made no reports. We did provide the Guantanamo report.

Q Right. When do you expect to make the first reports on Iraq --

MR. DIRITA: When they're ready. And it's been tough, but we're working through it with some dispatch. We've got the combatant commanders involved in it and ensuring that, you know, that they have an understanding of what reports may be available in their area of responsibility.

And I'd like to believe that at a responsible level on the committees, both the staff and the members understand that we're doing our best to comply with what is admittedly something that we're not well organized to do. And having said that, we're also attacking the process and trying to establish a process going forward that would be better managed -- I wouldn't say better managed, but more capable of managing this situation.


Q I'd like to ask both of you if you could give us a progress report on where the -- what we used to call the Fay report is now. Last week in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Warner had said he would have liked to have had a sort of chapter one of that report now. Can you just tell us what's been done with that and what your timetable is?

MR. DIRITA: (To General Rodriguez) Do you know anything about it?


MR. DIRITA: I'll do my best.

We're not working against a timetable. The timetable is when it's complete, we'll provide it. And if there's something that's knowable on an interim basis and it's something that's worth providing from the standpoint of ensuring that the committee has as much information as it can when it should, we'll do that.

Obviously, the Army -- General Kern has been appointed as new appointing authority. That led to the decision to appoint another officer to carry out that portion of the investigation that General Fay was not able to carry out, and that officer has gone about doing his work.

But they're not working against a timetable, other than a desire to see that it be completed as expeditiously as possible. But I don't have a timetable.

Q Understanding there's not a timetable, you don't have a month when it is expected?

MR. DIRITA: Well, I hate to put those kind of limits, because then on day 29 I'll be telling you that we didn't meet the timetable we didn't have. So we're working against it in a sort of systematic way, and when something is available, we'll provide it. And we will, to the extent we're capable of providing it, we'll also do whatever briefings may be appropriate to our colleagues here, as well.

Q Have General Sanchez and General Abizaid and other senior officers been questioned --

MR. DIRITA: I don't know.

Q -- now that the senior officer is in charge?

MR. DIRITA: I don't know.


Q Can you give us more information on the 16 or 17 warheads containing sarin or mustard gas that the secretary mentioned was recently found in Iraq?

MR. DIRITA: Yeah. He was in -- I believe in Istanbul meeting with his NATO counterparts and had a conversation, to the best of my recollection, with people that were aware that the Polish forces had been involved in some of these sarin shells. As I understood it at the time -- and I think this is accurate, and we'll check this to be sure, but when that came up then, the fact that the Poles had uncovered or somehow been involved in uncovering 16 or 17 shells, it was believed at the time that it was the same round number of shells that Mr. Duelfer had mentioned when he was interviewed, I don't know, 10 days or a week ago, a couple weeks ago, that he said, I think, 10 to 12 shells. So I don't think we're talking about separate compilations of these shells.

Q (Off mike) -- he said in the last couple of days.

MR. DIRITA: In the last couple days he was made aware of it by the Poles, but I'm not sure even he knew at the time that it was, I think, the same selection -- collection of ordnance that Mr. Duelfer had already referred to. And the numbers aren't quite the same. So there is some uncertainty there, but it was my understanding at the time, because I asked the very question, was that the Poles were involved somehow with the Iraq Survey Group.

Q Can you give us any idea now with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, what, if anything, you expect to change, how things will be changing on the ground for U.S. forces? Do you have any prediction at all?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: The U.S. forces are continuing to work with their allied partners, and to include the Iraqis. We have several Iraqi personnel embedded in with all the headquarters, all the way up from MNFI, Multinational Forces Iraq, all the way down to every level, and we continue to work with our allies and communicate with them. But the goals are the same and we're all working together like we do with allies everywhere.

