October 11th, 2008
02:29 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama try to seek a delay in U.S.-Iraq talks?

Did Obama really try to slow down progress in U.S.-Iraq talks?
Did Obama really try to slow down progress in U.S.-Iraq talks?

The Statement:

Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said at a campaign stop near Cincinnati, Ohio on Oct. 10 that "Senator Obama tried to make a secret deal with the Iraqi government" to delay an agreement that would spell out the U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Referring to an Oct. 10 Washington Times article, Palin said Obama "tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders in a way that would set back America's cause there."

Get the facts!

The Facts:

The United States and Iraq are negotiating a status of forces agreement, which would spell out the details of U.S. troop presence in Iraq after the U.N. mandate establishing their status expires at the end of the year. They are also negotiating a longer-term strategic framework agreement, which would define their political, security, cultural, and economic relationship.

The Times article said Obama "tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn't be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval." It said "some of the specifics of the conversations remain the subject of dispute" and that Iraqi leaders said Obama "urged Baghdad to delay an agreement with Mr. Bush until next year when a new president will be in office - a charge the Democratic campaign denies."

The newspaper quoted Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Samir Sumaidaie about a June 16 telephone conversation between Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Sen. Barack Obama. "In the conversation, the senator urged Iraq to delay the (memorandum of understanding) between Iraqi and the United States until the new administration was in place," Sumaidaie said. A memorandum of understanding would be a short-term interim arrangement before the establishment of a status of forces agreement.

The Times report said Sumaidaie said he "did not participate in the call... but stood next to Mr. Zebari during the conversation and was briefed by him immediately afterward. The call was not recorded by either side, and Mr. Zebari did not respond to reported telephone and e-mail messages requesting direct comment." Sumaidaie is the only Iraqi leader quoted in the story.

Palin cited the Times article and said, "We've learned that Barack Obama tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders in a way that would set back America's cause there, while advancing his campaign here," according to a pool report from her campaign stop. She added, "We learned this morning that Iraqi officials are saying Senator Obama tried to make a secret deal with the Iraqi government, and he apparently wanted this action delayed, some more strategy delayed, that would reduce troop numbers until the next president takes office."

The Obama-Biden campaign says Obama has never urged a delay in negotiations. Wendy Morigi, Obama national security spokeswoman, told CNN on Saturday that Obama told Zebari he supports the adoption of a status of forces agreement with immunity for U.S. troops, and that a strategic framework agreement should be vetted by the U.S. Congress once it is forged.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry, in an e-mail received by CNN on June 17, said that Zebari spoke to Sen. Obama, but it didn't make reference to any request for a delay. It said Obama "stressed that his administration wants to reassure the Iraqi people and their government" that it "would not make any critical or irresponsible decisions regarding the U.S. military presence and it would not undermine successes already achieved."

On Sunday, Oct. 12, Zebari issued a statement rejecting the allegations in the Washington Times article. Obama "never, ever discouraged" the signing of an agreement, Zebari said in the statement, adding, "I think this was misrepresented."

The Verdict:

In dispute. Both Obama and the Iraqi official with whom he had the conversation, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, deny Obama ever pushed for a delay. But the article Palin was citing quoted another Iraqi official who said he was next to Zebari during the conversation and was briefed by Zebari right afterward.

(Updated Sunday, October 12, to reflect new developments)


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • Sarah Palin
soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Sarah (power abuser) Palin is planting doubt wherever she can. That's just another distraction away from her wrong-doing.

    She despicable. I'm ashamed for her.

    October 11, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. voter

    in dispute means it is a lie especially if it is coming from the mouth of McCain or Palin.

    October 11, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Chad

    If Obama denies it and there is no definitive proof – how could this be "in dispute"?
    Call this what it is: a false allegation by a desperate campaign.

    October 11, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Christine

    There are more ways to conduct a campaign than the Fear and Smear, Sarah.

    October 11, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. TimMN

    Shame,Shame,Shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Nina in Orlando

    Another outrageous lie about the Sarah the Liar.

    October 11, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Nina in Orlando

    Another outrageous lie from the Sarah the Liar.

    October 11, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. SAGG

    "In dispute"? Either Obama did or didn't. This implies that he did, which I don't believe for an instant. Produce the evidence. It wouldn't seem to me that Obama would have enough of an influence to do something so blatant. What, do the Iraqis listen to Obama only, and not the Bush Administration? One more thing: This article comes from one of the leading conservative newspapers (i.e. in the tank for McCain). Enough written.

