[If the reports are accurate that we plan to divide Baghdad in to 9 sections and then go after the ‘insurgents’ in each, one must expect a pointless blood bath to ensue there. This is winning what? I was appalled by a TV interviewer commenting that it was too bad that we had only killed 50 ‘insurgents’ yesterday with our all out effort there. Body counts was the game played in Viet Nam, too. Usually inflated except for the long term effects of a poisoned environment! Ed Kent]


Grim Picture of Iraq From US Government Watchdog
Agence France Presse

Tuesday 09 January 2007

US government auditors released a grim report card of the American record in violence-wracked Iraq, on the eve of President George W. Bush’s televised rollout of a new strategy.

The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ran a critical rule over a previous failed US plan for victory, the malfunctioning Iraqi government and security forces and fearsome insurgent and sectarian violence.

It said the Pentagon had failed to allow proper congressional oversight of Iraqi armed forces, and warned of an increasing strain on US forces pressed into repeated tours of duty and shortages of military supplies.

Though admitting that Iraq experienced three successful elections, adopted a constitution and installed its first elected government since the 2003 US invasion, the report underlined systemic problems in the US record in the country.

“Increasing Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities to them have not resulted in reduced violence,” David Walker, US Comptroller General wrote in an accompanying letter to Congress.

“Rather, attacks increased throughout 2006. Although more Iraqi troops have been trained and equipped, high absenteeism and divided loyalties have limited their overall effectiveness.”

As Bush prepared to lay out his new strategy on Iraq in a prime time televised address on Wednesday, the GAO audit said his previous plan for victory in Iraq contained serious flaws.

Though the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” unveiled in November 2005 was an improvement over previous plans, it failed to identify key government agencies supposed to carry the strategy out, the report said.

It also did not address how the US will integrate its goals with those of Iraqis and foreign nations, and only partially identified current and future costs of US involvement in Iraq, the report said.

The survey, intended to prepare lawmakers to mount effective congressional oversight of Bush’s new strategy for Iraq, also warned that oil and electricity production in Iraq were falling well short of US goals.

As Democrats who won control of Congress in November warn that Bush will have no “blank check” to continue operations in Iraq, the GAO said the United States is likely to incur costs in the foreseeable future “in the hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The report also raised new questions as to the combat readiness of US-trained Iraqi troops and security forces, crucial to the prospect of the US forces returning home.

As of December 2006, around 323,000 members of the Iraqi security forces had been trained and equipped, and 128 army units had specific security responsibilities, the report said.

But the GAO raised questions about the quality of the units. It said the Pentagon had repeatedly refused access to Transition Readiness Assessments (TRA) prepared by coalition advisors embedded with the units.

“This serves to limit congressional oversight over the progress achieved towards a critical US objective,” the report said.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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