Mukasey Makes Surprise Trip to Baghdad to Review Iraq Judiciary Plans

Attorney General Michael Mukasey met Wednesday with the head of Iraq's judicial council during a quick trip to Baghdad to review U.S. efforts to help build the nation's legal system.

Mukasey also met with top U.S. officials in Iraq, as well as soldiers and some of the more 200 Justice Department officials currently there working on the so-called "rule of law" mission.

"Our civilian volunteers are working with the Iraqi people to build a legal system fashioned by cultures and customs very different from our own but founded upon the same bedrock principles: due process and the rule of law," Mukasey said in a statement that the Justice Department released early Wednesday in Washington.

"Our efforts, combined with those of the departments of State and Defense, have already resulted in significant progress," Mukasey said. "And we will continue to pursue ways to help the Iraqi people achieve a stable and transparent government."

The Justice Department, citing security concerns, did not publicly announce Mukasey's trip before Wednesday morning. He left Washington on Tuesday and will return by week's end after stops in Qatar and Turkey, the department said.

Mukasey met with Chief Judge Medhat al-Mahoud, the head of Iraq's Higher Judicial Council and two other high-ranking members of the Iraqi judiciary, the Justice Department said. He also met with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

The Iraq trip marked the attorney general's first overseas since taking office in November.