Q Does General Casey have command authority over Iraqi forces?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: In an allied operation, you have -- you control the tactical operation, the senior commander, who is General Casey in this case. But in every case, all our allies have a chain of command that goes up to their national leaders, just like we do. For us, all Americans under command and control of American leadership, of U.S. leadership, and the allies, like I said, have a chain of command that goes up to their national leadership. But as far as control on a tactical operation, MNFI and General Casey will control those tactical operations.

Q Can I just follow up on that?


Q Does the Iraqi government have to be notified of every sensitive offensive operation? And do they have some kind of veto approval -- veto authority? Can they say no, don't go, or is it simply they will be advised after the U.S. decides, based on quick intelligence, they need to strike?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: It's a cooperation between allies. So each one of those decisions are made as they go, and there's no -- there's not anything like veto authority and everything. All allies, for example, can decline to participate in an operation sometimes, just like they have different ROEs sometimes and that, because that comes to their national leadership. But we will continue to cooperate and coordinate with them and execute the operations that we're going to do.

Q I'm talking about the Iraqi national -- the new -- the interim government. Does the U.S. -- does General Casey have to notify the heads of the government when he is going to execute an operation, a sensitive one or whatever?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: There's not a rule like that because, like I said, the teamwork and the partnership that's involved and the trust is what determines how that occurs on the ground. So there's not a, you know, you have to check with this type of operation or anything else like that or rules like that. It's built with a communication and trust and coordination between allies, and our goals are the same.

MR. DIRITA: And there was a lot of discussion on that point prior to the transition to understand. The U.S. forces are certainly aware that there will be operations which are sensitive and which indeed could be politically sensitive, but frankly, that was the way before we operated before the transition as well.

Q I'm not asking whether --

Q A few days into this, have the rules clarified a little bit in terms of whether, in a sensitive operation, the government has to be -- the Iraqi government has to be notified ahead of time, either as a courtesy or to give them the authority to say no, you can't, we don't want you to --

MR. DIRITA: I think I would characterize them more as guidelines than rules. And that there is a general understanding that nobody likes surprises, but on the other hand there's an understanding that the U.S. -- that the coalition forces may at some time -- may sometimes have to operate in a way that requires speed and may require surprise. But there's going to be as much coordination, I think, as you even saw prior to the transition afterwards. And there was, as I said, a lot of discussion when the deputy secretary went over and met with General Casey and Mr. -- they had discussions with Prime Minister Allawi so that we -- everybody could understand going forward how this might work. But again, it's more of a sense of guidelines.

Q Are there written guidelines?

MR. DIRITA: I don't know that.

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: No, there are just memoranda of agreement between the two organizations, and they are just general guidelines about -- and like I said, it's about building trust and confidence between the partners there. That's how it really gets executed.

Q For both of you: Do you have any updates on missing U.S. service members? And can you tell us what will be the consequences for anybody who executes a soldier or Marine in Iraq?

MR. DIRITA: I don't think that we have anything to add with respect to the status of the two -- of the -- well, certainly the two that everybody's been most aware of recently.

Look, we're at war. We're at war with an enemy that includes foreign terrorists. The president has been clear, as have the commanders in Iraq -- and indeed, now the Iraqi government -- that while this kind of activity is sure to continue for some time, we're going to do what we can and what we must to root this out. But this is a difficult -- it's difficult, as the secretary has spoken about many times, to defend against, and therefore, we have to remain on the offense, and we intend to remain on the offense.

But when you speak about what are the specific consequences, I don't think there's any doubt about the seriousness of purpose with which we've gone after the -- in this global war on terror. And I don't know that there's anymore that I could say from here that would make that more serious.

Q Larry, what's the status of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd ACR? When did they start coming home? And what's the status of the troops that will be going in to replace them?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Well, the 1st Armored Division, which you know was extended earlier until the 1st of September, will begin moving back during the month of August and be all home by the beginning of September, which was their 90-days extension in Iraq and 120 days before they all got home. And that -- we remain on schedule.

As far as the forces that are coming in behind them, some of them already began to flow and their advanced parties are on the ground now, and they're starting their handover process.

