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Military

Daily Press Briefing

Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 5, 2007

INDEX:

AFGHANISTAN
Death of USDA Forest Service Employee Steven Thomas Stefani
IRAQ
Initial Findings By Ambassador Pat Kennedy
New Directives by Secretary Rice / Made without prejudice
DS Agents Will Now Ride with Convoys
Query on Department's View of Blackwater
Diplomatic Security Able to Fulfill Mission
Investigation Data Points
Timeline for Opening and Occupancy of Embassy Baghdad
NORTH KOREA
Expert Team Timeline and Participation / U.S. Will Lead Efforts
Role of Expert Team


TRANSCRIPT:

12:35 p.m. EDT

MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. I just wanted to start off the briefing with one sad note. We learned recently of the death of Steven Thomas Stefani. He was a USDA Forest Service employee who was on a voluntary service assignment in Afghanistan. He was part of our Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni and as an agricultural advisor. And he lost his life in an explosion that targeted one of our convoys and we're very sad to learn of his passing. Certainly, our condolences go out to his family as well as his colleagues at USDA.

We very much -- at the Department of Agriculture, we very much appreciate the fact that we have brave people like this who are willing to volunteer to help the Afghan people build a better life for themselves and --

QUESTION: What's the name again?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you spell it for me, please, and how old he was and what --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think USDA can give you that information. There is a statement out by -- from the Department of Agriculture. His name is Steven, S-t-e-v-e-n, Thomas, Stefani, S-t-e-f-a-n-i. And this was an incident that occurred on Wednesday.

And with that, I'll take your questions.

QUESTION: Were there any injuries in that incident and other people hurt?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any other -- any other injuries. There was just this one fatality.

QUESTION: Right. The USDA statement came out to the -- I have no -- I don't know if we --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- did this already, but --

MR. MCCORMACK: It did come out today, yes. Yeah, it was a USDA statement by Acting Secretary Chuck Conner.

QUESTION: But he was under a State Department contract?

MR. MCCORMACK: He was --

QUESTION: On a PRT under a State Department --

MR. MCCORMACK: He was working on a PRT and as you know, in some of the PRTs, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have employees from other government agencies who are there to help with specific construction projects or provide very specific expert advice; in this case, on agricultural issues.

QUESTION: Just following up on your statement of about an hour and a half ago --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: You talked her about taking greater operational control and oversight in terms of people accompanying, video cameras and so on.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: On the basis of those findings, can you characterize those findings more for us? You talked a lot more about the reaction to the findings --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- than the findings themselves.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I would emphasize that this is an initial set of recommendations based on what Pat Kennedy has found on his trip to Baghdad. I would note also, Eric Boswell, who is one of the outside members of this review panel, has also accompanied Pat. So this was a report from the two of them. And the idea behind these recommendations that the Secretary directed have happen is to ensure that in that management loop, that you have the most robust capabilities, to have management controls, flow of information, review, as well as accountability.

So we think -- the Secretary believes that with some of these initial steps, that we can address some of the issues that existed. Now very often, people will try to break this down into a binary equation; well, either something was or was not working. We believe that we have in place right now some good procedures. And Secretary Rice has previously ordered our Diplomatic Security Bureau to reissue those procedures for everybody around the world and make particular effort to talk directly to those posts where they may become more applicable than other places, i.e. in Iraq, Afghanistan. So that has already been done.

So part of a good management system is that you have very clear sets of rules and procedures in place. Another part to that is to make sure that they are being implemented properly, that you have a good review mechanism, and that if people stray outside the rules and regulations as they're stated, there's accountability. So we believe that the steps that she directed be taken today will help in that.

So just to review for everybody who didn't see it earlier, she ordered that Special Agents from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security will begin accompanying Blackwater protective details. She has ordered that additional agents from our Diplomatic Security service travel to Baghdad to make sure that we can cover all of those convoys with Diplomatic Security personnel. She directed the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to increase our capability to review material after an incident report. So we currently monitor radio transmissions; she wanted to make sure that we actually record those radio transmissions so that in an event you have an incident, you have some greater electronic record than you currently have.

