Speaking with Chris Matthews on Hardball last night, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, attempted to justify Trump’s recent travel ban by citing a similar policy enacted by Barack Obama in response to the “Bowling Green massacre.”
I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.
There are two primary problems with Conway’s remarks:
1) There was no Bowling Green massacre.
The Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else.
And The New York Times:
Two Iraqi citizens, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan, were indicted on federal terrorism charges. According to a Justice Department news release from January 2013, the two men had attempted to send weapons and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq with the aim of killing American soldiers there.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to the federal charges, and Mr. Hammadi was sentenced to life in prison, while Mr. Alwan, whose fingerprints were found on an undetonated improvised explosive device in Iraq, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, with a life term of supervised release.
2) Barack Obama did not ban Iraqi refugees.
Contrary to Trump’s Sunday statement and the repeated claims of his defenders, the Obama administration did not “ban visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” For one thing, refugees don’t travel on visas. More importantly, while the flow of Iraqi refugees slowed significantly during the Obama administration’s review, refugees continued to be admitted to the United States during that time, and there was not a single month in which no Iraqis arrived here. In other words, while there were delays in processing, there was no outright ban.
One might even refer to the resulting changes in processing as “extreme vetting.”
While not objectively inaccurate, there was one additional problem with Conway’s remarks:
2.5) The Bowling Green arrests were covered.
While it’s true that the Bowling Green arrests were not widely covered, they were reported (in fact, quite sensationally by ABC News). Of course, had it actually been a massacre rather than two arrests as a result of an FBI sting, the coverage would likely have been much more extensive.
On January 29th, Conway made almost identical claims during an interview with Cosmopolitan, and again while making a statement to a reporter for TMZ.
Conway later clarified via Twitter that she meant to refer to the “Bowling Green terrorists” rather than the “Bowling Green massacre.”