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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Rob Tappan
Director of Strategic Communications for the Coalition Provisional Authority
May 12, 2004

Rob Tappan
I look forward to taking your questions today on Iraq. Let's go ...

Brad, from New Jersey writes:
Has the President addressed the Berg killing?

Rob Tappan
Yes, the President addressed the brutal murder of Nick Berg this afternoon, and he expressed his deep and heartfelt condolences to the Berg family and Nick's friends.

The President's remarks can be found by clicking here.

Elena, from Chicago writes:
Do you think that the attacks will become less frequent or more after the transfer of soverignity? Basically, will this be the best thing for Iraqis right now?

Thank you for all that you do. Even though the opposition speaks the loudest, there are many supporters of the President who understand that this war will be wonderful for the Iraqis and the Middle East in the long run.

Sincerely, Elena

Rob Tappan
Thank you for your email and for your support.

It is hard to speculate about the future security situation after June 30. However, we must remain ever vigilant concerning the activities of terrorists and those who would try to derail the great progress that we have made in Iraq to date.

US and Coalition forces are doing everything they possibly can to stop terror and stabilize the pockets of violence that exist right now. As the President has said many times, we will remain in Iraq as long as it takes to get the job done and not a day later.

Armin, from Los Angeles writes:
It seems obvious to me, that Nick Berg, the American who has been brutally murdered by terrorists in Iraq, has been there to help rebuild the country. What channels of communications has the Coalitional Provisional Authority at their disposal to inform the Iraqi population about American and other foreign civilians and their work over there?

Rob Tappan
Nick Berg, like thousands of other Americans and others from Coalition countries, went to Iraq to help rebuild the country from 30 years of neglect by a brutal dictator.

There are countless stories and acts of people helping other people in Iraq that will never be reported by the media, and that's a shame.

Many of these people work for the Coalition Provisional Authority and many others work for companies that are providing needed services and vital assistance to the people of Iraq. Their contributions are invaluable and are testament to the resilience and dedication of the human spirit.

Laurie, from Harrisburg PA writes:
I hear from military in Iraq that most of the country is very happy and prospering. News services would have us believe everything is falling apart. ???Is it primarily two or three towns that were the core of Saddams regime that are the problem???

Rob Tappan

I believe you've hit on a very important point. The majority of towns and cities in Iraq are peaceful places, where Iraqis are trying to lead good and decent lives.

In the north and the south, essential services are being delivered to Iraqis that are helping them build better and more efficient infrastructure and improving their lives everyday.

The Coalition is also providing needed funding and valuable assistance through the building of schools, rehabilitation of hospitals, greater electricity generation and fresh water delivery, as well as providing thousands of jobs to the Iraqi people.

Unfortunately, the news media often overlook the great progress we have made over the past year in Iraq.

Chris, from Knoxville, TN writes:
I am writing in regards to the recent beheading of the American in Iraq. As a registered voter its time my voice is heard, and I think I speak for the

majority of Tennesseans today.

As a graduate of The University of Tennessee, please don't let the brutal and horrific slaughter of one of our civilians, slide quietly to the back of the closet. The death of this young man is as blatant and violent an attack on and against us as the terrorists who flew head first into the WTC and the Pentagon

Rob Tappan

We share your concern and outrage at the death of Nicholas Berg at the hands of terrorists and we express our deepest condolences to the Berg family and his friends.

We condemn in the harshest terms the brutal actions of these terrorists against an innocent civilian. I believe the world is outraged at this barbarous act and we will get to the bottom of this.

Charlotte, from Brightville writes:
Dear Mr. Tappan, My son is currently serving in Iraq and that concerns me a lot. Last time I spoke to him he said that Iraqis were increasingly hostile towards American soldiers because of the things going on in Abu Ghraib. I'm hoping that our credibility hasn't been damaged too much. Do you think it has? I'm trying not to worry too much.

