From the Wash Post, regarding President Bush's new report on whether benchmarks for the war in Iraq are being met:
"I am disappointed that, after great sacrifice by U.S. and Iraqi troops since the announcement of the surge in January, the Iraqi government has not met critical political benchmarks in that period," said Sen. John W. Warner (Va.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a bellwether of GOP opinion. "That government is simply not providing leadership worthy of the considerable sacrifice of our forces, and this has to change immediately."
Democrats were more scathing, accusing Bush of whitewashing the findings and failing to face reality. "The president stubbornly refuses to develop a redeployment plan or devise a redeployment schedule, preferring to hope, despite the abundance of evidence to the contrary, that his failed policies will somehow make tomorrow better than today," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
A lengthy introduction to the administration's 25-page report described it as an interim "snapshot" of only limited use in judging the success of Bush's new strategy. Some of the benchmarks, it said, were useful in "giving some sense of future trends," while others were "lagging indicators" that could be assessed only after the strategy "is fully underway." It suggested that some other measures providing a more favorable picture—a recent decrease in the number of suicide bombings and sectarian violence, and local cooperation with U.S. forces in Anbar province—might serve as a better yardstick.
The report judged that progress was "satisfactory" in eight of 18 benchmarks, including a review of the Iraqi constitution; legislation to divide Iraq into semi-autonomous regions; the protection of minority rights; and government, military and civil support for the new strategy. But it noted mixed progress on new electoral laws, militia disarmament and the reduction in militia control of local areas.
Areas receiving unsatisfactory grades included reform of Iraq's de-Baathification laws; enactment of a new law governing oil revenue; the ability of Iraqi security forces to operate independently from U.S. forces; and a range of benchmarks measuring sectarian bias in the government.