Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 2, 2009


Index for Today's Briefing
  • STATEMENT
    • Allegations raised by the Project on Government Oversight
  • ARMOR GROUP
    • Documents were shared with Senator McCaskill and Senator Collins
    • State Department has a number of investigations going on
    • Armor Group contract value is $189 million for one year with four one-year option periods
    • State Department does not believe that security has been compromised
    • Ambassador Eikenberry is having a town hall meeting tomorrow
    • Eight deficiency letters sent to Armor Group and it has been determined that they have addressed these concerns
    • The only way to justify renewing the contract is to address deficiencies
    • Letters Started in June 2007 and continued through April 30, 2008
    • Ninth letter was a show cause notice
    • The show cause notice was the first step towards considering termination of the contract
    • State Departments has real concerns with this group in Kabul
    • Concerns include conduct issues, management of leadership, and Morale and harassment
    • Staffing shortages were manned from within the Embassy by supervisory personnel and RSO's
    • The decision to renew the contract was based on the information on hand and State was satisfied that the contractor was providing adequate security for the Embassy.
    • State Department has eight guard service contracts with ArmorGroup - Kabul, Manama, Bahrain, Quito, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda
  • BLACKWATER
    • State Department has temporarily arranged for an extension of the U.S. Training Center contract
    • The contract only applies to aviation services
    • State Department is disappointed that a transition to a new contractor cannot be made
    • Logicistical issues with Dyncorp
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • State Department is committed to implementing the President's strategy to help Afghanistan develop its own institutions
  • HONDURAS
    • Secretary has not made a determination on the situation in Honduras
    • State Department has taken the steps to remain in compliance with the law, and suspended all aid that goes to support the Government of Honduras
    • Main focus is on the restoration of democratic and constitutional order
  • IRAN
    • Noted of the latest report of the IAEA director general and again called on Iran to engage in direct talks based on mutual respect
    • A negotiated solution is still open to Iran
    • Talks in New York underlined the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes
    • Urge Iran to respond to the offer of talks
    • Waiting for an official response to Javier Solana's offer of talks
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Ambassador Bosworth Travel Itinerary
    • Ambassador Goldberg's efforts in the region are implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1874 as reinforcing the other diplomatic efforts
    • No plans to visit North Korea
    • Bosworth is meeting to continue consultations with our partners and allies on how best to convince North Korea to live up the 2005 joint statement and take irreversible steps towards denuclearization.


TRANSCRIPT:

2:08 p.m. EDT

MR. KELLY: Good afternoon. Let me start off with talking a little bit about the allegations that were raised by the Project on Government Oversight. As I said before, we take these allegations extremely seriously. In fact, we’ve documented a number of management concerns through our ongoing oversight of this particular contract. There are a number of investigations that are underway, both here and out in Kabul. And we expect to see prompt and effective action taken, as a result of these investigations, and we expect that there will be some changes.

A senior team from Diplomatic Security and our Bureau of Management, some contracting officials, will be going to Kabul in the coming days to investigate. This team will work very closely with the Office of Inspector General, who, as you know, is also investigating this. In addition, Ambassador Eikenberry has instructed his senior staff to examine the allegations and report back to him. He’s also having a town hall tomorrow with staff at Embassy Kabul to discuss this situation and the allegations, and expressed his determination to correct management deficiencies.

To be clear, there were some things going on in Kabul which we were not aware of, but frankly, we should have been aware of. I’d like to stress, though, that all along, any problems that we did discover throughout this contract, we did promptly raise with the contractor, and they were immediately addressed. And you saw some of these deficiencies, of course, in the report of the – of POGO regarding some of the communications we’ve had with the contractor.

By the way, let me just say that – just remind everybody, not that you need reminding, but Afghanistan is a very dangerous place. But it is also important that we believe that the Embassy in Kabul has been well protected. We believe Americans, host nationals, and others working at Embassy Kabul have had the security that they need. As I said before, we have a number of investigations going on, and we’ll keep you abreast of the – of developments as we can.

QUESTION: What could you have known about that you did not know about?

MR. KELLY: Well, as I say, if you look at the POGO report, you can see what we knew about. I mean, it’s all there. And this – all these documents were shared with Senator McCaskill and Senator Collins. And these deficiencies were mostly in the area of language ability. And we did ask them to take corrective measures, and they are. They’re ensuring that each of their teams have a supervisor who has fluent English. They’re also requiring English language lessons for these – for some of these third country nationals.

I mean, obviously, the most distressing thing were the very disgusting photos, I think, that we all saw about the events of mid-August. I don’t think any manager or leader anywhere wants to learn about serious morale problems via some third party. So I – those are the kind of issues that we have to address.

QUESTION: Ian, a couple things. One is, how much is this contract worth?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I can give you that information. Just wait one second.

QUESTION: And then while you’re looking for that, you mentioned that you expect that changes will be made. What kind of changes do you expect?

MR. KELLY: Well –

QUESTION: Do you expect to replace the company? Do you expect there to be some kind of punitive action taken against people inside the Department who are responsible for this --

MR. KELLY: Well, you --

QUESTION: -- what you’ve described as continuing oversight, but which appears to be – have not been continuing oversight at all?

