Contractors in Iraq, Civil Strife, and the Loan to Fisker — Today’s Qs for O’s WH — 10/21/11

Oct 21, 2011 4:03pm

TAPPER: Did you guys have any sort of estimate as to how many security contractors are going to be — are going to be left behind or will be in Iraq?

DENIS MCDONOUGH, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have some estimates. I think it’s around 4(,000) to 5,000 security contractors and various forms of security, be that for site security. Remember, we have at least three diplomatic posts. We have a consulate down in Basra, we have a consulate up in Erbil, and then we have that embassy in Baghdad. And then obviously we’ll — we’re going to have our people driving around and everything else. So you guys see, even around here, that we have — everybody has their security details. We’re obviously continuing to negotiate this with the Iraqis, but we’ll make sure that we have the kind of presence that we need, both as it relates to their fixed-site security but also on their ability to move around and do their job.

TAPPER: ..Can I just ask one more question? I’m sorry. It’s just — it was just five or six years ago — and I understand it’s been a lot of progress since then — but just five or six years ago that there was concern that civil war was going to break out in Iraq. I’m wondering what concerns do you have about how secure the Sunnis or Kurds or any other minority will be in this new sovereign state.

TONY BLINKEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO THE VICE PRESIDENT: Jake, I think what we’ve seen is that politics has taken hold in Iraq.

That’s been the big story over the last two to three years. And increasingly, Iraqis are figuring out how to resolve their differences through a political process. And it’s not always pretty, it’s not always linear, but they work through their problems through the political system. And that has taken a lot of the fuel out of the sectarian problem.

The other thing I think is worth pointing out is that, of course, there continues to be a real security challenge in Iraq, but you’ve got to put it in context. If you will go back to 2007-early 2008, there were about 1,500 security incidents every week. Now we’re down to around a hundred a week. So we’ve seen more than a ten-fold decrease, and this has been sustained over the last couple of years.

So the bottom line is, we think that because the Iraqi security forces are increasingly competent and capable of dealing with internal security, and because of the emergence of politics as the basic way of doing business, the sectarian fuse — you can never say never, but it’s unlikely, or less likely certainly, to be lit again,

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TAPPER: So I — if you could comment on a report, a Brian Ross report about the $529 million to a company called Fisker? They make electric cars, but there was no facility in the United States that could make them. So they’re being manufactured in Finland.

JAY CARNEY: I’d be delighted to answer that because, as was known in the case that — the car that is being manufactured in Finland was always going to be manufactured in Finland. The loan that is being provided is not — the funds as provided to Fisker are not being used — as I believe the CEO said to ABC – not being used for its facilities in Finland.

There are already jobs on the ground in the United States, both directly at the plant in Wilmington and at the headquarters on the West Coast. And the model that will be built in the United States will be built in the United States. And that the loan program that was provided will assist in that endeavor. Not only that; the model that is being built in Finland relies on suppliers and others here in the United States to — for its manufacture.

So I think what was discovered in that piece is that this plant is doing exactly what it said it would do, this company is doing exactly what it said it would do, and that we anticipate and hope that it will continue to grow and that the jobs will be — continue to be created here in the United States and that we will continue, both through this and also through the major Detroit automobile manufacturers, to be a leader in the automobile industry in the world, a role that Republicans in Congress were willing to give up for the United States of America. They opposed the president’s decision to insist on the restructuring of GM and Chrysler, for example, and to assist them on staying alive and saving more than a million jobs in the United States. We think that was the right decision to make. And we think that helping other car manufacturers locate here, build here, create jobs here is a good idea.

-Jake Tapper

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