Bremer Hails Appointment Iraqi Cabinet Ministers
Bremer Hails Appointment of Iraqi Cabinet Ministers
Ministers to quickly assume responsibility for government operations
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator L. Paul Bremer has hailed the appointment of Iraqi cabinet ministers by the Governing Council September 1 as "another step on the path to Iraqi sovereignty."
Holding a news briefing September 2 in Baghdad, Bremer said the new ministers will "serve at the pleasure of the Governing Council. They will run the ministries. The day-to-day business of government is in their hands." As for the coalition advisers currently operating the ministries, Bremer said that as the new ministers "settle into their positions, the advisers from the coalition will not only yield authority, we will thrust authority on the new ministers."
Bremer said the appointment of cabinet ministers was the third step leading to an Iraqi governed by Iraqis. The first two, he said, were the appointment of the Governing Council and the subsequent appointment by the council of a preparatory committee to explore drafting an Iraqi constitution.
Bremer began the briefing by offering condolences for the murder of Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, and said the CPA has provided $200,000 in emergency medical support to the surviving victims of the attack. Many of the questions from reporters following Bremer's opening statement concerned security. In his answers, Bremer pointed out that when major combat operations ended in Iraq, Saddam Hussein had freed as many as 100,000 criminals from the prisons, and not a single policeman was on duty.
"It takes ... according to international standards, ... three months to train a new policeman," Bremer said. "We are actually going to try to do it in eight weeks. So, we're trying to cut a month off that in view of the urgency of building up the police force. But ... you can't get much faster than that and still have trained and responsible policemen," he said.
The transcript of Bremer's briefing follows:
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III
Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority
September 2, 2003
Bremer: Afternoon. Let me make a few opening comments if I can, please.
Let me first express my condolences, those of President Bush, the American people and the coalition, to the families of those innocent men and women killed and injured by the terrorist bomb in Najaf on Friday. Along with millions of Iraqis, we especially mourn the murder of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, and we present our condolences and sympathy to his family, friends and supporters.
Once again, as twice before in the past month, the terrorists have taken innocent lives. Once again, the terrorists have shown they will stop at nothing in the pursuit of their aims, but they shall be stopped. We will stop them. We shall combat them and we shall overcome them.
Even that tragic event could not derail Iraq's forward movement to democratic government. Yesterday, the Governing Council took another step on the path to Iraqi sovereignty. They appointed new ministers who serve at the pleasure of the Governing Council. They will run the ministries. The day-to-day business of government is in their hands. They will be involved in the final stages of the 2004 budget preparations, and they will have responsibility for operating their ministries according to those budgets. It is our intention to keep authority and responsibility closely linked, and therefore, as the ministers settle into their positions, the advisers from the coalition will not only yield authority, we will thrust authority on the new ministers.
With the appointment of a cabinet, Iraq has taken a third important step toward sovereign self-government. The first step was the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council in July. Last month, the Governing Council appointed a preparatory committee, which will determine the means by which Iraq will, for the first time, write her own constitution. And now, there are Iraqi ministers responsible for the executive functions of Iraq's government.
The path ahead to full Iraqi sovereignty is clear and visible: first, a constitutional convention or some similar mechanism to write a new, permanent constitution for Iraq. Second, that constitution will be submitted to the Iraqi people for approval in a referendum. And third, Iraqis will then hold elections, which will produce a fully sovereign Iraqi government.
Working with the Governing Council and Cabinet, I pledge the coalition's close support and assistance as we move together down this path.
Thank you. I welcome your questions.
Q: Carol Williams with the Los Angeles Times. One of our reporters was over at the hospital where the wounded policemen were taken from the bombing at the police station this morning, and there were some complaints by the police officers that the American trainers and coordinators had pulled out too early. Do you still have coalition forces working with each of the police stations as authority for neighborhoods is handed over to them?
Bremer: Yes, we do. I don't have more details about the attack near the police academy this morning, but I know that one of our senior advisers was actually in the academy at the time. And so we not only have people there, but we had people there this morning. But I'm afraid I don't have any additional information at this time on the actual bombing.