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, on your last point, I’m not sure that I agree completely with you, because we have – we’ve seen – we’ve documented all these deficiencies, and we’ve asked them to take corrective measures. Some of the information in the POGO report of the events of the last few weeks and then some of the testimony of employees, anonymous testimony of employees, that’s, I think, the new information. As far as what we’ll do, we have a number of investigations going on. We have – as with any contract, we have a number of options available to us. So whether or not we exercise those options, I don’t know. But certainly, there are a number of options available to us, including replacing personnel and rebidding the contract. But where these various investigations will come out, I don’t know.

And regarding the – your question, the contract value is $189 million.

QUESTION: Over?

MR. KELLY: The length of it is one year with four one-year option periods, and I think we’re two and a half years into it.

QUESTION: So it was initially signed when?

MR. KELLY: March 12th, 2007.

QUESTION: Is that per year, 189 per year?

MR. KELLY: I believe that’s the overall amount.

QUESTION: All right. And then my last one on this: You said that the most distressing thing about this was the very disgusting photos that emerged. But I think to a lot of people, what’s more distressing than that is the fact that nothing seems to have been done about it. I mean, that’s the crux of the – that’s the crux of what POGO --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- was saying, that there was no --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- oversight. You say that there was oversight.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: But in fact, you know, these problems date back two years or --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- at least some of them do. And, you know, things went from bad to --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. The --

QUESTION: -- bad to worse with the pictures of what --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- you said, you know, what you called disgusting.

MR. KELLY: The event that is depicted so graphically in those photographs took place a couple weeks ago. We learned of the event about a week to ten days ago, and we immediately opened an investigation, we immediately passed the materials over to the appropriate authorities.

QUESTION: But the Secretary – but the Secretary or the seventh floor was aware of this two weeks ago?

MR. KELLY: I do not think the Secretary was aware of this two weeks ago.

QUESTION: When did she become aware of this?

MR. KELLY: It was – as I understand it, it was very recently.

QUESTION: Would that be yesterday morning?

MR. KELLY: I want to make sure I give you the right answer, so let me see if --

QUESTION: Is it fair to say – can you describe her reaction out of being apprised of what – of these allegations?

MR. KELLY: I can’t. I haven’t been able to speak to her about this, so I can’t describe her reaction.

QUESTION: What was the reaction of the entire staff? There’s a thousand diplomat staff and --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the Afghans – I mean, the report is saying that security has been seriously compromised. They must be pretty worried that these --

MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, let me repeat what I just said. We don’t believe that security has been compromised. We believe that, given some of the information in the report about problems of – morale problems, this could have led to problems further down the line. But in terms of providing adequate security, we believe that the security was not compromised.

QUESTION: Well --

MR. KELLY: Now, regarding the reaction of the Embassy in Kabul, Ambassador Eikenberry is very cognizant of the kind of impact that this kind of story would have on the staff and families there, so this is why he’s having a town hall tomorrow.

QUESTION: So there’s – so there’s quite a lot of worrying among the staff?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if there’s quite – I can’t say there’s quite a lot of worry, but as a leader, he wants to assure his people that we’re taking this seriously and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.

QUESTION: Ian, how can you say that it wasn’t compromised when the State Department itself, going back to 2007, said, I consider the contract deficiencies addressed below to endanger performance of the contract to such a degree that the security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy? Two years ago.

MR. KELLY: That’s right, two years ago, and we --

QUESTION: The State Department --

MR. KELLY: That’s right. As I said, we have documented the problems that we have seen with the performance of this contractor. We have had frequent meetings with them. We have put in writing some of these concerns. I think there have been eight deficiency letters sent to them, and it was our determination that they have addressed these concerns.

QUESTION: So did they lie to you?

MR. KELLY: Some of the concerns were manning – no, I don’t think they – no, they – these were the kinds of deficiencies that could be addressed with certain concrete measures, and that’s measures like appropriate training, language training, making sure that they have enough people there to man the posts and not have to draw upon the resources of the Embassy to fill these gaps. So we – all along, we’ve taken this seriously, and they have responded.

QUESTION: But Ian, you said there have been eight deficiency notices.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So how does that square with them responding? And also, how do you justify renewing the contract when there were eight deficiency notices?

MR. KELLY: I think the only way we could justify renewing the contract is that they put in place some measures to address these deficiencies.

QUESTION: Can you say --

QUESTION: Can you say when these notes, these eight letters, were sent? And how many – how --

MR. KELLY: Six. Sorry, I said eight, but there were six.

QUESTION: Six? Six. How many deficiency letters --

MR. KELLY: Hold on a second there. I’m sorry, it is eight.

QUESTION: How many deficiency letters --

MR. KELLY: Hold on a second. I’m sorry, it is eight.

QUESTION: How many deficiency letters does it take before you get fired?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think if they don’t address the deficiencies --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. KELLY: -- that would mean you fire --

QUESTION: So all the deficiency --

MR. KELLY: This, to me, is indication that we were providing a lot of --

QUESTION: Okay, okay. But --

MR. KELLY: -- oversight. And let me finish. I mean, the fact that we issued these letters showed that we were keeping an eye on this, and that we took any kind of problems very seriously, and we told them they had to address the problems. And they did, to our satisfaction.

QUESTION: Can you say when they were sent?

