This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, August 19, 2003.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The terrorists who struck today have, again, shown their contempt for the innocent. They showed their fear of progress and their hatred of peace.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us on the phone from Baghdad is former New York police commissioner and now senior adviser to Baghdad's police force, Bernard Kerik.
BERNARD KERIK, U.S. POLICY ADVISER TO THE WHITE HOUSE PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY TO IRAQ: Hi, Greta. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well.
Commissioner, how hard is it going to be in Baghdad to track down the origin of a brand-new yellow cement truck in an effort to get to the bottom of who is responsible for this killing today?
KERIK: Well, it's going to be a little difficult. We have already gotten some forensic evidence from the scene, identified what kind of vehicle it is. We'll be looking for the owners here in Iraq or possibly elsewhere.
You have to remember a lot of the vehicles that are coming in here now for the reconstruction are coming from outside sources. We're going to have to take a look at that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Commissioner, we heard that the U.N. had made a decision on its own not to have coalition troops guard it. They want sort of a relaxed security. Who makes those decisions in terms of security in that country right now?
KERIK: Really it's the U.N. The U.N. made that decision, if that's the decision they make.
I had been there on a number of occasions to meet Mr. De Mello and others. They were attempting to secure that outer wall. That wall has just been built around that compound.
Unfortunately, this device that was placed in this vehicle was substantially greater in content than that of the Jordanian embassy bombing, and it took out the wall and that front left side of the building.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of your missions is to establish security there in the country, set up a police force. How much of a challenge is it going to be to make Iraq safe and to make them self-policing?
KERIK: Well, there's a couple of issues. First and foremost, you have to get as many of the cops back as possible, and I think we're just about there at least for the cops that we can trust. We have more than 40,000 now in the country.
The end-state stand-up number should be 65,000 to 75,000. We have to hire another 25,000 to 30,000 over the next 18 months to two years. We have to get them trained. That's an enormous project.
In the NYPD, on average, I trained between 3,000 to 5,000 a year. We've got to do 30,000 to 35,000 over the next 18 months to two years, and it's going to be a difficult and tasking project, but it can be done, and that's what's going to begin the transition in disengagement of the military.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the 40,000 that you now have, I mean how do you characterize, number one, their training and, number two, their loyalty to the police force?
KERIK: Well, honestly, I think they're doing a lot better than I anticipated. We have weeded out an enormous amount of the Baath Party members, the people that we felt were disloyal.
There is continual training going on. You have to remember the training that they received in the past was minimal. We also have to teach them methods and principles of policing in a free and democratic society. We have to teach them that torture is not part of an interrogation or an interview. So all of that is going on.
It's going to take time to get there. It can work. It can happen.
And I have to say particularly in Baghdad, they have been very aggressive in combating the Fedayeen Saddam which are basically trained killers and assassins for Saddam Hussein and his regime. They're taking out the Baath members out of the police department and off the streets.
So they're working extremely hard, they're very aggressive, the ones we have out there now, and that has to continue, to take the people out that are fighting against freedom in Iraq.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just to give me some sense of perspective, if I were in Iraq broad daylight in Baghdad, would you recommend that I just walk freely in the street?
KERIK: Honestly, Greta, in the last three-and-a-half months that I've been here, Iraq has changed dramatically. People are in the markets.
You know, what we hear and what the media focuses on primarily are the negatives, the attacks on coalition or the attacks on the pipeline. I think what's not focused on is the amount of electricity that's back, the shops that are open, the markets that are open, the economy that's bustling downtown.
People walk all over the city all day long, and that's growing every day, and, as security rises and is enhanced, Iraq will continue to prosper, and that's what's happening, and that's exactly why the U.N. was bombed.
The people that did this can't take it. They don't want it to happen. They think this is going to intimidate the coalition and the people that are here to help. That's not the case. That won't intimidate us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Commissioner, thank you very much for joining us this evening. I appreciate it.
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