Wednesday, September 05, 2007


GAO Iraq report - only 4 of 18 goals met

(Gulf News) - Baghdad has not met 11 of its 18 political and security goals, according to a new independent report on Iraq that challenges President George W. Bush's assessment on the war. The study, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, was slightly more upbeat than initially planned. After receiving substantial resistance from the White House, the GAO determined that four benchmarks - instead of two - had been partially met.
The GAO, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, stuck with its original contention that only three goals out of the 18 had been achieved. The goals met includeestablishing joint security stations in Baghdad, ensuring minority rights in the Iraqi legislature and creating support committees for the Baghdad security plan.

The GAO's findings paint a bleaker view of progress in Iraq than offered by Bush in July and comes at a critical time in the Iraq debate. So far, Republicans have stuck by Bush and staved off Democratic legislation ordering troops home. But many, who have grown uneasy about the unpopularity of the war, say they want to see substantial improvement in Iraq by September.
Next week the top military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, are scheduled to brief Congress. "Overall key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," said US Comptroller David Walker in prepared remarks for a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
"While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, measuring such violence may be difficult since the perpetrator's intent is not clearly known," GAO states in its report. "Other measures of violence, such as the number of enemy-initiated attacks, show that violence has remained high through July 2007."
Republican leaders showed no signs of wavering on Tuesday in their support for Bush. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he would like to ensure a long-term US presence in the Middle East to fight Al Qaida and deter aggression fromIran. Democrats said the GAO report showed that Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq was failing because Baghdad was not making the political progress needed to tamp downsectarian violence.
"No matter what spin we may hear in the coming days, this independent assessment is a failing grade for a policy that simply isn't working," said Democratic Sen. John Kerry,the Democrats' losing presidential candidate in 2004.

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