For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 8, 2003
Dr. Condoleezza Rice Discusses President Bush/PM Blair Meeting
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:52 P.M. EST
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. I have a quick opening statement, and
then I'm happy to take questions.
There's been a lot of speculation in the press in recent days about
the post-Saddam Iraq, not all of it entirely accurate and some of it
just plain wrong. (Laughter.) So I'm here to try and clear up a few
things. Just as we've planned for a military victory, we have been
planning to win the peace.
We cannot say when military victory will come, or predict what
difficulties lie in the future. As we know for certain, many
difficulties remain and the one thing that we do know is the coalition
will prevail. But it is essential to continue planning for what comes
after Saddam Hussein's regime.
Our goals are clear: We will help Iraqis build an Iraq that is
whole, free and at peace with itself and with its neighbors; an Iraq
that is disarmed of all WMD; that no longer supports or harbors terror;
that respect the rights of Iraqi people and the rule of law; and that
is on the path to democracy.
To achieve these goals, we will dismantle the tyrannical
infrastructure of Saddam Hussein's regime. That is, in fact, being
done as coalition forces go through the country. We will work with
Iraqis, our coalition partners and international organizations to
rebuild Iraq. We will leave Iraq completely in the hands of Iraqis as
quickly as possible. As the President has said, the United States
intends to stay in Iraq as long as needed, but not one day longer.
Many specific means of achieving these goals are being worked out
now. Many can only be developed once Saddam's regime is gone. To a
large extent, the means to these goals will depend on things outside
our current control. We do not know, for instance, what damage Saddam
Hussein's regime may inflict on the Iraqi people in the regime's last
gasps. We do not know what we'll find on the ground once the regime is
gone -- for instance, the condition of Iraqi natural resources or its
infrastructure. And we haven't yet heard from millions of Iraqis who
are currently not free to voice their concerns. We are, however,
committed to working with all Iraqis to implement a vision of a free
As to the matter of the Iraqi interim authority, about which there
has been a lot of comment, let me describe it for you. The interim
authority will be a transitional authority run by Iraqis, until a
legitimate permanent government in Iraq is established by the Iraqi
people. It will be broad-based, drawing from all of Iraq's religious
and ethnic groups, including Iraqis currently inside and outside of
Iraq. It will be a means for Iraqis to participate immediately in the
economic and political reconstruction of their country.
After the current regime is removed, the interim authority will
assume responsibility for administering many government functions and
take on further responsibilities as it becomes able. The interim
authority will not be a coalition-imposed provisional government.
Iraqis will be developing the interim authority at various stages
of the process. In liberated areas within Iraq, we have already seen
the emergence of local Iraqi leaders who are helping in the liberation
of their own country. Iraqis currently free and Iraqis who will soon
be free and Iraqis who have for decades kept alive the hopes of a free
Iraq while in exile will all have much to contribute to the interim
authority and to Iraq's future.
On the U.N. role: The coalition is committed to working in
partnership with international institutions, including, of course, the
United Nations. But I would just caution that Iraq is not East Timor,
or Kosovo, or Afghanistan. Iraq is unique. There are lessons to be
learned from the success of the process that led to the creation of the
Afghan Interim Authority. But the important thing now is to liberate
Iraq. And as the statement from the Azores summit said, we will
welcome the efforts of U.N. specialized agencies and non-governmental
organizations in providing immediate assistance to the Iraqi people.
The precise role of the U.N. will be determined in consultations
between the Iraqi people, coalition members and U.N. officials.
The coalition will naturally have the leading role for a period of
time to assure the provision of essential services to the Iraqi
people. That action will require unity of effort. But, of course, the
United Nations has expertise in many key areas, and the coalition will
welcome its participation in postwar Iraq.
Let me just state that the goal of everyone, the coalition and the
international community, should be to return sovereignty to the Iraqi
people as soon as possible, sovereignty that has been denied them under
the reign of Saddam Hussein.
To the matter of the role of the Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance, the immediate focus of ORHA's efforts will be
on helping Iraqis restore the delivery of basic services -- such as
electricity, if necessary, water, basic medical care, and to make
certain that civil servants are paid, for instance. We want the ORHA
to work so that the Iraqi people can begin to live normal lives as soon
as possible, and then to chart their own future.
After the initial phase, and as more and more functions are turned
over to the interim authority, ORHA will shift to an advisory role.
