November 27, 2003
In a stunning mission conducted under enormous secrecy, President Bush flew into Baghdad today aboard Air Force One to have dinner with United States officials and a group of astonished American troops.
His trip _ the first ever to Iraq by an American president _ had been kept a matter of absolute secrecy by the White House, which had said that he would be spending the Thanksgiving weekend at his ranch outside Crawford, Tex. . . .
The presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, appearing on CNN, called it ``a perfectly executed plan'' that would be ``one of the major moments in his biography.'' It would have provided ``an incredible thrill'' for the American.
Mr. Bush sneaked out of Crawford on Wednesday in an unmarked car, then flew to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where a few advisers and a small number of reporters sworn to secrecy joined him. They then flew on to Baghdad International Airport, arriving around dusk.
UPDATE: Here's another story on the Bush visit:
"We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost of casualties, defeat a ruthless dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins," the president said, prompting a standing ovation and cheers.
He also had a message for the people of Iraq: "The regime of Saddam Hussein is gone forever," he said, and pledged the help of the United States and its coalition partners, saying "we will stay until the job is done. I'm confident we will succeed."
Wearing an exercise jacket with a 1st Armored Division patch, Bush stood in a chow line and dished out sweet potatoes and corn for Thanksgiving dinner and posed with a platter of fresh-baked turkey.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Graham has more on his site. He asks:
WHAT CAN PRESIDENT BUSH DO IN BAGHDAD THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN CAN'T? Appear in public. If that doesn't send a message to the Ba'athists and their would-be allies, I don't know what does.
MORE: Here's a look into how the trip will be spun, and here's the text of Bush's speech.
STILL MORE: More reactions here.
MORE STILL: Reader Brian Morgan emails:
One of the things that people seem to overlook is that the United States has the capability to take the leader of our country (I wanted to say "Free World" - ed.) - under constant scrutiny from the world's press - and insert him - ON A 747 NO LESS - inside Iraq, without people finding out until he was airborne en route on the return trip to the US.
Honestly, I am damn proud as an American. And happy to see our tax dollars at work.
Quagmire my ass.
It certainly speaks well for the White House's ability to maintain operational security. And, I should note, for the ability of the few journalists who were in on the story to keep a secret, too. Meanwhile reader Greg Dougherty emails:
You missed the best part . . . Of the Fox report about Bush's trip to Iraq:
'Instead, Bush slipped away from his home without notice Wednesday evening with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, both of them disguised with baseball caps. Bush told reporters that they looked like a "normal couple."'
The white male President and his black female National Security Advisor, looked to him just like a "normal couple".
Imagine that 20 years ago!
Indeed. Though I'm worried that it will just provide a different storyline for "The Boondocks."