Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Petraeus 'softened' intelligence findings on Iraq's progress

The 70-page Government Accountability Report "paints a bleak picture of prospects for Iraqi political reconciliation," the Post reports, based on the assessment of senior administration officials who have seen it. The House also will hold hearings next week on a second report from an independent commission of military experts, which is still being drafted Raw Story reports.

A completed 70-page report by the Government Accountability Office, to be delivered to Congress next Tuesday, paints a bleak picture of prospects for Iraqi political reconciliation, according to administration officials who have seen it. The second report, by an independent commission of military experts, is being drafted. But a scorecard on the Iraqi security forces released yesterday by an adviser to the group concluded that the Iraqis are years away from taking over significant responsibility from U.S. combat forces.

The two reports -- and hearings on them in the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees -- will set a largely negative backdrop for Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Crocker, who are expected to testify together in a joint hearing before the two House committees and in a separate session in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has objected to a Pentagon proposal that they appear on Sept. 11, a Pelosi spokesman said, and the exact date remains under negotiation.

Administration officials said yesterday that the Petraeus-Crocker testimony will closely follow the National Intelligence Estimate judgments released last week, which predicted continued political deterioration in Iraq but cited "measurable but uneven improvements" in the security situation.

The NIE, requested by the White House Iraq coordinator, Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, in preparation for the testimony, met with resistance from U.S. military officials in Baghdad, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence officer there. Presented with a draft of the conclusions, Petraeus succeeded in having the security judgments softened to reflect improvements in recent months, the official said.

Bush continued his efforts to frame the debate yesterday, congratulating Iraqi politicians on an agreement they announced Sunday in Baghdad. The accord reached by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish representatives "reflects their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis," Bush said in a visit to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico

Read the full article at the Washington Post
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