Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on the U.S.- Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which has been approved by the Iraqi Cabinet and will be sent to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification: 

 “The signing of the Status of Forces Agreement by Ambassador Crocker and Foreign Minister Zebari brings to a close the difficult and protracted negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq.  Our negotiators have worked long hours over the last year to reach this agreement.  The agreement contains some positive aspects.  I am pleased that our troops will have the legal authority they need after January 1, and I am glad that the Administration has finally recognized the wisdom of setting deadlines for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. 

 “However, I am deeply troubled by the sections of the agreement that could result in U.S. troops facing prosecution in Iraqi courts.  For example, I do not believe it was wise to push off major decisions about the legal protections U.S. troops would have in such cases or the crimes for which they could be charged.  I am also troubled by vague language in the agreement that will likely cause misunderstandings and conflict between the U.S. and Iraq in the future.  Should the Iraqi Council of Representatives pass the agreement, the House Armed Services Committee will closely monitor the agreement’s implementation to ensure the protection of our men and women in uniform who have served and who continue to sacrifice on our behalf in Iraq.”