Also, she has directed that we will mount video cameras and security vehicles and then begin taking archive -- keeping the archives of that video -- electronic video information and that she also has directed the expansion of existing communication links to the U.S. military and that's to make sure that up and down the chain, both on the civilian side, the Department of State side, as well as up and down the chain on the military side, the MNF side, that you have good connectivity both at the top as well as all the way down to the tactical units.

QUESTION: Sean, can I just go back?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: The recommendations were that both the procedures and the implementation of those procedures should be improved and weren't vis-à-vis --

MR. MCCORMACK: She wants to make sure that we have the -- that the people responsible for the management and oversight and review functions out in the field have all the tools that they need to do the job, the most robust tools that they can have to do the job. Previously, it was ad hoc whether or not a Diplomatic Security agent would ride with each of the convoys. And there were a variety of different reasons for this.

But she wanted to make sure that from this point forward, going forward, that we will have Diplomatic Security agents riding with those convoys. It's a management tool and she thought it was an excellent recommendation by Pat Kennedy and she's going to make sure that there are the resources present in Baghdad to carry out that mandate.

Yeah.

QUESTION: A couple of things. One, is it just the first one that is Blackwater-specific or is it all three that are -- only apply to Blackwater?

MR. MCCORMACK: It's Blackwater in the Baghdad area, so -- Blackwater operates in the Baghdad area.

QUESTION: So all three only apply to that -- to Blackwater?

MR. MCCORMACK: These are specific to the Baghdad operating area.

QUESTION: So all three only apply to Blackwater?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you. And why do they only apply to Blackwater? Why do they not apply to people for Triple Canopy or DynCorp?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we'll take a look as we expand out this look to see whether or not we need to do this countrywide. The operational tempo in the Baghdad area is greater than you have in those other areas and Pat right now is doing an initial look, so it very well may be that he makes suggestions that are focused on the rest of the country. And is the mandate of this review to look at personnel security contractor operations throughout Iraq, but this initial set of recommendations applies to the Baghdad operating area.

QUESTION: Okay. So you seem to be trying to say that it's not Blackwater-specific, but Baghdad-specific?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Blackwater's operating in Baghdad. They are --

QUESTION: Is it being done because these convoys are being run by Blackwater or is it being done because if there were Triple Canopy or DynCorp --

MR. MCCORMACK: It wouldn't --

QUESTION: -- operating there, they would be --

MR. MCCORMACK: This -- it would be done regardless of who the contractor is.

QUESTION: So it does not -- is not intended to suggest that there's something suspicious or dubious about Blackwater?

MR. MCCORMACK: That's a good point. These are not, in any way, intended to signal to you or indicate to you that the review or the investigation that is going on into the September 16th incident is headed in any particular direction at this point. I'm not trying to -- it's not trying to -- these recommendations are made without, and these directions are, from the Secretary, made without prejudice to the final outcomes of the review -- both of the reviews that are going on as well as the investigation within.

QUESTION: And just one more thing. You talked about, this morning, dozens of additional DS --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: -- guys who would have to go out there. Can you be any -- at all more specific?

MR. MCCORMACK: I checked into it and our Diplomatic Security Bureau didn't want to get into precise numbers for security reasons. And it's with --

QUESTION: Yeah, well, there's a big difference between two dozen and 15 dozen, so --

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, no, I -- no, I understand. The bottom line here is the Secretary has instructed our Diplomatic Security Bureau to ensure that there are the proper assets to meet this mandate. I can't get any more specific in terms of the numbers, but it is -- it also brings up one other point that's worth mentioning.

When you send out a convoy, it is not just the convoy with the protectee that we are talking about here. There's both an advanced team as well as a team that is held in reserve in case there's an incident involving the convoy carrying the protectee. So you actually -- for any given movement, you actually have three separate convoys that you need to make sure you have a DS agent present. So that will give you an idea of the kinds of resources that we're devoting to this. I can't get any more specific than that, however.

QUESTION: Well, then back to -- I'm sorry, maybe I'm just obtuse or stupid or something, but that doesn't give me any idea at all --

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I try to give you --

QUESTION: -- how many convoys a day are there.

