Monday, September 03, 2007

Bush flies into Assad air base, spends 6 hours in country, avoids Baghdad in surprise stopover on way to Australia

Above: Air Force 1 at Al Assad air base, an isolated and heavily defended U.S. facility 120 miles from Baghdad. On Friday it was reported that a C-130 carrying a congressional delegation out of Baghdad airport was shot at 4 times, causing the pilot to make sharp banks in evasive action.

President Bush and Advisers Arrive in Iraq

President Bush and his top national security advisers made a surprise joint visit to Iraq today for talks with Gen. David H. Petraeus and top Iraqi officials a week before the American commander is scheduled to deliver a long-awaited assessment of the situation in Iraq...

"He has assembled essentially his war cabinet here, and they are all convening with the Iraqi leadership to discuss the way forward," said the Pentagon Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell. "This will be the last big gathering of the president before the president makes a decision on the way forward," he added, noting that Mr. Bush will leave here for a trip to Australia...

The meetings were held at Al Asad air base rather than in Baghdad because Mr. Bush wanted to see first hand the progress in Anbar, he said, though the president is not scheduled to leave the base, a sprawling complex far from the province’s population centers.

Read the rest at the NY Times

Bush, Advisers Make Surprise Visit to Iraq

President Bush made a surprise visit to this isolated and well fortified air field in Anbar province Monday to meet with top U.S. and Iraqi officials and to showcase what he calls one of the successes of his decision to surge 30,000 additional troops into Iraq.

Bush slipped out of a side door of the White House for the furtive trip that was aimed at bolstering his position for not drawing down troops from Iraq. During six hours on the ground here, the president was to meet with Army Gen. David Petreaus and other military commanders and Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, before holding a session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and members of his central government...

"The president felt this is something he had to do in order to put himself in a position to make some important decisions," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said of the visit.

Read the rest at the Washington Post