Yes, ma'am? Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: I think it is true that Iraq now faces an important terrorist threat. We have seen, as I think I have mentioned from this podium before, the influx of both foreign fighters and foreign terrorists in the last months. And it shows that Iraq is one of the battlefields on the worldwide war against terrorism.
We completely agree with the argument that we should find ways quickly to give Iraq and Iraqis more responsibility for security, and indeed that is exactly what we are doing. We have almost 40,000 Iraqis now in the Iraq police around the country. We have recruited at least three battalions -- full battalions of Iraqi civil defense corps, all in the last four weeks. The first battalion of the new Iraqi army is in training and will -- (audio break from the source) -- as -- (audio break) -- in facilities protective services around the country. And we have some 2,500 -- (audio break) -- who are -- (audio break) -- Iraqis are already involved in the security of their country, and we intend to increase that number as we go forward.
As for your question about training the police, we have -- (audio break) -- to 75,000 -- (audio break) -- to do that, we -- (audio break) -- assuring that the police have a high standard of training. And that means training not just in police work but training in human rights, respect for individual liberties, and the non-use of torture and force in law enforcement.
We hope that we will be able to reach the goal of 65- to 75,000 police officers by the end of 2004, but it will require a substantial increase in the amount of training, some of which may be conducted outside of this country, including in the country you mentioned, though there are no plans yet firmed up in that respect. We will continue to try to find the quickest and most cost-effective way to reach our goal of a substantial Iraqi police force, including by training them as necessary in countries other than Iraq.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: It occurs to me that many of you don't have earphones on, so those of you who don't speak Arabic may be not getting the questions. So I'll repeat it. The question has to do with whether we would consider using tribes in security in various parts of the country, including borders and power lines. The answer is yes, and we are already doing that in some sections of the country.
Q: Rashad (sp) from Kyodo News of Japan. Excellency, some Governing Council members came out recently sharply critical of the CPA security policy. Are we going to see a sort of rift on this issue between you and the council? And if so, what are the disagreement points here? Some here also accuse that why shouldn't there be an emergency law, as we are under war still?
Bremer: A what law?
Q: Emergency law. Some martial law, emergency law to deal with the security situation.
Q: Thank you.
Bremer: No, I don't think there's a difference of view. We share the view of the Governing Council. I've been meeting regularly with them now for two months. For two months, they have encouraged us to do what we were already doing, which is putting more Iraqis involved in Iraqi security. And as I mentioned in answer to the first -- or second question, we've been encouraged in moving forward in that direction. The Governing Council issued a statement welcoming that, a week ago Saturday. It didn't get much attention in the press, but if you go back and look at the statement, they issued a statement strongly encouraging us to continue to expand the Iraqi police force, the Iraqi Civil Defense Force, the border police, all of the things that I mentioned.
So, I do not -- (audio break) -- concern about the demands of the new threat environment on the coalition and on the Iraqi people; after all, it is the Iraqi people killed in these three bombings. Other than at the U.N., they were all Iraqis who have been killed in the Jordanian mission bombing and in Najaf.
So, this is a mutual concern we have. We're working closely with the coalition -- between the coalition and the Governing Council. And I don't see -- we share their frustration that these attacks should continue, but I do not see a rift. I don't think it's a -- I don't think having an emergency law resolves the problem at this point. What we need at this point is better intelligence to find out where the terrorists are who are killing Iraqis; better intelligence to find out who the people are who are stealing Iraq's wealth by blowing up pipelines and electricity pylons. That does not require an emergency law, it requires the cooperation of the Iraqi people and better intelligence, both of which we are now getting.
Q: I'm Pam Hess with United Press International. Could you be as specific as possible and explain what the Iraqis are talking about when they -- what kind of construct they have in mind when they say they would like to be in charge of their own security, and why it is the CPA doesn't seem to want to support that? I understand that you all are required under international law to assure security, but it seems like a supplementary organization might be a good idea.
And could you also describe for us in more detail what you have the tribes doing for you, and where?
