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September 16, 2008

Did Obama "Lie" About Talks With Zebari?

Watching the video in my previous post raised a red flag. It struck me as ludicrous for Obama to say he was going to pull 1-2 brigades out of Iraq per month, yet (if you believe Obama) Zebari didn't so much as bat an eyelash. The pertinent quote is at 5:03:

"He did not express that concern directly"

Jennifer Rubin caught the same thing back in June:

Barack Obama had this to say about his discussion with the Iraqi Foreign Minister:

My concern is that the Bush administration–in a weakened state politically–ends up trying to rush an agreement that in some ways might be binding to the next administration, whether it was my administration or Sen. McCain’s administration. . .The foreign minister agreed that the next administration should not be bound by an agreement that’s currently made.

What? Somebody, I suspect, didn’t understand what was being said. Is the status of forces agreement only going to run through the end of the Bush administration? Or did either Obama or the foreign minister suggest that agreements from one administration aren’t binding on another?

Then there was this:

Asked by ABC News if Foreign Minister Zebari expressed any concern that the withdrawal of US troops under an Obama administration would undo any security gains, Obama said Zebari did not raise that issue.

So we are supposed to believe that Obama told him he is still moving out one or two brigades a month and Zebari didn’t bat an eye?

Later, she pulls the loose thread and the whole thing unravels:

...something seemed odd about Barack Obama’s account of his conversation with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshay Zebari. Obama said that Zebari didn’t express any concern about Obama’s immediate withdrawal plans. Well, according to Zebari that is a lie.

...“my message” to Mr. Obama “was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress.” He said he was reassured by the candidate’s response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that “if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field.”

So not only did Zebari express concern but Obama’s private comments suggested his immediate withdrawal plans, which he still adheres to publicly, may not be so immediate. What does Zebari think about a sudden withdrawal? According to the Post:

In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, “we are just turning the corner in Iraq.” A precipitous withdrawal, he said, “would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others” — enemies of the United States — “would celebrate.”

There seems little reason for Zebari to lie about his private meeting with Obama. That leaves us to conclude that Obama either didn’t listen to or didn’t understand what Zebari said or misrepresented what he heard from the Foreign Minister. That is deeply troubling. An explanation seems in order from Obama.

Indeed. No wonder Obama wants this covered up, and fast.

No matter which way you play this, it looks bad for him. Very bad.

Posted by Cassandra at September 16, 2008 06:38 PM

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Naah, the MSM bootlickers will exonerate The One. Captain BS could kill his kids and eat them on TV and get a pass.

Posted by: Mark at September 16, 2008 08:25 PM

So...does anyone remember Obama's double-take on NAFTA during the Primary Campaign?

I seem to remember that there was a government official in Canada who said he met privately with high-ranking membesr of Obama's campaign, who assured him that Obama didn't really mean what he said about getting rid of NAFTA.

But Obama denied that this ever happened.

Even after the Canadian government went on record in the major Canadian news agency to claim that the assurance had been given.

Is this a pattern? Obama saying something in public, something else in private to a high official, and later lying about the event in public?

But this time, he appears to be trying to speak out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.

Posted by: karrde at September 16, 2008 10:34 PM

Good point, Karrde. Also, where have you been? :)

Posted by: Grim at September 16, 2008 10:35 PM

Gosh Mark, that's pretty harsh. Probably true, but harsh. :)

The deeper problem is what they REALLY said to each other. There are enough sound bites and quotes to buttress anybody's claims.

I frankly think that Obama is playing both ends against the middle (himself, naturally). He publicly pronounces his promise to withdraw from Iraq. He privately tells Zebari and others in Iraq that he won't do anything precipitous.
What he really thinks is a bit of a mystery, but it might be harder for him to stand up to his own party in Congress than to cut the ground out from under the Iraqis. Obama has voted the party line most of his limited career, so I don't think we are going to have a Profiles in Courage moment when Barack stands up to his allies in the left wing of the Democratic Party and the Netroots and says, "We are going to support the Iraqi government in this time of crisis until they can stand on their own feet."

And yeah, the hearings and show trials of Bush Administration people will start soon after the inauguration and seating of the next Congress. This will prove the "venal corruption" in the Bush administration, thereby justifying yanking the troops out of Iraq. It's analogous to Bill Clinton denying he was going to raise taxes in 1992 while campaigning, then 20 days after he was inaugurated, "I've never worked so hard at anything in my life", he raised taxes (with his pals in Congress).

And when things start to unravel a little in Iraq, he can always say , "See, I told you. I'm right again."

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 16, 2008 10:39 PM

It looks bad on Bush, Cass.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 19, 2008 01:46 AM