GAO to issue report on Iraq goals
Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet a majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, according to three officials familiar with the matter.
The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, will report that at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks to measure success remain unfulfilled before a Sept. 15 deadline for the president to give a detailed accounting of the Iraq situation, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public.
They also said the Bush administration is preparing to play down the findings, by arguing that Congress ordered the GAO to use unfair “all or nothing” standards when compiling the document.
The GAO is to give a classified briefing to lawmakers today. It is not yet clear when its unclassified report will be released, but it is due Saturday amid a series of assessments called for in January legislation that authorized Bush’s plan to boost troop levels in Iraq.
Among those Bush will hear from are the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus; and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. The Pentagon said Wednesday that Bush was likely to get a variety of views from military officials. He will then deliver his own report to Congress by Sept. 15.
Republicans have mostly stood by Bush on the war and staved off Democratic demands for troop withdrawals. But in exchange for their support, many GOP members said they wanted to see substantial progress by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki by September or they would call for a new strategy, possibly a troop withdrawal.