Bremer: You're asking me to comment on what the Governing Council means when they say it. I think that's a question you should put to the Governing Council.
I can tell you that in the discussions we've had with the Governing Council -- and I've had them, as I say, going back two months -- it's been a fairly consistent discussion where they have encouraged us to do what we are doing, which is to build up an Iraqi police force, an Iraqi Civil Defense Force, to use the tribes, et cetera.
I can't -- I can't comment on what they think beyond that we should do. Under international law, we do have the fundamental responsibility for security here, as long as we are the sovereign power here. That means that the forces -- the military forces that are here, including the Civil Defense Force, are under coalition command. I don't find any responsible Iraqis, anyway, that I've been talking to suggesting that that should be different. We do have a joint security committee between the Governing Council and the coalition. We had a meeting -- in fact, two meetings yesterday to discuss ways in which we can work closer together. So, I don't anticipate -- I don't think there's any fundamental disagreement about the problem.
Obviously, if we could move more quickly -- for example, on the police -- that would make us all happy. But there is a problem with training police. You have to do it in a period of time. It takes eight -- a minimum, actually, according to international standards, of three months to train a new policeman. We are actually going to try to do it in eight weeks. So, we're trying to cut a month off that in view of the urgency of building up the police force. But there's a certain -- you can't get much faster than that and still have trained and responsible policemen.
Q: (Off mike) -- tribes?
Bremer: Well, I'm not going to go into any particular details; just to say that we have, for several months, been using tribes in various parts of the country to help us secure, in particular, pipelines and power lines. We have 18,000 -- or, 19,000 kilometers of power lines in this country and 7,000 kilometers of pipelines, and that's a very large amount of critical infrastructure that needs to be protected. And we have, for several months now, engaged selected tribes in helping us do that.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The question of how the constitution is written is a matter for the Iraqi people to decide, not the coalition. As I mentioned in my opening statement, the Governing Council, several weeks ago, appointed a preparatory committee to decide to make a recommendation to the Governing Council on how the constitution should be written. They have been told to report back to the Governing Council by September 15th. I presume they will come back with some recommendation on what the process should be, and at that time, the questions can be asked about what the roles of various people will be in writing the constitution.
Our principle is quite clear. The constitution should be written by the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi people. And when the constitution is written, it should then be subjected to an approval process, as I suggested, a referendum, so that the Iraqi people for the first time in their history can write and approve their own permanent constitution. What the role of the political parties will be in that, it seems to me, lies in the future.
I wasn't -- I'm not too clear on your question about investment contracts in Iraq for Iraqis. The current law on direct foreign investment in Iraq is restrictive. It allows only 49 percent investment in -- investments in Iraq, and only then by citizens of Arab countries. So the law is discriminatory -- the existing law is discriminatory against non-Arabs.
We have been discussing with the Governing Council the widespread view, particularly by the World Bank and the IMF, that Iraq should -- the new Iraq should change that law to welcome foreign investment from all countries, under a much more liberal investment regime.
In the meanwhile, the coalition itself, in its expenditures of money here, is operating under direct guidance from me to direct as much as possible of all of our expenditures to Iraqi companies. And I think we will find, as time goes on, that a very large percent of all of our contracts are in fact being given to Iraqi companies. The exceptions are when we required to import large-scale machinery that is not made in Iraq. Then we obviously can't source that locally. But we are making every effort to assure that as much as possible the money that we're spending on Iraq is spent in Iraq.
Yes, ma'am? In the back.
Q: Theola Labbe, Washington Post. What do you say, then, about the resignations on the council of membership over security issues? I mean, then -- that does seem to send a message that is some disagreement about how security is headed and what the CPA's role is in that.
Bremer: Well, I'm not aware of any resignations, unless they've happened in the last half an hour. One member of the council has said that he will suspend his membership until he's assured of better security at the holy sites. We are working and have been working for more than a month with the (inaudible) and with the secular leaders in Najaf and Karbala to improve the security of the holy sites. We offered -- have offered several times since liberation to put coalition forces into and around the holy sites and have been politely told by the religious leaders that they did not want coalition forces there, which we understood.
