Not all benchmarks are created equal

What the Iraqis have and haven't done.

By Tim Grieve
Published September 4, 2007 11:56PM (UTC)
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Coverage of today's Government Accountability Office report on Iraq will focus on the number of benchmarks met and not met. The GAO initially reported that three of 18 benchmarks were met and 15 others weren't. After the Pentagon objected, a revised version of the GAO report deemed three benchmarks met, four partially met and 11 not met.

But here's the thing: Not all benchmarks were created equal.


The GAO says the Iraqis have met three benchmarks. First, the GAO says the Iraqis have established "political, media, economic and services committees in support of the Baghdad security plan." Second, the GAO says the Iraqis have established "all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad." And third, the GAO says the Iraqis are ensuring the rights of minority legislators -- enough, apparently, to get them a "met" grade on a benchmark that required them to ensure that the rights of both minority legislators and minority citizens are being protected.

So those are the benchmarks that have been met.

Among the ones that haven't been met -- not partially, not at all?


Iraqis have not completed their constitutional review. They have not enacted or implemented legislation on de-Baathification. They have not enacted or implemented laws on the equitable distribution of oil resources. They have not enacted or implemented or even drafted a law addressing amnesty. They have not enacted or implemented or even drafted a law establishing a militia disarmament program. They have not provided Iraqi commanders with the authority they need to work with U.S. troops without political interference. They have not ensured that Iraqi security forces are providing "even-handed enforcement of the law." They have not succeeded in "reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security." They have not "increased the number of Iraqi security units capable of operating independently." And they have not ensured that "Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces."

As for the "partially met" categories? The GAO says the Iraqis have enacted but not yet implemented laws to form "semi-autonomous regions"; that they've provided three "trained and ready brigades to support Baghdad operations," although some of them are of "limited effectiveness"; that they've made some progress, but not enough, in ensuring that the Baghdad security plan eliminates safe havens for outlaws; and that the Iraqis have allocated $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects but are unlikely to be able to spend all the money.

Tim Grieve

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

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