The administration’s decision to qualify many of the political benchmarks will enable it to present a more optimistic assessment than if it had provided the pass-fail judgment sought by Congress when it approved funding for the war this spring.It's been widely reported that this report was to show that Iraq has failed to meet every benchmark, meaning the report was to show an 0-18 count of failure. However, as this administration has done with CIA and EPA reports, just to name a few, they decided to do some heavy editing before finally releasing the document. Instead of assigning pass/fail grades, the report judges the rate of progress.
The administration officials who provided details of the draft report to The New York Times, insisting on anonymity, did so partly to rebut claims by members of Congress in recent days that almost no progress had been made in Iraq since President Bush altered course by ordering the deployment of about 30,000 additional troops earlier this year.
When you take a pass/fail course in school, you either pass or fail. That's called a benchmark. Your final grade is not a description of your rate of progress in the class, such as "while student X made great strides during the course, alas he/she unfortunately failed." Bottom line: you failed.
Of course, the Times has this line, "The administration's assessment comes the day after U.S. intelligence experts offered an overwhelmingly negative view of military and political conditions in Iraq, saying that Iraqi forces will remain incapable of taking charge of security for years to come and that deepening sectarian political divides remain the largest impediment to progress."
Which are you going to believe, the intelligence experts or this administration's editors?