Bernard Kerik, Senior U.S. Law-Enforcement Official in Baghdad

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 19, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: We are sadly used to hearing about American soldiers dying in Iraq (search), about British soldiers occasionally getting picked off in Iraq, but now people from the very organization that did its best to keep both out of Iraq the latest tragic chapter to Iraq.

At least 20 dead, more than a hundred hurt in a massive suicide truck bomb attack that destroyed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. Now among those whose lives snuffed out today, the chief U.N. official in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was only days away from wrapping up a four- month mission there.

On Wall Street, stocks ignoring the news, maybe all too used to this kind of news because it has happened to us. Now, in a tragic twist, it’s happened to them, too.

Just a few minutes ago, I had a chance to catch up with Bernard Kerik, the senior U.S. law-enforcement official in Baghdad.


BERNARD KERIK, SENIOR POLICY ADVISER TO THE WHITE HOUSE PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY TO IRAQ: If you compare this to the Jordanian bombing of the embassy last week, this is probably two or three times what was in the vehicle at the Jordanian embassy.

Evidently, somebody packed a cement truck with explosives, pulled it along the side of the front left-hand side of the building, self-detonated it. It was a suicide bombing. A vehicle blew about a six-foot hole into the ground, and took out the entire left front of the building, causing the roof of the building to collapse.

There are still people being rescued from within. We don’t have an accurate count yet of how many people are left in the building. The investigation is being conducted by the Iraqi police in conjunction with and in support of the FBI.

CAVUTO: I apologize, sir, but have we heard anyone who’s claimed responsibility for this?

KERIK: Not at this point. Not at this point. We have not.

CAVUTO: And what about the security around that compound? Who was responsible for that?

KERIK: Well, honestly, Neil, the security around the compound was provided by the U.N. with some support by the Iraqi police. They had just completed a security perimeter, a wall that was built. In fact, I was at the U.N. headquarters there less than a month ago with Sergio and others, and they were building the wall at that time.

The truck that was detonated was on the outside of that wall, between that wall and a hospital next door, an Iraqi hospital for disabled persons. It basically blew out that hospital, and it blew out the left side of the building on the right, destroyed that wall, went right through the wall, and I think it was as a result of the amount of explosives that was in the vehicle.

And, you know, you can’t stop every terrorist attack. Somebody mentioned on your show a little earlier there are soft targets out here. You can’t prevent every attack. You can’t secure every building. Otherwise, we’d have two-million people out here doing security around some of the soft targets. It’s a difficult process.

CAVUTO: But, Commissioner, what do you make of the fact, sir, that it was a U.N. target? I mean it’s one thing to be mad at the U.S. or the British. But, ostensibly, the U.N. is the body that was the most opposed to military confrontation in Iraq. Yet it was the U.N. targeted.

KERIK: Right. Honestly, Neil, in my personal opinion, I just can’t figure it out. You know, I heard some of your commentators earlier talk about this was an attack on the U.N., it was also an attack on the coalition, the Americans.

The bottom line is this was an attack on the Iraqi people. This was no different than the attack on the Jordanian embassy that didn’t kill any Jordanians. They killed all Iraqis. This is no different than taking out the pipelines, the sewage systems, and the water systems, the electrical supplies.

These are all attacks on the Iraqis, and I think that’s the message that people have to realize, particularly in the Arab nations. These attacks are on the Iraqi people, and the attack today on the U.N. was definitely on Iraqis because the U.N. was here to help them. Medical, educational, you name it. They were here to help them.

I can’t figure it out. I don’t know what the idea was behind that.

CAVUTO: Commissioner, I know it’s probably a stretch, but you’ve, obviously, heard about the terror incident in Jerusalem today. Has anyone made any connection, or was it just coincidental timing?

KERIK: You know, I think it’s premature to say. No one has made a connection between the two. These are things that have gone on in Israel for the last several years. There is no connection at this point that I see or I’ve heard of.


CAVUTO: All right. That was Bernard Kerik, who’s really trying to keep the peace and get some order back in Iraq. Anything but that earlier today.

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