The Real Controversy Over The Non-Existent 'Bowling Green Massacre' Is That It Was The FBI's Own Plot
from the fake-news dept
We've already made our views clear on the horrible nature of the Trump administration's ban on travelers who were born in seven predominantly Muslim countries. The administration has been trying to defend the program, but its talking points are (once again) falling apart. For example, the idea that this only "inconvenienced" a tiny percentage of people and was only temporary — government lawyers have now revealed that over 100,000 visas were permanently revoked. Permanently.
But the story that's gotten a lot more attention is how Trump aide Kellyanne Conway went on TV last night and tried to back up another talking point: that this is no different than what President Obama did with Iraqi visas. That's not true, but we'll get to that. Even if it were true, Conway seemed to literally make up a terrorist attack that didn't happen, calling it the "Bowling Green Massacre."
Of course, there was no such massacre. This has resulted in lots and lots of social media mocking about the "massacre" that didn't exist. Some of the mocking is actually quite funny. And, of course, you might want to go donate to the Bowling Green Massacre Fund to support the victims.
Conway, of course, has said that she merely misspoke and had meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists" and then further pointed to a 2013 article about the two arrested Iraqis, claiming that it was a sign that "dozens" of terrorists could live in the US as refugees.
Even ignoring the ridiculous massacre claim, and accepting the idea that she just meant to say "terrorists", absolutely everything about this story fails to make her point unless you actively distort it. Let's dig in:
The two Iraqis were "terrorists" set to carry out a bombing plot. Nope. It turns out that the two guys arrested were involved yet another of the FBI's "own plots." If you're new to this, for years we've covered how the FBI (rather than actually taking on criminal activity) has been inventing its own fake terrorist plots, and then using undercover agents and informants to bully dupes into "joining" the non-existent, FBI-created, FBI-financed, FBI-supplied "plots." We've written about examples of this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again (so don't go in the comments and ask why this story is on Techdirt...)
And the "Bowling Green Terrorists" story is the same exact thing all over again:
From that fall through the following spring, the FBI informant invited Alwan to participate in 10 operations to send weapons or money to Iraq.
There was no bombing plot against Americans. The FBI's "own plot" here didn't even involve attacks on America. It was just about sending (non-existent) money and weapons to Iraq:
...throughout their interactions with undercover FBI agents in 2010 and 2011, Alwan and Hammadi never discussed plans to attack anyone or cause destruction on U.S. soil. And while they were found guilty of attempting to provide material support to al Queda militants back in Iraq, the men never indicated that they were personally in contact with any militants, attempted to procure weapons for such individuals, or attempted to provide any of their own money to such individuals. Rather, they showed up when and where the FBI informant told them to and helped physically load decoy supplies into whatever they were allegedly being shipped from.
There was never any support for the claim that they were part of a larger cell of terrorist refugees: Again, this was a tiny "plot" manufactured by the FBI to send weapons and money to Iraq, not to attack the US. And while Conway has been blowing up Twitter by claiming this ABC story proves that other refugee "terrorists" were here, that article is from 2013, and not a single other person has been arrested, no other terrorist plots associated with refugees (real or fake) have been found or (more importantly) taken place.
Hell, even former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller pointed out that the ABC story "is garbage":
This speculative story was published more than three years ago, and since then not one additional refugee has been charged. This is garbage. https://t.co/i4KSEyaLGc
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 3, 2017
Conway claimed that the media didn't report on the Bowling Green situation... but her proof that it happened is pointing to an article from ABC. Enough said on that.
What Obama did in response to that was different: This has been a key talking point for those supporting the ban. They claim that no one complained about Obama "ban" for six months on people from Iraq in response to the Bowling Green "terrorists." Except that's simply false. As has been carefully reported in a ton of places, what President Obama did in 2011 was entirely different. There was no ban. There was no stoppage. A single type of visa just had more stringent vetting put in place that briefly slowed the throughput of applications. If you want the most thorough explanation I've seen for just how different the two situations are, read the analysis at Foreign Policy Magazine.
Even if President Obama had done the same thing, people should still be upset: Because banning all people from a certain country or set of countries without a specific reason or threat, and (in the process) wreaking havoc on the lives of tons of people, including permanent residents and American citizens, deserves to be condemned as simply cruel.
In summary, Kellyanne Conway is using a non-existent "Bowling Green Massacre" to defend an inhumane policy, based on falsely arguing that two refugees, who were ensnared in a plot created by the FBI to send fake money and fake weapons back to Iraq (and not to attack America), were the tip of the iceberg of a bunch of refugee terrorists (who didn't actually exist) planning to attack America (which never happened) and because of that fake plot, fake massacre and fake terrorists, President Obama similarly banned people from Iraq -- which was something he didn't do. Is that about the sum of it?