MR. KELLY: Starting in June 2007, all the way through April 30, 2008, and then actually there was a ninth, and this was the most serious one. It’s called a show cause notice. A decision to issue a show cause notice is a serious matter and was not taken lightly. The issuance of a show cause notice was necessary due to repeated staffing shortages, which had been brought to the attention of the contracting officer. The show cause notice was the first step towards considering termination of the contract and was carefully considered by all concerned parties.

QUESTION: When was that?

MR. KELLY: This was September 21st, 2008.

QUESTION: So this contract, you said, was signed originally in March?

MR. KELLY: 2007.

QUESTION: March of 2007. But the first – and so March, April, May, so three months into the contract you sent the first deficiency notice?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s a – I mean, Kabul is a very challenging environment. There are very serious challenges for recruitment and logistical challenges.

QUESTION: So the last letter that was sent to them was that ninth, the show cause letter?

MR. KELLY: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And they responded to that?

MR. KELLY: They did respond to that. That was about --

QUESTION: And they corrected the deficiencies that were --

MR. KELLY: And they corrected the deficiencies. It was a staffing issue.

QUESTION: Ian, is it fair to say that you put up with all of these deficiencies because you really had no other alternative? I mean, was there another option available to the State Department for the specific functions that ArmorGroup was providing?

MR. KELLY: Well, there are other options. There – I mean, obviously, we cannot just terminate any contract anywhere for any embassy because we cannot have our embassies go unprotected. So this – I mean, there is an issue where you have to, obviously, transition to another arrangement. And of course, the universe of kind of organizations that can provide this kind of very challenging – provide this kind of security in a very challenging environment is not a very big universe, obviously.

QUESTION: Ian, does this bring up a bigger question --

QUESTION: The overall question here, which is you’ve had the incidents with Blackwater, now you have this company, and it really begs the question of whether contractors should be used in these circumstances. Is the State Department, at this point, looking at that overall question? I mean, isn’t there a message here that this probably isn’t working the right way?

MR. KELLY: Well, I would take issue with that. I mean, obviously, we have real concerns with this group in Kabul. But we have – we have probably, I don’t know, 200 missions overseas, 30,000 contract guards. Obviously, what happened in Kabul was distressing and contains some very serious charges. But the most important thing for us is that our people are safe. And as I said before, we do not believe that security was compromised.

Now, I think we are going to be taking a bigger look at this overall issue. But whether or not we move to another arrangement, it’s – I just can’t say right now.

Yeah, Kirit.

QUESTION: Can you just clear up a couple things here? Can you explain now why it took two years to refer this to an investigation if you had this number, you know, eight letters, nine you said, why it took two years --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and an independent organization to come out before you referred this to OIG and to your own investigators?

MR. KELLY: Well, let’s differentiate between performance or lack thereof, or deficiency thereof, and an actual wrongdoing. I think, we have been providing real man coverage on these guys in terms of --

QUESTION: That was probably an unfortunate choice of words. (Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: We provide oversight over – thank you, Mr. Lee – very close oversight of this contract. But then what we saw in August with the photographs, that – I think, that’s a different – that’s a whole different problem.

QUESTION: So will you clarify then what exactly is being investigated? Is it some of the deficiencies that you talked about or is it specifically these – what you’ve seen in the photos over the last couple months?

MR. KELLY: I think it’s – well, I think that there’s two things. One is the conduct issue, a very, very serious problem of, apparently, very disgusting conduct. And then there’s the issue of management, of leadership of the – what we’ve seen in the POGO report of the problems of morale and harassment.

QUESTION: But that goes to what I was saying. I mean, those were issues, especially the morale and the management, that go back two years. Why not --

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t --

QUESTION: -- why not investigate those then?

MR. KELLY: I don’t think so. I mean, not from what I’ve seen. The issue that’s gone on for two years has been more the deficiency in performance than morale.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Lach, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just go one more? Sorry, Lach --

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just the discrepancy between what I think some folks from OIG were saying that they were only notified yesterday. You said that they were notified ten days ago. Can you just clarify that? I mean, are you sure it was ten days ago that OIG was first – that they --

MR. KELLY: Oh, you might be right. You might be right on that.

QUESTION: Well, can you --

QUESTION: Can you --

QUESTION: -- get that for sure?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I may have misspoke on that one.

QUESTION: Yeah, you said ten days ago or something or how many –

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: – that they saw pictures?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No. Okay, let me walk back a little bit. The – it was the contract organization that came to us with pictures ten days ago.

QUESTION: Okay. And what did you do with them at --

MR. KELLY: That I’m not entirely sure about.

QUESTION: And it came to who? It came to who?

MR. KELLY: It came to the State Department.

QUESTION: And what did you do with that at that point?

MR. KELLY: That I’m not sure about.

QUESTION: Contractor organization meaning the company?

QUESTION: And so when did the – just so – one of the key lines of defense here that you’ve started with was: We have investigations underway.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Right? And I think it’s really important to understand when those began, if indeed, they began ten days ago --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, you’re right.

QUESTION: -- or just yesterday when this became public --

MR. KELLY: Fair enough.

QUESTION: -- which kind of undermines the argument that you had this very strong oversight because in fact you only began – so if you can take that.

MR. KELLY: Okay. Sure.

QUESTION: When – what are the relevant investigations? There are three, I think, that you’ve referred to: one, the team leaving from here –

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- two, the inspector general; and three, Ambassador Eikenberry’s senior staff, and when those were ordered.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And the scope of each of those, yeah.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, okay. Good.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, you’re saying that security is not currently compromised because --

MR. KELLY: We don’t believe so.

