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Did Obama's Campaign Confirm Amir Taheri's Report?

Yesterday I, like many other bloggers, wrote about Amir Taheri's column in the New York Post in which he asserts that Obama tried to get Iraqi officials to postpone the agreement for a US troop draw-down. The Obama campaign supposedly flatly denied Taheri's claims, but Glenn Reynolds, after examining the Obama campaign's response, doesn't think it's much of a denial. From the AFP:

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.

"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open," Zebari reportedly said.

The Republican campaign of John McCain seized on the report to accuse Obama of double-speak on Iraq, calling it an "egregious act of political interference by a presidential candidate seeking political advantage overseas."

But Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri's article bore "as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial."

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

That's a confirmation of Taheri's column, not a denial. So, Obama, in fact, did interfere with the negotiations between the US government and Iraqi government on troop draw-down. My comments, therefore still stand:

We can only guess what Obama's motivation was for postponing the negotiations until after the election and a new administration - who wouldn't assume he meant his administration, he was at the height of his celebrity then - is in charge. This truly is the height of hubris. He is a junior senator from Illinois and just because he is a candidate for president doesn't give him any authority to act as if he already is president, so he had no business trying to scuttle those troop draw-down negotiations.

Senator Barack Obama's actions were not only completely inappropriate but they may have treaded on some illegal and unethical ground.

Update: Bob Owens has a column about this at Pajamas Media and writes this about Obama's interference:

If the claims in Taheri's article are accurate, then Senator Obama is playing a dangerous and duplicitous game.

It would mean Barack Obama attempted to pressure American military commanders to make a declaration that he would have used as a political tool during his presidential campaign to undermine both his opponent and the current president, perhaps undermining the credibility of the U.S. military as an apolitical group loyal to the United States instead of political parties. It was wrong to attempt to put American commanders at war in such a predicament, where their words could be used against their sitting commander-in-chief as a political bludgeon. Either Obama did not think of that, or he was simply untroubled by the thought of abusing the careers of American commanders for political gain.

Seriously, I don't know which is worse.

Lorie adds: I agree with Kim. The "denial" is almost a complete confirmation of everything Taheri said, even including the part about the Congress needing to be involved in the negotiation. Here is the other thing though, even if Obama tries to say that his statement is somehow different than what Taheri said, at the VERY least he is saying he was not even clear enough about what he said to the Iraqis for them to understand what he meant. Definitely NOT someone who needs to be negotiating on behalf of the United States. I expected the Obama campaign to claim the story was completely fabricated, but in confirming what Taheri said, I don't see how this is not a really serious big deal. Do I think the media will see it that way -- of course not. It will be up to McCain to make sure voters know about this.


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Comments (19)

Obama to crowd:"Let's get t... (Below threshold)

Obama to crowd:"Let's get the troops out now!"

Obama to Iraqi government: "Let's wait until I am President".

So Obama would rather have troops stay in Iraq, despite his claims that they are in danger... Yet he 'supports the troops', as long as he can use that to become President.

Oh that's right, he ALREADY thought he was President.

I said yesterday that extra... (Below threshold)

I said yesterday that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the Obama campaign has obligingly provided by confirming the report. I don't know the Logan Act, so I do not know if Obama has violated it, but he has clearly gone beyond the pale in interfering with diplomacy abroad. (Following in the grand tradition of Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson, no doubt.) In particular, even to broach the subject with the Iraqis at that point, given his participation in the presidential election race, was to essentially blackmail the Iraqis: play along now or suffer after I win. Not, utterly not, good.

Okay, remind me again why I... (Below threshold)

Okay, remind me again why I should vote for this backstabbing clown?

@ #4Because he's "... (Below threshold)

@ #4

Because he's "the One." The Annointed One whom those better/smarter/more highly edjamacated/generally who know whats better for you have decreed that that is how it shall be.

That's why.

I'm less skeptical, but sti... (Below threshold)

I'm less skeptical, but still wondering if there might be one brilliant Obama staffer who people finally listened to who is trying to set up things for a big fall after McCain picks this up and runs with it. Not likely, but it COULD happen.

