Iraq: Two U.S. troops dead as White House disputes report on failures
A U.S. Marine and an Army soldier died in separate attacks in Anbar province of western Iraq, the U.S. military said Friday. Both attacks occurred on Wednesday, the command said.
The deaths bring the American death toll to at least 79 this month.
Meanwhile, an independent assessment concluding that Iraq has made little political progress in recent months despite an influx of U.S. forces drew fierce objections from the White House on Thursday. A draft report by the Government Accountability Office concluded Iraq has satisfied three of 18 benchmarks set by Congress and partially met two others, a senior administration official said Thursday, according to the AP. None of those are the high-profile political issues such as passage of a national oil revenue sharing law that the Bush administration has said are critical to Iraq's future.
The State Department, Pentagon and White House dispute some findings, including the conclusion that Iraq has only partially met tests involving its budget process and legislation dealing with semiautonomous regions in the country, two officials said.
Administration officials also disputed that Iraq has failed to provide three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations or to ensure that the security plan will not provide a safe haven for outlaws.