"Key aides" of each have been vetted (The veterinarian has checked their wind and teeth) and kept in the loop since summer. (President George Bush officially created a Transition Coordinating Council October 9.) They've probably heard much of what's in a draft National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. According to McClatchy Newspapers:
A nearly completed high-level U.S. intelligence analysis warns that unresolved ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq could unleash a new wave of violence, potentially reversing the major security and political gains achieved over the last year.
I'd bet on both candidates ignoring it, unless McCain decides on yet another 'hail Mary' pass to revive his campaign. He has (or had) an edge on foreign affairs, but he's invested a lot in being right about the surge. For Obama, it would seriously threaten his 16 month deadline.
The article also provides less-than-optimistic statements from Gen. David Petraeus, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Defense Department.
The next President's to-do list isn't getting any shorter.
It's no surprise that government officials will filter the information they release, but at the same time most news organizations are doing their own pullout.
According to the Washington Post:
U.S. military officials say they "embedded" journalists 219 times in September 2007. Last month, the number shrank to 39. Of the dozen U.S. newspapers and newspaper chains that maintained full-time bureaus in Baghdad in the early years of the war, only four are still permanently staffed by foreign correspondents. CBS and NBC no longer keep a correspondent in Baghdad year-round.
Cynically, we could say that's because bombings sell advertising, while reconstruction and infighting over power won't make the front page. There's an election going on. It's also true that newspapers in particular are hurting, with several going out of business.
Whatever the reason, we're getting less information out of Iraq at a critical time.
The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That's bigger than any tax cut in the any country. -- Rupert Murdoch, 2003
He will either go down in history as a very great president or he'll crash and burn. I'm optimistic it will be the former by a ratio of two to one. -- Rupert Murdoch, 2003