A progress report due to Congress on July 15 will find that the Iraqi government has not met the “benchmarks” mandated in defense appropriations legislation, the Associated Press reports.
Speaking with a US official on condition of anonymity, the AP learned that the draft report, which was circulated among official agencies on Monday, will show that the US has determined that the Iraqi government has not met any of the targets established by Congress in legislation that tied “benchmarks” for the Iraqi government to US spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and reconstruction.
"The facts are not in question," the official told the AP, "The real question is how the White House proceeds with a post-surge strategy in light of the report."
The report is expected to be delivered to Congress by Thursday or Friday, the AP reports.
After a bitter and protracted debate over war funding, President Bush signed legislation based on a compromise with Democratic leadership that would fund the Iraq war but require the president to verify Iraq’s progress on 18 “benchmarks,” on pain of losing US aid money. The legislation requires a full report on September 15, and a two-month progress report by July 15.
The Bush administration is highly unlikely to withhold or suspend aid to the Iraqi government based on the July report, the official told the AP.
However, the report is likely to accelerate debate on Capitol Hill as the list of Republican legislators that have publicly criticized with the President over Iraq grows.
A draft version of the administration's progress report circulated among various government agencies in Washington on Monday.
In Iraq, Gen. Petraeus said in a recent interview that progress would be mixed, suggested to the BBC that the US counterinsurgency strategy could take up to a decade to succeed. “I don't know whether this will be decades, but the average counter-insurgency is somewhere around a nine- or a 10- year endeavor,'' said the US commander.
Bush administration officials are preparing for the report by ratcheting down expectations and calling for more time on the “Washington clock,” as the debate about US military deployment to Iraq has been called.
On Tuesday, President Bush called for Congress to grant more time for the US “surge” strategy in Iraq, speaking in Parma, Ohio.
“I fully understand that this is a difficult war,” Bush said after touring a fuel-cell manufacturing plant. “It's hard on the American people. But I'll once again explain the consequences of failure to the American people, and I'll explain the consequence of success as well,” Bloomberg reports.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow tried to lower expectations in advance of the report, saying on Monday, “You are not going to expect all the benchmarks to be met at the beginning of something,” adding "I'm not sure everyone's going to get an 'A' on the first report."
The 18 benchmarks are listed here, and IraqSlogger readers are invited to submit their own evaluations of the progress via by clicking the “Tips, Questions and Suggestions” link in Slogger’s left sidebar.