Defense Secretary Joins Bush on Surprise Basra Visit

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting Iraq along with President Bush, meeting with Gen. David Petraeus, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi officials.

Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Crocker will testify before Congress. Their assessment of the conflict, along with a progress report the White House must give lawmakers by Sept. 15, will determine the next chapter of the war. The reports will likely have an enormous impact on debate of Iraq policy but not necessarily on the policy itself. And they'll offer fodder for people on all sides of the debate.

It's Gates' fourth trip to Iraq. He'll use information gathered during his trip to assist in advising President Bush on the best course forward in Iraq. Gates has been a vocal supporter of the troop-surge stragetgy, in part because he's seen successes firsthand in some parts of Iraq.

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