Legislation enacted last May directed the Government Accountability Office, which reports to Congress, to report on whether Iraq is meeting various security and political benchmarks. GAO’s report is now circulating in draft form, and both the White House and the Pentagon are objecting to it:
In a draft report circulated this week, the Government Accountability Office concluded that at least 13 of the 18 political and security goals for the Iraqi government have not been met. Administration officials swiftly objected to several of the findings and dismissed the report as unrealistically harsh because it assigned pass-or-fail grades to each benchmark, with little nuance.
The Pentagon and State Department provided detailed and lengthy objections to GAO this week in the hopes of swaying the findings.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday that after reviewing a draft of the GAO report, policy officials “made some factual corrections” and “offered some suggestions on a few of the actual grades” assigned by the GAO.
“We have provided the GAO with information which we believe will lead them to conclude that a few of the benchmark grades should be upgraded from ‘not met’ to ‘met,'” Morrell said. He declined to elaborate or to spell out which of the benchmark grades the Pentagon was disputing.
State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said GAO should at least note progress made when ruling that Iraq has failed to meet a specific benchmark.
Those sound like legitimate points. Given that the report doesn’t attempt to acknowledge progress, it sounds as though it may not even account for the agreement on several key legislative issues that was announced by Iraqi leaders a few days ago.
One wonders, too, what business the GAO has writing a report on Iraq. Did members of that agency travel to Iraq? Did they discover any facts that have not already been widely reported? What expertise, if any, did they bring to their task? Until 2004, “GAO” stood for “General Accounting Office.” That agency has been best known for auditing government programs. It’s hard to see what light its report can shed on the situation in Iraq. In any event, the report has probably already achieved its real purpose: generating negative headlines about Iraq.
Via Power Line News.
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