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. Chris from NY

    Republicans would like to caharge Obama with everything that's wrong with the The world. In one week they have charged him with everything they can remember, palling around with a terrorist, fradulent with ACORN, and now with this. Who knows what else they would cook up. As Obama rightly said, he can handle anything they will throw at him the next few weeks but we can't afford 4 more years of the same. They can try all they can but it's not going to work this time.

    October 11, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. Cyrus

    Obama is not in any position to make any such requests. Get a clue!

    October 11, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. brenda smith

    who was at the meeting? Mark Hudson I think not

    October 11, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. gp

    Mc insane and his misstres will need at one point to take responsibility for all HATRED THEY ARE SPREDING WITH FALSE ACUSATIONS.They even do not see yet how destructiv they are for their party. People from both party will hate them in the end – though for different reasons. This is so agly and dengerous what they are doing. Hope somebody friom republican party can stop them and not let them destrou country.

    October 11, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Mishel

    and so will mccain, mark hudson....or maybe you're not paying attention to ALL the LIES he keeps telling....

    October 11, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. carolyn

    Sarah is going to get John beat. She should stick to what is true. She is a mean spirited person. After all of this she will probably not be reelected as gov. of Alaska.

    I am a republican for Obama because of Sarah.

    October 11, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Truman

    Given the trend in other CNN fact checks, this is probably more GOP B-S. They're desperate, and will say anything to keep the big, bad angry left from taking away their gun-loving, bible-thumping power. This is the saddest excuse for a democratic election in history, even Iraqis are laughing at it (citation needed).

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

    October 11th, 2008 5:01 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    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?

    Why don't you ever post my comments?????????

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

    Just another desperate attempt by McCain-Palin to to mislead everyone since they don't have any details about issues to talk about.

    October 11, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. New

    I hear some new books are now available by the DNC:

    -“Pronunciation Made Easy” – by Jesse Jackson
    -Bonus buy: “A History of the Nut Cracker” – by Jesse Jackson
    -“How to Buy a House with No Money, No Job, No Credit” – by Barney Frank
    -“How to Pick a Mortgage Lender When You’re in the Senate” – by Chris Dodd
    -“Fairy Tales Are Never Out of Style” – by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid
    – “How to Act Like a Lady” –by Madonna
    -“Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella” – by Keith Oberman
    -“Secrets for Maintaining That Thrill Up Your Leg” – by Chris Matthews
    -“Explosives Made Easy” – by Bill Ayers
    -“How to Grow Your Own ACORN” – by David Axelrod
    -“A-CORN-a-Day Keeps the Republicans Away” – by David Axelrod

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

    And your support for that is what, Mark Hudson? There is nothing to substantiate this story. So why do you choose to believe it? The person who will say or do anything to get elected is John McCain–he has left any shred of honor or courage or integrity that he ever had by the wayside. Fortunately, it's not working.

    October 11, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Tom

    Give us some examples of those lies, Mark Hudson. If you're gonna go out of your way to imply that he never tells the TRUTH, why not show us examples of him always LYING. OR DO YOU NOT HAVE ANY EXAMPLES?!?!?!?!?!
    Take a tally of the fact check score. Your boy McCain is way ahead in the false category.

    October 11, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Lyndon,CA

    Cut a deal now or later with the new president? I think IRAN would prefer later! Tehran is running the show, not Baghdad.

    October 11, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Here is what I have read several times in the past few days. President Bush himself has postponed dealing with Iran so as not to effect the McCain campaign for president.
    Sarah Palin is a racist, hate monger whose self promotion has come to light. She actually hired a PR firm "campaign" for vice president. That's a first.
    Her hate speech is well documented. If something should happen to Obama or his campaign, she will be held PERSONALLY responsible. She should be arrested for inciting to riot. She may say she is unaware of what she is doing, but why was she heard to say things like, "Now you get it." This woman is a domestic terrorist.

