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New Administrator: U.S. Working Hard on Iraqi Security

New Administrator: U.S. Working Hard on Iraqi Security

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- American forces are working hard to improve security in the Iraqi capital, and 300 criminals have been arrested around the country this week, the new U.S. civilian administrator said Thursday.

L. Paul Bremer, in his first news conference as the top civilian official of the U.S. occupation administration, said 92 people were arrested in Baghdad alone on Wednesday.

"It is my responsibility as the administrator of the coalition provisional authority ... to bring security back to Iraq," Bremer said.

He also said he would issue an order in coming days to root out remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party "from Iraq forever."

"In the short time I've been here, I've seen the depravity and evil of the Baath regime," he said. "There is a serious law-and-order problem."

Some U.S. officials have blamed Saddam's party and regime for creating the conditions for the lawlessness that has swept Iraq, especially Baghdad, since the U.S. invasion last month.

Bremer said a combined effort of American military and civilian workers is fighting to turn that around.

Bremer arrived in Iraq earlier this week to take over from retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is now working as his subordinate. Bremer said he was working closely with Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, to make sure the situation stabilizes.

Security has been identified as a top concern of both Iraqis and their American overseers.

Bremer said jails have been reopened and two courts have been re-established to deal with criminals arrested in recent weeks.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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