There is absolutely no evidence Obama tried to delay Iraq troop withdrawals

A few days ago the New Yok Post, a publication whose journalistic standards are only a few degrees away from the National Enquirer and Sean Hannity claimed that Senator Obama tried to talk Iraqi officials into preventing an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops until after the election, Obama Tried To Stall GIS’ Iraq Withdrawal by Amir Taheri

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

The National Review among other far Right sources echoed the story as loud as they could for a few days. It didn’t get much traction in the mainstream media. Which became cause for a round of the usual tired sniffling about the librul media. The reason the stall story didn’t get much coverage is because no one could find a credible corroborating source. Taheri’s absurd conceit

Plus, Taheri doesn’t even get the time or location of the supposed exchange right.  In the very same sentence which Taheri quoted, Zebari said:  “That is the question which Barack Obama asked me when I was in Washington a while ago, when I met with McCain and Obama.”  That’s right – Taheri’s only piece of evidence that “Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July” is Zebari’s account of an exchange which did not take place during Obama’s trip to Baghdad in July, but rather during Zebari’s trip to Washington in June. If Taheri can’t even get such an obvious and consequential detail right, why should we trust anything else he says?

The whole post is worth saving. In the reality based world the claim doesn’t make sense because as Abua Ardvark pionts out the long term security agreements being negotiated by the Bushies don’t require agreement for the draw down of troops. Bush has in fact started a draw down of troops. The reverse is also true. If Bush and a future president feels that further increases in troop deployments are required for security reasons, that does not require negotiating with the Iraqis. It might be a big assumption considering McCain’s erratic behavior, but lets assume that McCain has knowledge of these basic facts. This is his overwrought press release in response to the Post rumor,

At this point, it is not yet clear what official American negotiations Senator Obama tried to undermine with Iraqi leaders, but the possibility of such actions is unprecedented.  It should be concerning to all that he reportedly urged that the democratically-elected Iraqi government listen to him rather than the US administration in power.  If news reports are accurate, this is an egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas.

Is McCain Taheri’s tool. It sounds as though he is. Amir Taheri is an Iranian-born journalist. if the name kind of rings a bell its because he’s taken us down this road before, “A Colour Code for Iran’s Infidels”

written by Taheri, a “prominent U.S. neo-conservative” [3], was published May 19, 2006, by Canada’s National Post. The story “regarding new legislation in Iran allegedly requiring Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive colour badges circulated around the world this weekend before it was exposed as false,” Jim Lobe wrote May 22, 2006, for Inter Press Service.

Taheri wrote a book released in 1989 called Nest of Spies which was found to contain sources made up solely from his imagination. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is quoted as one of Taheri’s sources. Zebari isn’t actually an Iraqi, he’s a Kurd and had pushed the U.S. and Great Britain to put boots on the ground in Iraq since the nineties. So even if Zebari was the source and Taheri quoted him accurately, another dubious source. Juan Cole has this post, Obama smeared by Taheri on Iraq Troop Withdrawals. Cole points out that the Iraqi timetable to have U.S. troops out is very similar to the one that Obama has been very public about even before his recent tour of the Middle-East. As Obama and a spokesperson says in this press release it all just doesn’t add up. The Senator is on the record urging the Iraqis not to rush to any agreement one way or the other. Any such agreements would normally require approval by Congress regardless of who is president. Taheri was Bush’s guest at the White House in 2006, Iran Bamboozler Invited to White House as “Expert”

Normally is the optimum word, Bush Administration Rewords Security Agreement With Iraq To ‘Avoid’ Getting Congressional Approval

The Bush administration is currently negotiating a long-term Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government, which would codify “legal protections for U.S. military personnel and property in Iraq” after 2008, when a U.N. security mandate runs out. People in both Iraq and the United States have criticized the deal’s sweeping demands, including 58 permanent bases, “control of Iraqi airspace,” and immunity for U.S. troops and private contractors.

Because of these demands, Iraqi officials said they were likely to miss a July target for coming to an agreement. New remarks by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reveal, however, that U.S. negotiators have finally backed down and conceded that the estimated 160,000 foreign contractors in Iraq would no longer have immunity.

Additionally, the Bush administration has consistently insisted that it doesn’t need congressional approval for the deal. Yet it appears that this stance was nothing more than posturing, as officials are now reworking the agreement with new language in order to actually avoid going before Congress:

U.S. and Iraqi officials negotiating long-term security agreements have reworded a proposed White House commitment to defend Iraq against foreign aggression in an effort to avoid submitting the deal for congressional approval, Iraq’s foreign minister said yesterday.

The alternative under discussion will pledge U.S. forces to “help Iraqi security forces to defend themselves,” rather than a U.S. promise to defend Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said. Although “it’s the other way around,” he said, “the meaning is the same, almost.”

Here’s your right-wing journalism at work from a Republican blog called Wizbang, Confirmed: Obama Did Try to Postpone US-Iraq Agreement on Troop Draw-Down, Posted by Kim Priestap, Published: September 17, 2008 – 8:23 AM

The Prowler at the American Spectator has all the details on how Obama, in a closed door session with Iraqi officials, tried to persuade them to not negotiate a troop draw-down agreement with the US government until after Bush left the White House.

The post contains not one shred of proof. It does contain unsupported assertions from the same right-wing Iranian and lots of shrill manufactured outrage that Obama would do something he hasn’t done.

UPDATE: September 19, 2008 Undermining McCain Campaign Attack, Republicans Back Obama‘s Version of Meeting With Iraqi Leaders

The Obama campaign said that the Post report consisted of “outright distortions.”

Lending significant credence to Obama’s response is the fact that — though it’s absent from the Post story and other retellings — in addition to Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, this July meeting was also attended by Bush administration officials, such as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and the Baghdad embassy’s legislative affairs advisor Rich Haughton, as well as a Republican senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Attendees of the meeting back Obama’s account, including not just Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., but Hagel, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers from both parties. Officials of the Bush administration who were briefed on the meeting by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad also support Obama’s account and dispute the Post story and McCain attack.

The Post story is “absolutely not true,” Hagel spokesman Mike Buttry told ABC News.

[  ]…A Bush administration official with knowledge of the meeting says that, during the meeting, Obama stressed to al-Maliki that he would not interfere with President Bush’s negotiations concerning the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, and that he supports the Bush administration’s position on the need to negotiate, as soon as possible, the Status of Forces Agreement, which deals with, among other matters, U.S. troops having immunity from local prosecution.

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