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. Sondra

    It sounds to me like Sarah Palin needs to QUIT spewing out lies and half truths. I think she wants the office of president more than John Macain does!

    October 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. John Hussein Shuler

    Mark: Did you read the article, or do you believe whatever you want to believe, regardless of the facts? Oh, my mistake, you're just following the lead of Bush and Palin.

    Go "That One" and "Say is ain't so, Joe"

    October 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Obama Supporter

    Sarah Palin is just a very low budget pick for the Republican party. I will be glad when she finds herself back in Alaska. She is really dumb and in no way ready for Washington.

    October 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. Every Wilson

    JOHN MCCAIN AND SARAH PALIN WILL SAY OR DO ANYTHING TO WIN THE PRESIDENCY! The SPIRIT OF GEORGE WALLACE AND LESTER MADDOX IS ALIVE AND WELL IN JOHN MCCAIN AND SARAH PALIN! I hope America is not fooled by this sudden epiphany AND RESPECTFUL REMARKS HE MADE RECENTLY TOWARD BARACK OBAMA of John Mccain! THIS IS THE SAME PERSON FOR OVER A WEEK SANCTIONED HIS CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT SARAH PALIN'S EXTREME VIOLATILE, DANGEROUS AND MISLEADING RHETORIC AGAINST BARACK OBAMA WHICH IS REFLECTIVE OF JIM CROW AND KLU KLUX KLAN POLITICS! NOW, HE COMES TO HIS SENSES AGAIN AFTER HE SAW THE LATEST POLLS! THE SMEAR CAMPAIGN BY SARAH PALIN AGAINST BARACK OBAMA TO DISTRACT VOTERS FROM HER TROOPERGATE TROUBLE AND JOHN MCCAIN FROM THE ECONOMY, SHOWS THE TYPE OF INDIVIDUALS THEY ARE, AND WHAT THEY WOULD DO TO GET INTO THE OVAL OFFICE! THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO TOUT COUNTRY FIRST, TRUST, INTEGRITY AND JUDGMENT, BUT WHO USED KARL ROVE'S PLAY BOOK, GEORGE BUSH'S JUDGMENT AND FOX NEWS FOR CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES

    October 11, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. WHO'S THE NYT REPORTER?

    i want to know.

    what's his or her agenda?????

    October 11, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. viince

    Mark Hudson, you're delusional. The bulk of the lies are coming from the right.

    October 11, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Brian

    The concept of a fact, as used in criminal court or science is lost in news sometimes nice to see an inventive format for the truth, for facts for people to see...

    October 11, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Sofa King Ray Todd Ed

    Talk about desperation from the McCain team.

    October 11, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  9. NYT's neo-cons and zionists are at it again!

    they know their days are numbered!

    October 11, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    CNN you are idiots- why not ask Obama- this has already been debunked by republicans it was in the NY POST also- beacon of journalism-idiots

    October 11, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. NYT's neo-cons and zionists are at it again!

    they know their precious days are numbered!

    October 11, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. CNN COMPLICIT AGAIN. 2003 ALL OVER AGAIN

    Yea, who cares if it's true or not. Who cares if there are no facts to back this up. Run with it CNN. It's about the black Obama, everyone wants to know who the real black Obama is. Thank you CNN for your great work reporting on McCain/Palin conspiracy theories. Thank you so much.

    October 11, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Mark, as a McCain supporter, you should be one to talk about a candidate saying anything to get elected. Ha! Oh golly gee........how many lies can the McCain camp come up with this week. Hm???

    October 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Denis Robert

    "IN DISPUTE"??????? Are you kidding me? On the one side you have an unsourced, unverified second-hand quote, on the other hand you have the clear and unquestionable denial from all the parties directly involved. That, my friends, is a slam-dunk debunking by any possible criteria.

    The McCain campaign is creating a bogus controversy, and you are essentially playing in their camp by calling this in dispute. It's as much in dispute as global warming or evolution. (for those of you who can't read good, neither of them are in any doubt).

    October 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  15. Clinton Democrat for Obama

    Troop withdrawal from Iraq right now would only help Sen. Obama because that's what's he's been advocating for years.... this is a Karl Rove tactic that derailed Sen. McCain in 2000 and needs to be rejected by Sen. McCain himself immediately

    October 11, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Nero

    Go to politifact.com and you'll find out who the biggest liars are. They are John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    October 11, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. BV

    Mark Hudson,
    I suppose what Palin and McCain are doing is honest. It's honest if you don't have the brains to sort the truth from the lies. It's easy to believe what you want to hear. Believe you me, Obama doesn't even come close to the crap that McCain/Palin pitch. I suppose you think Palin is lily white, too. Do something besides selective thinking and you might land on a bit of truth.

    October 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. kentucky

    I kinda feel sorry for Sarah Palin. McCain wanted a woman to take the place of Hillary, but he really didn't know how stupid this woman is. Now that she has been exposed her only recourse is to admit she is not qualified and keep some integrity intact.

    October 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  19. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    McCain campaign seems to make up lies left and right.

    October 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  20. honei05

    telling lies to get elected, you should know about that. The out of touch Maverick has lied, cheated, filp flopped, suspended his campaign, all but started a race riot and selected that idiot as a running mate, just to get elected. wonder what "mavericky" thing they will try next.

    October 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Proud American

    Mark stop drinking Palins cool-aid.

    October 11, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. claudia dick

    mark so will mcCain and palin ,palin tell the lies even hen they are found to be lies , so please dont call obama a lier palin is worst than bush when it comes to lieing .she tells the lie with such straight face its scary.

    October 11, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Peggy Smith

    Instead of saying when will Obama tell the truth (which it is proven he does)
    They need to ask Palin and NcCain when are they going to start telling the TRUTH AND STOP STIRRING UP HATRED AMONG THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!!!!

    October 11, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Muslim for Obama

    Rise up and support the new messiah! Bring your family to the polls and elevate the new leader to the highest level! Muslims , band together and take this land for Allah!

    October 11, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Irv Williams

    More lies from the McCain camp. When does this guy ever tell the TRUTH. McCain will say anything to get elected.

    October 11, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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