Obama has a "troop-gate" – UPDATED

Obama has a "troop-gate" – UPDATED September 17, 2008

UPDATE II: Here is a long and anti-climactic denouement to this whole story. Bottom line: both the press and Obama need to be taken with a grain of salt. We should know that, by now. :::

Yes, yes, yes, Sen. Barack Obama really did – while on his “Behold, It’s Me World Tour” – interfere with American foreign policy and troop withdrawal negotiations in Iraq:

The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops. Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January. [emphasis mine -admin]

The three problems, according to campaign sources: The report was true, there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation…to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.

…Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi told reporters that Obama told the Iraqis that they should not rush through what she termed a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of U.S. forces until after President Bush left office. In other words, the Iraqis should not negotiate an American troop withdrawal. [emphasis mine -admin]

If you read on, you get to the point where Sen. Joseph Biden gets to pipe in: “and ahhhh helped!”

As I said when this story broke, it just seems so counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? To spend two years saying “bring those troops home! Mr. President bring those troops home!” and then go over to Iraq and say, “hey buddy, do me a favor, and don’t negotiate on those troop withdrawals until I can get into office and keep all that glory for myself…” or words to that effect.

This is possibly in violation of the Logan Act, but there is no chance of Obama being charged with it, because let’s face it, that would create a political maelstrom at this moment that would tear the country apart. But this is pretty serious stuff – not pretty serious, exceedingly serious. This is something the press is going to have to hunker down and actually ask this candidate about, especially since he’s admitting it. And it might not be out of line for some sort of congressional censure. After all, I’m quite certain that a President Obama would not want some congressman going overseas and undercutting him. So, he should set an example, and take some paddling for this.

Will any of that happen? It should. If the press wants to have a scintilla of credibility after this election, they will give this situation the exposure and gravity it deserves. But perhaps they don’t care about their credibility, anymore. If Obama gets in, perhaps they won’t have to. Pelosi is already talking about regulating the internet.

More concern about Obama; there is also this story out there that he is trying to hugely inflate his influence in the creation for the stimulus package hammered out earlier this year, and that he simply assumes his entire party will nod their heads and lie for him.

He doesn’t understand it’s every man for himself on the economic front, right now. The Democrats are already too busy trying to pretend that they bear no responsibility at all for the current financial crisis. None. Nada. They were all looking at the ceiling and whistling, five years ago when President Bush was introducing ideas to overhaul the home financing sector and oversee Fred and Fan, and Barney Frank and others on the left were blocking it and deriding it. (You have to read to the very end to find that out – but The Wall Street Journal spells it.)

If the Democrats will not even be honest about a bi-partisan mistake of long-standing then how in heaven’s name are they ever going to be able to “correct” it? Isn’t the first step toward healing admitting you have a problem? Isn’t being unable to ever, ever, ever admit a fault or a failing a sign of something unhealthy? How can one party never do anything wrong, and another never do anything right? That’s not reality. It’s not sanity.

I can’t help but feel a little discomfited, as well, by the tacit approval the Obama camps seems to give to thugs shutting down free speech, if that speech is critical of Obama. It is another serious issue. We’ve heard for the past 8 years that Bush is a “fascist” taking away our rights, by people who bellow that opinion in obvious safety; no one was shutting them down or shouting them down. Obama’s silence here – in the shutting down of free speech that reflects on him negatively – implies consent. It’s Capital-T Troubling.

The rest of the stuff at the spectator is pretty interesting too. Fund raisers who had a hand in the banking crisis, and such. And will someone please explain how Jamie Gorelick, who wrote the policy putting “the wall” in place between the FBI and the CIA, in the 1990’s, keeps failing upwards? Shouldn’t her name be Calamity Jamie? She made 26 MILLION from her time at Fanny Mae between 1997 and 2003? Huh?

Meanwhile, excuse me, but we have to listen to Gov. Sarah Palin get excoriated for buying a used tanning bed with her own money, as if that makes her some sort of out-of-touch elitist? It’s dark half the year, where she lives. Nuts.

