Clinton and Obama’s Brazen Lie About the Iraq Withdrawal
By James D. Agresti
September 28, 2016
In the first presidential debate of the 2016 general election, Donald Trump blamed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the rise of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. According to Trump, Obama and Clinton created a “disaster” by “the way they got out of Iraq.” This refers to the tragedy that occurred after the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, and ISIS swept through the nation while imposing Sharia law and executing, raping, and enslaving the Iraqi people.
Clinton responded to Trump that she hopes “the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard,” because “George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama.” She then asserted that “the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.”
This protection was a legal immunity that would prevent Iraqi courts from prosecuting U.S. soldiers. Obama has made the same claim, and many media outlets have published stories saying he is correct, such as the Washington Post, Salon, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact, the last two of which are “fact checkers” often invoked by the Clinton campaign.
In reality, news reports that were published when the U.S. troops were withdrawn prove that Clinton and Obama are being deceitful. As documented below, the articles show that:
- the “agreement” Clinton spoke of was not intended to determine a hard date but to provide a soft placeholder.
- “everyone” expected that this date would be extended.
- the date was not extended because the Obama administration poisoned the negotiations and refused to use a simple and sure process to provide immunity to U.S. troops.
- the U.S. State Department led by Hillary Clinton was a primary actor that destroyed these negotiations.
- after the troops were pulled, Obama took credit for this and insisted that it was the right thing to do.
These articles also show that after this decision looked disastrous in hindsight, Obama and Clinton began falsely accusing Bush of forcing them to withdraw the U.S. troops.
The Status of Forces Agreement
The “agreement” Clinton spoke of was called the Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. It stated that U.S. forces “shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory” by the end of 2011.
Contrary to what Clinton led the debate audience to believe, the SOFA merely provided a placeholder to satisfy Iraqis who opposed an indefinite U.S. military presence in Iraq. When Obama announced in October 2011 that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year, the New York Times reported:
And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail. …
At the end of the Bush administration, when the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, was negotiated, setting 2011 as the end of the United States’ military role, officials had said the deadline was set for political reasons, to put a symbolic end to the occupation and establish Iraq’s sovereignty. But there was an understanding, a senior official here said, that a sizable American force would stay in Iraq beyond that date.
The same article explained that the troops did not stay, because the Obama administration “pressed the Iraqi leadership” to take a “controversial” public stand on immunity for troops “that ended any possibility of keeping American troops here past December.”
On the same day of the Times article, The Cable, a publication of the influential magazine Foreign Policy, revealed that Obama’s State Department, led by Hillary Clinton, refused to employ an easy and straightforward process to keep the U.S. troops in Iraq:
Administration sources and Hill staffers also tell The Cable that the demand that the troop immunity go through the [Iraqi] Council of Representatives was a decision made by the State Department lawyers and there were other options available to the administration, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity.
“An obvious fix for troop immunity is to put them all on the diplomatic list; that’s done by notification to the Iraqi foreign ministry,” said one former senior Hill staffer. “If State says that this requires a treaty or a specific agreement by the Iraqi parliament as opposed to a statement by the Iraqi foreign ministry, it has its head up its ass.”
These claims that Obama and Clinton could have used this option were proven true in 2014, when Obama employed the same process to provide immunity for 300 U.S. troops sent back into Iraq after ISIS rose to power and began wreaking havoc. As reported in a 2014 New York Times article:
The Obama administration said on Monday that it has accepted from the Iraqi government the same sort of immunity agreement for newly dispatched Special Operations troops that it refused to accept in 2011, when it opted to withdraw all American troops from Iraq rather than keep a residual force behind.
The Times related that the White House defended these conflicting positions by claiming that “this situation is different because Mr. Obama is sending only 300 troops in an advisory role, rather than keeping 5,000 there, as was discussed in 2011.” However, the article presented no evidence that any relevant law or agreement made distinctions based on the number or role of the troops. Nor has any member of the Obama administration or media presented such evidence in dozens of articles reviewed for this research.
Obama Took Credit Until It Went Wrong
On the day the troop withdrawal was announced, Obama gave a White House press conference in which he stated:
- “As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end….”
- “After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.”
Contrary to the notion that Obama wanted to keep U.S. forces in Iraq but was prevented by Bush’s agreement, the above-mentioned article by The Cable contains a note at the end of it that states:
This article was amended after a White House official called in to say that it was not the “White House” that was pushing for an extension of U.S. troops.
“The White House has always seen the president’s pledge to get all troops out of Iraq as a core commitment, period,” the White House official said.
A few days after the troop withdrawal was announced, Obama’s presidential campaign produced an ad stating: “Because of Barack Obama the mission in Iraq ended.”
