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Bremer Feels 'Safe' in Baghdad Despite Attack on UN Headquarters - 2003-08-20

The head of the Iraq coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer, says he feels safe at his fortified headquarters in Baghdad, even after the deadly bombing Tuesday at the U.N. compound.

Mr. Bremer says Tuesday's deadly bombing that destroyed much of the U.N. headquarters, may lead to some tightening of security around his offices. But he says he feels safe at the Jamhyuery Palace, where he works and where Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard once lived.

"We review our security posture regularly every week, and we obviously reviewed it after the Jordanian Embassy bombing two weeks ago," Mr. Bremer said. " We have done another review this morning. We may make a few minor adjustments in our security posture, but we feel we are in pretty good shape here now."

There are changes already. Two days ago, an unmarked journalist's car could pass through the main gate and continue to a parking lot some distance from Mr. Bremer's office. Today, few cars are allowed inside the sprawling compound.

Visitors to the compound must go past yards of razor wire and dirt-filled barriers. Tanks guard the gates. All bags are inspected and every person is frisked and checked by a metal detector.

"Obviously this kind of an attack is unsettling to everybody, but I believe we are able to provide adequate protection," he said. " You have to remember there is no such thing as 100 percent security against terrorism, whether you are in New York or Washington or Chicago; that is a fact of life."

Mr. Bremer says he had seen no intelligence prior to Tuesday's bombing that would have alerted him that an attack against the United Nations was imminent.

But he warns intelligence reports do indicate members of Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, have been coming into the country from Iran recently.

The U.N. headquarters was protected by its private security force, as well as by U.S. soldiers at the main gate. Mr. Bremer says he does not believe any U.S. troops were posted in the alley next to the building where the truck bomb apparently exploded.