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14 January 2004

Another Coalition Most-Wanted Fugitive Captured in Iraq

Coalition Provisional Authority briefing, January 14

U.S. military forces in Iraq have captured another of their "most wanted" ex-regime officials, said Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt January 14.

Kimmitt, deputy director of coalition military operations in Iraq, announced at a Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) briefing in Baghdad that Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, who was listed as number 54 in the coalition's "top 55" members of Saddam Hussein's regime, was captured on January 11 near Ar Ramadi.

"Khamis was captured as a result of a combined operation by the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Forces," Kimmitt said. He called it "another significant step in reducing anti-coalition resistance. He was an enabler for many of the resistance attacks on Iraqis as well as U.S. and coalition forces."

Kimmitt also said that coalition forces in Samarra had captured four relatives of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, number 6 on the coalition's list and the highest-ranking of those not yet killed or captured. The four have been detained for questioning, he said, but al-Douri "was not anywhere in the area at the time of the capture."

During the question-and-answer part of the briefing, Kimmitt was asked for an update on the Iraqi civilians who were killed in Baghdad January 12 while following a U.S. military convoy moving through the city. The questioner said eyewitnesses said they had seen "soldiers firing at innocent civilians." Kimmitt said that an investigation is being carried out by the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division, and that the division's surgeon had examined the bodies of the victims. It is the surgeon's opinion "that these persons were not shot," Kimmitt said. "[T]here was no presence of bullets, either in the bodies or in the immediate area. And it is [the surgeon's] medical conclusion at this point that this was done by shrapnel wounds that emanated from an IED [improvised explosive device] at the location."

Following is a Defense Department transcript of the CPA briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director, Coalition Operations
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

(Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing)

(Participating was Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director, Coalition Operations, Dan Senor, Spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, General Ahmed Ibrahim, Deputy Minister, Iraq's Department of the Interior, and Hamid Al Kifa'i, Iraqi Governing Council Spokesman.)

MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a few words before I turn this over to General Kimmitt. We're also joined today by General Ahmed Ibrahim, the senior deputy minister of Interior and one of the most senior law enforcement and security officials in Iraq -- Iraqi security officials.

Just an update: Many of you attended the town hall meeting in Mosul on Monday. Just a reminder: the next main town hall meeting is January 28th. Details will come out. That will be in Baghdad. It will likely be the largest of the town hall meetings thus far. Town hall meetings will be carried out throughout the country in all the 18 provinces. It is part of our overall democracy-building initiative, working hand-in-hand with the Governing Council and the local political parties, of which there are over 200 now in Iraq, and with the various provincial and city councils throughout the country.

We've devoted a significant amount of funding to democracy- building programs for Iraq, estimated right now at $458 million. This is the largest amount of funding dedicated to the early stages of a country's democratic development since the end of the Cold War. We are implementing a robust plan for democracy-building programs coordinating use of supplemental funds with USAID, Department of State and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Throughout the country, training is being conducted on the basics of democracy, including accountability of government employees, transparency of government actions and processes, and participation of citizens in the government process. For example, in December alone, there were more than 600 meetings -- political, democracy-building meetings, party-building meetings -- throughout the country. These were held on the basics of democratic government, and included citizens and political representatives from these local meetings. Sometimes the meetings were as small as 20, 30 or 40 people. They were neighborhood-organized meetings, organized by the Neighborhood Advisory Councils. And sometimes they were as large as the town hall meeting that occurred in Mosul earlier this week, in which 250 people participated. And certainly the one at Baghdad at the end of this month will be large as well. Participants, for instance, in Mosul from all the communities, all the ethnic communities, all the political communities, and it was a robust discussion about the November 15th political agreement and the implementation of it, and certainly the immediate next steps, which is the passage and implementation of the transitional administrative law.