QUESTION: -- because the staffing, repeated staffing shortages --

MR. KELLY: Have been addressed.

QUESTION: -- have been addressed, since the ninth letter was sent out.

MR. KELLY: Yes. Yeah. And even when there was staffing shortages, this was – for us, it was an issue of non-fulfillment of contract. We did fill the gaps. We did man the posts, but they came from within the Embassy. It was supervisory personnel and RSO and other supervisors.

QUESTION: So the company did not do it itself?

MR. KELLY: The company now is doing it, but there were a number of instances when they weren’t doing it.

QUESTION: Okay. So while there were staffing shortages, those shortages from the company’s point of view, the Embassy actually filled in the missing people?

MR. KELLY: That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: From – with who?

MR. KELLY: With supervisory personnel from within the contracting agency and also from within the Embassy. And we also deducted their contract by that amount. We, in fact, docked their pay.

QUESTION: Do you know – okay. You docked the pay for the number of people that they were missing?

MR. KELLY: For the number of man-hours that they had not covered. And that came to about $2.4 million deducted from the contract. But --

QUESTION: How much were the guards getting paid?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know that answer.

QUESTION: And how were they chosen? Did you have any say in that, or was that just Wackenhut?

MR. KELLY: Sorry, I – I’m sorry, you’ll have to ask the contractor.

QUESTION: You have no ballpark figure on how much they’re being paid?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m sorry, I don’t. That’s really a question for the contractor.

QUESTION: Was there any guarantee that they would be able to actually communicate in either English or Pashto? I mean, this whole notion of having to pantomime at one of the most dangerous outposts in the Foreign Service is pretty –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, we’ll have to look into this.

QUESTION: – is pretty gobsmacking.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. No, those are – yeah – gobsmacking? Those are serious allegations, and we’ll have to look into them.

QUESTION: Right. Yeah. Can you find –

MR. KELLY: We do identify this as a problem and we think that they’ve addressed it by having teams that have native English-speakers in the team.

QUESTION: Was this something that was – was there anything in the original contract that specified that they had to meet some minimum level of communication skills, or was this simply go out and hire the cheapest people you can find --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, well, I --

QUESTION: -- and then plop them down in the middle of Kabul?

MR. KELLY: -- I don’t know the terms of the contract for that level of detail.

QUESTION: Is that something that’s going to be – is that going to be revisited for other embassies, notably Baghdad?

MR. KELLY: I just don’t know what exactly was in the contract. I mean, obviously we want to have people with at least minimal English language skills, who are staffing the perimeter of our embassies.

QUESTION: Ian, when you say that they –

MR. KELLY: Can we take like one or two more questions on this and then move on?

QUESTION: Yeah, but just a clarification. It’s important. The contract organization came to State with photos ten days ago. You’re talking about Wackenhut.

MR. KELLY: Yes. Well, either that, or Armor –

QUESTION: The – well, the company --

MR. KELLY: The company.

QUESTION: -- comes to you with those photos –

MR. KELLY: Yeah, right.

QUESTION: -- which up until this point, we thought were collected by POGO. Can you characterize where they got those photos from? And what did they say –

MR. KELLY: POGO? I don’t know.

QUESTION: No, no, no – the company. You’re saying the company came to you with those photos, right?

MR. KELLY: I believe so, yeah.

QUESTION: And can you tell us what did they say?

MR. KELLY: No, I can’t tell you what, because I just don’t know what they said.

QUESTION: What was the context?

MR. KELLY: And I don’t know if I can tell you what they said. I mean, I think you’d have to contact them and tell – and ask them what they said.

QUESTION: Can I go back to something? I – you know, you said at the beginning that there were things that occurred that you didn’t know about, and frankly, you should have known about.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And I still don’t understand, other – were those the photographs in the events of August, which you obviously heard about relatively soon, I believe within weeks? Or was it other things that you should have known about, but didn’t?

MR. KELLY: I think it’s mostly these morale issues that I referred to – these kinds of complaints that are documented in the letter to Secretary Clinton. I mean, I – as I said before, I don’t think any manager wants to learn about these kinds of complaints from his or her people from the media. So yeah, I mean, we can’t know everything, but it would seem to me that this is the kind of issue that would really affect a mission. And a leader has to be aware of this – these kinds of --

QUESTION: When was Ambassador Eikenberry aware of this?

MR. KELLY: That I don’t know. I mean, I think he –we’ve had problems with this contract, as I was discussing, for quite some time. And I think he’s – I mean, he’s obviously been briefed on an issue which is absolutely fundamental to the security of his mission.

QUESTION: Was Ambassador Crocker aware?

MR. KELLY: Ambassador Crocker?

QUESTION: You know, prior to the change of Administration?

MR. KELLY: You mean, Neumann, Ambassador Neumann?

QUESTION: Oh, Neumann. Sorry.

MR. KELLY: I have to assume so. This contract goes back to 2007.

QUESTION: Ian, in retrospect, do you think it was the right decision to renew the contract?

MR. KELLY: My colleagues made the decision to renew that contract based on the information that they had that time. And they were satisfied that the contractor was providing adequate security for the Embassy.

