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Clarification to This Article
The Sept. 20 Washington Sketch, about a news conference held by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former congressman Lee H. Hamilton, said that Baker was bothered by the questioning and whispered "malicious" to Hamilton, unaware that he could be heard on the audio feed. Baker says the word he spoke was "militias."

This Just In: The Iraq Study Group Has Nothing to Report

Iraq Study Group co-chairmen James Baker, left, and Lee Hamilton flanked Iraqi President Jalal Talabani during the group's visit to Iraq in August. While there, most panel members did their studying from the safety of the Green Zone.
Iraq Study Group co-chairmen James Baker, left, and Lee Hamilton flanked Iraqi President Jalal Talabani during the group's visit to Iraq in August. While there, most panel members did their studying from the safety of the Green Zone. (By Daniel Berehulak -- Getty Images)

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If President Bush and the Iraqi government are hoping for some solutions from the congressionally commissioned Iraq Study Group, they might want to start thinking about a Plan B.

Former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), the study group's co-chairmen, called a briefing yesterday to give a "progress report" on their activities. A dozen television cameras and scores of reporters filled the hall -- only to discover that Baker and Hamilton had revived Jerry Seinfeld's "show about nothing" format.

"We're not going to speculate with you today about recommendations," Baker announced at the session, hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Can the war in Iraq be won?

"We're not going to make any assessments today about what we think the status of the situation is in Iraq," said Hamilton.

Could they at least explain their definitions of success and failure in Iraq?

"We're not going to get into that today," Baker replied.

After more such probing, Hamilton became categorical. "We've made no judgment of any kind at this point about any aspect of policy with regard to Iraq."

A few minutes later, one of the organizers called out: "We have time for one or two more questions."

"But no time for any answers," one of the reporters muttered.

"This is pitiful," contributed one of the cameramen, as reporters' smiles escalated into audible chuckles.

Baker was bothered by the questioning. "Malicious," he whispered to Hamilton, unaware that it could be heard on the audio feed.


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