With that, I'll turn it over to General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Good evening. Before I start the normal operational brief, let me make a quick announcement. As a result of aggressive operations this week, the coalition announces the capture of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, No. 54 in the coalition 55 deck-of-cards list. Khamis was captured as a result of a combined operation by the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Forces. He was captured January 11th in the vicinity of Ar Ramadi and is currently in coalition custody. With the capture of No. 54, we have taken another significant step in reducing anti-coalition resistance. He was an enabler for many of the resistance attacks on Iraqis as well as U.S. and coalition forces. These attacks were crimes against the Iraqi people.

The coalition and the Governing Council have the resolve to see this process through to the end. Former regime elements that support and condone violence, jihadists and terrorists have no place in a free and democratic Iraq. Iraq will inevitably be rid of these subversive elements. If you are a terrorist, a former regime-element resistance fighter, or jihadist, know that your day of reckoning is near if you fail to abandon the cause.

Due to the circumstances of this capture, we cannot provide more detail, but remain assured that the coalition is committed to pursue the remaining fugitives on the list until all are brought to justice.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 17 engagements against coalition military daily, just over three attacks against Iraqi security forces and just over one attack against Iraqi civilians daily. To that end, the coalition conducted 1,741 patrols, 16 offensive operations, 20 raids and captured 123 anti-coalition suspects in the past 24 hours.

In the northern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a simultaneous cordon-and-knock operation on two houses in central Mosul on Monday, targeting suspected Ansar al-Islam members and successfully detaining nine suspects.

The coalition celebrated two school reopenings in the town of Karakulash, north of Mosul. The event was well-received, attended by both coalition, residents and town officials.

Coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-knock and detained Brigadier General Muklif, a brigade target suspected of being the leader of a local terrorist group. No injuries or accidents were reported as part of this capture.

The turnaround of mid- and high-level Ba'ath members in the north is continuing to build momentum. Yesterday afternoon coalition forces had over 50 mid- and high-level Ba'ath members publicly denounce the party in Al-Hadar and in Ashura.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 171 patrols, five raids and captured 80 individuals.

Coalition and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces conducted a raid near Jabal targeting Karim Hamid Khalil, a Sunni imam, acting on a tip from a local Iraqi, given to the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps [ICDC]. The imam apparently brought a man in from in Fallujah to speak during prayer call. The broadcast from the mosque told Iraqis to attack coalition forces, ICDC and Iraqi police. The Civil Defense Corps apprehended the imam but was not able to capture the second target.

Acting on another tip, coalition forces conducted an operation in Samarra targeting relatives of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Three persons were captured, and another relative was captured nearby later, based on information gathered from the initial capture. Al-Douri was not anywhere in the area at the time of the capture, and the four remain detained for further questioning.

While on patrol southwest of Samarra, coalition forces were attacked by a large group of enemy fighters. Twenty-six persons were captured, eight killed and one wounded in the engagement. There were no coalition casualties.

This morning in Baqubah, a car bomb detonated near an Iraqi police station, killing five people and wounding 29 others. Two Iraqi police officers, one Iraqi Civil Defense Corps member and two civilians were listed among the dead. An initial investigation indicated that an improvised explosive device, consisting of an artillery round and grenades, was placed in a small automobile and parked near the police station. Two additional improvised explosive devices were found near the scene of the explosion and were disarmed. The wounded were taken to the Baqubah hospital.

In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 490 patrols and captured three enemy personnel. Coalition forces discovered a bomb consisting of 155-millimeter artillery round with PE-4 rigged with a pager. The unit searched the area and captured one Iraqi with a strip map on its person, and on that strip map was the location of where the bomb was placed. A "vapor tracer 2" test was used, and the prisoner tested positive for nitrates and the vehicle tested positive for other explosive items.

In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 194 patrols and three offensive operations, capturing 11 enemy, and denying entry to 82 personnel at Trebil. Coalition forces continue training 520 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members, 240 police recruits, and 115 border police throughout the region; 214 border police candidates graduated today and are en route to al Qaim for operations. This brings the total of border police in the al- Ansar region to 937.

