Spokesman Tony Snow spoke against the background of a leaked Government Accountability Office draft report that disputes recent White House claims of progress in Iraq
He also tried to lower expectations for a report due Sept.15 from U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. David Petraeus, the overall commander in Iraq.
"If you take a look at what Congress has mandated for this report, it says, have you met these? Have you met them in full? Well, the answer is -- you're going to find in a lot of cases of course they haven't met them," Snow said. "Now, the real question is, do you have progress in the right direction?"
Snow said congressional benchmarks should not be the only standards in the reports from Crocker and Petraeus.
He said Crocker and Petraeus will take a view "of what's going on in Iraq that's broader simply than the benchmarks …
"The real question that people have is, what's going on in Iraq? Are we making progress? Militarily, is the surge having an impact? Obviously there's a whole lot that still needs to be done," Snow added. "But on the other hand, again, there has been significant progress on a number of fronts."