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Bremer Vows to Restore Security in Iraq - 2003-05-15

The newly arrived American administrator in Iraq has vowed he will restore security and purge Iraq of the last remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Paul Bremer said the U.S. military has begun what he described as aggressive patrols to end a crime wave in Baghdad, and soldiers made 92 arrests late Wednesday.

"We have to deal with the criminal elements here in Baghdad and we will," he said. "And as far as I am concerned it cannot come too soon that the people of Baghdad and the other cities of Iraq can walk about the streets in peace, the children can go to school, the hospitals can get their supplies. It can not come too soon, and you may be sure that it is the top priority."

Mr. Bremer also said he will make sure senior Ba'ath party loyalists of Saddam Hussein have no role in the post-war government. But he acknowledged there will have to be some exceptions granted for Ba'ath party members who possess the technical skills needed in key ministries.

Mr. Bremer also spoke about the difficulty of securing mass grave sites where the victims of Saddam Hussein's repression are buried. Human rights groups say important evidence is being destroyed in the haste of relatives to recover the bodies.

"It is a difficult problem because one has to understand that there are relatives and next of kin who are understandably, extremely emotionally involved in trying to find the remains of their next of kin and trying to identify them," he said.

He said a team of U.S. military experts is due in Iraq Friday and they have experience in preserving evidence from mass graves for possible prosecution of crimes against humanity.