White House to Write Gen. Petraeus' Iraq Report For Him

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The LAT had a thorough and detailed report today on Gen. David Petraeus' current thinking about troop duties in Iraq. Unfortunately, the Times piece really buried the lede.

The thrust of the piece focused on Petraeus apparent belief that U.S. troops may soon be able to leave parts of Iraq where security conditions have improved. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean the troops can return home and the overall deployment can shrink -- Petraeus may decide to simply move the soldiers from one part of Iraq to more dangerous areas.

But way down in the 28th paragraph of the article, the LAT explained:
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report's data.
If I'd heard this elsewhere, I'd long since forgotten about it.

For weeks, the White House has responded to every question about Iraq the same way: let's wait until September and see what Petraeus and Crocker have to say. Given their credibility, the argument goes, their assessments should carry enormous weight. And on the other side of the aisle, critics of the administration have wondered how best to respond to a predictable report, written by Bush allies who have given skeptics reason to worry about their objectivity.

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