Coalition forces in the west conducted a cordon-and-search in Fallujah to kill or capture Amin Jasim Sahab and Major General Mahmoud. Both primary targets were captured. Sahab is a former Farah level Ba'ath party member, and is believed to be responsible for inciting anti-coalition activities in the Fallujah area; while Major General Mahmoud is an anti-coalition cell leader, and reportedly has direct ties to the former regime leader Saddam Hussein.

Civil affairs personnel conducted an analysis of the current economic situation Usophia (ph). Many citizens expressed appreciation for the projects, the veterans affairs and the unemployment offices, and the efforts of coalition forces to provide work for them.

In the central-south zone of operations, a demonstration of 500 persons occurred between 1000 and 1400 yesterday near the city council facility at al Kut. The demonstrators were dissatisfied with the local economy, jobs and fuel situation. Coalition forces fired warning shots, after shots were fired, to restore order. One demonstrator was killed and two were wounded by Iraqi police, and 19 demonstrators were detained.

In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces yesterday continued to monitor the situation in Al-Amarah. Two hundred persons gathered in front of the CMIC house, and a further 50 in front the town hall. After a bit of minor stone -throwing, and with the approach of coalition forces, the crowd turned peaceful and dispersed.

MR. SENOR: We are happy to take your questions.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Gregor Mayer from the German Press Agency. So the incident in Baqubah means it was not a suicide attack. And was this IED then detonated by remote control?

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: The information we have at this time is that he was captured and he's being held. And in the interrogation, we will find out further information.

MR. SENOR: General Ibrahim, perhaps can --

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: -- yes, provide -- may talk a little bit about his role in the former regime.

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. AL-KIFA'I: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: Before I take another question, I just also -- I'll let you know that Hamid al-Kifa'i is here, the spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council, who can also answer questions.

Yes, sir? Yeah.

Q: Sam Dagher with AFP. A question for General Ibrahim. (Continues in Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

(Off-mike conferral among briefers.)

GEN. KIMMITT: I think what is clear is that there were five killed at the site. Now if there is a clarification that needs to be done with the most current report, the report I have is a couple of hours old, and I would defer to General Ibrahim as to the most recent information.

MR. SENOR: Lisa, yes. Welcome back.

Q: Thank you. There's at least anecdotal evidence from talking to Iraqis that the troops are reacting much more vigorously, perhaps acting within -- what they would say is in a hypersensitive way towards Iraqis, and that this is actually creating sentiment against the American troops.

GEN. KIMMITT: (Off mike.) I'm sorry. Do you have any specific examples of that?

Q: (Off mike.)

(Off-mike conferral among briefers and interpreters.)

Q: Well, I mean, for, you know, a case in point, the family that was killed by passing the convoy in Tikrit, the civilians that have been killed this week. Talking to Iraqis on the streets, there's lots of anecdotal evidence that in fact the troops are what some people would say -- trigger-happy.

(Off-mike conferral among briefers and interpreters.)

GEN. KIMMITT: OK. I think we have the translated -- first of all, all of those examples that you were indicating are under an investigation. At this point, we have no conclusive evidence that any soldiers were involved in the incident in Tikrit. The 4th Infantry Division continues to investigate. They have not found any reports of any troops that were involved in that incident. But we certainly want to put to rest any perception that the troops are not operating within the rules of engagement. Our troops are trained and checked frequently and repeatedly on their capability to operate within the rules of engagement.

And on those very few instances where -- on an individual case-by-case basis, where the soldiers are not operating within the rules of engagement, we take those allegations very seriously, we investigate them very carefully, and if necessary, we take action.

MR. SENOR: I would just add, in terms of relations between the troops and the local population, in our polling, which gives us a macro perspective -- and the only caveat is that polling in a country that's developing like Iraq is right now -- the polling tends to be primitive. But we do see a few trends and themes over and over in all the polling.

One is the overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful for the liberation and grateful to be rid of Saddam Hussein. Those numbers typically range between 95 and 98 percent, sort of foil, if you will, to the election results Saddam Hussein used to generate himself, for himself.

The second thing we see over and over is that the Iraqi people do not like the liberation (sic), which is understandable. Nobody likes to be occupied.

