Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 07, 2007

Lawmakers meet to examine progress towards Iraqi benchmarks

Iraq was the central issue Wednesday as the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “Iraqi Benchmarks: An Objective Assessment,” that was led by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and included testimony by Comptroller General David Walker of the Government Accountability Office – which recently released report assessing progress on the benchmarks

In his opening remarks, Lantos said that the goal of the report was to “look at Iraq with the broadest possible lens,” the result of which is “not a pretty picture.” Out of the 18 benchmarks, only three were met, while four were considered partially met, and the remaining not met.

Clarifying how the benchmarks were determined, Walker stated the reason behind the classification of partially met was due to the GAO seeking “to be fair and balanced,” and that the classification of “not met” does not mean there has been no progress made in that area. Furthermore, he said that “not all of the benchmarks are equal” in determining progress in Iraq.

A topic greatly discussed throughout the hearing was the issue of sectarian violence. While General David Petraeus and the White House say that it is decreasing, the GAO has found that not to be the case, due to the different methodology that they used in measuring sectarian violence. Furthermore, Walker asked what should be considered as sectarian violence, and if sectarian violence should be considered over all other forms of violence. Lantos further highlighted this issue by asserting that attacks on civilians remain high.

The committee further discussed what the next steps in Iraq should be. Although many argued that it is clear that the Iraqi government is not ready to run the country on its own, some committee members said that the troops need to come home soon, with Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) saying the U.S. “[doesn’t] have an unlimited supply of money,” and Walker and other members saying the military is strained. On the other hand, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tx.) brought up the point that “success never came from withdrawal.” Walker added that it is necessary to determine what future goals and milestones should be for Iraq, and that a new plan “incorporates some things not in the benchmarks.”

The uncertainty about progress made in Iraq was an apparent point of concern throughout the hearing. In order to determine what actions should be taken next, some might say that the government should look to answer the questions posed by Rep. Jim Costa (D-Ca): “What is in America’s best interests? What are realistic goals?”


Post a Comment

<< Home