Thank You

Rob Tappan
First of all, Charlotte, God bless you and God bless your son for his service in Iraq.

It is true that the actions of a very small group of misguided Americans has bruised our reputation over the last week or so. Nevertheless, the actions of a few do not represent the brave activities and service of the 120,000+ Americans who are serving our country in Iraq.

In the fight for freedom of the Iraqi people, America and its Coalition partners occupy the high moral ground. We will prosecute those who have dishonored our country and we will continue to fight terrorism and help the Iraqis realize their dream of free elections.

Joe, from Fairhope, Alabama writes:
Could we please get some positive stories out about what our guys are doing RIGHT in Iraq. Marines storming machine gun nests. Killing bad guys. Blowing up hide-outs. Tearing down the enemies strongholds. I get them in emails from Marines who were there. Why can't you put these stories out in a way that gets them in the national media?

Rob Tappan

I hear you. Everyday, we assist news media in highlighting and profiling the wonderful young men and women who are serving in uniform in Iraq. Many of these stories do make it on the air and they are a credit to all 120,000+ members of our armed forces who are serving in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the news media sometimes latches on and highlights the negative news stories out there and it is our constant challenge to remind them of all the wonderful things that our uniformed men and women as well as the Coalition Provisional Authority are doing to help put Iraq back on the road to democracy and free elections.

In addition, the Coalition is also helping Iraqis realize the goals of security, economic independence, restoration of essential services and good governance.

Chuck, from St.Paul, MN writes:
Why are we not making "faster work" of removing the insurgent threat to our military within Iraq. Why does it appear that we are not serious about ending this battle now? I have relatives there and they are wondering the same.

Rob Tappan
Rest assured the US and coalition military are working at top speed to eliminate the threat of terrorists and provide security to the people of Iraq.

Reg, from Lamar, Mo writes:
Mr. Tappan, My question is, when are we going to quit "staying the course" and turn our military loose and let them win this war.

Rob Tappan

The brave men and women serving our country in Iraq are doing a fantastic job of not only taking the fight to the enemy but also providing valuable security and stability to the people of Iraq.

Christopher, from Missouri writes:
Will the Iraqis be ready to take over on June 30th?

Rob Tappan

First of all, we have the utmost confidence in the capacity in the Iraqi people to assume sovereignty on June 30. Secondly, the United States and its coalition partners while no longer the sovereign power will maintain a large presence in Iraq providing security and will serve in an advisory capacity to the ministries and transitional government representatives.

Florence, from Santa Barbara, CA writes:
Dear Mr. Tappan, What exactly will be the function of the CPA once sovereignty is handed to the Iraqis?

Yours faithfully

Rob Tappan
As in the earlier question, the CPA will dissolve as of June 30 when sovereignty is handed back to the Iraqi people. The US embassy in Baghdad will serve as the main representative organization in Iraq on July 1.

Juan, from Pittsburgh writes:
Hey there, There's been lots of talk about the handing over of Iraqi sovereignty on June 30th. Why is the President so adament to sticking to

this date when there are so many questions about the feasability of such a power shift? Thanks and have a good day.

Rob Tappan
The November 15 agreement that the CPA and the governing Council agreed to stipulates the handover of sovereignty on June 30. The President and the Administration has steadfastly stuck by the June 30 handover date. It is the Administration's contention that the quicker sovereignty passes back to the Iraqis themselves, in order to be able to conduct their own self-determination, the better.

Joan, from New Jersey writes:
What happens to the CPA staff in Iraq after June 30th?

Rob Tappan
The CPA itself as an organization dissolves on June 30, however, a number of the personnel of the CPA will remain in consultative roles working on behalf of the US embassy in Baghdad.

Rob Tappan
Thank you for your outstanding questions and comments today. I am deeply grateful for all of the support and sentiments that the American people have shared not only with me, but with all the men and women serving in uniform, those of us who work on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and of course all of us who share in the common goal of a peaceful, secure, economically independent and democratic Iraq.

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