"So-called 'consequences' for missing the benchmarks"

Condoleezza Rice explains what "benchmarks" really mean.

Published April 30, 2007 3:22PM (EDT)

As George W. Bush laid out plans for the "surge" in January, he stressed the notion that the Iraqi government would have to keep the promises it was making to the United States. "A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations," the president said then. "Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced."

Or not.

As congressional Democrats look beyond the president's expected veto of an "emergency" supplemental war spending bill that contains a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, there's talk of an alternative measure that would impose consequences on Baghdad if it fails to meet the benchmarks the Bush administration has set for it. But in an appearance on "Face the Nation" Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested that the president would veto that sort of legislation, too. "Why tie our own hands in using the means that we have to help get the right outcomes in Iraq?" Rice said. "That's the problem with having so-called 'consequences' for missing the benchmarks."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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