President Bush says his surprise trip to Iraq had been in the works for about
six weeks. Only a very few close aides knew about the trip beforehand.
Speaking to reporters on his return from Baghdad, President Bush says he
wanted U.S. troops in Iraq to know that their commander-in-chief, and their
country, support them.
So about six weeks ago, he asked a small number of aides to look into how
he might visit troops in Iraq during the Thanksgiving holiday. At the White
the secret was confined to the vice president, Chief of Staff Andy Card, and
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
The president says he told Mrs. Bush during October's trip to Asia that he
was planning to visit Baghdad but would only go if he could do it safely.
He did not tell his daughters about the trip until Wednesday evening, shortly
before he secretly left their Texas ranch. His parents arrived for Thanksgiving
dinner without knowing their son was on his way to Baghdad.
During his two-and-a-half hour visit, President Bush says, he told members
of the Iraqi Governing Council that it is up to them to seize the moment and
form a government that recognizes and protects the rights of all Iraqis.
He says he assured them the United States will stay the course in Iraq, and
get the job done by helping restore security and establish a democratic government.