But the third theme we hear over and over is that they do not want us to leave, they do not want the coalition troops to leave; that they are worried about what would happen to the security situation if the coalition withdraws.

So in summary, it's something along the lines of, "we're grateful to be rid of Saddam, we're sorry to be occupied, but please don't leave." Those last two are inherently contradictory. They're -- there's a tension between the two. But it's something we've seen consistently to this point. And if you ask Iraqis, who may be frustrated from time to time, if the solution is for us to leave, they'll say absolutely not. They want the coalition here to finish the mission.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: (In Arabic.)

INTERPRETER (?): (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: This woman right here. Sorry. We'll get to you.


Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: We have reports of three airplanes being shot down in the -- brought down in the Al Anbar region. Each of those are different cases. Each of those we're investigating. And in each of those cases, our pilots are taking -- took the appropriate action. And our pilots are investigating each of those incidents to make sure that they're using the proper TTPs in the future to avoid that in the future.

But simply, why were they brought down? That is because people who do not want to see peace brought to the country of Iraq aimed at them and attempted to bring them down, for no other reason than to kill coalition soldiers and prevent us from completing our mission. But we will not be deterred from completing our mission. And our pilots will not be cowed by cowards on the ground who would try to bring them down and shut them down. It just won't happen.


Q: Adrienne Monk from NBC News. I just want to follow up on Lisa's question because there is another incident that we've been told is under investigation from Monday evening when a roadside bomb went off on Palestine Street and an Iraqi family in a car were also killed. There's been some dispute as to how they were killed, whether it was from the bomb itself or if coalition soldiers shot at them.

Given the public perception, because you have eyewitnesses who apparently have come forward to journalists on the scene saying that they witnessed soldiers firing at innocent civilians, is there anything you're doing to combat this perception?

GEN. KIMMITT: First of all, the best way to combat perceptions is with the truth. Without going into the specific details of the investigation, which is being carried out by the 1st Armored Division at this time, we have had the division surgeon go down to the hospital; he was given permission to view the bodies. And it is his opinion at this point that these persons were not shot; there was no presence of bullets, either in the bodies or in the immediate area. And it is his medical conclusion at this point that this was done by shrapnel wounds that emanated from an IED at the location.


Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: I would just add to what General Ibrahim said: not only do we apply very strict de-Ba'athification standards to any individual that's recruited into a security position, but with regard to your question about ties to a former political party, we welcome all Iraqis to serve in the various security services, so long as they do not fall under the de-Ba'athifcation -- or not limited by the de- Ba'athification rules -- and certainly the new ones that are being implemented now by the Governing Council. And those that have ties to a political party, whether a political party or a former militia, are welcome to join as well, so long as they serve as individuals and not as representatives of any militia or any political party; so long as they are individual Iraqis who want to serve to defend and secure a united Iraq -- that is the critical component.


Q: Hi. Two questions: one for Dr. al-Kifa'i. Just with regard -- if you could clarify the apparent change in the family law that was voted upon and acted upon by the Governing Council.

And then one for the Brigadier -- Brigadier Ibrahim, if possible. If he could just speculate as to why there's been this up-tick in violence in the Baqubah area over the past week.

Thank you.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: Actually, I'm sorry, I don't have any information about the family law. I haven't looked at it yet.

MR. SENOR: (To Mr. al-Kifa'i) Do you want to follow up with him?

(To journalist) If you want to stick around for a minute, he can try and track it down.

MR. SENOR: What's your other question?

Q: (In Arabic) --

MR. SENOR: He's got one more question.

Q: I just wanted to ask if you could speculate or just give possible reasons as to why there's been this recent up-tick in car bombings, particularly in Baqubah.

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: David?

Q: David Ignatius from the Washington Post. You mentioned the two incidents yesterday in al Kut and al-Amarah where there were demonstrations, which continues a pattern of the last week or weeks. And I wonder if you see a different character of public protest with people in the streets protesting basic conditions of living, and if so, what are you doing about it?