The office itself, the ORHA, is a multinational coalition effort. The
Department of Defense is the lead U.S. agency in this effort.
Coalition governments and Iraqis will also be involved at every step.
The ORHA is led by Jay Garner, a retired U.S. Army general who, in
1991, helped the people of Northern Iraq establish their own
administration in that part of the country. The ORHA office reports to
General Franks, and is comprised of representatives from a range of
government agencies, including the State Department, the Department of
Defense, the Justice Department and USAID, as well as advisors from
outside the government. There are also coalition representatives in
place in the ORHA, and there will be more soon. Iraqis will be fully
involved in the operations of the ORHA.
Policy guidance for the ORHA is, of course, provided by the
President, through the Secretary of Defense, and that policy guidance
is now being developed and coordinated on an interagency basis.
ORHA will coordinate the coalition's humanitarian assistance and
reconstruction efforts with the activities of NGOs, international
organizations and other members of the international community, as
appropriate. The office already has links with U.N. agencies and NGOs
that will play an important role in postwar Iraq counterpart offices in
the governments of coalition countries, and with the various free Iraqi
Some of the offices staff is in place, but other positions are in
the process of being filled. ORHA is not a provisional government for
Iraq, civilian or military. The goal is to transition responsibilities
to the Iraqi people as soon as possible. I just want to underscore
that Iraqis will be involved in this process at its very earliest
I'm happy to take your questions. Bill.
Q How much power will the interim authority have? There seems
to be a great deal of public disagreement about this, listening to the
statements of some members of the Iraqi diaspora, and some things that
are said on the record -- or not quite on the record -- around
DR. RICE: Well, the IIA is not intended to be a provisional
government. The IIA is exactly what it says, a transitional authority
that gets Iraqis involved as early as possible in the administration
and life of the country.
Quite obviously, it needs to be -- even the IIA needs to be
broadly based, representatively based. It should have members from the
exile community that has kept alive the hope for a free Iraq for all of
these years. It should also have membership from within the country,
where there are people being liberated every day and where local
leaders are beginning to participate with the coalition in the
liberation of Iraq. And we are certain that as the liberation of Iraq
takes place, more people will emerge who can be a part of that
The purpose of the IIA in this transitional period is, first of
all, to be a repository for sovereignty, but not to act as a
provisional government. In time, there needs to be a process by which
you move through to elections and some kind of process that allows the
voice of the Iraqi people to be heard about the governance structure.
But the interim authority is not intended to be in its earliest stages,
in any case, a provisional government.
Q How quickly do you expect the interim authority would be up
and running? And would it be operating in certain areas of the country
while violence is still going on in other parts of the country?
DR. RICE: Well, it's entirely possible that there could be pockets
of violence, given the way Saddam Hussein is using these death squads
and the like, and that other large parts of the country could have
already been liberated. And I think under those circumstances we'll
have to see what unfolds on the ground to see if it makes sense to
perhaps have an interim authority operating in some parts of the
country. But, really, we're going to allow events on the ground to
dictate the timing for the creation of an IIA.
But I should say that mechanisms are already -- have already been
employed and are being employed every day that should help create a
basis for an IIA. For instance, you know that we've had opposition
conferences; that helps to create a basis for an IIA. There are also
going to be mechanisms that are going to emerge as the liberation of
the country takes place, and we're looking for mechanisms by which
Iraqi leaders, local leaders can get together and, again, provide a
basis for the IIA. So I think a lot of this is going to depend on how
things unfold on the ground and what the right timing is.
Q Dr. Rice, how do you explain -- or how do you -- how does
the Defense Department maintain control of the reconstruction effort if
the money you've asked for to pay for it Congress is not allocating to
Defense? In fact -- I know the bill is not done, but both Houses are
expected to pass it as is, and basically they're saying anybody but
DR. RICE: Let me be very clear what the President asked for. The
President asked for the appropriations to be made available, in a
sense, to the President for distribution. The thing that we need most
here is flexibility to use this funding so that the reconstruction
effort is effective and efficient. The Defense Department, however,
has been designated by the President -- and Secretary Rumsfeld --
by the President as the lead agency. The other agencies are supporting
agencies to the Defense Department's effort.
