At 12:56 pm, the White House Press Office blasted this e-mail to reporters, accidentally, it turns out:
From: White House Press Releases [mailto:Press.Releases@WhiteHouse.Gov]
Sent: Sat 7/19/2008 12:56 PM
Subject: Reuters - Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan - magazine
Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan - magazine
BERLIN, July 19 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a
German magazine he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential
candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within
In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted
U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we
think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility
of slight changes."
It is the first time he has backed the withdrawal timetable put forward by
Obama, who is visiting Afghanistan and us set to go to Iraq as part of a
tour of Europe and the Middle East.
Obama has called for a shift away from a "single-minded" focus on Iraq and
wants to pull out troops within 16 months, instead adding U.S. soldiers to
Asked if he supported Obama's ideas more than those of John McCain,
Republican presidential hopeful, Maliki said he did not want to recommend
who people should vote for.
"Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality.
Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems."
Maliki, who is due to visit Germany this week, has suggested a timetable
should be set for a U.S. withdrawal but U.S. officials have been more
cautious, despite an improving security situation.
The White House said on Friday President George W. Bush and Maliki had
agreed that a security deal under negotiation should set a "time horizon"
for meeting "aspirational goals" for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq.
"The Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for
the exit because it seems like an admission of defeat to them. But it
isn't," Maliki told Der Spiegel.
Some five years after the U.S.-led invasion, there are still some 146,000
U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.