MR. SENOR: We have no anecdotal or sort of broad, macro- statistical survey information to indicate an up-tick in protests. We have been seeing an outburst of protests and demonstrations since the fall of the former regime. Iraqis, certainly, in large numbers, embracing their new right to -- their new freedom of speech and right to protest, whether in favor of the things we're doing or against the things we're doing.

But to your question about economic living conditions, we are in the process now of doing a number of things, working with the Governing Council, on improving the economy. Some of it is long-term in nature; it's about repairing the infrastructure, repairing the electrical infrastructure, repairing the infrastructure of oil production, repairing the refineries, repairing the security infrastructure. These are critical criteria for a successful, flourishing economy and one that's not dependent on outside assistance. And so a good portion of the supplemental funds being deployed right now are dedicated towards that.

There are also some short-term components that stimulate the economy with a short-term infusion of cash; that is beginning to unfold right now. And when we look at contractors and subcontractors, we have an eye toward those that are going to put Iraqis to work right away. If you look at the former -- the last Bechtel contract, for instance, over 40,000 Iraqis, through subcontracts, were put to work through Bechtel.

We're also looking at capacity building -- which contractors and subcontractors have a commitment to developing an industry here? Take the construction industry, for example. We want there to be a construction industry that can flourish even when we're done, even when the coalition is complete in deploying our supplemental funds. So putting Iraqis to work, and building out capacity in industry so Iraqis will have more jobs, are all critical.

Some of the focus, as I said, is long-term, some of it very short-term. There certainly has been an infusion of cash in the economy since we arrived; certainly a number of different employees in different sectors are earning more now than they ever have before: teachers making four-to-five times as much as they earned in the former regime; police officers earning at least twice as much as they did under the former regime.

And as we continue to work through the country and work through the Commanders Emergency Response Program out in the field -- which we've tripled funds for that, so that's hundreds of millions of dollars being deployed, putting Iraqis to work and creating projects that employ Iraqis throughout the country, we'll get the short-term stimulus and also to continue to work on the long-term infrastructure repairs.

Yes? You've been very patient.

Q: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: We have always said that Saddam Hussein would be treated according to the Geneva Convention. And under the Geneva Convention, Saddam Hussein is an enemy prisoner of war, until determined otherwise. So the designation that was made neither affects nor determines the ultimate disposition of Saddam Hussein.

As President Bush has said, Saddam Hussein will face justice; it will be justice led and served by the Iraqi special tribunal; it will be the kind of justice that he denied to his own people, to the Iraqi people. So this will play out over the next little while.

But his ultimate disposition, Saddam Hussein's ultimate disposition, is neither determined, finalized, [nor] affected by this designation. This designation is just a fact; it's an international legal fact. As the head of a government and the head of an army with which the United States government was at war, Saddam Hussein's legal status under the Geneva Convention is that of an enemy prisoner of war until determined otherwise.

Yes, Ed?

Q: I have two questions: the first one is for General Kimmitt. Yesterday in Fallujah some civilians claimed that American soldiers opened fire sometime during or after a demonstration and killed two civilians. I was wondering, do you have any reports from the 82nd Airborne on anything related to this?

And then the second question is for Dan and Mr. Hamid. A representative from Ahmed Chalabi's party told Al-Jazeera earlier today that the U.S. government was thinking of reforming an intelligence service with some workers from the old intelligence service, and that this is something that the Governing Council was not informed of and that members of the Governing Council oppose this. Can you explain this further?

GEN. KIMMITT: The report that we have from the 82nd Airborne is that yesterday, midday, a convoy in Fallujah was attacked. They had three rocket-propelled grenades shot at them. American troops returned fire. It is our understanding that there were some Iraqi civilians wounded, collateral to the RPGs being fired at them. We are not aware of any Iraqi citizens being hurt or wounded as a result of that incident due to American activities or coalition activities.

MR. SENOR: As to your other question, Ed, as many of you know, there is one unit that has been trained -- and the deployment is beginning within the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps -- that is comprised of the -- of four, five political parties and recruits from their security services. The unit is comprised of, as I said, recruits from those five, from the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi National Accord, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the -- and SCIRI, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution.

