Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Petraeus, er, Bush Report

So it seems that the Petraeus Report will not be written by Petraeus but by by the Bush Administration:

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.

The senior administration official said the process had created "uncomfortable positions" for the White House because of debates over what constitutes "satisfactory progress."

During internal White House discussion of a July interim report, some officials urged the administration to claim progress in policy areas such as legislation to divvy up Iraq's oil revenue, even though no final agreement had been reached. Others argued that such assertions would be disingenuous.

"There were some in the drafting of the report that said, 'Well, we can claim progress,' " the administration official said. "There were others who said: 'Wait a second. Sure we can claim progress, but it's not credible to . . . just neglect the fact that it's had no effect on the ground.' "

Dan over at Gone Mild thinks this is a crystallization of all that is wrong with how we are informed. His commentors seem to agree that he is an idiot, though they also seem to be disagreeing with nothing he actually said.

Kevin Drum thinks it is all expectation management.

The conservative blog world seems not to think much about it at all. This is actually a good topic for another post. It is really amazing to scan the leading liberal and conservative blogs each day to see what topics they cover. Invariably, whatever one is coverning most heavily, the other is unapologetically ignoring. Liberal blogs like to talk about the powerful keeping you down, while conservative sights like to talk about the powerless bringing us all down.

But I digress. With this administration, you never know what is going on. It could be an attempt to lie outright, it could be expectation management, or I suppose it could be a rope-a-dope intended force Democrats to make a big deal out of it only to then have Petraeus testify that things are going well before heightened media awareness. The last one seems pretty far-fetched to me, but it wouldn't be the weirdest thing that has happened.

I'm curious about how this one plays out.

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