Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway has taken her use of “alternative facts” to another level. As evidence to support the president’s refugee and immigration ban, Conway talked about a terrorist “massacre” that never happened on MSNBC’s “Hardball”
“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 they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. It didn’t get covered,” she told host Chris Matthews.
Let’s take this one step at a time. Yes, in 2011, the FBI arrested two al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraq living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But neither was charged with planning an attack on U.S., let alone committing a “massacre.” In 2013, they both plead guilty to federal charges and are now serving lengthy sentences in prison.
Second, their cases prompted the Obama administration to rescreen about 83,000 Iraqi refugees either already living in the U.S. or then-approved to enter, in 2011, according to Factcheck.org. The process naturally caused a backlog that took some time to handle, but classifying the actions as a “ban” stretches the truth. In a statement on Jan. 29 defending his recent executive order, Trump, however, called the policy “similar” to Obama’s “ban” in 2011.
In a series of tweets Friday morning, Conway clarified her gaffe and tweeted a link to a “Nightline” investigation from 2013, which made clear the two Iraqis attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq, not the U.S.
And this isn’t the first time a prominent Republican has referenced a false terrorist attack, likely based on the Iraqis living in Bowling Green. Throughout 2013, New York Rep. Peter King reference a planned attack on either Fort Campbell or Fort Knox. (He wasn’t sure.)
PolitiFact found no evidence of either attack and labeled the statements “false.”