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- November 18, 2015

As Bill Clinton Commemorates The Dayton Peace Accords That Ended The War In Bosnia, We Are Reminded Of Hillary Clinton's Embarrassing Embellishment Of Landing "Under Sniper Fire" And Her Continued Love Of Tall Tales

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TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • As Bill Clinton delivers remarks commemorating the anniversary of the end of the war in Bosnia, we are reminded of Hillary Clinton's 2008 tall tale of landing there "under sniper fire" months after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.
  • Despite repeatedly claiming she landed under duress, the facts show that Clinton, traveling with comedian Sinbad, was actually given a ceremonial greeting with a presentation of flowers by Bosnian children.
  • Clinton's comments were widely panned by news outlets, fact checkers, and the Obama campaign as an example of "a growing list of instances" in which she exaggerated her record-a habit that she is continuing on the 2016 campaign trail.

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Today, Bill Clinton Will Be The Keynote Speaker At A Conference Commemorating The 20th Anniversary Of The Dayton Peace Accords. "The University of Dayton confirms in a statement that President Bill Clinton will attend the Dayton Peace Accord 20th Anniversary events in November. Clinton will be among current and former world leaders participating in regional events on November 18-21 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the accords. Clinton will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon on November 19, the first day of the two-day Dayton Peace Accords at 20 Conference on the University of Dayton's River Campus." (Paul Rodzinka, "Bill Clinton To Speak At Dayton Peace Accord Events," WDTN, 10/23/15)

  • "The Dayton Peace Accords Reached At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base On Nov. 21, 1995, Ended More Than Three Years Of War In Bosnia." ("Bill Clinton To Help Mark Dayton Peace Accords Anniversary," The Associated Press , 11/15/15)

IN 2008, CLINTON FOUND HERSELF IN HOT WATER AFTER FALSELY CLAIMING TO HAVE LANDED "UNDER SNIPER FIRE" IN BOSNIA MONTHS AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE DAYTON PEACE ACCORDS

On March 17, 2008, Clinton Recounted A 1996 Trip To Bosnia, Noting "I Remember Landing Under Sniper Fire. There Was Supposed To Be Some Kind Of Greeting Ceremony At The Airport, But Instead We Just Ran With Our Heads Down." CLINTON: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base. But it was a moment of great pride for me to visit our troops, not only in our main base as Tuzla, but also at two outposts where they were serving in so many capacities to deactivate and remove landmines, to hunt and seek out those who had not complied with the Dayton Accords and put down their arms, and to build relationships with the people that might lead to a peace for them and their children." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks, Washington, D.C., 3/17/08)

Click To Watch

When Pressed On Her Account Of The Bosnia Trip By Reporters, Clinton Initially Responded: "There Was No Greeting Ceremony, And We Basically Were Told To Run To Our Cars. Now, That Is What Happened." "Immediately after the speech that day, a reporter asked Clinton about remarks from others on the trip who suggested the trip was for photo opportunities rather than foreign policy and she stood by her account of sniper fire. 'There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened,' she said." (Angie Drobnic Holan, "Video Shows Tarmac Welcome, No Snipers," PolitiFact, 3/25/08)

Despite Repeatedly Claiming She Landed Under Duress, The Facts Show That Clinton Was Actually Given A Ceremonial Greeting With A Presentation Of Flowers By Bosnian Children

PolitiFact: "As Demonstrated By CBS News Video That Shows Clinton Arriving On The Tarmac Under No Visible Duress, And Greeting A Child Who Offers Her A Copy Of A Poem." "During an introduction to a foreign policy speech on Iraq on March 17, 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton reminisced about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she made in March 1996. 'I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.' But that's not what happened, as demonstrated by CBS News video that shows Clinton arriving on the tarmac under no visible duress, and greeting a child who offers her a copy of a poem."(Angie Drobnic Holan, "Video Shows Tarmac Welcome, No Snipers," PolitiFact, 3/25/08)

  • The Washington Post Reviewed Nearly 100 News Accounts Of Clinton's Bosnia Visit And "Not A Single Newspaper Or Television Station Reported Any Security Threat To The First Lady." "Had Hillary Clinton's plane come 'under sniper fire' in March 1996, we would certainly have heard about it long before now. Numerous reporters, including the Washington Post's John Pomfret, covered her trip. A review of nearly 100 news accounts of her visit shows that not a single newspaper or television station reported any security threat to the First Lady." (Michael Dobbs, "Hillary's Balkan Adventures, Part II," The Washington Post's Fact Checker, 3/21/08)
  • The Dayton Peace Accords - Which Ended The War In Bosnia And Herzegovina - Were Signed Three Months Before Clinton's Visit . "We can't speak to what may or may not have happened on the military transport that delivered Clinton to Bosnia. She is right, though, that she visited a potential combat zone. But what she fails to mention is that the Dayton Peace Accords - which officially ended a year-and-a-half of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina - had been signed in December 1995. So by the time of Clinton's March 1996 visit, the war itself had been over for three months." ("Hillary's Adventures Abroad," FactCheck.Org, 3/25/08)

