Iraq Making Slow Gains on Goals, Says White House
Government met only half of its benchmarks
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2007 11:06 AM CDT
President Bush, right, shakes hands with with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, left, as President Jalal Talabani, second from left, looks on at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Monday, Sept....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Iraq has made "satisfactory" progress on only half of its 18 benchmarks for success, the White House told Congress today, hours after President Bush said the country’s advancements merited a strong US military presence there. Since the July progress report, only one benchmark—reintegrating Baathists into the government—has been upgraded from unsatisfactory to satisfactory, the AP reports.

Administration officials said there hadn’t been enough time to make sufficient progress, and Tony Snow downplayed the 18 formal benchmarks, hyping other markers of success like the sharing of oil revenues and local reconciliation efforts. The discouraging assessment, the BBC says, complicates Bush’s efforts to sell his strategy to skeptical Americans.