Senate Democrats

FACT CHECK: 12 Benchmarks?

At this morning’s hearing, Ambassador Crocker incorrectly asserted that the Iraqi Government had met 12 of 18 benchmarks. Unfortunately, the Iraqis have not made adequate political progress and have at best met just six benchmarks, depending on how certain laws are implemented. The Iraqis have failed to take responsibility for their own country and America is paying too high a price.  Democrats believe we need to change course by responsibly redeploying our troops and holding the Iraqis accountable for achieving political reconciliation and taking the lead militarily.

RHETORIC: Ambassador Crocker Asserted Iraqis Had Met 12 of 18 Benchmarks

Senator Cornyn: “It’s my recollection that they have successfully completed 12 of those 18 benchmarks.  Can you either correct me or clarify and expand upon the developments in that area?”

Ambassador Crocker:  “I think that’s about right, Senator. We’re actually just going through a process now between us out in Baghdad and folks back here, in reevaluating the status of the benchmarks.” [Senate Armed Service Committee, 4/8/08]

REALITY: But Iraqis Had Met Just 3 of 18 Benchmarks As of January – Have Passed Met Just 3 More Since, Depending on Implementation

As of January, Iraqi Government Had Met Just 3 of 18 Benchmarks. “One year ago, the president pledged that ‘America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.’ Despite the fact that the Iraqi government has only met three of the 18 benchmarks laid out last year, an end to U.S. military and financial commitment is nowhere in sight.” [Center for American Progress, “Iraq Benchmark Report Card,” 1/24/08]

  • Since Then, New DeBaathification Law Has Passed But Could Set Off a New Purge of Ex-Baathists. “But now, under new legislation promoted as way to return former Baathists to public life, the 56-year-old and thousands like him could be forced out of jobs they have been allowed to hold, according to Iraqi lawmakers and the government agency that oversees ex-Baathists. ‘This new law is very confusing,’ Awadi said. ‘I don’t really know what it means for me.’ He is not alone. More than a dozen Iraqi lawmakers, U.S. officials and former Baathists here and in exile expressed concern in interviews that the law could set off a new purge of ex-Baathists, the opposite of U.S. hopes for the legislation. [Washington Post, 1/23/08]
    • O’Hanlon Said de-Baathification Law Could Do More Harm Than Good. “Yet myriad problems still exist. For example, the de-Baathification law, if badly implemented, could do more harm than good by purging Sunnis from the very security forces that we have worked so hard to include them within.” [USA Today editorial by Michael O’Hanlon, 3/13/08]

As of February, Iraqi Government Had Only Met 4 Benchmarks. “Yet even despite the loss of nearly 1,000 American lives and the expenditure of $150 billion, the surge has failed in its stated purpose: providing the Iraqi government with the breathing space to pass the 18 legislative benchmarks the Bush administration called vital to political reconciliation. To date it has passed only four. Moreover, as part of the surge, the administration has further undermined Iraq’s government by providing arms and money to Sunni insurgent groups even though they have not pledged loyalty to Baghdad.” [Washington Post Editorial by Ray Tayekh, John Podesta, and Lawrence Korb, 2/26/08]

  • Since Then, Provincial Powers Law Has Been Passed, But Electoral Law Must Be Passed and Elections Held Before Benchmark Is Met. “The Provincial Powers Law is a major step forward in defining the relationship between the federal and provincial governments. Passage of this legislation required debate about the fundamental nature of the state, similar in its complexity to our own lengthy and difficult debate over states’ rights. The Provincial Powers Law also called for provincial elections by October 1, 2008, and an Electoral Law is now under discussion that will set the parameters for elections. All major parties have announced their support for these elections, which will be a major step forward in Iraq’s political development and will set the stage for national elections in late 2009.” [Testimony of Ambassador Crocker to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 4/8/08]
  • Since Then, Amnesty Law Has Been Passed. “The three-member presidency council, which must ratify all legislation passed by parliament, said on Wednesday it had not been able to reach the required consensus to approve the law… It said the council had signed off on two other bills passed this month, the 2008 budget and an amnesty law that could lead to the release of thousands of prisoners from Iraqi custody.” [Reuters, 2/27/08

General Petraeus Said Iraqi Leaders Have Not Made Sufficient Progress Toward National Reconciliation. “Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday. Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that ‘no one’ in the U.S. and Iraqi governments ‘feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation,’ or in the provision of basic public services.” [Washington Post, 3/14/08]