MR. MCCORMACK: I try to give you in order of magnitude. In -- well, just one point of reference. What is it, since January -- to date, it was 1800 movements?

QUESTION: Yeah, but unless we know how many there are a day or -- you know, I mean --

MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, look, a --

QUESTION: How many DS agents are there right now?

MR. MCCORMACK: In Baghdad, that's a number we don't give out.

QUESTION: The Special Inspector General for Iraq and the GAO have all come out with reports in recent years that all say that there's been a lack of oversight by the State Department of these security contractors. Do you regret that it's taken you so long to take these measures; and secondly, this is going to be seen as an attempt to rein in Blackwater?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, people will interpret it however they will. People will have their own perceptions. Some of them may hold that view. I can't account for people -- how people will perceive this.

I can tell you that why it is being done is the Secretary wants to ensure that we have the best possible management controls and the best possible management feedback loop that we can have. I think anybody who is in business or government understands that that's an essential part of managing well.

I'm not familiar with the particular findings of these reports. I'm sure that Pat as well as all the other people involved in these reviews are going to take a good, hard look to see what it is that they found and take it into account.

QUESTION: Has your own Special -- has your own Inspector General been looking at the conduct of these security contractors?

MR. MCCORMACK: We don't talk about what our Inspector General does. I think you understand that they keep us separate and apart from what it is that they're doing. They can speak for themselves. They also report to Congress on what they're doing.

QUESTION: I mean, all of these reports are delivered to the State Department. It's not as if they're out there in a vacuum. These are the reports that you should have been taking notice of.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, I'm sure that -- I'm sure that people did take note of the reports. I can't -- again, I'm not familiar with the specifics of the report. And inasmuch as they were useful or constructive criticisms, I'm sure that people took that onboard.

QUESTION: Sean?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: It does suggest if you're putting your own staff of Blackwater security guards and you're putting a video camera and you're recording what's going on, you don't quite trust them to give you an accurate version of events, incidents that happened.

MR. MCCORMACK: Look, these convoys and these contractors, our diplomats, as well as the military, are operating in one of the most complex security environments you can possible imagine. And anytime that there is an incident, you are now in a position of relying of solely on eyewitness accounts, and we all know from various investigations overseas as well as domestic that sometimes eyewitness accounts can be hazy. In the fog of battle you might miss something or you might -- your recollection might emphasize one particular action over the detriment to an -- to the detriment of another.

So this is just -- this is a way of ensuring that whenever there is an incident there is at least another set of data points that you have in terms of the radio transmissions, in terms of the digital electronic video recordings. Our diplomats trust these contractors in the north, in the south, as well as in the Baghdad area, with their lives. They entrust their lives to these people. So it is not a matter -- it is not a matter of trust. One might say this is a good way to be able to protect all involved in the case that there is an incident that you do have at the very least some objective baseline account of what went on. I can't tell you that the video cameras or the radio transmissions are going to capture everything, but at least you start with some objective baseline that no one can differ with, regardless of what side of the incident you may be on.

The bottom line for the Secretary is that she expects the rules and regulations to be clear. She expects the management and implementation of those rules and regulations to be robust. And if there are those who go beyond or violate in any way those rules, regulations or laws, she expects those people to be held to account. I think that the steps that she has ordered taken over the past week and a half or so, further that goal, further our ability to reach that goal.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: -- these recommendations. I know that Pat Kennedy is doing a much wider look at the way that private security contractors operate. But has he made these recommendations focusing on the events of September 16th? And there isn't a clear picture. I mean, there confusing reports as to what exactly happened and therefore, that is why he says there should be a video in vehicles.

MR. MCCORMACK: And again, these recommendations are made without prejudice to any other investigation or the outcome of those investigations. The investigation into the events of September 16th is happening on a different track and the FBI has the lead in doing that investigation. These are separate efforts -- Pat Kennedy's, as well as the investigation. Certainly, the incidents of September 16th gave rise to some of the questions about the operation of personal security contractors in Iraq. Pat is out there to do an objective clear-eyed, sober-minded review of how we do our business, with respect to security contractors in Iraq. We want to make sure and the Secretary wants to make sure that our people are protected, but in providing that protection, she wants to make sure that those people who are responsible for the lives of our diplomats are doing it in such a way that we actually further our foreign policy and national security interests, whether that's in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Yeah.

