Iraqi prisoners arrive at Camp Cropper, a U.S.-run prison home to more than 4,000 detainees.
It's a bit surreal to be sitting in a U.S. military trailer in Baghdad as I watch General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker testify back in Washington, DC. Outside, a Blackhawk helicopter just whizzed by, momentarily drowning out the sound from the TV.
I spent all day at Camp Cropper, a U.S.-managed detention center where more than 4,000 Iraqi detainees are being held. It's run by Major General Douglas Stone, a hard-charging Marine. He is now responsible for all detainees in Iraq -- more than 24,000 of them -- a population which has surged because of the so-called surge.
In past years, detention centers were prime recruiting grounds for extremists. In fact, if you know anything about the history of Islamic extremism, you will know that prisons have always been places where radical ideologies were born and spread. (For a great history of al Aqaeda you should read "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright.)
Anyway, Major General Stone says he is waging a "battle of the mind" inside the detention centers. He is trying to separate moderate Iraqis from the influence of extremist detainees. We'll show you how he is doing that tonight, and you can judge for yourself how successful you think it will be. He is certainly motivated, and the troops working under him are dedicated and impressive.
Tonight, of course, Iraq will be our main focus. We have a number of reporters stationed throughout the region. Michael Ware will join us, as always. So will Gary Tuchman, who is reporting on efforts to train Iraqi police. Also, Nic Robertson is reporting from Saudi Arabia on a reformed jihadist who now tries to convince others not to join al Qaeda.
It's good to be back in Iraq. It's only my fourth trip here, but I'm looking forward to going out on patrols the next couple days. One thing I hope to see is how U.S. troops are working with Sunni tribal groups against al Qaeda in Iraq. Of course, the attempt to work with former Sunni insurgents raises lots of questions; we'll examine some of them tonight and all this week.
This time last year, we were in Afghanistan. We will also have reports from there this week.
I hope you join us tonight, as we report live from Baghdad. See you then.
-- By Anderson Cooper