QUESTION: About the same time, though, you were under great scrutiny by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee. And they were faulting the State Department for lack of oversight and faulty management.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: But at the same time, you were renewing the contract. And now Senator McCaskill is saying that the State Department is not providing the majority of documents that they need to continue their investigation.

MR. KELLY: I don’t think that Senator McCaskill said she’s requested documents. I think --

QUESTION: No, she had a letter to Pat Kennedy yesterday that said the Department has failed to comply with the majority of the subcommittee’s requests.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, we’ll have to address that right away, then. I wasn’t aware that we haven’t complied with all of her requests. I knew that she had a request for more information.

QUESTION: Ian, is it fair to say that the M investigation is going to be looking into – and the results of it could determine whether you terminate this contract or not? Is that going to be part of their recommendations coming up?

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s an option that we have available to us.

Okay. Last question on this issue.

QUESTION: Yeah. Ian, just a clarification: When you talk about the – one of the options for action in this being re-vetting the contract --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- does that mean it gets – the entire thing get re-competed, or do you review the actual contract that you do – the current contract that you have?

MR. KELLY: It means that we can re-compete it at any time.

QUESTION: Okay. So you can re-compete it to – and exclude ArmorGroup or Wackenhut from the competition?

MR. KELLY: Well, that I don’t know. All I know is that we can re-compete it.

Okay. So other issues?

QUESTION: I have one more --

QUESTION: Mark, yeah.

QUESTION: Different contract. I just wanted to clarify the Blackwater contract in Iraq. A couple of weeks ago, your guidance seemed pretty clear that DynCorp was going to take over that contract and that Xe Services was going to be out.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: When did you realize you had the certification and manning issues that made it impossible to move --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the Blackwater people out on schedule?

MR. KELLY: Well, as you know, we have arranged for a temporary extension of the contract, which I understand is called the U.S. Training Center. I think I may have called you – may have told you that it’s Xe, but it’s actually U.S. Training Center.

QUESTION: That’s part of Xe.

QUESTION: Part of Xe.

MR. KELLY: It is part of Xe? Okay. As you know, this was supposed to transition out today. Is today the 3rd?

QUESTION: Tomorrow.

QUESTION: Tomorrow.

MR. KELLY: Tomorrow. And DynCorp came to us and asked for additional time, and this was last week.

QUESTION: Last week?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: And it was extended for how long?

MR. KELLY: Well, it’s – I don’t know. It’s mostly an equipment issue, as I understand it. But the exact time, I don’t know. I’ll just say that it’s a temporary extension.

QUESTION: And is the Iraqi Government, which denied a license to operate to Xe Services, have they – have you talked to them on --

MR. KELLY: We have informed them, yes. We have informed them that they need a little extra time.

QUESTION: And they’ve not registered an objection or anything?

MR. KELLY: I’m not aware that they’ve registered an objection.

QUESTION: Who’s paying them to finish the transition?

MR. KELLY: That’s a good question. This will – I think – I mean, according to the contract, DynCorp was supposed to take over tomorrow. We obviously will have to look at ways to adjust that contract and – but I don’t have the details.

QUESTION: When did you grant the extension, just so I understand that? Did you say that, Ian, when you --

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure exactly when we granted the extension, but I know that – I mean, there were a number of things that had to happen before we actually granted the extension. We had to talk to the people from Xe and we had to talk to the – to our – to the host country, to Iraq. But it’s fair to say in the last few days, I think is what --

QUESTION: And how much is that extension worth?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know. It depends on how long the extension goes on for.

QUESTION: Right. How much time did DynCorp say they needed?

MR. KELLY: That I don’t know.

QUESTION: So how long do you expect this tentative – the temporary extension to last?

MR. KELLY: Matt, I really don’t know. It all depends on when this equipment can arrive and other factors.

QUESTION: What kind of equipment is it?

MR. KELLY: I’m not sure exactly, but this is an aviation services contract, so we want to make sure we do this right. We can’t have a gap here. This is – this affects the security of my comrades out there at Embassy Baghdad.

QUESTION: So it’s just aviation services? It’s not, you know, driving --

MR. KELLY: No, it’s just aviation services. And there’s some ground service associated with the aviation services, but this is just the aviation part of the --

QUESTION: And that’s --

MR. KELLY: But the ground services part of their contract expired, I think, in May.

QUESTION: So this is mostly choppers, then?

MR. KELLY: This is mostly choppers, yeah.

QUESTION: But, Ian, just one question. I mean, this transition’s been underway also for months.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: The State Department made a big point of saying Blackwater was not going to be active in Iraq anymore.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I don’t know if we made a big point of it, but we did say that – yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Well, it was a point at the time. Secretary Clinton’s addressed it publicly --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- in a town hall meeting. And now, four, five or seven days before the actual expiration, you have --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- your new contractor come in and tell you we’re not ready.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, isn’t there some sense of surprise or anger on the part of the State Department?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if anger is the right – I mean, obviously, we’re disappointed that we can’t transition to a new contractor, as we’ve been saying we wanted to do all along. But I believe it’s mostly a logistical issue. And again, you have a lot of challenges about getting things in and out of Iraq. So it’s my understanding it’s mostly a logistical issue.

QUESTION: Well, going back to Jill’s earlier point, doesn’t this raise some systemic questions about the way that security is carried out to take care of Foreign Service employees and local hires around the world? Doesn’t there need to be whole-scale reexamination of this whole notion of privatization --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that does seem to permeate the U.S. Government?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. Well, that’s a very big question. I’ll again --

QUESTION: Yeah, but there have been a lot of problems because of it.

