Late last week, somebody leaked a draft of the Government Accountability Office's report on Iraq to the Washington Post. As the Post reported at the time, the leaker leaked out of fear that the report's "strikingly negative" assessment might be watered down before it saw the light of official day.
The report came out today, and what do you know? Where the draft said that Iraq had met just three of 18 benchmarks set for it, the final version released today says Iraq has met three of the benchmarks and partially met four, leaving the Associated Press free to run with the could-have-been-worse headline, "GAO: Iraq Hasn't Met 11 of 18 Benchmarks."
Progress? Well, as long as you forget this: In July, the White House claimed that the Iraqis were making "satisfactory progress" on eight of the 18 benchmarks.
How did we go from eight of 18 to three of 18? "Overall," the GAO finds, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds." On a much discussed and much debated security benchmark, the GAO reports that it is "unclear whether sectarian violence in Iraq has decreased ... since it is difficult to measure the perpetrator's intent and other measures of population security show differing trends."
U.S. Comptroller David Walker is presenting the report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon. We're in the hearing room and will report back as events warrant.