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Cutting Through the Green Zone Fog

Rep. Ellen Tauscher gave an interview to Think Progress after returning from a recent trip to Iraq. Unlike some of her other Democratic colleagues who've made similar trips and have returned heaping praise on the successes of the surge, Tauscher says many may be blinded by the "Green Zone Fog" which permeates these dog and pony show jaunts.

Tauscher is right of course. If there is one thing the Buhies are good at it's clouding an issue to such a degree that it is hard to get a clear picture of just what is going on. If they'd only spent more time planning the war and less time spinning it, they might not have to massage the facts to fit the policy as much (like when we learned that Gen. Petraeus had worked to 'soften' the latest NIE findings). But despite all this massaging, tid bits continue to leak out which could cast any claims of success in the coming September report as an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

Case in point: the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reports that the Iraqi government has only been able to meet three of the benchmarks for political and military progress. The report also seems to contradict the administration's mid July assessment.

There is a lot more at the WaPo link but here is a key part I wanted to highlight.
“Overall,” the report concludes, “key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds,” as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments “would be more useful” if they backed up their judgments with more details and “provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies.”

Now this is an interesting point because it amounts to a veiled accusation that the Bush administration is failing to back up their claims of reduced violence with hard data. No surprise there of course but it does go along way to explain why this report was leaked. Because of this administration's penchant for massaging the data they do put forth, whoever leaked it feared it would fall victim to the same sort of 'softening' that the NIE assessment did.

And given these conflicting accounts, perhaps it would be a good idea for Congress to think twice before signing any more blank checks.

More from Meme.

Blog Thanks: Salon's Blog Report for linking to this post. Welcome Salon Readers!

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

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