August 20, 2007
|Petraeus Report To Be Written By White House||Iraq Media Politics|
We're supposed to all be waiting to hear what General Petraeus will say in his September "progress" report. But buried deep in an LA Times story about the upcoming report, we find this:
Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress. How to deal in the report with the lack of national reconciliation between Iraq's warring sects has created some tension within the White House.
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.
The senior administration official said the process had created "uncomfortable positions" for the White House because of debates over what constitutes "satisfactory progress."
During internal White House discussion of a July interim report, some officials urged the administration to claim progress in policy areas such as legislation to divvy up Iraq's oil revenue, even though no final agreement had been reached. Others argued that such assertions would be disingenuous.
"There were some in the drafting of the report that said, 'Well, we can claim progress,'" the administration official said. "There were others who said: 'Wait a second. Sure we can claim progress, but it's not credible to...just neglect the fact that it's had no effect on the ground.'"
The Defense official skeptical of the troop buildup said he expected Petraeus to emphasize military accomplishments, including improving security in Baghdad neighborhoods and a slight reduction in the number of suicide bomb attacks. But the official said he did not believe such security improvements would translate into political progress or improvements in the daily lives of most Iraqis.
"Who cares how many neighborhoods of Baghdad are secured?" the official said. "Let's talk about the rest of the country: How come they have electricity twice a day, how come there is no running water?" [Emphasis added]
Everybody pretends the report will be from Petraeus, but it's being cooked up by political hacks in the White House. Which is to say, it will be completely useless as a basis for deciding anything. Watch, though, as the mainstream media play along and portray it as a serious evaluation originating from Petraeus himself. Pardon me while I retch.