A few months later, Obama boasted before soldiers in Fort Bragg, NC that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” At the same event, Michelle Obama said to the troops that Obama “has kept his promise to responsibly bring you home from Iraq.”
In a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, Obama said to Romney, “Every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong.” As an example of such, Obama said “You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day.”
Yet, in an August 2014 press conference, after Iraq was in the midst of what Obama called a “growing humanitarian crisis” and potential “genocide,” a reporter asked him if he had “second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq.” Obama responded, “What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.” Obama then gave the same explanation that Hillary used at the debate, which is that Bush’s agreement forced him to do this.
In sum, Obama campaigned on a promise to pull the troops from Iraq, which he and Clinton proceeded to do against the advice of Iraq’s top army officer and U.S. military officials. Obama then took credit for this, bragged about it, and defended it as the right thing to do—up until the point when it went wrong. Then he and Clinton began saying that Bush did it.
Addendum (10/6/16): The Washington Free Beacon has compiled video footage of Obama stating on numerous occasions that he ended the war in Iraq:
Get your facts straight! While GW Bush, is the one and only who created this mess, was in office, Iraq officials gave him the day for exit of our troops. This was before President Obama was even elected. So if you want to blame someone, blame him. He is the one that ordered troops into Iraq, on the pretense there were weapons of mass destruction. So blame the right person, if you don’t blame the right person, just goes to show you are a GOP run outfit that has caused so much trouble for this country by not giving President Obama, money to fix our infrastructure, airports, trainstations, border points, and to help reduce the cost of higher education so that more Amercans can get an education to better support themselves and their families. GOP needs to stop it lieing RIGHT NOW!!!
Sad Dan hustled the WMD to Assad in Syria where they were used on Syrian citizens. HRC was arming ISIL through the destroyed Libya that BHO & HRC destabilized by killing Ghaddafi and Ambassador Stevens was going to go public so HRCclet him die. Don’t blame the Mideast mess Barry O made on GWB
The other issue is the fact that the majority of WMDs that Saddam had were supplied to him by the U.S. during the Iraq-Iran War. The U.S. also did smuggle weapons to Syria through Benghazi in Libya, hence all the assets in Benghazi. As far as the troop withdraw that Obama “promised”, he was trying to negotiate with Iraq’s transitional government to keep troops there and when they denied him that he said , see I said I’d bring our troops back and I did. What about all the Toyota Hiluxs that magically appeared in Syria in the hands of ISIS. We can thank HRC and her State Department for that.
No, as the article documents, the date was not hard exit date for U.S. troops. It never ceases to amaze me how some people try to wish away facts by just denying them and presenting no evidence to the contrary. In the words of the great French scientist Louis Pasteur, “The greatest disease of the mind is to believe a thing to be, because we desire it.”
If you recall, the Democrats passed and Obama signed a trillion dollar stimulus that was supposed to fix the U.S. infrastructure. During Obama’s tenure, U.S. government spending has been higher than any time in history except for World War. And the vast majority of this spending has been for social programs like healthcare, income security, education, and food stamps.
Wow are you really that stupid???? As far as the WMD issue your embracing of that tired lie is as admirable as it’s lame as there was never any question whether or not he had them because we know that he used them on the Iranians and his own people. The only question is how many went over the border to Syria at the start of the war along with millions in cash. While we didn’t find stock piles we did find some and given the fact that Saddam interfered with inspectors at every opportunity it is not unreasonable to come to the conclusion he was hiding some. I do not think the War was handled in the right way we definitely lost the peace If we had more actively engaged the people earlier on the out come would have been a lot more positive but politicians and morons like you should stay the hell out of fighting and winning wars as you too often have your heads up your ass. Barack Obama blew nearly a trillion dollars and had virtually nothing to show for it. We have never had a more divisive incompetent moron in the White House not even Jimmy Carter, at least he had his heart in the right place. I can’t imagine being in Rev. Wright’s Black Liberation Theology church for 18 years and not knowing he was a racist. The Affordable Care Act isn’t, in fact it’s just a transfer of wealth and a subsidy of higher medical costs. Your side wants to put a sociopath and serial liar into the white house where she will become the most corrupt president in our history. All you have to offer America is Lie, Pander and Vilify.
Let’s see, Obama is the President and can make decisions on his own so if Bushes exit date was wrong why did Obama make an effort to fulfill it knowing it was wrong.
It is to easy to always blame the other person when your decisions fail. Obama and Clintons failures in the region our theirs to live with and blaming them on Bush is just a continuation of the weak and incompetent leadership.
did you even read the article?