QUESTION: On that issue of furthering your foreign policy and national security goals, do you think that Blackwater has hindered or helped you to further your foreign policy goals?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sue, one thing that I'd put out there for you is that Iraq is clearly a state in the country in the midst of a historic and violent transformation. And our hope is that that transformation that we can help the Iraqis affect that transformation, so that at the end of it you have an Iraq that is more peaceful, more stable, more prosperous and more free. And that along the way, we are going to do everything that we can help do to help the Iraqi people. Part of that involves security operations conducted by our military and part of that involves work of our diplomats. Our diplomats need to be protected. And as I said before, they operate in an extremely complex security environment.

Now, with respect to Blackwater, in particular, I would urge people to just look at the facts. I think there is a tendency that I see to just label everything that happens with respect to personal security contractors in Iraq as somehow involving Blackwater. I can't say that that is, in fact the case. And I think that some have actually contested that point of view. We shall see, with respect to specific incidents, who is responsible. In some cases, it is -- I would put it to you that it is possibly a tragic set of circumstances that will sometimes lead to the loss of innocent life. Everybody mourns that. Nobody wants to see that. In some cases, you will find that security contractors took legitimate actions to help protect their lives as well as the lives of their protectees. In some cases you may find that people have violated the law, broke rules and regulations. And where that happens, we want to make sure that those people are held to account.

The Iraqi Government wants to see us there in Iraq to help them out. They understand that. They understand the importance of the work that we're doing. They also understand the fact that we're operating on the territory of a sovereign country and we want to respect their laws, their values, and we want to be sensitive to difficult issues that they raise. The September 16th issue raised a very difficult issue. I understand the Iraqi Government -- the Iraqi Government's need to talk about this and to be very forceful with us in representing their views and the concerns of their citizens.

And we respect that and we are going to certainly do everything that we can in these investigations to share with them the results of those investigations and to make it clear to them that we are going to hold to account anybody who has violated the law. And we believe that that's the best way to make it clear to the Iraqi people and to the Iraqi Government that we are there to try to help them and that we are going to do the best that we possibly can to ensure that there is not a loss of innocent life. But we are operating in a very difficult security environment.

QUESTION: I'm sure there was an answer in there somewhere, but I don't know what the question was that you were answering. But anyway, can we go back to the DS -- the whole DS role in these new orders? I mean, the reason that Blackwater and the other contractors are there is because there weren't enough DS agents in the first place to be able to protect these people.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: If you're now going to have three -- at least three agents accompanying every one convoy, you're going to -- aren't you going to get to the point where you might as well just have DS guarding all these convoys?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, because for each convoy there is significantly more than one person that is needed to --

QUESTION: No, I understand that. Well, there's going to come a point where -- or there may come a point or is anyone considering if there's going to come a point when it may be better, more efficient and more cost-effective to have DS do this themselves without --

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. I'm sure that General Joulwan, Ambassador Roy and Eric Boswell are going to take into account all possible ways of protecting our people. Are we doing this the best way that we possibly can? Now, I'm not going to try to lead you to one particular conclusion. I know that there have been various recommendations out there, the fact that maybe the military can do this, maybe the State Department itself can do this, maybe some mix of all of those things is the right way to go. We'll see what Ambassador Roy and General Joulwan and Mr. Boswell come up with in terms of recommendations. They have a mandate to look at all of our operations in Iraq and how we do it. Are we doing it the best way we possibly can?

QUESTION: And if DS is already stretched, can't provide that security, then what does it mean to the rest of their operations that dozens of these people -- and I presume when you say dozens that's more than two dozen -- what does it mean for DS for their other operations?

MR. MCCORMACK: They will -- they will have to take account of that. The managers of Diplomatic -- the Diplomatic Security Bureau are going to have to take a look at their assets, how they're deployed around the world. Given the priorities that the Secretary as well as the ambassadors, the chiefs of mission around the world have said, do they have the right assets deployed in the right places around the world? You may get to a point where they say, oh, this is -- this operational tempo is difficult to maintain given our current deployment of assets around the world. That's going to be have -- that will have to be something that the managers of the Diplomatic Security Bureau will have to look at. It's a question that they will have to answer for themselves. Certainly, the Secretary, if we get to that point, would be very interested in what the answer to that question is.

