Hillary, as Secretary of State, Fought to Keep Troops in Iraq

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 04:26 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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Hillary Clinton wanted to keep troops in Iraq against the wishes of the White House, a new report says.

Even though she said she is on the same page as the president, when Clinton was secretary of state, she "pushed hard for keeping troops in Iraq — despite the fact that the White House was looking to bring all the troops home," says Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast.

"Hillary Clinton was a lion for keeping troops there," James Jeffrey, who was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2011, told The Daily Beast. "She was a strong advocate for keeping troops there past 2011."

That was the year troops began to get pulled out of Iraq.

A former senior Obama administration official told Rogin: "The truth about Hillary is that she is staunchly anti-Maliki. She thinks he's an old-school sectarian thug."

Clinton participated in a Town Hall meeting with CNN on Tuesday and said the administration had been negotiating to keep troops in Iraq. It offered the government of Nouri al-Maliki a Status of Forces Agreement that would keep American troops on the ground, but he turned that down.

"I was involved in a lot of the efforts to come up with what our offer would be," she said, according to CNN. "We didn't get that done. And I think, in retrospect, that was a mistake by the Iraqi government."

But Rogin says Clinton and Obama were definitely not in agreement over the issue. "The vast majority of the senior White House national security team, including Obama himself, saw ending the Iraq war as a key campaign promise, a way to right a Bush administration wrong, and as a bow to the will of the American people," he writes.

Clinton was not alone in wanting to keep troops on the ground, the report says.

Ex- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA Director David Petraeus also believed there was a national security interest at stake.

When she was a U.S. senator, Clinton had voted to authorize the war with Iraq during the Bush administration, only to later claim she was a victim of bad intelligence, the report says. But she continued to want to keep a strong military presence there in opposition of Obama.

"The White House has always seen the president's pledge to get all troops out of Iraq as a core commitment, period," Rogin says he was once told by a White House official.

He writes that if she runs for president, Hillary Clinton will face tough questions about how she handled the Iraq debacle.

"The State Department led a reconstruction program that squandered billions of American taxpayer dollars on misguided and poorly implemented projects. The U.S. Embassy and its support staff grew to gargantuan proportions, only to be 'right-sized' later on.

"U.S. consulates were built and then abandoned. State Department training of the Iraqi police forces was a disaster," Rogin concludes.


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