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. annie - never again a dem.

    Did anyone mention that factcheck.org is also affiliated with acorn?

    October 11, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Kerri from Indy

    it sounds to me like Obama was talking about the strategic framework agreement which has nothing to do with withdrawing troops. Congress wants to be invloved in that agreement, so he wasn't saying anything congress hadn't already said. He explained all this in a interview in the New York Times in June. Palin found a old story that has been distorted in conservative media. Shame on CNN for not looking deeper. It took me 20 minutes to find out the true story.

    October 11, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. jimmy

    History will record the IRAQ WAR lasting so long and so costly
    on the shoulders on George W. Bush ALONE , COMPLETELY
    AND TOATALLY.. Here is WHY: BUSH LISTENED TO AN ARM CHAIR GENERAL -SECRETARY OF DEFENSE RUMSFELD INSTEAD PF A PROVEN GENERAL COLIN POWELL.
    It is well known that before the invasion of Iraq, Colin Powell questioned the size of the Army and other support forces
    and they were inadequate for the job. BUSH listened to Rumsfeld's
    questionable judgement and even in the initial stages of the war there were signs of the miscalculations of Rumsfeld. AND THE RESULT IS HISTORY.. COLIN POWELL EVENTUALLY RESIGNED
    BECAUSE HIS ADVICE WAS IGNORED BY BUSH AND RUMSFELD CONTINUED ON HAVING BUSH"S EARS INSTEAD OF POWELL..
    JOHN MCCAIN SUPPORTED THE WAR BECAUSE AMERICA HAS AND HAD THE POWER TO WIN THE WAR LIKE THE FIRST IRAQ WAR, WHERE COLIN POWELL HAD THE FULL CONFIDENCE VESTED ON HIM BY THE ELDER GEORGE HERBERT BUSH.
    ANT THEY WON THE WAR IN 100 DAYS.. THIE WAR HAS DRAGGED
    ON BECAUSE OF RUMSFELD AND BUSH ALONE.

    October 11, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. independent in Texas

    MORE vicious slander directed against Obama..more distraction !
    McCain, just tell us about your PLANS to fix our troubled economy..details PLEASE..not just your "I know hOW to fix this" crap..if you really knew, why didnt you tell Bush and Paulson already ????
    Its the economy we are worried about..not more distractions and finger pointing and LIES..
    Its the economy ..stay ON the issues !
    D.Bradshaw Texas for Obama

    October 11, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Finley, Ohio

    A town hall meeting .. in ohio 80 years old White Lady from small town ohio .. 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 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Klaus

    In dispute? There is no basis.

    October 11, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. MCKEATING5 AND MISS ALASKAN ANAL SPHINCTER ‘08 HAVE NOW BOTH BEEN CONVICTED OF ETHICS VIOLATIONS. NOW, I AM AS THRIFTY AS THE NEXT PERSON, BUT DO WE REALLY WANT TO BUY THIS 2 FOR 1 PACKAGE?

    " 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."

    This is of course, the same Iraqi "officials" that imperialist HRH installed as his puppet government and pays, so we can keep drilling for oil which is sold and profits continue to mount into the Iraq bank accounts?

    Oh, now that is a group you can believe!

    October 11, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Independent

    So wait the person making the accusation was not involved in the talks and those who were have dissputed or not mentiond such. THIS IS SILLY!

    October 11, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Paul S Hickman

    Senator Obama is too intelligent to even think to go forward with such a proposal. Here again is secondary information. As we all know that communication is frequently distorted or misquoted by listening to one side of the conversation.

    Just another ploy by a sycophant of McCain's

    October 11, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. ryjogr

    Anything that comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth should be ignored. In fact she should be ignored period!

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

    Sarah Palin wfo 6 weeks ago did not even know what news papers
    she reads as she says what ever comes across her desk
    this did not come from SNL this was with Katie Corric she
    and John McCain has realy made me sick

    October 11, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Here we go again. Palin on the attack against Barak ; doesn't she have enough filthy laundry of her own to deal with? And don't you just love how she and her buddies over at Fox are spinning Obama's past relationships with Farakhan, Wright, Ayres, Rezko...with absolutely no proof that Barak was in church during Wright's sermon , or that Barak had a direct friendly relationship with Ayres at all.

