Yet another independent Iraq study group has looked into its mandated subject matter and concluded that things are a bust. "We should start over" is how a Bush administration official characterized its findings, in the hope that "disclosing them publicly would help diffuse their impact and focus attention on the Petraeus-Crocker report" -- you know, the creative-writing project that is sure to receive a passing grade, since the grader is doing the writing.
This latest report card comes from the Jones commission, a 14-member group of "former or retired military officers, Defense Department officials and law enforcement officers," charged by Congress "to study the Iraqi security forces." And just what and how have they been doing? -- these "security" forces?
From their point of view, splendidly, I suppose, since they abound with "corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings." According to the commission, this situation "has existed since the formation of the police force."
From our point of view, not so splendidly, since "in some cases" the Iraqi security forces have "attack[ed] Americans directly."
It took an outside commission to report on this, of course. But what is the administration planning on doing about it? Dismantle the forces? Maybe weed out the bad guys, if that's at all possible? Even start from scratch, perhaps?
No, a Pentagon spokesman "said that an American effort to retrain the Iraqi police forces was under way," adding that "such an effort could succeed in removing sectarianism from the ranks without requiring a complete overhaul of the Iraqi force."
Yes, you read that right: Retrain. Evidently the administration believes that Iraqi security forces -- tutored and supplied by Americans, mind you -- are coming up short on the job only because they failed to learn during training that they're not supposed to attack Americans.
Plenty believable, however, is that the selfsame Pentagon spokesman said the administration is "not giving up on the Iraqi National Police"; that we are "committed to seeing it through." Why, sure. Who wouldn't, with such a bright group of students.
In a related grade-card matter, the Pentagon is disputing that F- the Iraqi government received from the General Accountability Office. It wants an upgrade to a solid F.
No, no, no, says the Pentagon. The Iraqi government didn't meet just three of the 18 benchmarks demanded. It met five, thereby changing its score from 17 to 28 percent out of 100. Under some old IQ-rating tests, you see, this would move Iraqi officials from the profoundly idiotic to the merely moronic.
So here we stand: one independent commission says the people we trained are killing us; a U.S. government agency says the Iraqi government is as incompetent as ... well, as incompetent as the Bush administration; and a recent National Intelligence Estimate draws conclusions that stand one's hair on end.
And what will we do about it -- which is to ask, what will the check-and-balance, war-authorizing and overseeing Congress do about it?
Yeah. That's what I thought.