MR. KELLY: There have been problems. But again, for me anyway, as a Foreign Service officer who brings – who takes my family all over the world, the main thing is that we don’t have gaps in the kind of protection that we give our people overseas. And obviously, we’ve had problems with various contractors, but the fundamental issue, though, is being --

QUESTION: But the problems aren’t just – you know, just in terms of contracting people.

MR. KELLY: -- addressed, and that’s that I think our people overseas are being served very well by Diplomatic Security --

QUESTION: But is it so --

MR. KELLY: -- in terms of protecting them.

QUESTION: But is it also serving the overall mission and the overall goals of the --

MR. KELLY: Well, that’s a --

QUESTION: -- United States? I mean, when you have organizations coming in who – you know, in the case of Blackwater, wasn’t subject --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- to local law in Iraq until the new government came in and said, okay, now we’re changing this --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and you have, you know, concerns about communication.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Again, questions of legal authority, legal accountability.

MR. KELLY: Those are – those are –

QUESTION: You know, that’s --

MR. KELLY: Right, yeah. You’re right. I mean, those are important issues and we do need to do a better job of that.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan, going to a different subject, Afghanistan’s deputy intelligence chief was killed today in a suicide attack in a province. How do you assess the security situation in Afghanistan in this context?

MR. KELLY: Yeah --

QUESTION: Is the Taliban growing in strength there?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think you’ve seen – obviously, as I said in relation to the previous subject, it’s a very challenging environment in Afghanistan. But we are committed to implementing the President’s strategy, which is helping Afghanistan develop its own institutions, giving our – the U.S. troops and the NATO troops the wherewithal that they need, helping train the Afghan army and the Afghan National Police to be able to take over responsibility for their own security. It’s – it is a serious situation, but we remain committed to the job.

QUESTION: On Honduras, is there anything new on the official declaration of a coup or steps like that?

MR. KELLY: They’re – no, I don’t have anything to announce there. Let me just say that – I mean, we’ve already taken the steps that we need to take to remain in compliance with the law, which is that we have suspended all aid that goes to support the Government of Honduras. So we’re already in compliance with the law, but the Secretary has not made a determination yet.

QUESTION: And is the U.S. prepared --

QUESTION: Wait a minute. Can I just follow up on that?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, okay.

QUESTION: I mean, the law doesn’t say that you can suspend it. The law says that if there’s a determination, you have to terminate it. So that’s one.

MR. KELLY: I’m not so sure that it actually says that.

QUESTION: I have read the statute.

MR. KELLY: The law says that no aid can go to the --

QUESTION: Do you want me to read you the statute?

MR. KELLY: -- Government of Honduras --

QUESTION: I mean, I have the statute right here, and it’s not a suspension. It’s – I believe the word used is “terminate,” but I can double-check that. And the other thing is it doesn’t – you know, the 18 million is dwarfed by the potential funds under the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So there’s a lot more out there that is potentially affected.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. It’s my understanding from the Office of the Legal Advisor, as long as we’re not providing aid to the Government of Honduras, we are in conformance with the --

QUESTION: The law?

MR. KELLY: -- the law.

QUESTION: And when you said you don’t have anything to announce, does that mean a determination hasn’t been made, or it’s conceivable that one’s been made, but you just aren’t in a position to talk about it?

MR. KELLY: A determination has not been made.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Today --

QUESTION: And today – one more, I’m sorry.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. – if there’s no negotiated solution like the San Jose accord, so if Zelaya doesn’t go back and they hold the elections in November, is the U.S. prepared to recognize the winner of that election as the legitimate new government of Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. That’s a question that began with the word “if.” I think it’s fair to say that whatever we do, it will be done in consultation with our partners in the region.

We’re still focused on our main goal, which is the restoration of the democratic and constitutional order; in other words, the return of President Zelaya. We’re still trying to do whatever we can to try and reach that end. But we will want to work very closely with our partners in the OAS and the region.

QUESTION: Do you have a time for --

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Jill.

QUESTION: Do you have a time for the meeting tomorrow?

MR. KELLY: It’s midday. I don’t have an exact time.

QUESTION: Ian, today, in fact, President Zelaya said that the coup leaders are not taking this Administration seriously at all, raising questions as to why this has been going on for two months. Essentially, you know, he’s saying they just don’t – that, you know, no matter what you say, they’re not going to do what the United States is urging them to do. And that’s pretty serious. You know, he’s saying that they are basically just ignoring the United States.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: So how does the State Department – what do you think about that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think we continue to believe that by calling on all the various actors involved in the political life in Tegucigalpa, by using the leverage such as the kind of the leverage that we have and by acting multilaterally through the Organization of American States, by starting to apply some other diplomatic means of pressure such as suspending aid to the government and reviewing all of our visa procedures and revoking some visas, but by using all of these forces that we can help the de facto leaders come to the right decision, and that’s accepting the San Jose accord. In other words, we haven’t given up yet on this.

QUESTION: At what --

QUESTION: Honduras? Just – I apologize. It does not --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- say “terminate.” My apologies.

MR. KELLY: Okay.

QUESTION: I mis-remembered.