It only makes sense, because we are in a war, that the phase of war
termination and immediate aftermath would be a Defense Department
effort. Now, this was all structured in a policy directive that the
President issued several months ago. And so there's a clear
understanding of this, we will make certain that however the funding is
allocated, that it gets to the appropriate places, that it gets to
General Garner, so that he can make sure that the reconstruction effort
is efficient. But I want to be very clear that the President wants
this money to be flexibility and available to the agencies that need
Q But just to clarify, Congress has said they don't agree with
that, they don't want you to have that flexibility. It's their role to
allocate the money where they see fit.
DR. RICE: I'm just telling you what the administration has pressed
for. And the administration has pressed for this money to, in effect,
be allocated to the President for distribution.
Now, whatever comes out, we will make it work so that General
Garner has what he needs to do -- Secretary Powell is devoted to
that. The other Secretaries who are involved in this are devoted to
that. So whatever comes out of the Congress, we'll make it work. But
the President asked that that money be available to the agencies as
Q You and other administration officials keep emphasizing that
the IIA is not a provisional government, that it's a transitional
authority. What does that mean? If it doesn't have the authority of a
government, what authority does it have? Does it help the government
of Tommy Franks -- is it an enabler for him?
DR. RICE: It's an enabler, John, for the Iraqi people to be
involved in the administration of their own country. And it becomes a
first stage or a basis on which you can begin to build to a
representative government that can be then affirmed by the Iraqi
I want to remind you that we went through a similar phase in
Afghanistan. The transitional authority, the earliest stages in
Afghanistan, this was a leadership that emerged, emerged in that case
out of a conference, was really involved in administration, was then
confirmed in a loya jirga, and then began to assume the
responsibilities of a government. So there's a process here.
And what the interim authority will do, along with the Office of
Reconstruction -- Jay Garner's operation -- with the coalition
partners and with international agencies, is to make sure that the
Iraqi people are getting back on their feet -- that life is returning
to normal; that health care can be delivered; that people can go back
to school; that agriculture can get up and running. I mean, there are
just things that are going to have to be done for the Iraqi people.
The question of how we get to governance structures that are
government structures, I think we'll have to see how that evolves. But
there are a lot of people with very good ideas about this.
The one thing I want to say about interim authority is that the one
condition for anybody being involved in the interim authority is that
they be devoted to certain principles about how Iraq is going to be
governed in the future; that it will have territorial integrity, that
it has to be a unified Iraq, that it has to be broadly representative,
that there is going to be respect for human rights, that there are not
going to be weapons of mass destruction in the country. There are some
principles that we would expect everybody in the IIA to be involved
Q And a last step before elections, would the interim authority
have political power at that point?
DR. RICE: John, I think we have to get there. What we're
concentrating on right now is that there's going to be a day after the
collapse of this regime, and we want to be sure that the Iraqi people
are as quickly as possible returned to normal life. And we believe
that the best way for them to be returned to normal life is to have the
competence of Iraqis involved in that administration, as well.
Q Dr. Rice, there are reports that there are up to 4,000
would-be suicide bombers now in Iraq. How can you bring stability to
the country with this kind of pending violence? And wouldn't it be
another Northern Ireland?
DR. RICE: We fundamentally believe that when the grip of terror
that Saddam Hussein's regime has wreaked on its own people is finally
broken and Iraqis have an opportunity to build a better future, that
you are going to see people who want to build a better future -- not
blow it up.
This is a society that, after all, 20-plus years ago was one of the
economic strengths of the Middle East. This is an educated population,
a sophisticated population that has lived under a tyrannical regime in
a reign of fear. The kinds of things that the paramilitaries are doing
now to keep that grip of fear needs to be broken. And slowly, but
surely, in the progress of coalition forces, that reign of fear is
We believe that when Iraqi people are given the chance, they are
going to want to have a better future, not one that blows up their
children in terrorist attacks.
Q Dr. Rice, a key question. It fascinates me -- when you
mentioned the U.N., you said Iraq is not East Timor, it's not Kosovo,
it's not Afghanistan. In all of those cases, the U.N. had played a
role, say, in the case of Afghanistan, of helping to form an interim
government, and all the others in paving the way for elections. Are
you saying that the U.N. will not have a role in Iraq's political
DR. RICE: I'm saying that the role of the United Nations is yet to
be determined. There is too much work still to do on the ground. What
we focused on to this point is the importance of getting the U.N.
involved in the humanitarian side. The oil-for-food program, by the
way, the resolution passed 15-0 so that we could get the oil-for-food
program authorized again. We would expect that as soon as parts of the
country is safe -- as Umm Qasr has just been declared safe -- that
U.N. and relief agencies will be able to go in.
