there’s got to be something wrong with the report…

Posted on Friday 31 August 2007

An independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. troops drew fierce pushback from the White House on Thursday and provided fresh ammunition for Democrats who want to bring troops home.

The political wrangling came days before the report was to be officially released and while most lawmakers were still out of town for the August recess, reflecting the high stakes involved for both sides in the Iraq war debate. President Bush, who planned to meet Friday at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is nearing a decision on a way forward in Iraq while Congress planned another round of votes this fall to end the war.

Bush in recent public statements has suggested he intends to stick to his Iraq strategy for now, but in his meeting Friday at the Pentagon he is expected to hear some of the Joint Chiefs express deep concern at the long-term impact on the military of maintaining a heavy troop presence in Iraq in 2008 and beyond.

The Army and the Marine Corps have shouldered most of the burden in Iraq, creating strains that service leaders fear could hurt their recruiting as well as their preparedness for other military emergencies. The Joint Chiefs are not, however, expected to urge Bush to withdraw from Iraq entirely as many Democrats want.

"It is clear that every objective expert keeps providing the American public with the same facts: that the president’s flawed Iraq strategy is failing to deliver what it needs to – a political solution for Iraq," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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.

GAO officials briefed congressional staff on their findings behind closed doors, promising the aides an unvarnished assessment of Iraq when an unclassified version of the report is publicly released on Sept. 4.

"The real question that people have is: What’s going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact?" said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "The answer is yes. There’s no question about it."
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 the GAO should at least note progress made when ruling that Iraq has failed to meet a specific benchmark…
One of the worst things about teaching in Medical School was students wanting to argue about their grades. They were all smart or they wouldn’t have been there, and they were used to making good grades. They couldn’t adapt to Medical School, where their grades were almost inevitably lower. And the grades didn’t matter that much anyway. It was just a way of saying how well they knew the material, more something to give them feedback than anything else. But they’d still argue over a few points like life depended on it.

I thought about them when I read this article. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell was arguing about some of the finer points in the GAO report – trying to get "upgraded." And this really sounded like the Medical Students, "… the GAO should at least note progress made when ruling that Iraq has failed to meet a specific benchmark." The report is just a piece of paper. Argue with the grader all you want. The GAO "flunked" the Surge. So maybe they’ll argue it up to a D-. What difference does that make? They’re not going to get a passing grade no matter how long they argue.

There’s nothing wrong with the report. The benchmarks aren’t that stringent. The Surge is the flop that it was predicted to be.

    August 31, 2007 | 7:39 AM

    They are so used to going to the DOJ and getting their way and having things made pretty for them that it’s probably a bitter pill to swallow when a different department doesn’t make stuff up to make them look good. Thank heaven’s that report was leaked.

    August 31, 2007 | 8:28 AM

    One of the polls touted around DC this week says that people are beginning to believe the surge is working. Democrats and Republicans( true patriots) who know the Bush WH is lying about the surges success, need to come forward for our countrys sake and our soldiers limbs and lives. They have to say they are lying over and over again. That is what this administration does, lie over and over until they get true believers, and by golly they do get believers.

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