Blogger Conference Call With Dan Senor

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 14, 2005 2:26 PM

Senor was a senior advisor to Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority director Paul Bremer until the transfer of sovereignty. His basics, from the call invite:

Senor served as the chief spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq until the transfer of sovereignty in June 2004...

Dan Senor served as the chief Coalition spokesman and senior advisor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, and was one of the longest serving American civilians in Iraq, entering Iraq on one of the first civilian convoys after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Initial thoughts. Senor is an interesting spokesperson because he saw such huge changes happen while he was in Iraq-- from Saddam, to CPA, to three elections in one year. His answers were long, knowledgeable, and full of personal experiences. Wish I could have grabbed more of them while I was transcribing.

Second, whenever we do conference calls, everyone should pass their questions to John Hawkins because he has the Best. Accent. Ever. And I think while he was asking his question, I heard Patton try to ask a question in the background. What a smart blog-dog.

But now to the substance. A few quotes from Senor, which are accurate to the best of my ability while I'm listening and transcribing.

One caller (didn't catch the name, sorry!) asked if Senor thought the vote tomorrow will undercut the insurgency:

"Listen to Zarqawi and Zawahiri...They have moved for a very long time away from demonizing the Americans and have moved toward demonizing the Iraqi political process."

"There’s nothing they find more threatening than this evolving Iraqi democracy. They’ve been explicit about that."

Senor said he thought that the votes in January and October had already undercut the insurgency, and the numbers show it. He referred to a graph on the NYT op-ed page, which shows that the number of Iraqis informing on insurgents is two to three times what it was a year ago.

"When Iraqis are less reticent about stepping forward with information it tells you a lot of things, not the least of which is where the momentum is...They recognize which way the country is going, which wasn’t maybe clear to them a year ago."

John Hawkins asked, "Once American troops are off the streets in 2007, and Iraqis are doing all the police work-- assuming they’re able to be effective-- what does that do to the insurgency?"

Senor replied that it would have a great psychological impact on Iraqis, particularly those for whom American troops in their country mean wounded pride. But he said such psychological changes are already happening:

"When Iraqis are going through checkpoints, they’re dealing with their own people in uniform; they’re speaking in their own language."

I think Flip was supposed to be in on this call, so he may have more later. And John, too. I don't know about anyone else, but I'll look around.