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U.S. General in Iraq Discusses Handover of Military Forces

As the United States formally transferred control of Iraq's military force to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government Thursday, sectarian violence continued in Iraq. Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of the multi-national forces, discusses the handover and new interrogation rules.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Our newsmaker interview with the commanding general of multinational forces in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli. Ray Suarez talked with him earlier today. There were a few audio difficulties on the satellite feed from Baghdad.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    General, welcome.

    It seems, every morning, on the news in the United States, there's an overnight tally of how many people are being killed in Iraq, 25 one day, 38 the next, a dozen tortured bodies picked up from the street the next day. In that kind of conflict zone, what's the role of an individual American Marine or soldier?

  • LIEUTENANT GENERAL PETER CHIARELLI, Commanding General, Multinational Corps Iraq:

    Well, the individual American Marine or soldier is out every single day, trying to bring peace to Iraq, and trying to help establish the democratic government of Iraq.

    I see the same reports you see. Some of them are correct. Some of them are incorrect. But I will tell you, there's — there's good things happening in Baghdad and around the country. The last two days, I have been in two of the areas that we have cleared, and been able to see firsthand what is going in those areas.

    And they have become secure areas, not totally free of violence, but areas where people are beginning to get on with their lives, where individuals who were displaced from their homes in the very, very heavy violence that we had a month ago are — are now returning to their homes. And we're seeing the beginning of economic revitalization of those areas. And, before too long, we will see some long-term projects, where basic services kick in, and, we think, really, really contribute to the security of Baghdad.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    If there are gangs or militias or groups of people who really intend to wreak violence on each other, how does an armed force intervene to stop that?

  • LIEUTENANT GENERAL PETER CHIARELLI:

    Well, I — I think it's important to understand that this isn't all Iraqis fighting all Iraqis.

    There are small groups of individuals — we call them death squads — who are intent on attempting to try to continue this level of sectarian violence. It's our job to go out on the security line of operation and find those death squads, and — and bring them to justice.

    At the same time, we're facilitating bringing basic services and allowing the government to bring basic services to the people in these focus areas. The focus areas are increasing every single day, as we secure more and more of Baghdad. And that will continue for the months to come.

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