A congressional report schuduled for release next week says the Iraqi National Police needs a complete overhaul to free it from sectarian bias. A draft of another independent congressional report—this one by the General Accounting Office—says that Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 benchmarks for political and military progress.

The White House said that President Bush would base his assessment of progress in Iraq on a Sept. 11 report due from Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and not on the GAO findings. “General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are there on the ground every day in Iraq,” a White House spokesman said, “and it's important to wait to hear what they have to say."

What “a bunch of baloney,” said The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an editorial. Everybody knows the Iraqi government has “failed to try to reconcile the warring sects and movements among its people.” The White House can’t simply wish away the “agreed-upon benchmarks” to track Iraq’s progress—or the lack thereof.

If this is “the best war opponents have to offer,” said William Kristol in The Daily Standard, Bush is in “good shape.” Congress set “absurd” benchmarks, and then asked if they had been “completed.” This “ridiculous standard” made failure a foregone conclusion. Bush can point to “mounds of evidence” to argue that the surge of troops he sent earlier this year has made Iraq a safer place.

It’s clear that the surge didn’t save Bush’s failed strategy, said The New York Times (free registration required) in an editorial. The GAO report was a “powerful fresh dose of nonpartisan realism,” but a recent National Intelligence Estimate said essentially the same thing. When is Bush going to face “reality”?