The Corner

AP, On the Other Hand:

By ANNE FLAHERTY

and

ANNE GEARAN

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft report to Congress on the war will

conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Iraq has met none of

its targets for political, economic and other reform, speeding up

the Bush administration’s reckoning on what to do next, a U.S.

official said Monday.

One likely result of the report will be a vastly accelerated

debate among President Bush’s top aides on withdrawing troops and

scaling back the U.S. presence in Iraq.

The “pivot point” for addressing the matter will no longer be

Sept. 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on Bush’s

so-called “surge” plan is due, but instead will come this week

when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official

said.

A draft version of the report, expected to be presented to

Congress on Thursday or Friday, circulated among various government

agencies in Washington on Monday.

“The facts are not in question,” the official told The

Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the

draft is still under discussion. “The real question is how the

White House proceeds with a post-surge strategy in light of the

report.”

The official said it is highly unlikely that Bush will withhold

or suspend some aid to the Iraqis based on the report, as he can do

under the law.

As the White House prepared its first major progress report for

Congress, war-weary Republicans are focusing their efforts on

protecting unrelated anti-terrorism programs while Democrats are

trying again to pass legislation ordering troop withdrawals.

Simmering in the background is a growing sentiment among at

least some Republicans that the U.S. strategy is failing and Bush

should adopt a new policy before they must face their constituents

during the August recess.

The Senate began debate Monday on legislation that would

authorize $649 billion in defense programs. By week’s end, senators

are expected to vote on an amendment by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.,

that would order troop withdrawals to begin in four months, with

the goal of completing the pullout by spring 2008.

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