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. s... (Below threshold)

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. should be charged with a violation of the Logan Act forthwith.
This man is unfit even to be a local dog catcher!!!

He has no shame...

I guess jp2 will be jumping... (Below threshold)

I guess jp2 will be jumping on the 'crush Obama bandwagon' over this.

(...sound of crickets chirping...)

ExSubNuke -That's ... (Below threshold)

ExSubNuke -

That's not good enough. I dislike the idea of deities in public office - usually their godlike powers disappear the day after inauguration leaving big whoppin' feet (and other dangling apppendages) of clay.

Typical wingnuts, you don't... (Below threshold)

Typical wingnuts, you don't get the nuance involved here. See, Obama only wanted them to prepare to delay an agreement until after he was elected. Telling the Iraqis not to rush through the "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the US force levels until after President Bush leaves office isn't the same thing at all. See it's different because...um, well, uh...Palin has sex with teenage boys that she hunts from airplanes!!!


Many people have been worki... (Below threshold)

Many people have been working hard to discredit Amir Taheri for (few) past inaccuracies. Those cited are generally correct.

But the greater piont missed is that the issue is not what Amir says or how he characterizes events in his commentary.

The issue is what the Iraqi Foreign Minister said - quoted directly and not anonymously. Zebari's words characterize themselves, no matter what one thinks of Amir Taheri.

And now the Obama campaign adds weight to that.

This is a very clear violation of the Logan Act.

The federal government should act accordingly.

But don't hold your breath, because it did not act when Pelosi & Company had tea with Bashar Assad, et al.

JeffI apologize. Yes... (Below threshold)

I apologize. Yesterday I thought you might have been one of those liberals who ignore any facts that they don't like. I am drawing a blank on your blogging history. Whatever your political philosophy, I give you credit on being consistent on this. My bad.

NP.... (Below threshold)


OT:Unable to post ... (Below threshold)


Unable to post today, this comment will ahve to suffice for now. Please pay special attention to the following:
Pakistan orders troops to open fire if US raids

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's military has ordered its forces to open fire if U.S. troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border, an army spokesman said Tuesday.

The orders, which come in response to a highly unusual Sept. 3 ground attack by U.S. commandos, are certain to heighten tensions between Washington and a key ally against terrorism. Although the ground attack was rare, there have been repeated reports of U.S. drone aircraft striking militant targets, most recently on Sept. 12.

Pakistani officials warn that stepped-up cross-border raids will accomplish little while fueling violent religious extremism in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Some complain that the country is a scapegoat for the failure to stabilize Afghanistan.

I've written thousands of words in charting the demise of Pakistan and the looming clarity of a nation (and its military) poised to transition into an adversary.

Lines are being drawn, to the detriment of Pakistan.

In the offing is a powerful American-Indian military alliance, with the US left little choice and Pakistan with only two options. They are in the process of choosing now.

Pay attention. It's free.

Breaking! Successful milita... (Below threshold)

Breaking! Successful military surge obstructed by Presidential candidate---postponing troop withdrawal for political gain exposed.

Military ballots expected to arrive soon.

On Pakistan, some readers m... (Below threshold)

On Pakistan, some readers may also like to see:

Al-Qaeda's Progression On Pakistan's Demise
Schizophrenic Pakistan And The Coming Vacuum That Invites al-Qaeda

Nawaz Sharif: Bought & Paid For By Al-Qaeda

Equally clear and critically important is that Nawaz Sharif is, as he has ever been, safe from the long knives of al-Qaeda. And al-Qaeda is executing a longer, drawn out 'Night of the Long Knives,' eliminating its foes inside Pakistan, sewing strife and chaos - the conditions under which it thrives, especially in under-developed (but not undeveloped) nations.

Nawaz Sharif, under current law, cannot be elected to office. Yet he craves the presidency for all the power and control it holds. And if al-Qaeda can create a large enough vacuum through political eliminations, key military assassinations and general accompanying chaos through a wave of terror, the law will not matter and Nawaz Sharif can rise to power as the only remaining national political figure of significance in Pakistan.