We have provided, at the request of the governor before the attack last week, uniforms and weapons for a special police that he intends to put around the holy sites in Najaf. Since the attack, we have provided $200,000 in emergency medical support to the victims, the surviving victims of the attack, and we are in basically constant contact with both the religious and secular leaders at the holy sites to improve the security. So I am confident that we will, in fact, improve the security around the holy sites, which is, as I say, the only circumstance I'm aware of.
Q: So you're not concerned about someone, then, suspending membership? That's not something that would concern you?
Bremer: Well, I think -- I think I can understand Mr. Bahr al-Uloum's anguish. As a respected religious leader, a Shi'ite leader, he feels a special concern over the attack in Najaf, as we all do. And I think in due course we will welcome him back to the Governing Council.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: I keep forgetting to repeat the question; I'm sorry. The question was about the -- was there a difference -- if I understood it -- in the investigation attention to the U.N. bombing and the bombings in Najaf. And the second part was, who is doing the investigation in Najaf? Is it being left to the Iraqis?
We are giving attention to all three bombings -- the bombing in Jordan -- the Jordanian mission, the bombing at the U.N. and the bombing in Najaf. We have been asked by the governor of Najaf for the FBI to assist in the investigation as the FBI assisted in the investigations of the Jordanian and U.N. missions. And so we have, of course, said we would respond favorably to that request for assistance, and we will provide assistance. We take all three of these bombings very seriously. They have all involved the loss of innocent life and, in the case of Najaf, a particularly heinous crime, attacking at one of the holiest sites in Islam. So, we will give every effort. We'll leave no stone unturned to investigate and help the Iraqi police bring the perpetrators to justice.
Q: Yes, Andrew England from the Associated Press. If you're not getting the intelligence required now to catch these guys who are carrying out these attacks, what's going to have to change before you do get that intelligence?
Bremer: There are essentially two aspects to improving the intelligence. One of them is, and the most important -- it is to find ways to encourage Iraqis to come to us with information about the people who are perpetrating these attacks. And this is happening. It has been happening now, as many of you will remember my saying before, for about five weeks, when we started to see increasing numbers of Iraqis coming in and providing useful tactical intelligence to Iraqi police and to our coalition forces, basically all over the country, about where weapons were hidden, people who were importing weapons, people who were committing crimes.
And we will encourage that -- I believe that that will then affect the second area, which is as we begin to -- as we increase the number of Iraqis involved in their own security, whether through the police, the border police, the civil defense corps, the areas I mentioned earlier -- we will find increasing amounts of information coming into us. We have encouraged any Iraqis who have information about alleged terrorist attacks in particular, but also attacks on pipelines and power plants, to come and give us that information. And we are getting a steady flow of information.
Of course, as is always the case in the world of intelligence, you have to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. It's not always obvious what information is, in fact, useful and what information is actionable, and therefore, you can take action on it. But we will continue, I think, and we will get an increased flow of this intelligence, as we have, in fact, already seen in the last five weeks.
In front of you. You had your hand up.
Q: Yeah -- (off mike) --
Bremer: I know, and --
Q: I'm with the New York Times. Dexter Filkins. I just wanted to maybe take issue a bit. The council members that I've talked to, and many of the Iraqis who I've talked to recently, have expressed a lot of frustration with the security policies that -- that the Coalition Authority is conducting. And just as an example, on Saturday, when there was a big demonstration out in front of the Republican Palace, the SCIRI people were here, and as you know, they have hundreds of their own guys in the Badr brigade, and the leaders were saying, "I don't know how much longer we can keep these people on a leash. They want to do things, they want to help, they want to provide security."
So I'm wondering, how are you doing to acknowledge that frustration and deal with it? And do you have any specific plans to try to incorporate some of these militias and people that they have out there so that they can help?
Bremer: We believe that there is not a role in the new Iraq for organized militias. We do not believe organized militias are consistent with an independent, unified Iraq. However, we have encouraged members of militia, including the Badr Corps, to play a role in security. There are members of militia already; indeed, there are members of the Badr Corps who have already enlisted, for example, in one of the battalions of the Civil Defense Corps that I mentioned. So, it's not as if they don't have a way to play a role; they do have a way to play a role.