QUESTION: I actually want to go back to the ArmorGroup story for a second. Are you – as part of your investigation, are you looking into an incident that happened in Baghdad with ArmorGroup where a drunken security guard apparently shot two of his security guard colleagues in the green zone last month? Is that part of your investigation?

MR. KELLY: Well, that would be a separate investigation. I don’t --

QUESTION: Well, but looking at the ArmorGroup contract.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’ll – we’ll have to see if we can get you more information on that. The quick answer is no, we’re looking at ArmorGroup in Afghanistan. This would be a separate criminal investigation on that.

QUESTION: Do you know what the ArmorGroup – what their contract is in Iraq?

MR. KELLY: I do not. You’ll have to ask – I mean, you can ask ArmorGroup what their contract is in Iraq.

QUESTION: What?

QUESTION: They might turn up (inaudible).

MR. KELLY: I mean, I don’t know. Let me see. All right, fair enough. Let me see if I have it here.

QUESTION: Ian, presumably, the contract is with you guys, right?

MR. KELLY: Presumably --

QUESTION: We have to ask them?

MR. KELLY: Presumably, it is.

QUESTION: And at this point, asking ArmorGroup for anything is like telling us to go ask, you know, the North Koreans what they think about something.

MR. KELLY: All right. We have contracts – we have eight guard service contracts with ArmorGroup – Kabul, Manama, Bahrain, Quito, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda. I don’t have any information about Iraq.

QUESTION: Are those – some of those countries you mentioned are places where there are both embassies and consulates, Nigeria being one of them.

MR. KELLY: I think --

QUESTION: Do they do security for all of the – for embassies and consulates in those countries?

MR. KELLY: I just have information of the capitals, but it could be they do the consulates, too. I don’t know.

QUESTION: Ian, can I ask about a different topic?

MR. KELLY: Yes, please.

QUESTION: About Iran, there’s an Iranian press report that the Obama Administration has sent now a second letter to the regime in Tehran. Can you confirm that?

MR. KELLY: No, I don’t have any knowledge of a letter that --

QUESTION: Okay. And then can you – do you have any readout of the P-5+1 meeting?

MR. KELLY: I do, yeah.

QUESTION: And there’s reports from – quoting a German official saying that they expect Iran to meet --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- with the reps before the UN General Assembly.

MR. KELLY: Yeah. I was able to talk to Bill Burns. He said that it was a constructive meeting and most of the focus was on ways to get Iran back to the table. They took note of the latest report of the IAEA director general and again called on Iran to engage in direct talks based on mutual respect. They reaffirmed their political goal and underlined the necessity to achieve results in the diplomatic track. They stressed that a negotiated solution is still open to Iran.

With reference to Dr. Jalili’s statement this week that Iran is ready to resume talks, they stressed that Iran should respond to the offer by agreeing to – I’m sorry, let me start that over again. They expected Iran to offer – to respond to the offer of talks in April by agreeing to meet before the UN General Assembly meeting.

They underlined the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but that Iran should be aware of the urgent need to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program through full cooperation with the international community.

QUESTION: Can you say --

QUESTION: So is there a deadline when you say that you expect them to respond by --

MR. KELLY: I don’t know if I’d call it a deadline, but it certainly is giving them a timeframe.

QUESTION: Can you say – this is one of these times where we have to parse the word “expect.” I’m sorry to say, but does that mean that there is reason to expect that the Iranians will meet with them before --

MR. KELLY: No, I think --

QUESTION: -- the UN --

MR. KELLY: -- a more --

QUESTION: -- or they – are you saying that you want them to or they should --

MR. KELLY: They should.

QUESTION: -- respond?

MR. KELLY: They should respond.

QUESTION: So there is no expectation right now that there will be such a meeting?

MR. KELLY: No, I --

QUESTION: It is --

MR. KELLY: I used the wrong word.

QUESTION: No, no. Oftentimes --

MR. KELLY: They --

QUESTION: Oftentimes, it’s just you have to be clear as to what – if it’s a statement of intent --

MR. KELLY: Thank you for keeping me honest.

QUESTION: -- or if it’s just a “we hope.”

MR. KELLY: No, it’s we urge – we urge Iran to respond to the offer of talks.

QUESTION: And if they don’t respond, then you’re going to start discussing sanctions? Was that part of the talks today?

MR. KELLY: I’m not going to predict what we’re going to do. But right now, that offer’s still on the table and we are urging Iran to respond.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one more?

QUESTION: Do you now recognize their statements that they want to have – the statements that came out yesterday that they want to have a meeting? Do you now recognize that? Yesterday, you would not.

MR. KELLY: We are waiting for an official response to Javier Solana’s offer of talks. No response has arrived.

QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to the director general of the IAEA saying that the threat of a nuclear weapons program in Iran has been exaggerated?

MR. KELLY: I haven’t seen those remarks, so I don’t have a response to that.

QUESTION: Ian, just one other thing. The German official who was quoted out of Koenigstein said, or was quoted as saying, that they agreed to meet on the margins of the UN General Assembly. Does that the mean the political directors, or does that mean the foreign ministers plan to meet up in New York on the margins of UNGA?

MR. KELLY: I would expect a P-5+1 meeting in UNGA, but what the level --

QUESTION: You don’t know the level. Okay.

MR. KELLY: -- will be, I’m not sure.

QUESTION: Ian, on another subject, the Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosni is a candidate to be head of UNESCO, and I’m wondering if – does the U.S. support this or oppose his nomination?

