October 11th, 2008
02:29 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama try to seek a delay in U.S.-Iraq talks?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.obama.slam.gi.jpg caption="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. Joel

    No doubt in my mind that Obama tried to delay the agreement. Obama's prediction that the surge would utterly fail depends on failure in Iraq. For Obama, it's Obama first, country last.

    October 11, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Megan

    Mark Hudson– do you even believe the nonsense you just typed on here? If you keep up with the fact checks on CNN, you will notice that the MAJORITY of what McCain and Palin spew comes out as False or Misleading. If you want to talk about a couple of liars, turn your half blind eyes toward the Republican ticket. They will give you your moneys worth in falsehoods.

    October 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. Mary

    Obama is a great orator, and as great a speaker he is also a smooth operator.I have no doubt he wanted this Iraqi delay to happen. As if his political campaign didn't release the Keating smear on McCain. This year both campaigns have been uglier than ever and while Obama is shining in his element, smug with himsef, McCain is clearly playing catch up. McCain wanted to play a good game but then he underestimated the political machine of Chicago. In the end, do we want the slick spendthrift who knows what we're going to do five moves ahead (or before we do) or the simple frugal tough guy with good character? I'm not so sure...maybe I'll just write in Hiliary Clinton!

    October 11, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. Josh

    Fact check, ya right, run by a biased News outlet.

    October 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. Reasonable Observer

    Hey John. I believe everything I read in Wikipedia since it is liberally biased. This Obama conversation with Iraqi officials was also mentioned in a column in the New York Post, also. Oh, I know that is a conservative paper, also. Were you expecting to see something potentially negative about Obama in, say, The New York Times? Give me a break.

    October 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Ron

    With the Palin/McCain campaign willingly telling outright lies...some of us americans still believe them. I wonder why?

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    October 11, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. Doris,Memphis,TN

    The McCain campaign is self destructingl

    October 11, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. Western Voter

    Now I suppose she can see Iraq from Alaska! Why would anyone listen to this woman???

    October 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Cyndi Featherman

    As a follower of Christ myself, I feel Palin gives a bad example of a Christian. Her comments are mean spirited and aimed to stir hatred and discourse among the people. It is very disquieting to me that a person like this might end up as our leader. If she does, God help us. I will continue to pray for her and our country.

    October 11, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. s.positive

    what's the point, another typical ignorant moron...

    October 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. D.

    The dirty job for Obama is done by the media, McCain has to do it himself. Given this wrong the perception you have is right!

    October 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Maggie from Virginia

    Congress must approve any troop level agreements. That's just a fact. I must be missing something here...

    October 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  13. Voter

    Sarah Palin will do anything to get McCain elected. Every time she opens her mouth a lie comes out.

    October 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. stephen

    What are all these about? Will somebody tell Palin to let us know what McCain is going to about the sagging economy? I betcha, she will go and check and come and tell ya. It is the empty vessels that make the loudest noise. A tree without a root wobbles on it's stock. No wonder, the McCain campaign is wobbling and are making the most outragous noise. Keep wobbling for you are definfitely going to fall with a bang on Nov. 4th. Watch Out.

    October 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Peachbird

    I used to go to a space on the internet where people came together to discuss spiritual things. Often we go off into political and social issues. I said way back then that Bush/Cheney was the personification of the antichrist, pure evil. I have not change my mind.

    I saw all this happening, and I warned about it. I seem to have a gift for sensing what political figures are all about, whether they are good or evil from my earliest memories. I said the Bush administration was going to take this country on a rollercoaster ride to destructions. I said that it began with Daddy Bush, but would not end with him. And I was right. I don't want to be right again, but I think we are dealing with something much bigger that Republicans and Democrats.

    I hope that We, the People are finally paying attention and taking this seriously. We are talking the battle between good and evil, People. There is way too much at stake .....

    October 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. DD

    I've always heard that desperate people do desperate things, but for McCain/Palin to stir up such hate and discontent among their supporters disappointed me. Are they trying to start a racial war? I watched their supporters respond to their lead. This country should be pulling together, not falling apart at a time like this. We're a nation that's already hated by other nations and now we have a presidential candidate and his sidekick putting hatred thoughts in the minds of their supporters, by using words like terrorist, muslin in relation to Barack Obama? How unamerican! Are McCain and Palin that naive to believe this hatred they're stirring up will stop with Obama? Do they really believe this will unite us? Does selling your soul for the presidency and vice presidency worth the costs "a nation divided". Barry Goldwater and George Wallace would be proud of McCain and Palin, and David Duke, well, he's giving them the "thumbs up."

    October 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. BM

    Palin needs to go somewhere and hide after the verdict of the troopergate. She has no pride. She is as guilty as sin. It;s apparent that she will do or say anything to benefit her.She is a die-hard racist!

    October 11, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. Idiot Dummy Falin

    She a dummy. there are so many good candidate to pick and Mccain pick a dummy.
    now you want someone to be your president to make that kind of decision?

    October 12, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  19. Gregorovitch

    FACT CHECK is a far left wing organization. They always cover up for the Communist Democrat Party by obscuring the true story. The average liberal "mush brains" swallow it hook line and sinker.

    This is not the original story on Obama getting the Iraqi's to not sign an agreement. Why didn't FACT CHECK tell the true story? Simple, it's a cover up.

    October 12, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  20. Valerius

    The Time report names its source. Obama supporters will, of course, not believe it. But who cares? Its about independents who are not drinking Obama's kool-aid.

    Its clear Obama will do anything, including harm his country to win the election in November.

    October 12, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  21. Valerius

    And by the way, as for stirring up hatred, that's a laugh considering the hatred the left has shown for Bush and Cheney the last 8 years and the hatred they have shown Sarah Palin since she was asked to run for VP. Your outrage rings hollow. When you call for your side, which is truly the side of haters, to tone it down, then your words may have more meaning to the rest of us. You reap what you sow.

    October 12, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. LaKeisha C.

    McCain and Palin are the reason why race is becoming an issue again. November 4th, the verdict will be in...Guilty for McCain and Palin.

    October 12, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Marc

    More unsubstantiated scuttlebutt from Palin.

    October 12, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Dollar Bill

    This is for Valerius...how long have you been a racist. I'm willing to bet that you didn't even know that you were one.

    October 15, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. mike

    Wow, I guess we know who this websites audience is. I dont think I have never see so many one sided responces to a claim that so blatantly has some truth to it. Lay off the cool-aid Obama fans, learn your history, and how Mr. Hussein is about to repeat it.

    October 16, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
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