CPA spokesmen Senor and Kimmitt on Zarqawi and the letter

Q (Through interpreter.) Maram (sp) from -- (inaudible). What do you expect that Zarqawi will gain from all these attacks against civilians? How will he hinder their government through these acts? Can't you put an end to this, bloody acts against the Iraqi people?

MR. SENOR: What I think his strategy is is essentially to link the occupation with the havoc that he is intending to wreak here in Iraq. So in the minds of Iraqis, if he can provoke ethnic bloodshed, if he can provoke civil war, if he can pit the Shi'a against the Sunni and the Sunnis against the Kurds, and create a result in which a lot of Iraqis will die, and all this happens during the occupational period, somehow Iraqis will revolt against the path that they are currently working with the coalition on pursuing, which is a path towards a sovereign, democratic Iraq.

He says in the letter that once the coalition hands over political sovereignty and the Iraqis are on a path towards developing a sovereign, democratic government, the terrorists will lose their pretext; that's his word not mine. They will lose their excuse for operating here in Iraq. So my view is whether or not he was involved in this attack, the attacks that he has been involved in and whoever was behind this attack, their goal was to create this sense of instability, foster and provoke a sense of frustration among Iraqis so that they revolt against the path on which they're making so much progress right now.

GEN. KIMMITT: And you asked a very interesting question about what is his vision, what is his purpose. And that's the hardest thing to understand and the hardest thing to explain, because all that the terrorists offer -- the type of terrorists such as Zarqawi and al Qaeda -- is 10 centuries old. They offer a return to a country that would look much like Afghanistan did after the Taliban took over there; one where individual rights are not respected, one where democracy is not respected, one that is kept in very, very tight control by those that are not elected by the people. And that is probably the most foreboding aspect of what the terrorists bring. It is not just the death and destruction that they bring, but it's their vision of the future that they're trying to impose on your country. And that's why we're absolutely convinced that this mission is so critically important and why we are also so convinced that the terrorists will fail.

MR. SENOR: Yes, Steve?

Q As you guys probably well know, after almost every bombing, including last night, there are people in the crowd who will say: "It was a missile. I saw American helicopters. It was an American missile." I mean, spreading stories like that. I'd like to know, first off, how you deal with that as a communications problem, because there seem to be an awful lot of people who end up believing these theories, they get widely spread around. And secondly, in this particular instance, I wonder if you could explain just a little more of the basic science. How do you know that the pieces of the car that you discovered were the ones that contained the explosives?

GEN. KIMMITT: On the first issue about trying to quell rumors, we all know how difficult that is and our only solution to that is -- first of all, as we so often see at times like this, there is a tremendous amount of grief and anger that outpours, and that grief and anger often is pouring out against the coalition. But we understand that that is temporary, that's transitory, and the most important thing to happen is to get the soldiers at the right time back out on the streets, side by side with their coalition partners; for the people to understand when the dust settles that the coalition is here for their security, it is here for their safety and it is here to advance the sovereignty of this nation.

As for the science, I would have to defer to a forensics expert, but it would be hard to imagine that, as we saw today, that a vehicle somewhere near an explosion of this magnitude would have a cracked engine block, an engine that was completely exploded, parts of transmissions all around and the number of pieces that this vehicle had exploded into. All the forensics experts would suggest that the vehicle parts that were found were probably at the loci of the explosion. But I'd leave that judgment to the forensics experts and we can be proven wrong, but in this case the evidence suggests otherwise.


Q Thanks, Dan. Mr. Zarqawi's name is mentioned almost every day here. Aside from the letter, which may or may not be genuine, what actual evidence do you have that he is responsible for any of these attacks?

GEN. KIMMITT: There's a body of intelligence evidence that connects him and his group to a number of these attacks.