Q Larry?


Q Two questions. One, on the ICRC. Why don't you just go back and ask them for copies of the report? I'm sure they've got a big bulging file somewhere that they'd be happy to share.


Q Yeah. Presumably -- that would be --

MR. DIRITA: I'll mark that down. Thank you for the suggestion.

Q If I were doing that --

MR. DIRITA: If only I had thought of that.

Q That's why we have these briefings, Larry, to keep you up to speed.

MR. DIRITA: I appreciate being educated. I hope I'm returning the favor.

Q I do have a question about the U.N.'s decision with regard to the ICC and how it applies to peacekeeping forces. Could you explain that decision and what impact that has on U.S. forces, and particularly talk about where, in those cases, U.S. forces might be assigned to a U.N. force where the U.S. also has a bilateral agreement exempting soldiers from the ICC --

MR. DIRITA: Well, as I understood -- first of all, I'm not sure there was a U.N. decision as much as there was a decision not to decide. We've had this U.N. resolution that's been extended now one year, and there was a desire on the United States' side to extend it again, which would essentially -- and I don't know if this is the right legal term -- indemnify U.S. forces, which -- the United States is not subject to -- is not a signatory to nor does it intend to become a signatory to the ICC. And ultimately that extension didn't occur.

So we've gone about in that -- I just -- I would refer you to the State Department for additional detail, but we've gone about the process of reviewing those U.N. peacekeeping missions in which we have forces who we may determine have been -- have exposure that is -- offers a risk that's sufficient for us to want to evaluate their presence in those missions. And in fact, as I understand it -- and I believe there have been some notifications made in Congress today and that the State Department has advised, through the diplomatic channels, that we will be withdrawing from two particular U.N. peacekeeping missions, the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in which we, I believe, currently have seven people assigned. Four of those individuals will be coming out right away. There are three senior individuals -- U.S. individuals in that mission that we're prepared to allow to remain in for some period of time, until they can be replaced.

The U.N. Mission in Kosovo is another one in which we have two individuals who will come out.

Q (Off mike) -- in particular? I mean --

MR. DIRITA: Again, it's because, for the nature of the U.N. mission in both those countries, it's determined that the risk assigned to -- because we don't have Article 98 agreements, and the Article 98 agreements are the agreements that the treaty permits on a bilateral basis between countries that don't wish to participate in the ICC, to provide protections to soldiers that are involved in any operations in their countries.

Q Can you just be more specific about what jobs they do that expose them?

MR. DIRITA: Yeah. Apparently, in the case of -- it's -- I'm not so much sure it's their jobs as by virtue of being in the U.N. mission. And again, I would refer you to State for additional detail. But in the case of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo, it's liaison officers. In the case of the U.N. Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopian, the chief military observer has kind of responsibility for the mission overall. That's a pretty senior position. And I think there was a general understanding that's one that we wouldn't withdraw right away. And there's two others, somebody identified as the sector air liaison officer and the chief logistics officer. This is in the Eritrea and Ethiopia mission. Those three will be permitted to remain until they can be replaced in a more systematic fashion.

Q So the forces that we have in Kosovo beyond those two, they're not assigned to the U.N.?

MR. DIRITA: They're not assigned to the U.N. mission. So the civilian police trainers, the -- there's, I think -- there's a number of other people involved in the mission, plus the U.S. participants in the KFOR, they're not subject to the U.N. mission, so they don't have the same exposure.

So, you know, we'll continue to evaluate these missions go forward. And additional U.N. missions, we'll certainly evaluate the importance and -- the importance of the U.S. being involved in the mission and balance that against the risks of U.S. exposure to the mission, and make determinations on a case-by-case basis. But in these two particular cases, it was determined on an interagency basis that the risk was not appropriate to our forces, and so they were withdrawn.

