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GAO: Very Little Progress In Iraq

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The non-partisan Government Accountability Office will issue a report next Tuesday, but a draft of it has been given to the press for fear the full, unvarnished picture won’t be presented.

From the Wash Post:

The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. “While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced,” it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that “the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved.”

“Overall,” the report concludes, “key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds,” as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments “would be more useful” if they backed up their judgments with more details and “provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies.”

All this means is that the enemy is getting savvier, not necessarily weaker. They’re not striking at our troops as much because they know they’ll get hammered…so they’re going after the little guys…

Overall, the draft report, titled “Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq,” says that the Iraqi government has met only two security benchmarks. It contradicts the Bush administration’s conclusion in July that sectarian violence was decreasing as a result of the U.S. military’s stepped-up operations in Baghdad this year. “The average number of daily attacks against civilians remained about the same over the last six months; 25 in February versus 26 in July,” the GAO draft states.

The Administration isn’t being honest? What???

Also, Iraqi forces are getting LESS ready, not more…

The GAO draft also says that the number of Iraqi army units capable of operating independently declined from 10 in March to six last month. The July White House report mentioned a “slight” decline in capable Iraqi units, without providing any numbers.

The conclusion here is we’ve apparently achieved very little actual progress, but have put a lot of band-aids on bad policy to stop the bleeding. And in some cases, we’ve gone backward.

So then, question for all of you: Are we really prepared to spend decades and trillions rebuilding Iraq?