In an al-Iraqiya interview on September 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki discussed the state of negotiations between the U.S. and Iraqi governments regarding the eventual withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq. Maliki said that “perhaps one of the two most important points is deciding the final date.” Transcript via Open Source Center:
MALIKI: Actually, the final date was really the end of 2010 and the period between the end of 2010 and the end of 2011 was for withdrawing the remaining troops from all of Iraq, but they [the Bush administration] asked for a change [in date] due to political circumstances related to the domestic situation [in the US] so it will not be said to the end of 2010 followed by one year for withdrawal but the end of 2011 as a final date. Agreement has been reached on this issue. They are willing to respond positively because they, too, are facing a critical situation.
President Bush has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. withdrawal would be dictated by military commanders and the situation on the ground, and not by political considerations. Now, according to Prime Minister Maliki, the Bush administration has attempted to time a withdrawal in a way that would benefit John McCain and the Republican Party. I would say that I’m shocked, but of course, this is the way that the Bush administration has always treated national security, as just another piece in a political game.
Last week, the right-wing fever swamp was bubbling up over an article by Amir Taheri, in which Taheri claimed that Barack Obama had “tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.” Not only did the story turn out to be a complete fabrication, now we find out that the complete opposite is the case: It is the Bush administration that tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay a draw-down of the American military presence, once again playing politics with America’s national security, and effectively repudiating past claims that a U.S. withdrawal will only be “dictated by the facts on the ground.”
Two questions: What did McCain know about this, and when did he know it?