We do not believe that militia, whether it's the Badr Corps or other militias, themselves should go around as armed units acting in a security function. We think in the long run, that is not consistent with a unified country with its own police force and its own army. And so, over the period ahead, we will, hopefully, see these militia play a lesser role, though the individuals who are in the militia are welcome to, and have, indeed, already joined both the police force and the new Iraqi army and the civil defense corps.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The coalition has no intention of changing the constitution, as I tried to make clear in my earlier answer. The constitution will be written by the Iraqi people, not by the coalition. We don't intend to change it, we don't intend to "unchange" it. It's going to be done by the Iraqi people. It will be written by Iraqis for Iraqis, and it will then be put to the Iraqi people for their approval.
We -- as I tried to explain earlier -- have been in constant talk, long before the tragic attack on Friday, with the authorities, religious authorities, in Najaf, Karbala and other places about providing security, and we have met every single request for security that has been made of us. We are in talks now about -- in the wake of this attack, whether they would like us to provide additional security, and if we are asked, we will of course provide it.
Q: (Off mike.)
Bremer: I'll come to you.
Q: (Off mike.)
Bremer: No, let me -- let him go first.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The first question had to do with the Iraqi police plans for security, if I understood it. I'm -- but I'm not too clear what is meant by that.
The Iraqi police -- there are almost 40,000 of them now -- are playing the role a police force plays, which is to try to stop crime. There are -- this is a big job, not the least because Saddam Hussein let something like 100,000 prisoners out of all of the prisons in this country before liberation. And we have to find a way to catch those people. Many of them are murderers. Many of them are conducting the kidnappings and carjackings that are happening. And that is essentially what the role of the police is -- to stop that crime. They are conducting regular patrols here in Baghdad, in Basra, in other major cities, day and night, to try to find criminals, and they are indeed arresting criminals.
The second question was about the role of the Iraqi media -- compared to foreign media, I guess, was the implication -- being weak. We have a -- the Iraqi Media Network, which the coalition supports, is now broadcasting regularly to and can be received by 70 percent of the population in Iraq. The Iraqi Media Network radio can be received by 85 percent of the population in Iraq.
I think it's a start. I think its programming can be improved, and we will be taking steps to improve its programming.
But we don't believe in controlling the press. We believe that one of the major attributes of the liberation is the freedom of the press. And so we're delighted to see now something like 160 new newspapers since liberation. And we believe that as long as the broadcasting and journalism takes place in a spirit of freedom that is a healthy sign and one that we should welcome.
Now, I'll come to my friend next to you. (Pause.) Only one today, though.
Q: Two, two, two.
Bremer: Two, OK. (Chuckles, laughter.) It's always a negotiation.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The first question was whether I have an analysis of the reason behind the attacks on the U.N. and Najaf. I don't know what the reason was. One can speculate that the attack on the U.N. was an effort to show -- to chase the international community out of Iraq. It didn't work and it won't work. I don't know what the attack in Najaf was for, and I think we won't know until we catch the perpetrators and can ask them what they intended.
Whatever their intention was, they certainly committed an awful act of barbarism, killing in both cases, if it -- and in the case of the Jordanian mission -- innocent people, most of them Iraqis. Terrorism has a very ugly and evil face, and the fight against terrorism is a worldwide fight. Iraq is now one of the fields of battle, and we're going to have to win that battle here. And we will win that battle here.
The second question had to do with the Iraqi police and their arms and equipment. The coalition has recently taken delivery of tens of thousands of weapons intended for the Iraqi police. They're in the process of being distributed to the Iraqi police now. That is to say, AK-47s, and we will soon have pistols for all of the Iraqi police, as well, in the next couple of weeks. We have also ordered uniforms -- all of the equipment they need, which means vests, which they've never had before -- bulletproof vests.