    Yet, what we do know for a fact is that Palin is directly affiliated with a domestic terrorist...her hubby, Todd and his Alaska Independence Party, where she addressed them March of this year (See Youtube). She is also affiliated with religious fanatics like the Witch Doctor who prayed over her (and yes, we also have actual video of that incident and last she was found to have violated an ethics investigation by a majority Republican committee. That ain't reform, she's just like the Neo-Cons in power now!!!!

    Let's stop believing the propaganda from Fox News and Internet ramblings!!! Bush's cousin owns a stake in the Fox network which is why they are completely bias and continue to push the bar just as they did after Sept.11th, when they on behalf of our Government under "W" completely manipulated the people and began the process of polarizing Americans..Small towns vs. Urban centers.

    I did not forget, hopefully rational minds will prevail and Obama/Biden will be inaugurated in January.

    Northern Virginia

    October 11, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. ket

    This is in dispute why??????????CNN are you trying to keep this election close????????

    October 11, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. White Christian Mother for Obama

    I think Palin likes to jump the gun on any news title instead of READING it Through First!! Like she CLAIMS we do with her Abuse of POWER!

    Accuse people of what YOUR guilty of Palin?????

    October 11, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Kerri from Indy

    I have a correction. In the New York Times there is an interview with Obama from September, not June. Again, he clearly stated he was talking about the strategic framework agreement.

    October 11, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. JANIE

    SARAH PALIN cannot comprehend beyond "you betcha' and say it aint so Joe, this lady abused her Power as Governor who should or would believe anything she is spewing????

    October 11, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. ohio

    another lie

    October 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. Cuban-mama-4-OBAMA

    Oh brother, as far as I know a sitting-senator, visiting a head of state CAN make a suggestion.

    The Republican-hate-lie-and- attack machine is relentless, they will say, do and inflate anything!

    Let's all say.......STOP THE HATE................STOP THE LIES........MCCAIN!

    October 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Bob

    New rule: You can't accuse someone of doing something in a country that you can't find on a map...unless, of course, you can see it from your house...then, it's OK.

    October 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. sandee in Portland

    I don't know if Obama really did this or not, but it would make sense to me to do something like this. A new president coming into office would not want to take over something like this from the president leaving office because then he is beholden to something his predecessor did. I also think congressional approval is something that would be needed. I wouldn't want just one person making this decision.

    October 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Michael

    Washington Times. Say no more.

    October 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Donald from SC

    What, too affraid to not true.

    Obama is correct.

    The President needs to get the rest of the government involved in the conditions of the withdrawl process.

    October 11, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Janice

    The war is the reason that Im voting for Obama, it's why I wanted Hillary as well. This is very important to the people and Cnn. You better do your best to find the truth out about this . I hope it is not true , but I want to know the answer to this immediatly and it should be on the Sunday Programs ASAP.

    October 11, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. David

    Wait, Obama says he didn't urge a delay (which, by the way, many in Congress were urging anyway, saying Bush could not make commitments that would extend beyond his presidency without Congressional approval) and the official Iraqi account of the meeting doesn't mention it either.

    Sounds like the McCainiacs are trying to divert attention from Sarah Palin's ethics violations in Alaska.

    October 11, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. Joyce in Florida

    Again, this goes to show you that the McCain campaign will distort information to make their candidate look good against the other candidate. Disgraceful. I guess that is all their campaign has, and it is pretty pathetic at that. Just keep talking Governor Palin and ruining the chance for McCain to be the next President. You need no help from anyone else. You are doing a pretty good job of destroying your chance in the White House. I think you have enough on your plate to deal with back in Alaska. You can't be trusted, period. Just go home and stop your hate speeches and trying to incite anger. OBAMA/BIDEN 08!!!!!!

    October 11, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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