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Gonzales visits Iraq to assess legal gains

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, under fire at home with calls for his resignation, is spending some time in Iraq.

The Justice Department said that Mr. Gonzales arrived in Baghdad yesterday for his third trip to Iraq to meet with department officials who have been there to help fashion the country's legal system.

"I am pleased to see firsthand ... the progress that the men and women of the Justice Department have made to rebuild Iraq's legal system and law enforcement infrastructure," Mr. Gonzales said in a statement released by the department.

His optimistic assessment was made despite the frequent sectarian lawlessness in the country.

The attorney general was accompanied by Michael Sullivan, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and John Clark, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, and other department staff.

Mr. Gonzales got an update from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and planned to meet with Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and other U.S. and Iraqi officials, the statement said.

The trip takes place at a difficult time personally for Mr. Gonzales. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have called for his resignation.

They have questioned his truthfulness on a variety of issues including discrepancies about the purge of federal prosecutors and issues related to a domestic eavesdropping program.

Mr. Gonzales also was an architect of U.S. policy on the treatment of prisoners abroad and author of a 2002 memo saying the president had the right to waive laws and treaties that protect war prisoners.

President Bush has staunchly defended the attorney general.

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