As for their pay, they are being paid substantially more than they were ever paid under Saddam. We are in the process of finalizing proposals for a new salary scale, and we will have an announcement about that in the next couple of days, which will also affect not only the police, but the entire civil service, putting the salary scales, we think, on a more equitable basis. And this will also affect the police.
Let me come to this side.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: First question is that since September 11th, the United States has been successful in avoiding repeat attacks in the United States, if I understood it. And the question is will we be able to succeed here in Iraq in preventing attacks; what lies ahead? And a related, second question is, how do we prevent terrorist attacks? And it's really the same question.
One of the problems that is important to remember about fighting terrorism -- and that is what we're fighting here -- is that it is an asymmetrical fight. That is to say that the people who are in favor of an orderly society, which is us and the vast majority of the Iraqi people, have to find a way to defend everything everywhere all the time. And that's not possible. You can't defend every building in every city 24 hours a day. The terrorist, for his part, merely has to find the most weakly defended point and attack it. So there is a structural advantage to terrorism. It is the advantage of the weak attacking the strong, and it is a fact of life in fighting terrorism.
And so when you ask what can you do to prevent it, you can take prudent measures to make obvious targets better defended. That doesn't stop an attack on a soft target that is not well-defended, but you can take obvious steps. And secondly, and most importantly -- I've referred to it already twice, I'll say it again -- you have to get good intelligence about the terrorists before they attack so that you can go kill them before they come and kill you. And intelligence lies at the heart of any good counterterrorist policy, and intelligence is a very important element of the coalition strategy at this time.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: No. Never happened. Sorry.
In the back.
Q: (Off mike) --
Bremer: Can you get to a mike, please?
Q: Has any progress at all been made in catching those responsible for any of these attacks? Has anyone been detained from the Najaf attack, the Jordanian embassy attack? And what progress has been made? It's been three weeks, I think.
Bremer: This is a question which you should direct at the Iraqi police who are in charge of those investigations. I understand that the governor of Najaf has made some statements about people being detained in Najaf. As I said earlier, we are going to offer all assistance possible. Obviously, given the fact that today is a day of funeral, we're not doing that today. We will have our people on the ground there in the next couple of days. But at the moment, I'm not going to go any further than what the governor said.
Q: What about the U.N. and the Jordanian Embassy attacks?
Bremer: I'm afraid those, too, you have to address to the Iraqi police. I think the chief of police, Ahmad Ibrahim, has done several press conferences. I'm sure when he has something to announce, he'll do another one.
Yes, next to you.
Q: Yeah, back to the police. Another complaint they have is that the legal infrastructure does not exist any longer for them to get warrants, to go to courts, and so forth, to pursue and prosecute criminals. What do you say to that?
Bremer: Well, we've come a long way. When we arrived here on April 9th, all 151 prisons in the country were closed; most of them basically burned down. There were no courts open. There was not a single policeman in the country. There was no rule of law.
Today we have 37,000 police. We have 49 of the 151 prisons reopened. We have 300 of the country's 400 courts open and working.
So, I don't accept that there has not been a legal infrastructure. I think there has. I have, by decree, six or seven weeks ago, confirmed that we are operating under the 1969 criminal code. I amended that code, subsequently, in three important respects; to provide that for the first time in Iraq's history, a defendant has a right to a lawyer from the beginning of the judicial process. Secondly, that a defendant has the right to be silent without that incriminating him or her. And thirdly, that torture is no longer allowed in the Iraqi criminal system.
So, I don't accept the hypothesis that we don't have a system. We do.
Q: Rosalind Russell (sp) from Reuters. I have a question about the northern oil pipeline. When it went down in the middle of August, it was expected to be back up again on September the 4th. But there have been several more acts of sabotage on the line since then. Do you expect it to be running by then? And if not, do you have any idea when?
Bremer: Well, the attack which occurred over the weekend was actually not on the export pipeline. The attack you're referring to, I think, several weeks ago, was on the export pipeline. The attack over the weekend was between the Kirkuk fields and the export pipeline. It was an act of sabotage, and will take, I'm told, some time to repair, some weeks to repair.