Q The House and the Senate have proposed fairly deep cuts to some programs that Mr. Rumsfeld has said are either transformational or critical, like missile defense, spaced-based radar and TCS. Can you kind of go over those with us and what you plan to do in terms of trying to restore the funding? Or do you plan to abandon any of the efforts?

MR. DIRITA: Well, it's the president's budget, it's not Secretary Rumsfeld's budget.

Q But he's made a big deal about.

MR. DIRITA: Yes, indeed, on behalf of the president.

We've provided our views as to the committee marks in both cases. We continue to discuss with the committee our view of the importance of individual programs and our reaction -- I mean, what we're seeking is that the president's budget be passed. And with that in mind, we'll continue the discussions with the committees until such time as the committee acts. And --

Q So you don't have any particular advocacy that you can offer us today for missile defense, for example, or space-based radar?

MR. DIRITA: Well, I mean, I'm not prepared to discuss individual programs. I mean, clearly, the president has made the deployment of the capability provided by the missile defense programs that we're investing in a priority for his administration, and we've made significant progress, and the Congress has been supportive in that priority. And ultimately, we believe that that priority is -- remains an important priority, and we'll continue to work with the committees.

I'm not in a position to say -- it's very early in the process. I mean, both houses have passed their bills, they're in conference.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. DIRITA: Yes, indeed. They're in conference. Our views are being shared with the conference committee. And we'll just see where it goes. This is -- as the secretary has reminded us all, the president proposes and the Congress disposes. So --

Q Larry, we've seen Saddam Hussein today, images of him for the first time since his capture in December. And one of the attorneys purportedly advocating on his behalf -- I won't say representing him -- has claimed that he was abused, not treated well during his captivity. We've seen him now. What can you tell us about his treatment during captivity? Has he -- he looks like he's lost weight. Has he lost weight? Has he been allowed to maintain himself? Has he gotten proper medical treatment? What can you tell us about --

MR. DIRITA: To my knowledge and my understanding he was -- he did receive humane treatment, proper treatment. I can't speak to whether or not he lost weight, but he was a prisoner of war, and certainly as a detainee in Iraq was subject to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions and received those protections. There's no indication, and I would doubt seriously that there was any credible -- that there is any credible assertion of anything other than humane treatment.

Q Do you think these images show that he was treated well?

MR. DIRITA: Well, I only saw what everybody saw. I mean, you see him from the neck up. It's very difficult to tell.

Q Where did he get the suit?

MR. DIRITA: I have no idea. (Laughter.)

Q What, do you want one? (Laughter.)

MR. DIRITA: No idea.

Q Larry, post-handover, is there a change of status expected for the MEK members who are being held at Camp Ashraf?

MR. DIRITA: It's a question -- their status remains what they are, which is an international terrorist organization. How we manage the presence of the MEK in Iraq is a matter of some discussions with the Iraqi government, now that the Iraqi government is sovereign and capable of making decisions on its own, and we're engaged in that discussion. But it happens to be a country on the international terror list -- or a group on the international terrorist list.

Q Is anything written into the status of forces agreement with Iraq that had anything to do with the MEK?

MR. DIRITA: I'm not aware that we have a status of forces agreement with Iraq. What we have are a series of agreements that flow from the U.N. resolutions, and I'm not aware that there's anything other than the ongoing dialogue with the Iraqi sovereign government about the best way to manage the MEK situation.

All right. In the back.

Q Larry, the FBI today is apparently conducting a raid on an organization that has provided chaplains to the U.S. military. I wonder if you've got information on what they're looking for. It apparently is an investigation in terms of terrorism financing.

MR. DIRITA: I don't have any information. I saw the news reports, but that's all I know about it.

Q Are they still providing chaplains to the U.S. military?

MR. DIRITA: I know that when this situation first occurred, the Army went back to -- and I think the Army is the executive agent for this -- went back to validate the providing sources, but I don't know if this particular organization is still providing or not. I simply don't have the answer. We -- I suppose we can get that for you, and if we can we will.

Yes, sir?

