Trump admin accidentally says it's withdrawing troops from Iraq

We've grown accustomed to the routine, everyday dysfunction surrounding Trump and his team, but once in a while, there are cringe-worthy examples that stand out.
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By Steve Benen

The Iranian general who replaced Qassem Soleimani announced yesterday that he has a specific goal. "We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani's path as firmly as before with help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to get rid of America from the region," Esmail Ghaani said. The statement came on the heels of the Iraqi parliament voting unanimously to expel American forces from Iraqi soil.

For part of the afternoon yesterday, it appeared those hoping to see U.S. troops out of Iraq would actually get their wish. The New York Times reported:

An official letter from the Defense Department informing Iraq that the United States was "repositioning forces" for "movement out of Iraq" produced headlines around the world that an American withdrawal had begun.

But the letter, drafted by the United States military command in Baghdad, was sent out by mistake.

Yes, we've apparently reached the stage at which the Trump administration, in the midst of an unfolding crisis in the Middle East, accidentally said it was withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper called a hastily arranged press conference to insist there'd been an "honest mistake." Milley told reporters, "That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released." He added that the missive was "poorly worded."

Perhaps, but as missteps go, this was more than just a typo or an example of sloppy prose. The correspondence, which appeared to come from Marine Brig. Gen. William Seely, who commands Task Force Iraq, included specific and detailed information, not only declaring the U.S. withdrawal, but explaining how it would occur.

In apparent reference to the Iraqi parliament's vote, the letter said, "We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure."

We've grown accustomed to the routine, everyday dysfunction surrounding Donald Trump and his team, but once in a while, there are cringe-worthy examples that stand out.

It's not just the president who doesn't appear to know what he's doing; it's everything he touches, too.

MORE: Today's Maddowblog