“The problem with this war for, I think, many Americans is that the premise on which we justified going to war proved not to be valid — that is, Saddam (Hussein) having weapons of mass destruction,” Gates told reporters after meeting with troops at Camp Ramadi in al-Anbar province. “Even if the outcome (of the war) is a good one from the standpoint of the United States, it will always be clouded by how it began.”…

Asked Wednesday if the U.S. is still at war in Iraq, Secretary Gates replied: “No, I would say we’re not.” The secretary and a series of uniformed commanders made available to reporters for questioning here all emphasized that the fewer than 50,000 American troops now left in Iraq — down from a peak force of 170,000 — are engaged only in an “advise and assist” mission, in which their core function is to continue training and “mentoring” Iraqi security forces.