I don't believe it. Jim Henley makes a catch:
Because We Care: Reuters finds the most important tidbit in the ISG report:
Among the 1,000 people who work in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, only 33 are Arabic speakers and only six speak the language fluently, according to the Iraq Study Group report released on Wednesday.
"All of our efforts in Iraq, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans' lack of knowledge of language and cultural understanding," the bipartisan panel said in its report. "In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage."
The report, written by five Republicans and five Democrats, recommended the U.S. government give "the highest possible priority to professional language proficiency and cultural training" for officials headed to Iraq.
Guys? It's too late. The time to start to instill competency in the language and culture of the society you're trying to scare-quotes transform is not more than four years after deciding to take the place over.
The ignorance issue has two roots: Americans aren't great at foreign languages and cultures anyway.... The second root is the "humiliate and free" coalition: contempt and anger embedded with "benevolent hegemony" from the start. As with Judith Miller and MET Alpha, it could be difficult to tell who was leading whom. DOD tarred anyone with much knowledge of or sympathy for Arabic language or culture as an "Arabist" and kept them as far away from the project as possible. Ignorance was purity. Who needs a vocabulary when you've got armor?
And Abu Aardvark makes another:
"There is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq... For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information in systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals." (pp.94-95)
Doesn't sound like Baker-Hamilton was much impressed with the "why don't you tell us the good news from Iraq" crowd... or with the Dorrance Smith-style approach of making reporting of the war to the home front a top priority.
Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.