    October 11, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. elliot

    I can only imagine how upset the McCain (really Palin) supporters must feel right now. The problem they have is the same issue Hillary had in the primaries. Obama almost never drops in the polls because few people decide they are going to vote for Obama then change their mind. When he crosses the point needed for voctory they know that particular race is lost to them. And as Mcauliiffe said when they were contesting Iowa, "you know Obama's supporters will show up to the polls". This year the Democrats want it more and have been offering the country more than anger. There is a lot of that but when it is paired with hope for a better future it resonates. Norm Coleman has an excellent strategy in that he decided to pull down all of his negative ads. McCain should try going positive. People want to like McCain and I know he is better than what is coming out of his campaign right now. He will never win over Independents with hate and the ground game by Democrats this year is almost taking care of itself. McCain's supporters need to understand they are undermining his campaign to get Independents on his side. People who aren't die-hard Republicans or racists don't want to be seen at a campaign event where the crowd turns into a lynch mob.

    October 11, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Pat

    Caribou Barbie, really sucks. Her true colors are showing. Folks with eyes and ears can see and hear for themselves just what she is. Would anyone in their right mind want someone who would use their position and power to manipulate and push people around? She has a certain kind of followers and they just happen to be the folks who weren't going to vote for Obama/Biden any way. Folks running around stirring up crap need to remember what you send into others lives can and so often does come back to you. So I wouldn't be getting folks riled up and acting like an ignorant, wild mob of Americia's original terrorists, the KKK. Oh yes America has always had terrorists. Home grown, right here in the good ole USA. Look at their history and see for yourself. They might have some dirty deeds up on the Arabs they put down so much. There crimes are just as bad but more than likely worse than the Arabs they pretend to fear.

    October 11, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. kim

    this story is not true, its nothing but political jingoism of bad politics

    October 11, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. njoki

    Obviously he's a man who cannot accept defeat. Who believes in a surge of negativity. As if he could electrocute his opponent and anyone in his way.

    The Surge – mcShame's effort to electrocute opponents.

    October 11, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Loray White

    No, more lies and misleading innuendo from the McCain camp. Obama has stuck to his original statements. Do a fact check on the many times McCain has made a comment on an issue then retracted it, saying something else later when it suits him best. Its human nature. What does one do whe=wn trying to fight back while losing....they employ any tactic possible that may allow them to win. I have only one prayer for this election period....that the facts are laid out for those of us who are intelligent enough to make decisions based not on emotion or omissions, but on truths. Then let the chips fall where they may. At least then, those of us who vote according to who truly would be the better candidate would feel they won or lost fairly.

    October 11, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. David

    Another incorrect verdict. It is false because the only reliable party said so. Palin gives heresay evidence which is inadmissible. The person, or people who write this "fact check" need to get their facts and statements correct or stop "checking" facts. Or is there another agenda?

    October 11, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. KCBob

    Who cares what the moonies say?

    October 11, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  22. Joe in Maryland

    Hey Mark, check the facts on who said what. Acording to CNN, which apparently you like follow, Obama out of 8 facts checked was only wrong on one. McCain however out of 10, 9 were false. Who is more accurate in their comments?

    I want to hear some confirmation about the conversation from people who were actually on the phone. But the pursuit of truth seems to elude some McCain-ites.

    October 11, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  23. Sarah Palin is Obama's best friend.

    Chuck Hagel has given the verson of what happened. There was no such talks!!!!!!!!!! Idiots!!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. Brian

    A quick way to filter the facts, in hearsay indictments, is to consider and nulify the motivation of the source. In this case the overheard or relayed conversation, as reported by Sumaidaie is basically cancelled by the email from Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and the basic platform of the Democratic party.
    Also if one considers the original indictment from Palin, keeping in mind that a come from behind victory is less than slim at this point, the risk to reward ratio is heavily slanted toward (at least) twisting the truth.

    October 11, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. Becky

    Palin reads?

    October 11, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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