Understand that Nawaz Sharif, as reported in the Pakistani press and noted by Michael Scheuer in his first book, received approximately ten billion rupees in "campaign donations" from Usama bin Laden in his first failed run for Prime Minister in the 1980's. This sum is incredibly significant. He was largely bankrolled by bin Laden. A better way to term it is 'payroll,' especially in that part of the world.

Nawaz is not a part of al-Qaeda and is not ideologically inclined as they are. he is, rather, the consummate corrupt and power hungry politician who will take all suitors to seek his ambitions. The long and short of it is that Nawaz Sharif is and has been bought and paid for by al-Qaeda. This is why he does not ever appear threatened. Not then, and not now.

After Nawaz: Hamid Gul Awaits His Destiny

But he will one day have run his course and expended his usefulness to al-Qaeda and will then meet a similar fate as that which al-Qaeda now seeks for Zardari, Gilani, Kiyani and the rest.

Should al-Qaeda ever be able to manufacture that day, there will be but one Pakistani man left to rise and seize the nuclear-armed Pakistan's reins. Hamid Gul. Far more than a useful idiot, as al-Qaeda surely sees Nawaz Sharif, but a friend of bin Laden and former ISI director known as the Father of the Taliban. That's the man who waits partially in the shadows of a slow-motion insurgency. The man who would make al-Qaeda defacto ruler of a nuclear state.

"In a conversation with this reporter in October 2001, Gen. Gul forecast a future [Pakistani] Islamist nuclear power that would form a greater Islamic state with a fundamentalist Saudi Arabia after the monarchy falls." --Arnaud de Borchgrave, August 2004

That's the al-Qaeda progression. Nothing assures its completion, but little impedes it from within Pakistan.

See it's a trick that works... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

See it's a trick that works well with liberals. Obama is said to be interfering with the current administration's negotiations with Iraq. Obama claims it's a lie and insinuates that McCain is a liar. Obama then basically confirms the original story, but as a defense. We all know how poor liberal's reading comprehension is, which is what Obama is depending on. If we had a fair MSM Obama would be toast over this, but he knows the MSM will stay clear of anything that would hurt him politically.

Wow, you guys are so desper... (Below threshold)

Wow, you guys are so desperate you'll believe anything. Suckers.


"One Iraq scholar told TPMmuckraker after the false yellow-star report, referring to Taheri: 'This is a person who doesn't have any credibility.'"

Yeah, Steve, "past inaccuracies" is one way to put it. Another way is "big fat lie." Also, "complete fabrication" works. Good work on the Orwellian doublespeak though. You're going to need it in a McCain administration.

max - "Wow, you guys ar... (Below threshold)

max - "Wow, you guys are so desperate you'll believe anything. Suckers."

Wow, you caught us. I feel so ashamed!

Howeever in your haste to toss of few rocks you failed to note what appears to be a confirmation offered by the obama camp.

Why is that?

Moving on... to what Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said:

Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
Do any of you rock tossers have clue one what the Strategic Framework Agreement is and does?

On Dec. 31st the current U.N. mandate that covers multi-national forces (that would also include the U.S. mil for the loonbats among us) expires.

That means with no Strategic Framework Agreement, or SOFA agreement covering U.S. forces between that date and whenever a new agreement is in place - and note it would be far after Inauguration Day given the snails pace gov/congress works - they are subject to all manner of potential abuses.

These agreements have ZERO to do with troop levels or when and if McCain or The ObamaMessiah does, or does not pull any and all troops out of Iraq.

I wouldn't put anything pas... (Below threshold)

I wouldn't put anything past Obama or his team, Obama will do and say anything to win this election. Now Obama is running scared for I am sure that he knows that he made a very big mistake by choosing Biden over Hillary Clinton for his VP.

I am a Hillary Clinton supporter that is voting for McCain/Palin in November and in 2012 will vote for Hillary Clinton if she runs.

I can believe that Obama would do such a undermined kind of dealings. Obama will be very BAD news if by chance he does win the election.

America needs to be scared if Obama is elected as the next President.

McCain/Palin 2008

Hillary Clinton 2012






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