UPDATE: Amir Teheri has filed a long follow-up at the NY Post which, to my way of thinking, both re-inforces his claim that Obama tried to affect US policy while he was in Iraq, and suggests that his motives were not, perhaps, as malevolent as they seemed yesterday. Or I’m reading it incorrectly? The whole issue seems to be sliding into the usual slipstream of doubletalk and obfuscation, what I’m getting from it is that either Obama’s team was sloppy (or confused) about distinctions between two Iraqi-US accords beign negotiated – the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) which, apparently are interlinked and not mutually exclusive considerations. In the sloppiness, or confusion, it urged Iraq not to come to any conclusions with the Bush administration – essentially stay in a holding pattern – until after the election.

I’m less certain that it all has much to do with the Logan Act, but this is still certainly interfereing with a sitting president and his team trying to get real work done instead of simply waiting out their clock, and no, I’m sure a President Obama would not appreciate some fella whose been in congress for three years playing that game. The end of Taheri’s article is interesting:

In a long interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, Zebari says: “Obama asked me why, in view of the closeness of a change of administration, we were hurrying the signing of this special agreement, and why we did not wait until the coming of the new administation next year and agree on some issues and matters.”

Again, note that Zebari mentions a single set of agreements, encompassing both SFA and SOFA.

Zebari continues: “I told Obama that, as an Iraqi, I believe that even if there is a Democratic administration in the White House it had better continue the present policy instead of wasting a lot of time thinking what to do.”

In other words, Obama was trying to derail current US policy, while Zebari was urging him not to “waste time.”

Zebari then says: “I pointed out to him [Obama] that the agreement being negotiated [with the US] was not to be necessarily binding on the future administration unless it wanted to cooperate with the people of Iraq instead of [causing] crises and problems from its very start.”

It sounds to me like Obama got a dose of “open your eyes,” while in Iraq, and realized that simply saying “bring them home,” was simplistic, naive and in no one’s best interest at the moment.

According to Zebari, Obama said “some media reports that I want all [American] forces withdrawn are wrong. I want to keep American forces [in Iraq] to train [the Iraqi army] and fight terrorism.” This is precisely what US troops have been doing in Iraq for the last five years. [emphasis mine- admin]

Zebari then says that he had the impression that US policy in Iraq wouldn’t change: “The US has permanent strategic interests in our region. A change in the administration would not change realities and priorities and would not mean a change of policy as a whole.” (Full text of the Zebari interview is available on Asharqalawsat.com)

Contrary to what Obama and his campaign have said, Iraqi officials insist that at no point in his talks in Washington and Baghdad did Obama make a distinction between SOFA and SFA when he advised them to wait for the next American administration.

I get easily confused by that sort of stuff. But I don’t want to be POTUS, either.

Ends Taheri:

The real news I see in the Obama statement is that there may be an encouraging evolution in his position on Iraq: The “rebuttal” shows that the senator no longer shares his party leadership’s belief that the United States has lost the war in Iraq.

He now talks of “the prospect of lasting success,” perhaps hoping that his own administration would inherit the kudos. And he makes no mention of his running mate Joe Biden’s pet project for carving Iraq into three separate states. He has even abandoned his earlier claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was “illegal” and admits that the US-led coalition’s presence in Iraq has a legal framework in the shape of the UN mandate.

In his statement on my Post article, Obama no longer talks of “withdrawal” but of “redeployment” and “drawdown” – which is exactly what is happening in Iraq now.

Sounds like Obama is a quick study and he’s catching up. That’s good news.

While I am encouraged by the senator’s evolution, I must also appeal to him to issue a “cease and desist” plea to the battalions of his sympathizers – who have been threatening me with death and worse in the days since my article appeared.

Yeah, what’s up with that? Obama supporters can’t take criticism of their man. They’d better man up and learn to roll with it, because President’s get criticized. A President Obama, beloved of the press, won’t see a scintilla of the criticism President Bush has, but he’ll still get some. Unless his goons continue to shut down free speech, as discussed above.

Interesting stuff. Probably less malicious than it first seemed…but it still seems to me Obama should be put on the hot seat and made to squirm a little. Like I said, he has to set an example. Otherwise, s President, he may find some Jr. Senator from somewhere come up and bite his ass from behind, in the same way.

Bob Owens calls it Freshman Arrogance
Fausta’s saying, the press will ignore. She’s probably right. The financial news will drown this out, (Megan McArdle says Obama’s full of hooey, there and McCain only marginally better). And it won’t come up in debate, probably.
Brutally Honest
Tom Maguire has a lot more on this.
No, the press won’t cover any of it.

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