Wash. Post said "progress report" will come from Petraeus and Crocker, despite earlier Post report that Bush will prepare it

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

An August 20 Washington Post article stated that "Congress is awaiting a report from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker on the war's progress, and their view is likely to go a long way toward determining how Congress votes on further funding for the war." In fact, the 2007 supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war requires that President Bush prepare and submit the report to Congress, after receiving input from Petraeus, Crocker, and other senior foreign policy and military officials.

In an August 20 Washington Post article, reporter Michael Fletcher stated that "Congress is awaiting a report from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker on the war's progress, and their view is likely to go a long way toward determining how Congress votes on further funding for the war." But as Media Matters for America has noted, the 2007 supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war requires that President Bush prepare and submit the report to Congress, after receiving input from senior foreign policy and military officials, including Petraeus and Crocker.

As Media Matters documented, an August 16 Washington Post editorial ignored its own paper's reporting that same day in asserting that Petraeus and other officials "claimed to be making progress in their campaign against al-Qaeda in Iraq" and that he is "expected to elaborate on that progress in a report to Congress in September."

An August 15 Los Angeles Times article reported that "administration officials said [the report] would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government." Further, when asked "So who writes the report? Is it the NSC, is it senior staff?" during an August 16 press briefing, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe responded: "Sure. Just like the July 15th report of just over a month ago, it is a report written by -- it was submitted by the President, so therefore the White House staff, the NSC staff, but it's very clear that it is based on inputs from our commanders, as well as the ambassador on the ground, as well as [commander of U.S. Central Command] Admiral [William J.] Fallon and Secretaries [Condoleezza] Rice [secretary of state] and [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates."

The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 provides that "[t]he President shall submit" the September 15 report assessing the status of 18 benchmarks for the Iraqi government "and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved." The bill also provides that the Unites States ambassador to Iraq and the Commander of Multi-National Forces in Iraq will be available to testify before the submission of the September report. From the text of the bill:

(2) REPORTS REQUIRED

(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.

(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress.

(C) If the President's assessment of any of the specific benchmarks established above is unsatisfactory, the President shall include in that report a description of such revisions to the political, economic, regional, and military components of the strategy, as announced by the President on January 10, 2007. In addition, the President shall include in the report, the advisability of implementing such aspects of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, as he deems appropriate.

(D) The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above.

(E) The reporting requirement detailed in section 1227 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 is waived from the date of the enactment of this Act through the period ending September 15, 2007.

(3) TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS- Prior to the submission of the President's second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.

From the August 20 Washington Post:

[White House press secretary Tony] Snow was in fighting trim last week as he defended the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq in a speech sponsored by the conservative Hudson Institute in New York. He said the president's "surge" strategy is working and that the question facing the country is "not how to leave but how to win."

Congress is awaiting a report from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker on the war's progress, and their view is likely to go a long way toward determining how Congress votes on further funding for the war.

Knowing the stakes, Snow was positively bullish during his remarks.

"The vote is going to answer a question," Snow said. "Does this generation of American leaders still believe in the home truths that, in the passage of one short century, turned this country from a backwater into the leader of the world? More simply, do we still wish to be a superpower?"

A U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for al-Qaeda "far more momentous than what it achieved on Sept. 11, 2001, and it would vindicate Osama bin Laden's prediction that the way to beat the Americans is to wait them out," Snow said.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
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