    October 11, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. mitch

    i hope barack did try to convince them to wait before signing. gw bush wants to maintain 50 bases in iraq ,and iraq doesnt want them. they want a timeline for withdraw similar to barack's plan. we cannot afford to build and maintain 50 bases in iraq ,when we are BROKE!!!!!!! i wish mccain would concede, bush would get lost , and we let barack get started earlier ,in fixing this inexcusable mess republicans have gotten us into.

    October 11, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. ready for change

    america, vote obama-biden!!!

    October 11, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Women for Obama/Biden

    I just can not trust Sarah Palin! This lady has got some major issues. This smears, fears campaign must stop by McSame! She is accusing Barack obam of radical ties when in fact SHE VIOLETED ETHICS, ABUSED POWER.

    VOTE FOR "THAT ONE"/biden

    October 11, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Arizona Demo

    Obviously Palin doesn't like to confuse us with the facts. Only insinuations and innuendos. She certainly has some bones rattling around in the closet, so I guess everything is fair game.

    October 11, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. indy chris

    If it's charged by McNasty, then it is most probably false.

    October 11, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Finley, Ohio

    the moment i decide to vote Obama...80 years old White Lady from small town .. in her town There is no progressive talker right-wing talkers on radioall day. she ask obamab a one question ?... she asked him Who Are You? Obama responded to.. I Am Your Son .don’t let them scare you” ...
    .She definately had tears in her eyes .she is voting for obama..

    October 11, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. s.positive

    I am a Christian and so ashamed when this pig mouth of a woman opens her sticking gut...

    October 11, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. georgia

    Palin is a bottom eater & way out of her league in the presidential arena as well as governorship.
    Get Troopergate facts !

    October 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Anthony Caudill

    This woman is nuts and the mere fact that she is on a presidential campaign, let alone a ticket, is an indictment against the entire Republican party leadership. The worst presidential candidate since Goldwater.... I actually have sympathy for these people if they don't think they can repress a raging tempest like Palin. Palin has no power but that which she is given by our consent to hear her out on her radical extrapolations. I will credit them for this though: when someone like her is stating their opinion, it becomes awfully easy for the rest of us to seperate the wheat from the chaf and determine the RIGHT answer to the problem. The issue is the fact that her wild extrapolations inflame our fears and threaten to make us lose control.

    October 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. Jen

    Just another Repuplican Lie...Yawn

    October 11, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Peter of Oregon

    McCain/Palin lie.

    October 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Finley, Ohio

    A town hall meeting .. in ohio 80 years old White Lady from small town .. in her town There is no progressive talker right-wing talkers on radio all day. she ask obama a one question ?... she asked him Who Are You? Obama responded to.. I Am Your Son .don’t let them scare you” ...
    .She definately had tears in her eyes .she is voting for obama..

    October 11, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. JayInNewHampshire

    This has Bush/McCain written all over it. I mean come on . The guy making the statement did not actually hear it from Obama but some one told him?

    October 11, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Puff

    Of course he did. All his idot supports are going to be stopped in their tracks when they see that they have backed an Indonesian Muslim. Their Messiah is going to be tossed out of the country any day now.
    This is your October surprise you hope dopers.

    October 11, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Obama has no right to discuss any policy issue with Iraq. He is not the President, and has not been asked by the administration to represent them. I have no doubt that this is true, and Obama is delaying progress in Iraq for his own political gain. This is a violation of the Logan Act. The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years. There should be a special prosecuter appointed to investigate Obama.

    October 11, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Carlos Jean-Gilles

    Nice try McCain! Hillary already used that trick in the primary, so we will not be fooled again. Can I ask you a question Senator McCain? After seeing the poor way you vetted your VP pick, whom you asked only one question, Are you a maverick? How can we trust you? Why would we give you the benefit of the doubt on any subject after you called Senator Obama a terrorist, then turn around a few ours later and call Senator Obama a decent family man? The two are mutually exclusive Senator McCain. I, for one, suggest that you are a liar and cannot be trusted.

    Carlos Jean-Gilles
    St. Louis, MO

    October 11, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. Daleesp

    The accusation s more crap spewed by the dingly lady from Alaska...the one that abuses her power by firing the highest ranking law officer in here state for personal reasons.

    Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power, Sarin Palin abuse of power,

    October 11, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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