Friday, September 7, 2007

More Reports on Iraq: Day 2, the GAO Report

The Government Accountability Office report, GAO-07-1195, is an update of an a sort of work-in-progress draft released in July, 2007.

I appreciated the table that the new GAO report put, on the third sheet. It's easier to see the overall pattern of the report that way.

The picture isn't rosy, by any means. I've copied the 18 "Benchmarks," and whether they were met or not (according to the GAO), with a GAO comment following. My comments on each are in parentheses.

1. Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and completing the constitutional review.

Not Met

Committee formed but amendments not approved by the Iraqi legislature and no referendum scheduled.

(They haven't thrashed out how much power the president will have, for one thing. I'm not surprised. That's something that's still being debated in Washington.)

2. Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba'athification.

Not Met
(not quite)

(Laws drafted. Iraqi Shi'a, and Sunni Arab, and Kurdish, leaders are still working on what to do. Better this, than a quickie get-the-Ba'athists, or amneesty-for-all "solution.")

3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of 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, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner

Not Met
(not quite)

3 of 4 components drafted; none being considered by parliament.

(This one is really complicated: four interrelated points, over a high-value economic prize, involving groups that haven't gotten along very well for the last thirty years, at least.)

4. Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

Partly Met

Law enacted; implementation scheduled for 2008.

(That's less than 4 months away: And the delay in enactment was built into the law.)

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

Partly Met

Commission law enacted and implemented; however, supporting laws not enacted.

(Not bad, nder the circumstances.)

6. Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.

Not Met

No law drafted.

("No progress" may not be a bad thing here. We're talking about amnesty for the equivalent of Nazi war criminals here, without the heavy-handed bunch of victors with righteous indignation that facilitated the Nuremburg trials.)

7. 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.

Not Met

No law drafted.

(This is one that I regard as a real problem: You can't run a country, with war bands running around, killing people they don't approve of.)

8. Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad security plan.


Committees established.

(Now, let's hope the committees do something besides have meetings.)

9. Providing three trained and ready brigades to support Baghdad operations.

Partly Met

Forces provided; some of limited effectiveness.

(It could be worse. Of 19 Iraqi units supporting operations in Baghdad; 5 units had performed well; 14, not so much.)

10. 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.

Not Met

Political intervention continues.

(Isn't that what politicians do? I've gotten the impression that part of the job of politicos is to second-guess military leaders.)

11. Ensuring that Iraqi security forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.

Not Met

Iraqi security forces engaged in sectarian-based abuses.

(This is very serious. "In May 2007, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that Iraq's Shi'a-dominated government bears responsibility for engaging in sectarian-based human
rights violations, as well as tolerating abuses committed by Shi'a militias with ties to political factions in the governing coalition." (page 44))

12. Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said “the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”

Partly Met

Militia infiltration of some security forces enables some safe havens.

(There's actually something of a breakthrough here. Sadr City is no longer protected by the Iraqi government from law enforcement and military action.)

13. Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

Not Met

Militias control some local security; unclear whether sectarian violence has decreased.

(The report seems to treat this as a subheading of Benchmark 7.)

14. Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.


32 of 34 stations established.

(Looking back at the report's rating of point 5, shouldn't this be a "1"? Only 94% of the security stations are in place! Seriously, this is pretty good work.)

15. Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

Not Met

Number of independent units declined between March and July 2007.

(This is not good, but the problem seems to be a matter of finding ways to find supplies, and get them to the units. I should think this would be easier to solve than the problem of getting people to stop killing each other over tribal rivalries and religious details.)

16. Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.


Legislators' rights protected; minority citizens' rights unprotected.

(This is limited good news.)

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

Partly Met

Funds allocated but unlikely to be fully spent.

(A government not spending money as a problem: that's an idea that takes getting used to.)

18. Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces.

Not Met

Unsubstantiated accusations continue to be made.

(Fair enough. False accusations by someone in power is trouble, as the Duke Lacrosse situation showed.)

Okay, that was the GAO report.

I'd have liked to see more of those benchmarks met. On the other hand, and with due respect to the members of Congress, I wonder how well the House and Senate would score, if they an outside agency started looking at their performance?

The GAO report is available at I'd strongly recommend getting a copy, and comparing what politicos and experts will be saying it says, to what it actually says.

I'm afraid that even the best minds are subject to wishful thinking.

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