“[Y]ou have to have the host government, in this case Iraq, say, OK, here’s what we want. We’re signing this agreement which will protect American soldiers. We didn’t get that done.”
That was Hillary Clinton in a June 2014 with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, just as Islamic State was taking over Iraq, very much pretending that the reason her State Department could not finalize a Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq in 2011 — “I was involved in a lot of the efforts to come up with what our offer would be,” she said — was because U.S. soldiers somehow would not have been immune from Iraqi law when conducting combat operations.
In the CNN interview, Clinton complained the Iraqi government would not agree to a Status of Forces agreement “under the same conditions that we have all around the world.”
It was a narrative later used by President Barack Obama on Aug. 9, 2014, when he said, “In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system. And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances.”
There’s only one problem with the Clinton-Obama narrative. It’s not true.
Not once under the Status of Forces Agreement were U.S. soldiers brought into Iraqi courts for the prosecution of any crime that occurred in combat situations.
Primarily, because U.S. service members were only subject to Iraqi law when off-base and off-duty, not during combat situations, per Article 12 of the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement: “Iraq has the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over members of the U.S. forces and members of the civilian element regarding major and premeditated crimes, according to item 8, when these crimes are committed outside installations and areas agreed upon and off duty.”
All Clinton had to do was extend the existing agreement, and the U.S. military would have continued to be automatically shielded from any prosecutions arising out of combat operations.
The supposedly objectionable provisions in the Iraqi status of forces agreement are among the same types for U.S. service personnel stationed all over the world, in places like South Korea, Japan, and Germany.
That is, off-duty, off-base servicemen and women are subject to local jurisdiction in allied countries when crimes are committed. It’s standard practice. For example, just in 2013, two U.S. servicemen were convicted and imprisoned in Japan for the rape of a Japanese woman. The sentences were 10 years and 9 years in prison, respectively.
Yet, the Obama administration never withdrew military forces from Japan or closed the naval bases including at Okinawa over the convictions. Because that would have been silly.
To be clear, the foreign prosecution of U.S. service members for crimes committed off-base, off-duty has nothing to do with local interference with combat operations as Clinton and Obama contended. That was a lie. A big lie.
What was unusual was Clinton and Obama’s refusal to negotiate and finalize a Status of Forces Agreement — and then lying about why it failed.
Clinton and Obama’s failure created a power vacuum in Iraq, leading directly to the rise of Islamic State, a war that has now cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians in its wake — and has spread to Europe and the U.S. with Islamic State-inspired killings.
Agree or disagree with the decision to go to Iraq — Clinton voted for it — the U.S. had a responsibility not to pull forces out prematurely, destabilizing the entire region. A deterrent force could have remained in Iraq, like a garrison that could have taken out Islamic State before it ever got its foothold.
Hillary Clinton has blood on her hands in Iraq. She helped pull troops out of Iraq, and then lied about why we left after the fact when Islamic State took over — to cover her ass. How come nobody questions her temperament to be president? What a joke.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.