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. GrammieJ

    Pitbull true bull again. She is just a parrot of disparaging remarks from the McCain campaign. She does not know what she is talking about, only that she has to READ all these speeches like some kind of Barbie Doll.

    Pitiful Palin

    October 11, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. Mike from CA

    Palin = Smears and LIES

    October 11, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Palin is once again confused, it was Troopergate, remember you were proven guity of your abuse of power in the swaying of an employees firing. Plus, Palin has a problem interputing what she hears and show an inability to research facts for herself, that's also a problem why Palin doesn't understand her verdict because Palin didn't understand limitations within the law.

    October 11, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Frank In IL.

    When you have nothing to say you say anything. The McCain/Palin ticket is a horrific representation of one of our major American political parties. Reading off of note cards, winking and unbecoming personal attack behavior is not going to do it. Decency is apparently not fundamental to the fundamantalist.

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

    Can we censor Sarah's mouth? What has she done in the way of diplomacy for this country?

    October 11, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Ridgeway

    When he meets with the Iraqis or the Iranians he can begin his meeting with, " Now boys, as one Muslim to another...."

    October 11, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Zach

    Excuse me? There were witnesses – both Republican, Democrat, and from the Bush administration – that have disputed this charge completely. How on earth can you simply claim this is "in dispute".

    Please understand how important your fact checking duties are to this campaign. You have a duty to bring clarity and truth to the American people. This particular fact check fails in that endeavor.

    October 11, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. J Houston, TX

    Of course the Democrats want to delay. They want the world to keep falling apart under GW to sow enough hatred to take complete control of the government. That's the nature of partisan politics. It's not even their fault. Our two party system inherently pushes things that way.

    October 11, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Kelly S.

    Barack Obama's lies to the American people can not be tolerated for any reason. He wants to deceive the American people, Barack Obama must be held accountable for his words, deeds, and actions.
    Barack Obama has in fact urdged the Iradi government not to negotiate with the current administration run by President Bush.
    I believe Barack Obama is a deceiver and Antichrist because he denies that Jesus Christ came in real body. Here is the scripture reference: 2 John v. 7 Many deceivers have gone fore denying that Jesus Christ came in real body; that person is deceiver and antichrist.
    Barack Obama has lied to the media, and the American people and has been caught red handed. The truth will always win. The American people are getting feed up with Barack Obama's lies to them.

    October 11, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. pam

    How come the media is jumping on every little thing about mcain and palin, but they wont report to the public about the ugly side of obama.
    How about obama"s advisor is encouraging obama to invade israel when he becomes prez.. Or that he is friends with a terroist supporter in africa. Are they afraid to tell the truth about their golden boy?

    October 11, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Frank In IL.

    Moderator – spelling correction at conclusion, thank you.

    When you have nothing to say you say anything. The McCain/Palin ticket is a horrific representation of one of our major American political parties. Reading off of note cards, winking and unbecoming personal attack behavior is not going to do it. Decency is apparently not fundamental to the fundamentalist.

    October 11, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Tired of Spin

    You know what CNN?! You don't FACT CHECK. Either something is True or it's False. You should just provide the facts & leave out the your leaning Verdicts.

    I particulary love how McCain is mostly false or misleading whereas you find Obama true or true, but incomplete or whatever. If the conclusions are subjective to the facts present, leave them out & let the reader decide.

    Unless you think your average voter reading this is too stupid to figure out their own conclusion. Well, judging by some of the comments on here - you go ahead & lead the sheeple wherever you desire.

    October 11, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. chris

    WHY IS SARAH PALIN MAKING BASELESS ACCUSATIONS, SHE THINKS THE REPUBLICANS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO LOVE AMERICA, SHE IS NOT FIT TO BE VICE PRESIDENT IF SHE CANNOT READ AND VERIFY HER INFORMATION BEFORE UNLOADING ON OTHERS.

    October 11, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Robin

    Gov. Palin was found guilty of abuse of power in Alaska; she is still guilty of abuse of power on the campaign trail for Senator McCain. She was dead wrong to say "Obama pals around with terrorist." Gov. Palin is leading angry people down a dangerous road to wave of riots similar to those in the 1960s.

    October 11, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Edward Lewis

    It would have been innappropriate for Senator Obama to have spoken in any terms about withdrawls or delays to the Iraqi. As a senator he would not have any authority to make or advise the Iraqi's at All without the Administrations approval.

    If he implied in any way a delay. That would be a matter of TREASON!!!

    October 11, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. jo ann

    No matter how you spin this Obama had no business discussing anything like this. Let the State Department do their work.

    October 11, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Tim in NC

    As has become a chronic problem with the McCain campaign, and Palin ins specific; the facts no longer interest the because very few work in their favor, so they have had to fall back on hearsay, rumor-mongering, and fear tactics to try to distract the American populous.

    Its flat out insulting that they think these worn out tactics would STILL work.

    October 11, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. AngryVet

    Sarah Palin is a proven liar ... ahem, bridge to Nowhere she never supported, troopergate, Obama started his career in Ayers living room, Obama pals around with terrorists, she didn't sleep with her husband's friend, she had she sold the plane on ebay, she had lied to get money to get paid for working from home, her husband is not involved in a secessionist party which she supports, etc etc etc...Republicans don't seem to care about honesty in their candidates...or themselves...it really reflects who they are...

    October 11, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. JC

    Blah, blah, blah. And, uh, the stupid economy, Senator McCain?.....

    October 11, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Diana Ewing NJ

    Isn't that a GOP trick, seem to remember that when Regan took office..

    October 11, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. Brock

    Let me see – Sumaidaie has no stake in the campaign, Obama has a big stake.

    Who to believe?

    Who to believe?

    My vote is Sumaidaie .

    October 11, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. winter

    i guess Sarah should check you guys before opening her mouth (once again).

    October 11, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. joe

    We love you Mr. Obama!

    Our next President of united states!!

    October 11, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. jmc

    The McCain-Palin campaign seems desperate. Why do they bring up so many red herrings and mount so many personal attacks? They have no plans for saving our country from endless war, the effects of deregulation and greed on our economy, and diplomatic disaster. We need to boot out the villains who have brought us this mess and who have robbed so many of us of our retirement and elect someone with vision and real leadership of the type Lee Iococca wrote in the spring of 2007. At least Obama and Biden have tried to present real plans in their speeches, ads and on their website.

    October 11, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Big O

    You have provided no evidence that this is true. Don't be afraid to call Palin the liar that she is. Her free ride is over.

    October 11, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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