BONUS TALKING POINT….Here’s the official line on why we’re supposed to believe the GAO’s pessimistic evaluation of progress in Iraq is just so much nonsense:

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) said Pentagon officials had told Republican leaders that the GAO had relied on outdated information….He added that lawmakers were far more interested in the assessment coming next week from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker.

….The GAO concluded that all forms of violence remain high in Iraq — causing senior military officials to complain that the report did not consider statistics for August, when, they said, trends in sectarian violence and the performance of the Iraqi security forces improved.

“They use the end of July as the data and evidentiary cutoff and therefore are not taking into account any gains in any of the benchmarks that may have become more clear throughout August,” one official said.

This is beyond pathetic. Even if the August numbers are good — and that’s a helluva stretch in any case — are they seriously contending that we should toss out the entire previous six months and judge the surge a success based on four weeks of data? Is that the best they can do?