The Government Accountability Office has released its congressionally mandated report on Iraq’s progress towards meeting 18 separate security and political benchmarks. The Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks.
Contrary to claims made by Gen. David Petraeus that sectarian violence has decreased dramatically, the GAO report is unable to report any progress on this front. Moreover, it notes that “average daily attacks against civilians” has remained unchanged:
It is unclear whether sectarian violence in Iraq has decreased–a key security benchmark–since it is difficult to measure perpetrators’ intents, and various other measures of population security from different sources show differing trends. As displayed in figure 4 (see above), average daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007.
Read a summary of the report here.
When the Washington Post reported on a leaked version of the GAO report last week, the Bush administration quickly tried to water down the report’s findings. Administration officials said the draft report was “unrealistically harsh because it assigned pass-or-fail grades to each benchmark.” White House press spokeswoman Dana Perino complained, “A bar was set so high, that it was almost not to be able to be met.”
But a look at the GAO report demonstrates that the office took careful efforts to detail the status of each benchmark, rather than simply assigning a grade. The report also used a “partially met” grade to offer a more complete picture of the status of each benchmark.
An internal White House memo reported by the AP last week went as far as to claim the GAO report’s standards would “lock in failure“:
The memo argues that the GAO will not present a “true picture” of the situation in Iraq because the standards were “designed to lock in failure,” according to portions of the document read to the AP by an official who has seen it.
Here’s the “true picture” the White House was so concerned that the public would see:
UPDATE: See the full GAO report here.