On KFKA's Amy Oliver Show, guest Conway falsely asserted that Iraq progress report found "all of the military milestones were being met"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Sean Conway, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's (R-CO) chief of staff, falsely asserted on 1310 KFKA's The Amy Oliver Show that a recent progress report on Iraq showed that "all of the military milestones were being met." In fact, progress on numerous military- and security-related benchmarks was found to be less than "satisfactory," according to the report. Furthermore, Conway and Oliver repeated the misleading claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declined to meet with the senior military commander in Iraq in April.

On the July 20 broadcast of her 1310 KFKA show, Amy Oliver left unchallenged guest Sean Conway's assertion that, according a July 12 White House report for Congress on progress in Iraq, "all of the military milestones were being met." In fact, of the 18 benchmarks in the congressionally mandated report, progress on three benchmarks covering explicitly military-related areas such as the state of the Iraqi Security Forces and the authority of Iraqi military commanders was less than "satisfactory."

As The Washington Post reported on July 13, the White House's "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report" to Congress "judged that progress was 'satisfactory' in eight of 18 benchmarks" overall, which cover a variety of political, legal, and military issues. The newspaper stated that "satisfactory" benchmarks included "a review of the Iraqi constitution; legislation to divide Iraq into semi-autonomous regions; the protection of minority rights; and government, military and civil support for the new strategy." But the report also noted mixed progress in other areas, according to the Post: "Areas receiving unsatisfactory grades included reform of Iraq's de-Baathification laws; enactment of a new law governing oil revenue; the ability of Iraqi security forces to operate independently from U.S. forces; and a range of benchmarks measuring sectarian bias in the government."

Conway, chief of staff to Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, and Oliver also repeated the claim that U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declined to meet with the senior U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, when he briefed lawmakers about the U.S. effort in Iraq in April. Media Matters for America, however, has noted news reports that, according to an aide, Pelosi had sought a one-on-one briefing with Petraeus and accepted a telephone briefing when an in-person briefing could not be arranged.

Oliver also is director of operations for the free-market Independence Institute.

From the July 20 broadcast of 1310 KFKA's The Amy Oliver Show:

CONWAY: Well, the other thing that's really, I think, unconscionable about this is you have an outstanding military leader in General Petraeus that was confirmed unanimously.

OLIVER: Absolutely.

CONWAY: [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] voted for him. He made it very clear in his confirmation hearings he had a plan. That surge plan is now only in its fourth week of full operation. Even the report that the Democrats said, "Well, you're missing milestones" -- all of the military milestones were being met. Which means that General Petraeus' plan in Iraq is reaping some benefits and is meeting the timelines that were put forth. He's gonna come to Congress in September. And we're going to have another opportunity to look at that plan --

OLIVER: You know what? I don't think it'll matter. I don't think it --

CONWAY: Oh, no. No, they've already made up their minds.

[...]

CONWAY: I, I think that where we are now -- I mean, we talked a few months ago when General Petraeus came to Capitol Hill to meet with all of the leadership, Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reid said, "We're not going to meet with you."

OLIVER: "We're not even going to meet with you."

CONWAY: Right. "Don't confuse us with the facts. Don't give us any information. We've made up our mind. We know what's best and we're gonna proceed forward."

The introduction to the White House's report stated that it was being submitted consistent with Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28). The report further noted that the benchmarks prescribed in the act "relate to Government of Iraq actions believed to be important to advance reconciliation within Iraqi society, to improve the security of the Iraqi population, to provide essential services to the population, and to promote its economic well-being." According to a July 12 White House press release, the report used the following "standard of measurement":

Section 1314(b)(2)(A) states: "The President shall submit an initial report to Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved." In order to make this judgment (e.g., whether "satisfactory progress ... is, or is not, being achieved"), we have carefully examined all the facts and circumstances with respect to each of the 18 benchmarks and asked the following question: As measured from a January 2007 baseline, do we assess that present trend data demonstrates a positive trajectory, which is tracking toward satisfactory accomplishment in the near term? If the answer is yes, we have provided a "Satisfactory" assessment; if the answer is no, the assessment is "Unsatisfactory." For those benchmarks receiving the latter assessment, we have explained what, if any, strategic adjustments may be required to improve the present trajectory. [emphasis in original]

The White House report did not categorize individual assessments as being "military," although it did summarize progress on several benchmarks related to military issues, such as the authority of Iraqi commanders, the state of the Iraqi Security Forces, and efforts to combat sectarian violence, under a heading of "Security." Of the security-related benchmarks, the report assessed that the Iraqi government has not made "satisfactory progress" on two and on a third assessed the Iraqi government's progress as "unsatisfactory." In another security-related benchmark, the White House stated the Iraqi government had made "satisfactory" progress in one regard -- reducing sectarian violence -- but had shown "unsatisfactory progress" in another aspect, eliminating militia control of local security:

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has not made satisfactory progress toward providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions in consultation with U.S. Commanders without political intervention to include the authority to pursue all extremists including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has not at this time made satisfactory progress in ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law; however, there has been significant progress in achieving increased even-handedness through the use of coalition partnering and embedded-transition teams with Iraqi Security Force units.

Assessment: The Iraqi Government has made unsatisfactory progress toward increasing the number of Iraqi Security Forces units capable of operating independently.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq -- with substantial Coalition assistance -- has made satisfactory progress toward reducing sectarian violence but has shown unsatisfactory progress towards eliminating militia control of local security.

The White House report also listed several assessments on security-related issues for which it determined the Iraqi government had made "satisfactory" progress:

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress toward providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress in ensuring the Baghdad Security Plan does not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of their sectarian or political affiliations.

Assessment: The Government of Iraq -- with substantial Coalition assistance -- has made satisfactory progress toward establishing the planned [Joint Security Stations] JSSs in Baghdad.

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