The debate in the United States over the status report on Iraq has already begun, even before the week beginning 10 September 2007 when General David Petraeus presents his findings to Congress and the White House. The ingredients of the debate include a grim national-intelligence estimate (NIE) released on 23 August 2007; a report from the US’s government accountability office (GAO) on the failure of the Iraqi government to pass most of the “benchmarks” set for it, published on 4 September; and statements from several members of Congress returning from short visits to the troubled country.

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