QUESTION: Well, hasn't she already talked to them and said can you do this? Or did she just decide she didn't care if they could do it or not --

MR. MCCORMACK: No.

QUESTION: That this is what you needed.

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. The Diplomatic Security --

QUESTION: They say that they can handle this.

MR. MCCORMACK: They said that they could do this.

QUESTION: For how long?

MR. MCCORMACK: As long as it needs to be done. I don't think anybody put any time limit on it. I think the understanding here is that this is the way we're going to be operating from this point forward. Now, if you get into a different security environment in Iraq, then you're going to take a look at -- I would imagine that Griff -- Dick Griffin, the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security -- would take a look at this and go to the Secretary with it. But other than that, a qualitative change in the security environment, this is going to be the way that they operate.

QUESTION: But just to be clear, Diplomatic Security told the Secretary that they would have no problem or that they -- filling these dozens --

MR. MCCORMACK: They said that they --

QUESTION: Adding an additional -- dozens of agents to Baghdad and there wouldn't be -- it wouldn't be detrimental to their operations and --

MR. MCCORMACK: They said that they could fulfill the mission.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, anything else on this?

Yeah, here, Kirit.

QUESTION: Directly on that question because -- sorry, you've mentioned that they could fulfill their operation in Iraq. Is there a concern that it would be at the detriment of other operations around the world?

MR. MCCORMACK: They said that they could fill this mission. It is up to the managers in that bureau to make sure that they can meet the missions that they have worldwide. If they don't have the assets to meet the missions worldwide over the long term, then of course they're going to have to raise their hands and say we need to take another look at this. But I haven't heard anybody say that at this point.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Sean, I just want to clarify vis-à-vis the September 16th incident.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.

QUESTION: If State has the same view of the incident that the military has as reported in the Post today.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right, right. Look, you're going -- we have a look going on into the September 16th set of events that's being led by the FBI. I think if you ask the military they will tell you the same thing. Their -- the FBI's review and findings are going to be the ones that everybody looks towards.

I am sure that anybody doing an investigation into the September 16th incident is going to interview anybody that had anything to do with the September 16th incident. So there are going to be data points coming in from multiple angles, multiple agencies and I don't know -- you can talk to the FBI -- whether or not they will try to interview Iraqis as well. I don't know. That is their prerogative to talk about.

So that's a long way of saying that I'm sure that the investigators will take into account all reports that are out there, including what we have from DOD.

Joel.

QUESTION: Sean, with regard to this, the whole purpose of this is to integrate a convoy so it works correctly. There has been a new -- actually, a picture of a new vehicle which can work through GPS satellites without drivers to bring convoys. Well, that's in the future. Now, Blackwater and other groups, they're maybe former military.

MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

QUESTION: Is there any way to integrate that with our present military and eventually with the Iraqis so that seamlessly this works together, or is it that one group doesn't trust another group?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, Joel, I'm sure as we move forward technology is going to play a role in the way we protect our people and I'm sure that the way the military fights a war has been -- I don't think I'm -- this is really the place to get into a discussion about that.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Do you have an updated schedule on what the team going for disablement is?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing beyond this morning. The team is going to be leaving, I think, on the 9th next week.

QUESTION: Leaving on the 9th or --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think they're going to be leaving on the 9th, yeah. It's going to be led by Sung Kim, who is the Korea Office Director in the State Department. The team is also going to comprise technical experts from around the government as well as, I believe, an NSC representative as well.

QUESTION: Can I (inaudible) for a second?

MR. MCCORMACK: Long as -- do you -- is your question on North Korea? There we go. We'll come back to you.

QUESTION: So you can't confirm it's definitely October 9th?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that's when they're -- I believe that's when they're leaving.

QUESTION: And also, the statement had said that the U.S. would lead the expert team. Are experts of other countries going?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that the idea is there would be -- there could be participation from other governments as well. But as you point out, the statement said the U.S. would lead the effort.

Yes.

QUESTION: So I just want to follow up. Can you tell us what they'll be doing on the ground?

MR. MCCORMACK: What they're going to be doing -- this team that leaves next week is going to be putting in place the roadmap so that you get from where we are right now to a disabled Yongbyon facility at the end of the year as well as having a full declaration from North Korea about their nuclear activities, as stated in the September 30th agreement. There will be subsequent teams that go out there that will participate in the actual disablement of the facilities.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) updated embassy opening timeline?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no updated embassy timeline. You're referring to a letter from Congressman Lantos that inquires about when the -- when Embassy Baghdad will open; is that sort of -- do I have the gist of it right?

QUESTION: Uh-huh.

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't tell you right now. It was scheduled -- the embassy was scheduled to open September 30th. Now, obviously, with any large complex construction project, especially one that is happening in a difficult security environment, there is the possibility that the schedule will slide to the right. I think within reason the Secretary as well as others in this building can accept that.

Now, there comes a point where schedule delays or questions about quality raise questions that need to be answered. We'll see if we get to that point. The letter from Congressman Lantos points out that the opening of the embassy could be delayed, by his estimate, well into 2008. Now, if you do end up well into 2008, certainly that is something that would raise questions in the Secretary's mind and I'm sure that she would want some answers. But at this point, I'm not aware we are at that point.

QUESTION: He -- actually, his letter just says months, you know, so, but we've heard from other people that --

MR. MCCORMACK: It was reported back to me well into 2008. If it's, in fact, months, we'll -

QUESTION: Well, what does it look like right now? I mean, how close is -- how close are you to being able to --

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't give you -- right now, I cannot give you a date. I don't know the date.

QUESTION: I'm not asking for a date for the whole thing opening. When -- how close are you to being able to put people inside the compound?

MR. MCCORMACK: That gets to the date of occupancy, and I can't give you a date. There currently -- where the process stands now is that there's a punch list of items that you -- that are being reviewed. Inspectors go through; they say, well, please fix X, Y and Z or, you know, work on -- in areas A, B, C does not meet the requirements of the contract. So -- and this happens with every construction project. So the contractor is responsible for going back and and fixing and bringing it up to standards all of those punch list items. I can't tell you right now how long that will take. It could be a brief period of time.

It's the responsibility of our management offices to sign a certificate of occupancy. That is the trigger that allows us to start moving into and take possession of a building. We haven't signed that yet. I would note, however, in terms of the cost of the Embassy compound, it's a fixed-cost contract. So the government and the taxpayer does not incur more costs for a contractor fixing those items in the Embassy that have been deemed not up to standard.

QUESTION: Well, I guess, all through the spring -- winter, spring and summer, General Williamson and his office has been telling people that it's going to be on time and on budget. Now, being on budget is really good and I'm sure that it's welcome by all taxpayers. But you know, it's a week late now. There is -- you're unable to give us an estimate about when it might be open. Is it Congressman Lantos' question about, you know, why we're being assured it was going to be on time as recently as, you know, a month ago? And it's -- and it was obviously not going to be on time?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I don't know that. If it was obvious at that point that it was not going to be ready to open. I have received the same assurances that you've heard in public. I can't tell you right now when it will open. Now, that's not to indicate to you that it's going to be a lengthy period of time. It could be a brief period of time. But the fact is I can't give you a opening date right now.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Congressman Lantos also said there were, in fact, deficiencies. There were problems with wiring and various sort of electrical faults. The bomb-resistant walls or whatever they're called, were not quite wide enough. And Representative Waxman has also pointed out those defects. To your knowledge is that what the problem is at the moment, that there are deficiencies by the Kuwaiti contractor?

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't list for you all the contents of that punch list, but I can assure you that Pat Kennedy and his colleagues aren't going to sign something that says we're ready to occupy an embassy or accept an embassy building that is somehow substandard, that does not meet the terms of the contract.

QUESTION: So is Pat Kennedy going to look at this while he's over there at the same time or --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think he has his hands full right now.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:08 p.m.)

DPB #176



Released on October 5, 2007



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