MR. KELLY: I’ll have to find out for you. We’ll take that question.

Yeah, in the back.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout on Ambassador Bosworth trip to China, Korea, and Japan?

MR. KELLY: I don’t have a readout because he’s just left. But I can give you some more background on what he plans to do.

QUESTION: So he’s going to China first?

MR. KELLY: He’s going first to China. He’ll be in Beijing September 3 and 4, departing on the 4th for Seoul. He will go to Tokyo from Seoul on September 6 and return to Washington on September 8th.

QUESTION: And --

MR. KELLY: On September 8, Ambassador Kim is going to return to Seoul where he’s going to meet with Ambassador Logvinov, who’s the Russian Federation’s Special Representative to the Six-Party Talks. This was at the request of the Russians. They – since Logvinov was going to be in the region, they suggested that they meet in Seoul.

QUESTION: Is it --

QUESTION: Can you explain something real quick?

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: In your statement that you put out earlier, and in one – at least one other time earlier, you made reference to Ambassador Goldberg’s role as being part of – trying to bring the North Koreans back to the table.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: My understanding of his role is more of the hammer, the guy who’s out there to try and enforce sanctions. But why now is he being touted as his role of, kind of, a Six-Party Talks person (inaudible)?

MR. KELLY: Well, we have a number of tools at our disposal to try and get the North Koreans to do the right thing and return to the Six-Party Talks. We see the efforts of Ambassador Goldberg in coordinating in the region on implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1874 as reinforcing the other diplomatic efforts that we --

QUESTION: Can I –

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: -- his role is still strictly only the sanctions? He hasn’t expanded his role at all?

MR. KELLY: His role is coordinator for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874.

QUESTION: Why doesn’t Bosworth go – stay in the region and meet with the Russian in Seoul on September 8th?

MR. KELLY: I didn’t --

QUESTION: Why does --

MR. KELLY: It’s simply a --

QUESTION: School year?

(Laughter.)

MR. KELLY: It’s simply a logistical issue. I’m not addressing that, Matt.

QUESTION: No, no, I’m – no, I’m serious.

MR. KELLY: I simply don’t --

QUESTION: Why is – do the Russians not like him? They don’t want to --

MR. KELLY: No.

QUESTION: I mean, why does he come back to the states, and then you send Sung Kim out there?

MR. KELLY: No, Sung Kim’s with him. It’s a --

QUESTION: So Sung Kim is going to stay – is going with him and then he’s going to stay in --

MR. KELLY: Yeah. He’s going to all the different stops.

QUESTION: Okay, so --

MR. KELLY: And then instead of going back to the U.S., Ambassador Bosworth had to come back, he’s going to go back to Seoul so he can meet with his counterpart.

QUESTION: Fair enough. Why is Ambassador Bosworth coming back to --

MR. KELLY: I don’t know. I don’t know, Matt.

QUESTION: You don’t.

QUESTION: And does Sung --

QUESTION: Do you not know?

MR. KELLY: Well, he’s coming back to consult.

QUESTION: Where? Here or in Massachusetts?

MR. KELLY: Not going there, Matt.

QUESTION: Does Sung Kim have any plan – you know, in the statement you put out you said that Ambassador – and as you’ve said before, Ambassador Bosworth has no plans to go to Pyongyang or meet North Korean officials.

MR. KELLY: He has no plans to go to Pyongyang.

QUESTION: Does Sung Kim have any plans?

MR. KELLY: None of the – none of the delegation members have any plans to go to North Korea.

QUESTION: Or meet?

MR. KELLY: Or meet with North Korean officials on this trip.

QUESTION: What’s the agenda of this trip?

MR. KELLY: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Agenda of conversation on this trip with other parties?

MR. KELLY: Say – I --

QUESTION: What is the agenda of this trip of Ambassador Bosworth --

MR. KELLY: What’s the intent of it?

QUESTION: Agenda.

MR. KELLY: Oh, the agenda. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s basically to continue consultations with our partners and allies on how best to convince North Korea that it has to live up to its – to the commitments that it made under the 2005 joint statement and, of course, take irreversible steps towards denuclearization.

QUESTION: So if other parties agree on bilateral meeting between U.S. and North Korea, will U.S. have bilateral meeting before the official Six-Party Talk?

MR. KELLY: I can’t answer that question. But we’re going out there to consult with our partners on the best way forward, and let’s see what comes out of those talks.

Michel.

QUESTION: Any update on Senator Mitchell’s meeting in New York?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, as I said yesterday, it’s going to be late this afternoon – 5 o’clock up in New York. And as I pledged to you yesterday, I’ll get you a readout.

QUESTION: Any specific place for the meeting?

MR. KELLY: I believe it’s at the U.S. Mission to the UN.

QUESTION: How do you assess the overall atmosphere and progress and efforts to revive these talks as they prepare for the meeting?

MR. KELLY: I don’t want to step on anything that may be a subject for talks. You saw their statement last week that they thought that progress had been made. And we are very much looking forward to moving to the next phase, which, of course, is direct talks between the two parties.

QUESTION: Are you --

MR. KELLY: Thanks.

QUESTION: You sure it’s USUN?

MR. KELLY: I’m not a hundred percent sure.

QUESTION: Okay.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:56 p.m.)


[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - September 2]