A leaked draft of a GAO assessment of progress in Iraq reported on August 30, 2007 found that Iraq had met only 3 of 18 benchmarks. Despite a requirement for an up or down assessment, the draft fudged on its mandate and noted some progress had been made on 2 others. It was widely assumed that the report was leaked in anticipation of last minute attempts to doctor it. This is, in fact, what happened when the Pentagon called the report too harsh in its judgments. The final report (Congressional testimony September 4; released September 5) found 3 benchmarks were met and continued the fudge by declaring 4 others partially met. On this basis, the media reported failure in 11 of the 18 benchmarks. While this is hardly a sterling recommendation, GAO’s own self-censorship and the DOD’s lobbying, nevertheless, produced a result far better than the bottomline 3 of 18 benchmarks met. And what were the 3?
- Ensuring the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.
- Establishing joint security stations in Baghdad neighborhoods.
- Setting up committees to support the Baghdad security plan.
While minority political parties may have rights, they do not have power, and any protections they may enjoy do not extend outside the parliament building. Joint security stations may have been set up, but how trustworthy and dependable the Iraqi personnel manning them are is open to serious question. Finally, setting up committees is easy. Actually producing results and increasing security in Baghdad, not so much. A more honest evaluation of real change in Iraq would have given a score of 0 of 18. But that is, of course, not how things are done in the Bush Administration nor how to sell a "surge".