President Trump's counselor and chief spinmeister Kellyanne Conway was on Thursday night's Hardball, and Chris Matthews was curious about Trump's executive order banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees — and the pushback against its many critics. He noted that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had told State Department employees who signed a dissent cable to put up or get out.
"In other words, if you don't agree with the president and you work for the United States government, you shouldn't be there?" Matthews asked. Every president "has the right to really surround himself with a team that's going to work with him and not against him," Conway said. "Yeah, but civil servants swear their oath to the Constitution, they take a job for life in these career positions," Matthews protested. "Does a president have a right to insist that people who work for the federal government agree with him?" Conway shifted the discussion to terrorism, and in doing so she cited a nonexistent ban and a terrorist attack that doesn't seem to have happened.
"I bet there was very little coverage," she said, "I bet it's brand-new information for 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. Most people didn't know that because it didn't get covered."
There's a reason for that. First, there was no "Bowling Green massacre," or even a planned attack that's public knowledge. In 2011, the FBI did arrest two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for trying to send money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq, and after discovering one of the men's fingerprints on IEDs targeting U.S. troops in Iraq; they are both serving life sentences. "Neither was charged with plotting attacks within the United States," the FBI says. The arrest did prompt Obama to re-vet all Iraqi refugees in the U.S. and tighten up scrutiny of visa applicants from Iraq, which led to a temporary slowdown in visa approvals; there was no ban on either immigrants or refugees.
Matthews moved on, and in the interview's final part Conway explained why she and Trump believe it is important to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," and why she thinks Trump's executive order will help eliminate it from "the globe." Peter Weber