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It's Here: White House's Iraq Benchmark Report
Read a Side-by-Side Comparison of White House and GAO Conclusions
09/14/2007 10:31 AM ET

(i) Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

Both cited the progress of the Iraqi government in forming the Constitutional Review Committee. In the White House view, the committee made satisfactory progress because it made an interim report with recommendations on constitutional reform, but the GAO says the committee has not resolved issues regarding the powers of the presidency, the status of Kirkuk, and the balance of power between the federal and regional governments, which all have major implications for national reconciliation.

(ii) Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’athification reform.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO reports that the Iraqi government has drafted a number of de-Baathification measures, none of which has garnered enough support to be presented to the Council of Representatives (COR). The White House, however, cites the payment of pensions to ex-Baathists and an August 26 agreement between the leaders of five major parties as major breakthroughs in the process. According to the White House, "Legislation has not yet passed the COR, (but that) should not diminish the significance of the agreement reached by the leaders or the re-integration of former Ba’athists taking place on the ground."

(iii) Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources to the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner.

White House: Unsatisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

Both agree the Iraqis have not reached consensus on critical issues facing the draft hydrocarbons bill.

(iv) Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Partially satisfied

The White House gives Iraq full credit for the “Regions Law” passed by the COR in October 2006, though the GAo is withholding judgment until its implementation--scheduled for 18 months from the measure's original passage.

(v) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.

White House: Partially satisfied

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO gave Iraq credit for passing and implementing legislation to create the Independent High Electoral Commission, but makes the case that is about all the government has done on this benchmark. The White House gave the government credit for the IHEC efforts, and also for creating provincial council authorities, which the GAO does not cite.

(vi) Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.

White House: ?

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO reports the government has not made any effort to draft amnesty legislation and lacks momentum to address the issue, but the White House says it can't assess this benchmark as the pre-condition for amnesty have not yet been established.

(vii) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the constitution of Iraq.

White House: ?

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO reports the government has not made any effort to draft amnesty legislation and lacks momentum to address the issue, but the White House says it can't assess this benchmark as the pre-conditions for disarming militias have not yet been established.

(viii) Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Satisfactory

(ix) Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The White House says the Iraqi government provided three ready brigades, while the GAO would point out that some of the troops provided were of "limited effectiveness."

(x) Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. Commanders, without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

White House: Partially satisfied

GAO: Unsatisfactory

GAO highlights the continuing political intervention in military operations, while the White House says the Iraqi government has made satisfactory progress towards imbuing its commanders with all the necessary authority to make tactical and operational decisions, though admits the continuing intervention of political leaders.

(xi) Ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.

White House: Partially satisfied

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO concludes that Iraqi security forces are engaged in sectarian abuses, while the White House differentiates between the Iraqi Army, which it says even-handedly enforces law, and the National Police, which is infected by sectarian biases.

(xii) Ensuring that, as President Bush quoted Prime Minister Maliki as saying, “the Baghdad Security Plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of sectarian or political affiliation.”

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Partially satisfied

The GAO cites progress in wiping out some previous safe havens, but also points out that "temporary safe havens still exist due to strong sectarian loyalties and militia infiltration of security forces." The GAO's biggest focus of concern is Sadr City, where the US presence are not as robust as other areas, though the White House disagrees, citing 80 operations that have been carried out in the neighborhood since January.

(xiii) Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

White House: Partially satisfied

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The White House claims ethno-sectarian attacks and deaths have been cut in half from the December 2006 high, though the GAO reports government agencies differ on their opinion regarding this matter, and concludes that it is not exactly clear whether or not sectarian violence has declined. Both agree insufficient progress has been made in eliminating militia control of local security apparatus.

(xiv) Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Satisfactory

Thirty-two of thirty-four planned stations have been established.

(xv) Increasing the number of Iraqi Security Forces units capable of operating independently.

White House: Unsatisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

The GAO points out that the number of Iraqi units ready to operate independently actually declined between March and July 2007.

(xvi) Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Satisfactory

(xvii) Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

White House: Satisfactory

GAO: Partially satisfied

The GAO cites the Iraqi government for not spending its money fast enough.

(xviii) Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the ISF.

White House: Unsatisfactory

GAO: Unsatisfactory

Unsubstantiated accusations continue, despite what the White House says are efforts by Maliki and his ministerial council to curb the harmful rhetoric.

Here is the full 28-page White House report: 20070914.pdf

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