I'm not -- I believe that the repair of the northern pipeline is on schedule. But, obviously, if we have a pipeline break between Kirkuk and that line, then we have a problem of how we get to the main export line.
I should say, I think it's important to stress that these attacks are not attacks on the coalition. These are attacks on the Iraqi people. This is money that belongs to the Iraqi people. Every day the northern pipeline was closed down cost the Iraqi people $7 million. The revenues from the oil from this country belong 100 percent to the Iraqi people. So, when these people attack those pipelines, they are attacking the Iraqi people, and that should stop.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The first question had to do with -- I think it was recapturing the prisoners. Is that -- was that what you were trying to ask, the first question?
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The rebuilding of prisons?
Bremer: OK, the rebuilding of prisons. Thank you. I wasn't clear.
Well, as I said, we have reopened 49 of the 151 prisons in the country, and we have a program to continue that as fast as we can do it. It is a problem because I don't remember how many beds we have in the 49 prisons we've reopened, but it certainly isn't enough for all of the criminals, considering that the baseline is probably 100,000, just if you take the people that Saddam let out.
Plus, as we rebuild these prisons, we are rebuilding them to modern standards. At Abu Gharib, for example, where I visited several weeks ago, each cell used to hold 50 men. And if you look at the cell, you could imagine that they were not even able to sit down in that room. Those cells have each now been turned into cells that have eight big beds for eight prisoners. So, as we modernize -- as we reopen the prisons, we are also modernizing them. And that, of course, will in fact mean we need more of them, because as you can see, we take a room that had 50, and now we have only eight.
On the question -- the second question was about reopening the airports. The reason we have delayed the reopening of the airports has to do with our -- has to do with being sure that when we do reopen them, we have adequate security in place, adequate immigration and customs procedures in place. And once those requirements are met, we will open the airports.
Q: (Name inaudible) -- with the Wall Street Journal. I'm wondering, Ambassador Bremer, what do you say to Iraqis who blame the coalition for the -- Iraq becoming a battlefield for foreign terrorists, and say there were never car bombs before the war? And are you concerned that this may actually create more resentment toward your presence?
Bremer: Well, I guess my answer would be that -- would be twofold. Number one, terrorism is not new in Iraq. The government of Iraq was a terrorist government, a terrorist government which terrorized its own people. Saddam Hussein, by several reports I've seen, killed more Muslims than any other man in history; most of them, his own citizens. Mass graves are opened almost every day. I think we're approaching something like 100 of them now. There was terror on this land under Saddam Hussein. It was, perhaps, not car bombs; it was a more silent and in some ways a more awful terrorism.
So I would say to Iraqis I understand their anguish -- and share it -- about the car bombs. It's a fight we're now going to have to win here -- this fight against terrorism.
But the Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don't have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over.
Q: (In Arabic.)
Bremer: The question is about a pipeline across the Saudi border, as I understand it, from Iraq. I just am not informed. I will have to get you an answer. I honestly don't know.
OK. Last question.
Q: Ambassador Bremer, what is the exact relationship between the CPA advisers and --
Bremer: Oh, I'm sorry. (Chuckling.) I thought you were going to speak in Arabic. Usually you talk Arabic, so I'm listening, wondering -- I'm not getting this very well. (Laughter.)
Q: OK, sir. What is the exact relationship between the CPA advisers and the new ministers in Iraq, a new Iraqi government?
Bremer: The CPA advisers are now preparing briefing books for the new ministers, to give them books that provide them advice on what the major policy issues are and on the budget. And they will continue to be advisers to the ministers. The ministers, as I said in my opening remarks, will be responsible for running the ministries, determining the policies. They will be responsible to the Governing Council, answerable to the Governing Council, for policies and budgets.
Q: Sorry, sir. Who is the supervisor of these ministries? One of the Governing Council or of these advisers?
Bremer: No, the Governing Council supervises the ministers. The Governing Council supervises the ministers. This is an important step forward in the -- as I said, it's a very important step on the path of a fully sovereign Iraqi government. The ministers will have executive authority, and they are responsible to the Governing Council.
Thank you very much.