I blame Bush for taking us into Irag but I blame Obama for the way we got out. Isis was formed by the way we got out and that is a fact.
I would like to remind everyone that when we first invaded Iraq, we said we were a liberating force not an occupying force. That means we get in and get out quickly and not stick around for an indefinite period of time. I would also remind everyone our invasion of Iraq was uncalled for in the first place. The UN weapons inspectors found no “weapons of mass destruction” before the invasion and none were found by our military afterwards. Another point I would like to make, when we invaded Iraq we didn’t have sufficient troops to secure the country which fell into chaos soon after Saddam Hussein was captured. One final point, the Iraq War had cost us a Trillion Dollars and thousands of soldiers lives, the question one has to ask is how many more lives and dollars would we have had to spend if we would have maintained a large military presence in Iraq indefinitely? Also when does the Iraqi Government become strong enough to stand on it’s own two feet?
Your definition of an “occupying force” is ridiculous. The U.S. still has troops in South Korea to protect the peace, and no rational person considers them to be an occupying force.
There were other humanitarian reasons for liberating Iraq, like the fact that Saddam Hussein had killed roughly a million of his own people and showed no signs of stopping. I personally know a Muslim Iraqi women who saw the meat grinders in one of Hussein’s prisons that were used to grind people alive.
Iraq fell into chaos partly because leftists in the U.S. and abroad started slandering Bush as a liar and the U.S. troops as murderers. These falsehoods gave radical Islamists compelling propaganda to radicalize and recruit people to kill U.S. troops and terrorize the citizens of Iraq.
Even so, thanks to the surge and work and sacrifice of U.S. troops, by 2011, Obama called Iraq “sovereign, stable and self-reliant.” He was wrong about the “self-reliant” part, which was no surprise given that Iraq’s top military officer had said that “the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.”
Obama spurned the advice of Iraqi and U.S. military officials, and unspeakable horrors have been unleashed on these poor people.
Thank you James for explaining to David on what an “Occupying Force” actually means despite knowing that it will go in one ear and out the other:-)
Fact, Bush was given two scenarios on Iragi WMD’S,. One , there wasn’t any. Two, there may be some of our old stuff used during the Iranian war. Old warheads were found that were unusable, possibly used years earlier to gas the Kurds in the north. The whole purpose for the war in Iraq,Afghanistan, and Syria was about a pipeline. Not terrorism or humanitarian reasons , oil and cutting off the use of Russian oil to the region. Look up Qatar pipeline.
Fact, Iragi officials denied further embedded troops in country. Fact , Sadam Hussain was a CIA asset for many years; he alone kept the terrorists at bay , in his country, with his secret police and by what he did to them when caught. Bush did lie about the war, but that isn’t why the terrorists movement exploded. That happened because of the vacuum created with Sadams death and the prearranged withdrawal of troops by Bush.
And to you Rob , no they were not new 15 years ago. Closer to 1980 which makes them 36 years old if not older. Given to Sadam to fight the Iranians.
Placing the word “Fact” in front of claims does not magically turn them into facts. To establish a fact, you need to thoroughly document it with credible, primary sources. See the links and sources I provided. You will find that they meet these high standards, and they debunk much of what you have been led to believe.
Your assu,mption that there were no WMDs is absolutely false. They were found, collected and stored in one of Sadam’s palaces. They have since been captured by ISIS, and were even just recently used on a base with US personnel. They were also overtly trucked across the border into Syria, where they have been used, and Syrian based terrorists had enough “WEAPONIZED” Sarin nerve gas that they intended to use in Jordan that would have killed more than 50,000 people, luckily the terrorists were captured before the attack was launched. Where do you suppose they got all that WMD from, Hmm? Oh, and Josh not so Ernest admitted there were chemical weapons captured by ISIS in a press conference in 2015, but he said “they are old, at least 15 years old, so not a threat.” Well Genius, 15 years ago, they were brand new when we invaded.
Do you have citations for the facts you present? I’m interested in researching. Thank you.
If what your saying is true, then why does Obama-Clinton continue with their lie? Why must they continue to deny that they chose to withdraw troops?
See sources and commentary about Obama’s “irresponsible exit from Iraq“.
Mr. Agresti’s article omits a key fact: The indefinite conditions-based US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) overarched the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
The significance of the overarching SFA is the form of the US-Iraq relationship in the stage following the SOFA was to be determined by the assessment of Iraq’s needs according to the conditions-based standard of the SFA. Contemporary accounts are clear that continued US peace operations were assessed as needed to meet the SFA standard.
However, President Obama opted to contravene the SFA by disengaging the vital US peace ops from Iraq with the result of cascading harms.