By Patrick Appel

Ben Smith's analysis:

It's almost a convention of politics that when a politician says he was misquoted, but doesn't detail the misquote or offer an alternative, he's really saying he wishes he hadn't said what he did, or that he needs to issue a pro-forma denial to please someone.

The Iraqi Prime Minister's vague denial seems to fall in that category.

The fact that it arrived to the American press via CENTCOM, seems to support that. It came, as Mike Allen notes, 18 hours later, and at 1:30 a.m. Eastern, a little late for Sunday papers; his staff also seems, Spiegel reports, not to have contested Iraqi reporting of the quote, even in the "government-affiliated" Iraqi press.

The notion this was a misquote also bumps up against Spiegel's standing by its reporting, and providing a long, detailed transcript.

....while there's been some suggestion that Maliki was playing domestic politics, this seems like the opposite. (Who plays domestic politics in the pages of Spiegel?) Maliki is playing international politics, American politics even. While some may object to that, it may be a sign that he intends to be a player in the American election from now until November, and realizes how much more leverage he has now on the next president's stance toward his country than he will after our election.

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