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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rumsfeld, Franks Brief Congress on Iraq

Aired May 8, 2003 - 15:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you directly to Capitol Hill, where, as you can see, the defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Tommy Franks the CENTCOM commander, and others have been briefing the members of Congress. Let's listen.
TOMMY FRANKS, CENTCOM COMMANDER: ... four or five hours ago, where we had a trooper who had been, I'm not sure, injured or killed, in the vicinity of Baghdad in such an event. And so my thoughts, my prayers, go out to the family of that soldier.

I will say that I have an expectation that we will see rough behavior in this country for the foreseeable future. We will be up to it, and our people will continue to do their jobs.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are some reports out of Baghdad today that a number of former Baath Party officials have been named to new postings in the government, including, I believe Education Ministry and head of Baghdad University.

What's the thinking now in terms of the position that former Ba'ath Party officials can have in the new interim government or interim authority, if you will?

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I'm afraid my voice isn't very strong, so you'll have to listen carefully.

There will be a vetting process. Part of it will occur when people step forward to do something. People will say, "Well, wait a minute, those people were part of the senior Ba'ath Party," in which case they'll be taken out. They'll be moved away.

There is a senior element in the Ba'ath Party. There also were lower elements. What will be done about the lower elements, I think, depend on the situation. Certainly, the goal would be the deBaathification process in that country.

QUESTION: By all accounts there are former Baath Party officials taking over the Education Ministry, Baghdad University. Are these considered lower party officials, or...

RUMSFELD: I don't know. You would have to know which individual, but the way I explain it is the way I did. Someone gets appointed, then everyone says, "Hey, wait a minute; that's a senior Baath Party official."

In which case that person will not stay there. It'll be a public vetting process that will take place. QUESTION: Anything to add to that, sir?

FRANKS: I think what the secretary said is exactly right. I think what happens is we'll not, in every case, know everything about every person. And actually there will be groups of people in Iraq who come up to us and say, "This is the person that we would like to have work this ministry for us." And so, we will -- our people on the ground will say, "All right, let's begin to do the work." And then, sure enough as Secretary Rumsfeld said, we will find out two days, eight days later other people will come up and say, "Oh, wait a minute this is a Baath Party official." And when that happens, we go through the vetting process and those people are removed.

RUMSFELD: It's, kind of, like in American politics, someone says, "I think I'll run for something." And someone says, "Well, wait a minute."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With that, we thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, General Tommy Franks -- the CENTCOM commander -- talking to reporters for just a few moments after they were briefing members of Congress on the situation in Iraq on Capitol Hill.

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