I think we don't want to try to get into a theology here about the
U.N. role. We are going to have practical problems to solve on behalf
of the Iraqi people, and with the help of the Iraqi people. And all of
us should be looking -- whether it is the international community or
the coalition -- should be looking for a broad representative group
of Iraqis who can begin to restore life to the Iraqi people. And that
has to be the goal, is a broad-based Iraqi interim authority. And I
would think if you have a broadly-based interim Iraqi authority,
everybody, including the international community, is going to want to
be supportive of that.
Q Can I just follow up?
DR. RICE: Yes, you can follow up. Yes.
Q But you do seem to have decided that the U.N. will have a
supporting role, rather than a central role, just in the sense that the
leading decision-maker is going to be the coalition forces, in
partnership with the Iraqi people. And can you just explain how you
came to that decision; whether that was indications from the U.N., the
situation on the ground, or the aftermath of the second resolution?
DR. RICE: No, the point here is that the U.N.'s role is -- the
exact character of the U.N.'s role is really not an issue for
discussion right now. We are not in a position, with the liberation of
Iraq still going on, to know what is going to be needed. But as Colin
Powell said yesterday, it would only be natural to expect that after
having participated and having liberated Iraq with coalition forces,
and having given life and blood to liberate Iraq, that the coalition
intends to have a leading role. I don't think -- "the" leading
role. I don't think anybody is surprised by that.
When I said that this isn't East Timor, that was a new state. When
I said, not Afghanistan; that was a failed state. When I said, not
Kosovo; it's not a state at all. Clearly, that's not Iraq. And Iraq
is a country with a pretty sophisticated bureaucracy, for instance. I
think we will look to see what technocratic talent there is among civil
servants that can help in the rebuilding of Iraq. So that's the
But it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that given what we've gone
through and what we're now going through, that the coalition will have
the lead role.
I said Karen next.
Q Are you considering at all the establishment of an interim
government, before the total fall of Baghdad, before conquering the
country, in someplace other than Baghdad that's in secure territory?
DR. RICE: The interim authority. Possible. It is possible, but
again, we're watching how events are unfolding on the ground. We're
watching the development of potential leaders, local people, for
instance, who are coming out and supporting the coalition participating
in the liberation of their country. So there are several pacing
mechanisms here. The most important is events on the ground, but it's
also the emergence of leadership.
Q Can I just follow up? The criticisms or the concerns that
have been expressed by some other governments is that an interim
authority, selected essentially by the United States, would not have
the same credibility in the region, or perhaps not even in Iraq, that
-- one that was chosen under some sort of international authority.
How do you respond to that?
DR. RICE: I would say that as an interim authority emerges from
the broad base that it must be -- and that is, again, people outside
the country, people inside the country, people who have for decades
fought for a free Iraq and people who are being freed -- it's got to
be representative of ethnic and religious groups in the country, and it
has to be broadly based.
Now, I would think that something that is clearly broadly based in
that way is going to have the support of the international community
-- and ought to have the support of the international community. I
don't know what other option there is to a broad-based Iraqi interim
authority. And so I expect that we would have the support of the
Q Dr. Rice, this is another follow-up on the U.N. role. What
you're saying, do I gather that the administration -- this
administration doesn't have enough confidence in the abilities of the
United Nations to take over matters in Iraq other than overlook the
DR. RICE: No. First of all, it's not a matter of confidence.
It's a matter of what the conditions on the ground are and it's a
matter of what will be needed to get Iraq back on its feet as quickly
The circumstances under which Iraq will have been liberated will be
a coalition effort. There will be a lot of security issues still to
deal with in Iraq -- WMD destruction, a range of issues. And so we
think it's very important that we not try to prejudge every aspect of
the post-conflict administration right now.
Nobody in this administration has said that they want the U.N.
limited to a humanitarian role. That has not been the case. We want
to discuss with the U.N. and we want to discuss with the coalition
partners the role that the U.N. may play, where its expertise makes
sense. But we want to do what's effective. This is not a matter of
confidence, it's a matter of what will be needed on the ground.
Q As you explain this broad-based interim authority, is it fair
to say that those in the exile or expat community who have already
talked about a provisional government of only exiles initially, and
those in the administration who have spoken of getting known entity
exiles or expats into the country first, and then finding out who of
the indigenous Iraqis can be trusted -- should those people get, from
what you're saying, that it's time for them to get a message that you
-- and you speaking for the President -- don't view it that way, and
they ought to just stop talking about it?
