PREEMPTING PETRAEUS….In perhaps its least surprising report ever, the GAO reports that things are not going so well in Mesopotamia:

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report.

What’s slightly more surprising is that the GAO all but calls the administration and the Pentagon liars. Politely, of course:

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. “While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced,” it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that “the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved.”

“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.”

Yes, it would be useful if Petraeus and the White House provided actual credible data to back up their assertions of tactical triumph, wouldn’t it? The fact that they don’t most likely means they know exactly what would happen if their methodology ever saw the light of day: it would get laughed off the stage before the noise machine even had a chance to clear its throat.

One more interesting thing: the Post actually explains why someone leaked a draft copy of the report to them: the leaker was afraid it would get watered down before final publication and wanted to make sure that someone knew what the GAO really thinks. Considering what happens to most reports that go through the DoD wringer, I’d say that shows considerable foresight.