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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bremer Holds News Conference

Aired April 4, 2004 - 08:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you straight to Iraq, where civilian administrator Paul Bremer is speaking now at a press conference. Let's listen in.
PAUL BREMER, U.S. CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: ... freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of the press. We've seen these freedoms exercised vigorously all over the country in the last 10 months in press conferences, in television debates, and in peaceful demonstrations. And that is welcomed. But those freedoms must be exercised peacefully.

This morning, a group of people in Najaf have crossed the line and have moved to violence. This will not be tolerated. This will not be tolerated by the coalition. This will not be tolerated by the Iraqi people. And this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi security forces.

Ultimately, the Iraqis must have responsibility for protecting their own land and their own people. That is why the coalition is putting so much emphasis on recruiting and training Iraqis to serve in Iraq's security forces. That is why the American government is spending billions of dollars to recruit, equip and train Iraq's security forces.

Every day, Iraqis assume greater responsibility for their own security. Iraq's defense forces are growing. And today, over 200,000 Iraqis are serving on duty, and their numbers continue to grow.

Maximizing the effectiveness of these forces requires that they operate in concert with the police and other forces, including the coalition, with the benefit of the best intelligence available and an obedience to the instructions of a democratic government. To integrate Iraq's military, intelligence and political efforts I am today creating three institutions. Together they will give the new Iraq the architecture and means to formulate security policies appropriate to Iraq's security needs.

These institutions are, first, the Ministry of Defense; second, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service; and finally, the Ministerial Committee for National Security. These organizations will give Iraqis the means to defend their country against terrorists and insurgents. Given Iraq's recent history, it has also been important to ensure that Iraq's national security organizations are open to public scrutiny and under political control. The transitional administrative law which provides Iraq with the path to sovereignty, elections, and democracy also provides fundamental protections against tyranny. Under the transitional law, civilian control of the military is firmly established. Operational authority over the military flows from the prime minister, who must be an elected civilian through the minister of defense who must also be a civilian, to the military chain of command. As an additional defense against unchecked power, the transitional administrative law makes the prime minister and all ministers subject to oversight by the elected National Assembly. Iraq has too much sad experience of unbridled power to permit too much power, once again, to reside in one set of hands.

Intelligence is the indispensable tool against terrorism. It is the single most valuable tool used to counter the terrorists' advantages of ruthlessness and initiative. But, as Iraqis and many others know, intelligence services can present their own threats to citizens' rights and democratic governance. For that reason, the governing council is today publishing the complete charter of Iraq's new intelligence service. Now all Iraqis can know the intelligence services authorities. They will be able to judge its performance against that charter. Additionally, it is important for all Iraqis to know that the new Iraqi National Intelligence Service, or INIS, will have no power to arrest people, removing another power abused so often by Saddam Hussein. The INIS is also forbidden, by this charter, from reporting on domestic political issues or involving itself in the political process.

The director general of the INIS will be appointed by the head of government and confirmed by the National Assembly. Ladies and gentlemen, Iraq is fortunate that two of her most distinguished citizens have agreed to accept these two vital posts which have been created. Ali Allawi. a financier with degrees in engineering, planning, and management, as well as a record of opposition to Ba'athism, has agreed to leave his post as interim minister of trade and become interim minister of defense.

Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed al-Shehwani has agreed to become interim director general of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. His record of service to Iraq began in 1955 when he joined the Iraqi army. He rose to rank of major general before being forced out by Saddam's government in 1984. Eventually, forced into exile, he returned to Iraq in 2003 to fight against Saddam's regime.

Gentlemen, I congratulate you both, not just on your new posts, but on your long record of opposition to tyranny. I am sure you will serve the people of Iraq with distinction. And I am sure the Iraqi people will thank you for your contribution to their future of hope. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

Ladies and gentlemen, we are honored to have with us today the president of the governing council, Mr. Barzani, who would like to say a few words.

MASSUD BARZANI, PRESIDENT, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL (through translator): In the name of God, most peaceful, most compassionate, a few minutes ago we received information about an act of violence that took place in Najaf, regrettably. The Iraqi citizens have the right to express their opinions in a peaceful way. This is a democracy, but to resort to violence, this is something that is totally rejected, rejected by the Iraqi people in its entirety. We cannot accept resorting to violence. Every act that leads to violence and to the losses of individuals and coalition forces is something we condemn strongly and hope everybody would resort to peaceful means and democratic means to express their opinions.

Today the appointment of a minister of defense and a director general of intelligence is another important step on the road to building the institutions of the state. But the difference between the ministry of defense now and the ministry of defense, the previous department of defense and intelligence is that the department of defense now must focus on creation an army that will protect citizen. But in the past the ministry of defense was supervising an army that was oppressing the people. The intelligence service was...

WHITFIELD: You're listening there to the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Barzani, there. His comments follow comments coming from the U.S. Civil Administrator, Paul Bremer. This press conference coming out of Baghdad, Iraq, on a day when both in Baghdad as well as in Najaf they're seeing a number of large crowds forming demonstrations there, some which have become violent particularly in Najaf and our Jim Clancy is in Baghdad following the developments, there. And this significant announcement of new security measures being launched by the Iraqi governing council on this day, isn't it?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is significant. It was expected, because everyone knows that in order to have a structure here within Iraq, a credible structure, they're going to need a ministry of defense. The ministry of intelligence already seen as one of the most crucial things to combat the kind of attacks that have been going on against, not only coalition troops, but particularly against Iraqi police. You have to remember, more than 350 Iraqi police have been killed, increasingly we've seen in the last few days police chiefs in various cities in the north and in the south being attacked -- assassination bids. No one appears safe. This is undermining confidence in the transfer of sovereignty that's expected to come on June 30. Now, these people will have just 90 days to try to get things in order, to establish some kind of a set of ground rules here. And, as I am told by U.S. officials the important thing, in all of this is to stress the head of the Iraq's new defense department and Iraq's intelligence agency, to stress that these are civilians that they are under civilian control of the elected National Assembly though that assembly hasn't been elected yet.

So, some very important moves, you heard the comments there coming about these -- the violence that we have seen this day near Najaf in Kufa for supporters of a Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Spanish troops and Iraqi police and military, there. We have reports from news agencies, "Routers," saying that they have polled several hospitals, 19 dead, as many as 100 wounded. The toll could go higher, so an important day to talk about defense and intelligence. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Jim Clancy in Baghdad, thanks very much for that update.

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