DR. RICE: John, I've been sitting through all of these meetings.
And the vision has been, from the earliest time that we started to talk
about an Iraqi interim authority, of one that was as broadly based as
possible. Now, obviously, the expat community will bring a great deal
to the future of Iraq.
These are people, many of them who are talking about just going
back for short periods of time and trying to help with their
technocratic expertise. They're a group of expats right now who are
gathered here outside of Washington to try and arrange themselves to go
in and help their country of birth, to take on specific tasks. That's
a wonderful resource for a new Iraq. There are exiles who have carried
the flame for a free Iraq for decades -- for a decade. And let me
tell you, these are not people who have failed to take risks in
carrying that out. They have been threatened by Saddam's regime. They
have an expectation and we want them to be involved also in the future
But from the first time that we started talking about an interim
authority, we talked about the importance of the emergence of people
from within, as well. And as liberation is taking place, some of those
people are beginning to emerge; even more will emerge. This will be a
group that brings all Iraqis and all of their skills in support.
And so, you know, I know a lot of people have been talking, John,
and that's why I'm up here. From the very earliest stages that we
talked about an interim Iraqi authority, we have talked about the
interim Iraqi authority, itself, being as broadly based as possible.
We've had opposition conferences to have leadership committees and all
kinds of things to try to stimulate efforts on behalf of Iraq. But
we've always talked about a broadly-based authority.
Q Has that message not sunk in, perhaps, specifically in the
case of the Iraqi National Congress and its leader, when you talked
about a provisional government?
DR. RICE: When we talk with members of the Iraqi National Congress
and others, they are supportive of the idea that you must have
representation from people who are inside the country -- both
those who are currently free, some of them free only in the last few
days,and people who are still to be freed.
One more question. Jim.
Q If I could, the legal --
Q -- who's going to identify the leaders and what criteria?
DR. RICE: I think we don't give the Iraqi people enough credit for
being able to identify people who can lead them. In some of these
communities, these local communities, you're already having leadership
emerge. When you get rid of the reign of fear that Saddam Hussein has
wreaked on people who hold their communities together, you're going to
see leadership emerge.
And so it's not as if somebody is picking these people; these
people are emerging from Iraq. Just as in the exile community, these
are people who have emerged because they have fought the long fight and
they ought to be a part of Iraq's future.
Ultimately, there will have to be a process of elections and all of
the things that go with democracy, that will finally affirm what the
actual government of Iraq will be. But in this interim stage, there's
no reason to believe that the Iraqis cannot help -- cannot identify
the people who will be a part of the interim Iraqi --
Q Will the interim authority be a sort of legally constituted
authority over Iraq that would be able to make decisions that would
otherwise be made by a government, beyond, say, what you seem to be
saying, which was sort of the civil authority that would repair and
make sure the services were available, and so forth?
DR. RICE: There's going to be -- there will be a process of
getting to a group of Iraqis or Iraqis who have gone through different
processes and different mechanisms to take on more authority over
time. But in the initial phases, we expect the interim authority to be
involved in the administrative task; we expect the interim authority to
work with the Office of Humanitarian Effort and Reconstruction; and we
expect that all of this will have international organizations, the U.N.
and others, involved in it, too.
We have coalition partners who are involved, we have international
organizations that need to be involved, and we have Iraqis who need to
be involved. There's going to be a lot of work for everybody to do.
And I think the mistake is to try to jump ahead to governance
structures. There will be a time when governance structures will have
to emerge in Iraq. They do not have to emerge right away.
Q But it will be that group that would sort of envision how you
make that leap?
DR. RICE: I think in time -- certainly it will be one of the
repositories of that, but there are also those who have written and
thought for years about how an Iraqi constitution might look, about how
rights might be assured for the Iraqi people.
Thank you very much. I've got to catch the helicopter.
Q What about the meeting with Blair?
DR. RICE: The Blair meeting -- it's one in a series of what
they've been doing. You know, he was just recently at Camp David.
We'll go to Northern Ireland. And the President is also very pleased
that the Prime Minister has asked him to come at this time, because it
is apparently a very important moment for participants in the Good
Friday Agreement. There is a belief that some progress can be made,
and so the President is going to try to lend his efforts to that, as
Thank you very much.
END 3:25 P.M. EST