Yes, They're Lying

For some reason, the NYT chose to bury their lead about the Maliki endorsement of Barack Obama's Iraq plans. CENTCOM wants us to think that endorsement was a mistranslation, but Der Spiegel has tapes and the tapes show Maliki in Arabic endorsing Obama's view:

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki’s office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki’s interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama’s position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The Times: “Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

Note also the following hilarious moment in lack of self-awareness on the part of at least one US military officer:

But a senior military official in Iraq said top American commanders expressed surprise and confusion over Mr. Maliki’s published remarks. The official added, however, that no American officers spoke to the Iraqi prime minister or any of his top aides about them.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened with the prime minister,” said the senior military official, noting that Mr. Maliki or his top aides had had to issue clarifications previously of comments that Iraqi or foreign journalists reported the prime minister said. “All of us were going, ‘What? What did he say, why did he say it and was it accurate?’”

Because in fantasytown, the fact that Maliki repeatedly endorses a timetable and keeps being forced by the Bush administration to walk it back undermines the authenticity of his support for withdrawal. Back in realityville, Maliki keeps saying this because he wants us to set a timeline, viewing this as the only politically feasible way forward.