McCain: Opponents Who Say Iraq Refused U.S. Help Are Lying

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) insisted Wednesday that his opponents who say Iraq did not want U.S. troops to remain after 2011 are lying.

McCain told PBS, "Our opponents and those who want to justify this colossal failure that has caused the greatest threat to United States national security since the end of the Cold War, they're trying to justify it by saying that Maliki didn't want American troops there."

McCain pointed to Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) as one of these offenders. Kaine claims that Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told him Iraq rejected a U.S. offer of remaining troops, and Kaine uses this to contend that the United States should not reenter Iraq. "What Senator Kaine is saying is just totally false," McCain asserted. "And in fact, it's a lie, because Lindsey Graham and I were there and we know what happened."

Kaine recently argued, "Do we come in now to back up Maliki with military force after he kicked us out and after he's governed the wrong way? That would be foolish."

"I don't know how many times he's been to Iraq, if ever. I've been there more times than I can count," McCain said of Kaine. According to McCain, he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) spoke directly to Maliki and Maliki was then ready to make a deal.

As McCain tells it, the deal fell through because of U.S. incompetence: "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff himself said that number of troops that we were proposing cascaded down to 3,000, when it had been recommended to be 20,000. And by that time, the leader, especially Maliki, decided that it wasn't worth the problem."