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July 21, 2005

Secret war

On July 11, the Bush administration was supposed to provide Congress with a report on Iraq that included a “comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security.” The deadline came and went: no report. But in a press conference yesterday that attracted little coverage thanks to Roberts and Rove, Rumsfeld did refer to it. His comments make interesting reading:

Insurgents and foreign fighters remain effective in Iraq even though progress is being made against them, says Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld said Wednesday [that] information about the readiness and performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces—one of the main measures of progress—would be included in a classified annex to the report but not made public.
“The information we’re getting is in large measure from the Iraqi security forces,” he said. “It’s their information. It’s not for us to tell the other side, the enemy, the terrorists, that this Iraqi unit has this capability and that Iraqi unit has this capability.” He said it would be “mindless” to publish information about the combat readiness of Iraqi security forces that would reveal their strengths and weaknesses.
Speaking at the same news conference, Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon’s unwillingness to publicly release that information does not mean Congress is kept in the dark. “We do tell the Congress privately, classified, exactly what these facts are. So there is a dialogue, just not one in the public,” Pace said.
… Rumsfeld said a full report to be provided to Congress by Thursday or Friday will not include an estimate of how many U.S. troops are likely to be required in Iraq next year, even though Congress is pressing for that estimate.
… “The report also offers a candid assessment of the challenges that remain for the Iraqi people and for the coalition,” [Rumsfeld] said. “Among them, though they’ve suffered numerous setbacks, terrorists in Iraq remain effective, adaptable and intent on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilians and Iraqi officials.
“Extremists continue to try to foment tension, ethnic strife and, indeed, even civil war between Sunnis and Shias, through murder and attacks on religious sites.”

So the “crumbling insurgency”—at least 15 dead today, and Algeria’s top Iraq envoy abducted—is deteriorating into civil war; neither Iraqi nor U.S. security forces can prevent that happening; and the U.S. public is going to be kept in the dark about how bad things are. Lovely.

Posted by Stephen at 12:04 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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