That Wasn’t the First Time Kellyanne Conway Invoked the “Bowling Green Massacre”

Call it a 21st century Gulf of Tonkin incident: while defending President Trump’s abhorrent “travel ban,” Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway explained why banning refugees and immigrants from seven random countries indefinitely is cool, because Obama:

“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 between the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

Of course, the internet was quick to point out the flaw: there is no such thing as the “Bowling Green massacre.” Conway’s defense was that she “misspoke.” “I meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists,’ she tweeted.

“Bowling Green terrorists” refers to an incident during President Obama’s first term. Back in 2009, two Iraqi men posing as refugees were living in Bowling Green, Kentucky when an intelligence tip launched a two-year investigation into their activities. Eventually it came out that the men had attempted to send weapons and money to al-Qaida after arriving in the states. Because the men had successfully lied about being refugees, the State Department halted the processing of Iraqi refugees for six months; it also made major changes to our refugee screening system.

Conway’s point seemed to be that Trump’s blanket travel ban was the same thing as Obama’s six-month pause. So while most of us heard a woman blatantly lie on television to whip up fear about a threat that doesn’t exist, Conway insisted that replacing “terrorist” with “massacre” was just an innocent slip of the tongue.

But her own words suggest otherwise. Because not only has Conway said this before, but she’s said it in way more detail, too.

In a January 29 interview with, Conway said this:

“He did, it’s a fact. Why did he do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.”

And here’s Conway “misspeaking” to the same day:

“The fact is that it was President Obama and the Congress who identified these seven countries so President Trump is just following on. President Obama suspended the Iraq refugee program for six months in 2011 and no one certainly covered—I think nobody noticed. He did that because, I assume, there were two Iraqis who came here, got radicalized, joined ISIS, and then were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green attack on our brave soldiers.”

What’s more likely: that Conway is intentionally making shit up to scare misinformed Americans into supporting arbitrary and unconstitutional Muslim bans, or that she has some sort of recurring speech issue that causes her to spew entire paragraphs of falsehoods when she actually means to say “terrorist”?

This is the kind of shit that starts wars.

Written by Caitlyn McClure

Caitlyn is a rabble-rouser and writer based in Olympia, WA. She is a copywriter and logistics specialist for Tiny Pixel Collective, a web shop providing activists and artists with the tools they need to tell stories that inspire change.