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WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 07: Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David M. Walker testifies during the Senate Armed Services hearing on the GAO report of progress in Iraq. The top U.S. commander in Iraq indicated Friday he will report a significant decrease in sectarian violence there when he testifies before Congress next week, disputing the conclusion of a Government Accountability Office study Democrats have held up as proof President Bush's "surge" of troops isn't working. In a letter to his troops, Gen. David H. Petraeus said the surge had "wrested the initiative from our enemies in a number of areas of Iraq." He said overall violence in Iraq decreased in the last week of August to the lowest levels since June 2006, though progress toward improved security has been uneven. "Tragically, sectarian violence continues to cause death and displacement in Baghdad and elsewhere, albeit at considerably reduced levels from eight months ago," Petraeus wrote. He also acknowledged that tangible political progress has not occurred since the surge began. "One of the justifications of the surge, after all, was that it would help create the space for Iraqi leaders to tackle the tough questions and agree on key pieces of national reconciliation legislation," he wrote. "It has not worked out as we had hoped." The letter dated Friday was posted on the Multi-National Force-Iraq's Web site in advance of congressional testimony on Monday, Sept. 10, by Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. But the specifics behind Petraeus' claims are classified, and the GAO has conflicting data, which has also been classified by the Defense Department, making it impossible to independently resolve the discrepancies. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Democrats demanded the Bush administration make public the details behind its claims. Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he would send an urgent request to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates calling on him to allow

WASHINGTON, DC - Sept. 07: Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David M. Walker testifies during the Senate Armed Services hearing on the GAO report of progress in Iraq. The top U.S. commander in Iraq indicated Friday he will report a significant decrease in sectarian violence there when he testifies before Congress next week, disputing the conclusion of a Government Accountability Office study Democrats have held up as proof President Bush's "surge" of troops isn't...
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