Q: Is there a specific plan to step up security? What more can you do or Iraqi forces do to bring this city back to a peaceful situation?
A: Well, as we continue to interact, really, on a daily basis with the government of Iraq and talk to their senior officials, both in the ministry of defense, the ministry of interior, the senior politicians, it's a multi-pronged approach that's going to occur in the city. They're going to put the emphasis on security in terms of military, and police, and national police operating within there to bring a more stable environment, to reduce the level of violence, but they're gonna focus on economic efforts too, and they're going to bring more economic jobs and opportunities inside the city for the people. Because if you can get the people, if you can get these young men back to work and give them a hope and a promise for the future, that's going to give them less of an ability to be influenced and sucked in to some kind of anti-Iraqi elements who might be doing something just to make money. And then the unity peace is huge, and the more the politicians continue to show that they mean what they say in unifying this country back together, the greater the possibility is that we're gonna show tremendous progress by the December time frame.
Q: Some say that the increased number of checkpoints has made it more dangerous -- harder to move around. Is there something that can be done to make that situation safer?
A: You know there's the government of Iraq and us look at that and do analysis of it, and it's not at the checkpoints that we're seeing the level of violence and seeing the casualties produced. It's away from the checkpoints, and in fact the checkpoints have proved very effective in identifying vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, identifying the kidnappers, picking up weapons that are being stored in vehicles and trying to be moved around the city, and then through intelligence sources we in fact can hear and understand that we're having an impact on their ability for free movement. So the inconvenience that the citizens themselves are experiencing ultimately is having a better effect for them in terms of helping reduce some of that violence.
Q: Anything you can do to protect those targets that are repeatedly hit? The mosques, the market zones in particular?
A: I know the government of Iraq is looking at that very closely, and that the mosque is an area that they ultimately do want to put a lot of protection on. And I think you're gonna see some adjustments in their plans, which I should let them talk about but I know they've been talking about the adjustments they're going to make in their plans and take that into consideration just in the last twenty-four hours.
Q: I think a lot of people in Baghdad think it takes more than a few adjustments. People are scared to go out now. They think their city, as one parliamentarian said today, is on the verge of civil war.