Q The last couple times that I asked about the U.N. secretary -- about the Pentagon's possible response to the situation in western Sudan, you said the Pentagon hasn't been asked to do anything. This week, though, Secretary Powell's been there, the secretary-general of the U.N.'s been there. The White House said today it's a matter of concern and a top priority. So for the record, are you considering anything? Have you been asked to do anything in western Sudan?

MR. DIRITA: We have not. The Secretary of State was there, as you've said. He got his own sense of exactly the nature of this humanitarian crisis. The director of the Agency for International Development was there, as I understood it, last week. As I further understand it, the State Department is working with the Security Council to try and establish or somehow provide for a U.N. resolution that would, as I understand it -- and again, I would refer you to the State Department in this -- start to consider sanctions on the Sudanese government. But at the moment, that is the path that's being taken. It's a diplomatic path.

Q No military personnel --

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: That's correct.


Q No military involvement.

Q Can I ask General Rodriguez an Iraq follow-up question on something you said before, about "What now?" for U.S. troops? We have had statements out of U.S. military officials in Baghdad that we should expect to see a, quote, "lower footprint" or "reduced footprint" for U.S. troops in Iraq. Can you help us understand what that means? Are we going to just simply see less of U.S. troops out there? Less helicopter flights? Less patrols? Consolidation of bases? Is the strategy just to have U.S. troops out there less than ever before?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Well, when you talk about that strategy, that's over time. And again, this is all dependent on the capacity that is building in the Iraqi forces. And as the partnership develops over time, as we build those forces up, of course that's when we want to have less of a U.S. presence out there and footprint. So that's based on the conditions that exist, the security conditions, as well as the capacity of the Iraqi forces that's developing. So over time, that's what we want to occur over time, reduce the footprint.

Q What would be some examples? As I say, less bases, less helicopter flights? What does reduced presence look like?

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Well, for example, at the start, just for an example, as we start, we'll have more joint patrols, and they'll continue to do that. And then over time as the joint patrols get going and we build the capacity, then they would become Iraqi patrols in certain areas. And like I said, it's based on the situation, so it's conditions-based on how those factors all combine over time to make those decisions. As far as the less flights over and things like that and everything, you know, it's the same situation. As we go over time and the security situation changes, we'll adapt to that.


MR. DIRITA: We'll take a couple more. We'll finish up -- (inaudible) -- come back to you.

Q If it hasn't happened already, what are the plans to inform the Gitmo detainees of their rights?

MR. DIRITA: I don't have a good response to that. I mean, I know that there's -- some of the detainees have attorneys already -- I mean -- who are arguing on their behalf, I should say. There was the case that was brought that made it to the Supreme Court on the behalf of the, I think, 11 or 12 Kuwaitee detainees.

But beyond that, I think our responsibility is to ensure that we comply with the intent of the Supreme Court decision and that clearly was that there be a process that involves some opportunity to appeal their case in the U.S. courts, and we're determining our best attempt at how we would do that.

With respect to exactly how the detainees -- how the individuals at Guantanamo will be notified of this, I simply don't know.

Q Will you take John's question for the record? I think we'd all like an answer.

MR. DIRITA: Sure. We'll take it for the record.

Q Thank you.

[RESPONSE TO TAKEN QUESTION ADDED LATER: No decision on the communication of this decision to the detainees has been made.]

Q Larry, some Iraqi officials have been hinting, or more than hinting -- not being very oblique about the fact that they think that this handover sort of frees them up to take a much harder hand with the insurgents than the Americans who have somewhat strict ROE.

What can you do or how can you assure that the Iraqis are not going to be carrying out some of the same atrocities that Saddam needed to hold the government -- hold that country together? How can the American forces -- or what will the American forces do, or what will they be instructed to do, if they're in the company of Iraqi forces who are carrying out something that might be a violation of the laws of war, might be atrocities, those sorts of things?

