Per the Times Caucus blog Sarah Paulson picked up the Washington Times story that Obama interfered with and attempted to influence Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari while the Bush Administration was trying to negotiate the status of US forces in Iraq. However, the Times reporter seems to be unwilling or unable to actually read the story on which he pretends to report. Here we go, with my emphasis:
In making her remarks, Ms. Palin cited a disputed report in The Washington Times today that said Mr. Obama, on a trip to Iraq with other members of the Senate, had encouraged an Iraqi official to delay an agreement that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s campaign denied that claim, as did other attendees on the trip.
Wrong! As the Wash Times made clear (and I had explained at tedious length last September) there were *two* relevant contacts between Obama and Zebari - a June phone call while Zebari was in the States and the Baghdad meeting in July. Today's Wash Times is not exactly impenetrable on this point:
Mr. Obama spoke June 16 to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari when he was in Washington, according to both the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and the Obama campaign. Both said the conversation was at Mr. Zebari's request and took place on the phone because Mr. Obama was traveling.
However, the two sides differ over what Mr. Obama said.
"In the conversation, the senator urged Iraq to delay the [memorandum of understanding] between Iraq and the United States until the new administration was in place," said Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq's ambassador to the United States.
He said Mr. Zebari replied that any such agreement would not bind a new administration. "The new administration will have a free hand to opt out," he said the foreign minister told Mr. Obama.
Mr. Sumaidaie did not participate in the call, he said, but stood next to Mr. Zebari during the conversation and was briefed by him immediately afterward.
Not too mysterious, is it? June, a phone call, Zebari in Washington - clear enough? Yet in addition to the error already emphasized above, the Times continued with this:
The Obama campaign, which faced these allegations in mid-September, reiterated its denials today. It called them categorically untrue, citing spokesmen for other senators who attended, including Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who agree that Mr. Obama informed the Iraqis at the beginning of the meeting that the United States spoke with one voice on foreign policy and he would not contradict the Bush administration.
Well, if the Obama camp really rebutted the allegation that the June phone call to Washington was improper by citing attendees from the July meeting in Baghdad they were sort of missing the point. But with tough, hard-nosed reporters like those of the Times asking the questions I suppose they could have said anything at all and gotten a pass. Ridiculous but unsurprising.
Michael N. Grynbaum is the Times "reporter" who provided this outstanding effort. If anyone has an email address where we should sing his praises to whomever is pretending to be an editor at the Times that would be lovely.
Three and half more weeks of this sort of silliness and they can start reporting again, if anyone is still bothering to read them.