Clinton Was In Fact "Greeted By A Group Of Bosnian Children In Colorful Native Dress" Who Presented Her With "Bright Bouquets Of Spring Flowers … While The First Lady Patted The Children On The Head." "There of course were no snipers, and as the nervous passengers exited from the rear of the aircraft off an enormous steel ramp that could handle tanks and other tactical vehicles, we were greeted by a group of Bosnian children in colorful native dress. Hope none of them is a sniper, I thought. They presented Mrs. Clinton with bright bouquets of spring flowers that were quickly gathered up by aides while the first lady patted the children on the head." (Christopher R. Hill, Outpost, 2014)

  • Christopher Hill, The State Dept. Official Accompanying Clinton On The Trip: "Hope None Of Them Is A Sniper, I Thought." (Christopher R. Hill, Outpost, 2014)

Comedian Sinbad, Who Accompanied Clinton On The Trip: "I Think The Only 'Red-Phone' Moment Was: 'Do We Eat Here Or At The Next Place?'" "But last week, the comedian Sinbad, who accompanied Clinton on the trip along with singer Sheryl Crow and then-first daughter Chelsea, said he remembers the landing differently. 'I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place?'' he said in an interview with the Washington Post." (Amy Chozick, "He Said, She Said: Hillary And Sinbad," The Wall Street Journal , 3/17/08)

It Took Clinton Months To Admit That Her Telling Of The Events Was Highly Exaggerated

It Took Clinton "Months To Acknowledge Her Account Of Escaping Sniper Fire In Bosnia Was Exaggerated." "Seven years later, she took months to acknowledge her account of escaping sniper fire in Bosnia was exaggerated. "(Maggie Haberman, "Hillary Clinton's Hardest Words: I Was Wrong," Politico, 6/14/14)

  • Clinton Later Said Her Account Was A "Misstatement" And Dismissed The Issue As A "Minor Blip." "Earlier this afternoon, Sen. Hillary Clinton came to the Daily News and Inquirer building here in Philadelphia -- where she's seeklng the Daily News editorial board endorsement -- and I had a chance to ask her about a controversy that's increasingly dogged her campaign the last few days: Whether she misrepresented the danger of her March 1996 trip to a U.S. military base in Bosnia in an effort to boost her foreign policy credentials. Clinton acknowledged today for the first time that it was a 'misstatement' when she said in a major prepared foreign policy speech last week that 'I remember landing under sniper fire' but also tried to brush off the entire issue as 'a minor blip.'" (Will Bunch, "Exclusive: Clinton Acknowledges A 'Misstatement' On Bosnia Sniper Fire," Philadelphia Daily News, 3/25/08)
  • Clinton: "I Say A Lot Of Things -Millions Of Words A Day - So If I Misspoke, That Was Just A Misstatement.'" "'No, I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement.'" (Will Bunch, "Exclusive: Clinton Acknowledges A 'Misstatement' On Bosnia Sniper Fire," Philadelphia Daily News, 3/25/08)

CLINTON'S COMMENTS WERE WIDELY PANNED AND SERVED AS AN EXAMPLE OF "A GROWING LIST OF INSTANCES" IN WHICH SHE EXAGGERATES HER RECORD

The Obama Campaign "Questioned Whether Clinton Misspoke, Saying Her Comments Came In What Appeared To Be Prepared Remarks." "A spokesman for rival Barack Obama's campaign questioned whether Clinton misspoke, saying her comments came in what appeared to be prepared remarks for the Iraq speech. His campaign's statement included a link to the speech on Clinton's campaign Web site with her account of running to the cars." ("Clinton 'Misspoke' Over Bosnia Sniper Claims," The Associated Press, 3/5/08)

  • "Obama Spokesman Tommy Vietor Said In A Written Statement That Clinton's Bosnia Story 'Joins A Growing List Of Instances In Which Senator Clinton Has Exaggerated Her Role In Foreign And Domestic Policymaking.'" ("Clinton 'Misspoke' Over Bosnia Sniper Claims," The Associated Press, 3/5/08)