MR. DIRITA: Well, certainly when that occurs, we'd -- it's a hypothetical, first and foremost. But these forces are going to be trained, they're going to be working in conjunction with U.S. forces. There's always the opportunity or the possibility that somebody will violate procedures or indeed, as you've described, something even more fundamental like -- such as the rules of war, and we'll deal with those as they occur.

But I think what you've got is a commitment from Prime Minister Allawi and his national security team to be firm, to firmly deal with this insurgency, but this is a country that is on its path to self-government, to democratic principles. It subscribes to democratic principles. And I would not want to prejudge how they will --

Q Some of these comments are coming from the defense minister. The defense minister's saying things -- he was quoted in Newsweek this weekend saying, you know, this really frees us up; that, you know, we're going to be operating under restrictions that the Americans don't. I mean, that seems --

MR. DIRITA: Yeah, and part of that is -- doesn't necessarily translate to the way you've described it, which is certainly one interpretation.

But I think another interpretation is that the Iraqi government understood that there was a limit to what an occupying power can do in a country of such a volatile history and that in fact this is indeed the corollary to Zarqawi's letter; that in other words, once you have Iraqis governing themselves, they will not feel as restricted by the cultural restrictions that we have by virtue of being an occupying power. In other words, these are Iraqis defending themselves, and they understand that -- when an American force goes into a city like Fallujah and surrounds a house and moves into the house to find out who's in there, that has one connotation. When Iraqi police are doing it, it has an entirely different connotation. And I think what he's acknowledging -- and indeed I've heard Prime Minister Allawi refer to this -- is that they understand that the population almost expects that of the new government. In other words, they expect that, as any government should, the first responsibility of government is to provide for security. And they take that responsibility quite seriously. And they know that the nature of this -- of the Coalition Provisional Authority was such that that was by definition a more sensitive concern. When it's a -- again, he's acknowledging what Zarqawi acknowledged, which is once there's a democratic government inside of Iraq, Zarqawi's activities will become that much more difficult, because they'd be attacking Iraqis, not occupiers, as Zarqawi referred to it.

So I'm not sure it necessarily translates the way -- in the most extreme fashion as some might be concerned. I think these are people who are committed to the rule of law. They're committed to the very things that the coalition is committed to.

Last -- maybe the last -- okay. We'll follow up here. Then we'll take the last question.

Go ahead, Charlie.

Q General, on the Saddam hearing today, I kept hearing on CNN where the U.S. military had forbade sound, whether sound pictures or sound broadcasts, of the Saddam hearing. Who was running the show? Was it the U.S. military or the Iraqis? I thought the Iraqis had taken over the government. And why --

GEN. RODRIGUEZ: The Iraqis were. The Iraqis were, and we facilitated the rules that they laid down and what they wanted to be shown and what they did not want to be shown. That's correct.

Q So it was the Iraqis that didn't want voice broadcast. Why --

MR. DIRITA: The Iraqi Special Tribunal and Iraqi judge were the ones determining the process that they wanted to follow today, including the rules for the media, and we were doing our best to support that.

Last question.

Q President Bush signed a memo to transfer some funding from -- Iraqi reconstruction funding from Defense to State. Can you sort of flesh out the process of how that's going to happen?

MR. DIRITA: I don't know of the specific decision by the president. I do know that the State Department is now responsible for U.S. -- the U.S. presence in Iraq. It's a normal diplomatic post. It will need resources to discharge its responsibilities, in much the same fashion that the Coalition Provisional Authority had resources. They are now, for the most part, under the control of the State Department, as they should be, and in particular under the control of the embassy and Ambassador Negroponte.

Q How much is involved?

MR. DIRITA: I don't know the figures. And I suppose that's knowable; I just -- I don't know what it --

Q (Off mike.)

MR. DIRITA: What -- okay. Did you get your question answered?

Q Yeah -- (inaudible).

MR. DIRITA: Good. You can do it next time.

Okay, thank you very kindly.

Q Thank you.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias