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. Rodger

    You can't take Palin serious...she's a conpulsive liar! Obama wants us out ASAP. Now that the National Oil Company of China has the contract with Iraq, let them protect and re-build Iraq. The only one with a profit is Cheney's company Haliburton and it's subsideries doing construction and electrocuting our soldiers. I hope congress investigates and fines them for the $150,000,000. we've paid for in shoddy, non-completed work, as per the GAO Inspector General.
    The Bush-McCain team wants to stay there with bases and spy on Iran. No wonder nobody likes or trusts us!!!

    October 11, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. Sean

    Mark Hudson, author of the second comment here – are you really serious? You must not have seen any of McCain's campaign rallies lately. The ones that are based 100% on spin, propaganda, and outright lies. There is absolutely no comparison between the two campaigns for anyone who looks at them objectively. Obama's not innocent when it comes to political spin, but the only one displaying a clear strategy of "saying anything to get elected" is McCain's campaign.

    October 11, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. Paul

    politics as usual – lies, voter fraud, money from off shore, anything illegal, immoral, or unethical.
    what political leaders we have. there is no wonder that other countries fight so hard to keep a government like ours out!

    October 11, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Apples for sale

    Good night Sarah,dont forget to close the door behind you.You only have credibility with 20% of the voters at most and will never be heard from again except in jokes.

    October 11, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  5. Jim

    Will Sarah Palin please stop the mud flinging and say something meaningful about current events and not heresay and slander.
    Hey Sarah, how 'bout that economy?
    What was the knock on the GOP? Mean spirited? The GOP spewing the SOS.

    October 11, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. barry schutz

    I have seen at least one report of an undecided who went to a McCain rally (and was turned off, if I remember correctly). It's really not possible, without research, to know for sure who goes to these rallies.

    The shouters at McCain and Palin rallies may well be shills.

    October 11, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  7. Real Talk

    Nobody wants this war to end more than Barack Obama. He voted against and despises us still being there. This is pure propaganda.

    By the way why would McCain-Palin care. If it was up to them we would be babysitting the Iraq Goverment until our own country goes bankrupt.

    October 11, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. DEVILDOG

    i guess obama is going to get blamed for hurricanes too

    October 11, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Bucky

    I always love the fact checks and more often then not McCain is under false or Mis leading and it always makes me proud when I see Obamas record.Funny part I am so proud of Obama and I am a Canadian.It is so important for Canada that McCain does not get in. Our economy is starting a recession and McCain Palin would make that even worse.Many countries will not invest in America if Obama does not get office, as a Palin McCain win would be economically a disaster.I really don't see great progress in the economy until we know we will be able to breathe once Obama/Biden take office

    October 11, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. No Hillary = No Obama

    I think what Palin said about Obama during her acceptance speech at the Republican convention spoke more to the point of his self-interest. That the only time he uses the word victory is when it has to do with getting himself elected. He has yet to use the word about winning the wars that are costing so many lives. Obama is about Obama.

    October 11, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. Lynn

    It looks like to me that McCain and Republicans try to find anything they could to mud Obama instead of focusing on the policies. What a sham!

    You know try to point someone is not clean is much easier than agree own mistakes. To me it seems like they try to say that in this world only Republicans are 100% right with no problems. Or only Republicans are angles, others are just "bad guys"!

    They are isolate them from the rest of country and world, because they seem too "pure".

    October 11, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. bk

    I don't trust Obama and neither should anyone else.

    October 11, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  13. jimmy

    AFTER ALL IS SAID AND DONE IN THIS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
    AMERICANS WILL UNLTIMATELY CHOOSE THE ONE MOST
    QUALIFIED TO BE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE MOST POWERFUL NATION ON THE PLANET. AND IT IS NOT AN EASY TASK. THE PREIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MUST BE ONE WHO HAS BEEN TESTED , TRUST WORTHY , AND NOT A SELFSERVING POLITICIAN.. WITH TEO WARS GOING ON , AND MAJOR THREATS TO THE MIDDLE EAST FROM IRAN, SYRIA. OTHER THREATS FROM AN EMERGING AND AGRESSIVE RUSSUAN STANCE . RUSSIAN EMERGENCE INTO OUR OWN BACKYARD IN VENEZUELA WITH THE INCREASING HOSTILE
    MOVES BY DICTATOR HUGO CHAVEZ. . AMERICA NEEDS A STRONG , DECISIVE LEADER TO BE COMMANDER IN CHIEF.

    October 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. Canuck

    Mark

    CHECK OUT FACTCHECK SCORE MCcAIN IS ALMOST 4-1 ON EITHER "MISTRUTHS" OR "MISLEADING TO OBAMA

    WHO IS DOING ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED??? DUHH!!

    October 11, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. Teresa Evans

    More of the same crap pf lies by the McCain campaign!

    October 11, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  16. MR E

    We will never believe any thing you said ...Plain. You are being used but you will soon come to your senses on nov 5th.

    October 11, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. Vic

    Early voting is the way to go.

    Registered Republican voted Obama/Biden 08

    October 11, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. MuShoo

    Mark, let's talk lies. Clearly you've been keeping up with the Fact Check on this very site, and have chalked up the number of "true," "true but incomplete," "misleading" and "false" statements between the two camps. I'd like to compare notes. Looking back since October 4, I'm counting 8 "false or misleading" statements by the McCain camp and 0 "true or true but incomplete" statements, compared to 0 "false or misleading" statements by the Obama camp and 8 "true or true but incomplete." I'm sick of McCain trying to question Obama's integrity and people like you calling him a liar. From what I've seen on this very feature of this site, there's one ticket who will say anything to win an election. And, "my friends," it isn't Obama/Biden. Aren't we tired of being lied to?

    October 11, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. Amy

    Anyone remember playing "telephone"? A message starts on on one end, and by the time it makes it to the other end of the line it barely resembles the original message. That seems to be the case with this story, and the McCain/Palin campaign is so desperate they picked it up and are trying to run with it.

    There is a reason the Obama/Biden ticket is getting more monetary support from our brave men and women in uniform!

    October 11, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  20. MJN

    No Mr. Hudson, it is the other way around and it has been quite obvious.

    October 11, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Tbone

    I totally trust the Iraqi government to tell the truth. After all, it's not like they would benefit from a McCain Presidency where they wouldn't have to foot the bill for rebuilding their country.

    How much should I pay for that bridge to nowhere?

    October 11, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. kathy

    It is mostly because Palin is ignorant of foreign affairs, war, and anything outside Alaska, the energy-producing state. She has no idea of what she speaks. God help us if she ever gets into the White House. Don'tcha know? You bet'cha! ;)

    October 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. Indiana Voter

    Canuck

    You actually think that CNN's "fact-check" is actually fact? Coming from the same media that wants Obama to be elected? Of course all the positive "facts" are going to be towards Obama. Don't be so brainwashed by the liberal media.

    October 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. petdog

    Mark Hudson

    you are a fool ;expain pls

    October 11, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  25. dee

    why not wait, Bush said he is. LOL

    Obama Biden have won

    The manifestation is happening NOW.

    embrace change for a better America built by the people for the people

    October 11, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
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