And so we are putting those individuals to work. There were -- a few criteria we had for putting them to work in this unit were: that they would have to serve under the command and control structure of the coalition and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior; that they receive the most professional training in investigative skills and in operating in an environment which has respect for human rights and respect for democracy; and that they be recruited, as I said earlier, as individuals, as individual Iraqis, not as members of a political party, not as members of a militia. That's the unit that's at work right now.

Any other units that would be developed would be in consultation with the Iraqi Governing Council, would be developing consultation with the Iraqi minister of Interior. And so that's where that stands.

Yes, sir? Yeah?

Q: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: The future status of the American security presence in Iraq is something that's going to have to be negotiated as part of a status of forces agreement between the American government and the provisional Iraqi government, the future Iraqi leadership. That is part of the political process. That is laid out. It is -- the status of the American security in Iraq will move in a matter of months from occupational force to invited guest.

I would note, however, that today there are more Iraqis in Iraq in security services, defending and securing their own country, than there are Americans in security positions in Iraq. There are over 150,000 Iraqis today in security services positions, over 70,000 Iraqi police, between 7,000) and 8,000 in Baghdad alone.

And the coalition is working hand in hand with them. And you take the -- for instance, you take the first battalion of the Iraqi army, of the new Iraqi army, although now we just call it the Iraqi army -- we drop the word "new;" it is the armed forces of Iraq -- we have U.S. troops serving side by side with them, the Civil Defense Corps working closely with them.

But what you're going to see increasingly -- and this relates to some of the footage that General Kimmitt played here the other day -- you're increasingly going to see Iraqis in these security services on the front lines and the American security services there to back them up. So it'll be the Iraqis who play the key role and have the key interface with their fellow citizens and the Americans there, as I said, just as reinforcers.

We believe the Iraqis, certainly from a language standpoint, have an enormous advantage over us, and they have just -- they're more in touch with the rhythm of life here, with the culture, with these nuances that help certainly in intelligence gathering. They have a better sense for who is [a] foreign fighter and who is a domestic insurgent. They are better, as I said, at the interface with Iraqis. So it's important that they begin to migrate into frontline positions, and we'll be there to back them up. And assuming the Status of Forces Agreement goes the way that we hope, and I think the Governing Council hopes, the coalition and U.S. troops will continue to play that role; however, handing over more and more authority to the Iraqis.

I don't know if Dr. -- do you have anything to add?

MR. AL-KIFA'I: Yes. (In Arabic.)

(In English) Someone asked earlier about the family law. If I remember correctly -- I'm not quite sure; I haven't looked at it yet, but I think what it is, it is going to sort out a lot of problems because it will, you know, enable every Iraqi to sort his family affairs according to their religious doctrine that he believes in, or she believes in. So this will sort out a lot of problems, a lot of sectarian problems, when people use the doctrine that they believe in, their family believe in. This is the basis of the family law, which is going to be very effective, very important, and is going to save us a lot of time.

As far as Saddam Hussein -- and someone asked about why should he be considered a prisoner of war. This is not going to affect his position of someone who will be accused of war crimes, war against humanity, and genocide, and crimes against the Iraqi state. It's not going to affect it in any way. So, you know, please don't think it is a privilege given to Saddam Hussein; it's not. A prisoner of war can be a criminal as well, and this is definitely the case in the case of Saddam Hussein.

MR. SENOR: We have time for one more question.

Yes, sir?

Q: Steve Franklin, Chicago Tribune. I have two questions. The first one is for Dan Senor and Mr. Kifa'i. There's been news from Washington that there may be changes in the overall planning for the process towards having elections.

And the second one is for General Ibrahim. What are the latest figures on the number of police who may have resigned or been removed from their positions?

Thank you.

MR. SENOR: We are working now very closely with the Governing Council on the implementation of the November 15th agreement. This is an agreement that was signed and published by the Governing Council and the coalition. There have been concerns raised by various leaders in this country, both political and religious leaders. That is to be expected in a flourishing democracy.

There are two models going forward; one is a centralized government that is dictatorial in nature and allows for no freedom of thought or debate or dialogue. The other is a bottom-up, grassroots democracy that holds its government ultimately accountable by freedom of speech, and through elections and through a public dialogue. The latter is what is coming into play, into motion, in Iraq today in a very vibrant way. And so with that, you would expect a diversity of opinions about any political process, about any political agreement, to flourish.

As for the concerns raised by Ayatollah Sistani, Ambassador Bremer has said he has great, great respect for Ayatollah Sistani. He is a great leader with a deep tradition, and represents a large number of Iraqis. And we hope to continue to encourage leaders like Ayatollah Sistani to play a major role in this country, as he has certainly in the past few months, and for a very long time, certainly before we arrived. And we agree with Ayatollah Sistani on many things. We agree that the liberation is a good thing. We agree on democracy; we agree about the importance of democracy in Iraq. We agree that there should be direct elections in Iraq. And certainly, we have scheduled, in the November 15th agreement, two direct elections for 2005; direct elections for the drafters of the constitution, and direct elections for the next post-constitution Iraqi government.

We also agree that there should be an accelerated timeline for Iraq's path to sovereignty. And I would also add that we agree that when sovereignty is handed over, it must be handed over to a legitimate government, and the only way you can hand sovereignty over to a legitimate government is if it's a government that was created by some form of election. The only challenge, however, is if you want to do this accelerated path to sovereignty, it's difficult to hand sovereignty over to a government that has had some form of election, if you want to do direct elections in a country that has never had direct elections; that has not had a census in almost 20 years; that has no voter rolls, has no political party laws, has no constituency boundaries, has no electoral districts, has no electoral infrastructure, that takes time to develop. And our concern is if you go that path, it will ultimately delay the time at which we hand over sovereignty.

And so it's more of a technical and mechanical matter we're having a discussion about. And there is no -- there's nothing else to that. We are moving forward on the implementation of the agreement, as it was signed and published, with the Governing Council.

I don't know if you have anything to add to that.

MR. AL-KIFA'I: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: I think there was a question for General Ibrahim. Did you -- do you want to ask the question again, so -- do you want -- how about -- he may want to put on a headset.

STAFF: (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: Did you have a question for General Ibrahim?

Q: My question, again, is, General, we have been told that there have been repeated resignations from the police and that there have been officers removed. What are the numbers and percentages today?

GEN. IBRAHIM: (In Arabic.)

MR. SENOR: And I would just add that we have -- the coalition has recently unveiled a new hazard pay -- hazard duty pay schedule, pay scale, for all the Iraqi security services, for the Iraqi police. That is 130,000 dinars -- which is approximately 78 U.S. dollars -- monthly hazard pay. And there's a scale here that applies to all the security services' hazard pay to address these issues.

We are going to go. Dr. Hamid Kifa'i is going to stick around offstage or off the podium to answer any questions that any of you have, because the Governing Council was supposed to have its own press conference today, he just told me, and it's been postponed till tomorrow, where I understand Dr. Pachachi is going to be delivering a statement on the eve, if you will, or in advance of his trip to New York for meetings there. So that will be tomorrow. So for those who were hoping to come today -- apparently there was some confusion about it -- and just have general questions about Governing Council business, Dr. Kifa'i will stick around. Feel free to come up here. He'll be, as I said, offstage.

Do you have anything to add?

MR. AL-KIFA'I: No, I think -- (off mike).

Q: (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: All right. One last question.


GEN. KIMMITT: What was the question?

Q: (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: For Mr. Kimmitt, then I'm happy for them to ask one more.

GEN. KIMMITT: Are you sure that wasn't Mr. Senor?

(Cross talk.)

Q: (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: Let me take that question, and we will answer that for you. I don't have those facts with me at this time.

MR. SENOR: OK. Thanks, everybody.

(end transcript)