In his recent book, historian Robert Dallek described how Nixon and Kissinger intervened in Vietnam before the 1968 election for political gain. There have also been reports alleging that Ronald Reagan intervened with Iran to keep the hostages from released until after he replaced Jimmy Carter. John McCain, perhaps influenced by these allegations against Republican presidents, has made comparable allegations against Barack Obama following his trip to Iraq. Jake Tapper reports than even Republicans are contradicting his unfounded charges:
The charge — that Obama asked the Iraqis to delay signing off on a “Status of Forces Agreement,” thus delaying US troop withdrawal and interfering in U.S. foreign policy — has been picked up on the internet, talk radio and by Republicans including the McCain campaign, which seized on the story as possible evidence of duplicity.
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-RI, but Hagel, 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.
“Barack Obama has never urged a delay in negotiations,” said Obama campaign national security spokesperson Wendy Morigi, “nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades.”
After further discussion of how McCain has been distorting the situation, Tapper concludes:
What actually demands an explanation is why the McCain campaign was so willing to give credence to such a questionable story with such tremendous international implications without first talking to Republicans present at Obama’s meeting with Maliki, who back Obama’s version of the meeting and completely dismiss the Post column as untrue.