PolitiFact Gave Clinton's Remarks A "Pants On Fire" Rating, Their "Harshest Assessment." "There's no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996, but the threat of sniper fire is not the same as actual sniper fire, and hustling off the tarmac is not the same as running with your head down. Yes, Clinton later acknowledged that she was mistaken, but it's hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn't dodge sniper bullets. Quite simply, this kind of hyperbole deserves our harshest assessment. We rule Pants on Fire." (Angie Drobnic Holan, "Video Shows Tarmac Welcome, No Snipers,"PolitiFact, 3/25/08)

  • PolitiFact: "It's Hard To Understand How She Could Err On Something So Significant As Whether She Did Or Didn't Dodge Sniper Bullets." "There's no doubt flying into Bosnia was dangerous back in 1996, but the threat of sniper fire is not the same as actual sniper fire, and hustling off the tarmac is not the same as running with your head down. Yes, Clinton later acknowledged that she was mistaken, but it's hard to understand how she could err on something so significant as whether she did or didn't dodge sniper bullets. Quite simply, this kind of hyperbole deserves our harshest assessment. We rule Pants on Fire." (Angie Drobnic Holan, "Video Shows Tarmac Welcome, No Snipers," PolitiFact, 3/25/08)

Clinton Is "Haunted By Memories" Of Experiences That Are "Sincerely Remembered But Actually Fictional." "Yet, these are her wilderness months. She received a mere $14 million as a book advance. And she remains haunted by memories of coming 'out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,' a memory in the same category of her undergoing sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996, which is to say sincerely remembered but actually fictional." (Roger Simon, "Hillary Should Stop Dithering," Politico, 12/3/14)

  • As Clinton Found In 2008, Her Habit Of Embellishing Is "So Damaging" Because She Portrays Herself As A Candidate And Leader With Experience. "What makes Clinton's situation unique - and the Bosnia embellishments so damaging - is the fact that the New York senator has built her candidacy on the illusion of experience. Any attack on her credentials is a potential Achilles heel." (Ron Fournier, "Hillary's Flight Of Fancy," The Associated Press, 3/25/08)
  • Clinton Has "A Pattern Of Embellishment" And "Yes, She Does Exaggerate Her Credentials." "Two others: Is there a pattern of embellishment? And is she held to a higher standard than her rival, Barack Obama? The answers: Yes, she's held to a higher standard and, yes, she does exaggerate her credentials." (Ron Fournier, "Hillary's Flight Of Fancy," The Associated Press, 3/25/08)

ON THE 2016 CAMPAIGN TRAIL, CLINTON HAS "DUSTED OFF" A CLAIM THAT SHE TRIED TO JOIN THE MARINES IN 1975, BUT WAS REJECTED

This Month, Clinton "Dusted Off" Her Tale Of When She Tried To Join The Marines In 1975, "An Old Story That Has Previously Been Met With Skepticism." "As the U.S. Marine Corps turns 240 years old this week, Hillary Clinton dusted off an old story that has previously been met with skepticism: When the Yale-educated lawyer moved to Arkansas in 1975, she says she tried to join the Marines." (Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica, "Hillary Clinton Revives Story Of Trying To Join The Marines," CNN, 11/11/15)

  • Clinton: "'He Looks At Me And Goes, 'Um, How Old Are You'… 'And I Said, 'Well I Am 26, I Will Be 27.' And He Goes, 'Well, That Is Kind Of Old For Us.'" "She laughed Tuesday, the day before Veterans Day, as she recalled being turned away by a recruiter. 'He looks at me and goes, 'Um, how old are you,'' Clinton said at an event in New Hampshire. 'And I said, 'Well I am 26, I will be 27.' And he goes, 'Well, that is kind of old for us.' And then he says to me, and this is what gets me, 'Maybe the dogs will take you,' meaning the Army.'" (Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica, "Hillary Clinton Revives Story Of Trying To Join The Marines," CNN, 11/11/15)

Clinton's Claim That She Tried To Join The Marines Doesn't Add Up

The Washington Post 's Fact Checker: "This Story Doesn't Really Add Up…" "At first glance, this story doesn't really add up, for the reasons that Dowd initially outlined." (Glenn Kessler, "Hillary Clinton's Claim That She Tried To Join The Marines," The Washington Post , 11/12/15)

  • "There Are Enough Holes Here That Clinton Has An Obligation To Address The Circumstances Under Which She Approached The Marines, Now That She Had Once Again Raised It In A Campaign Context." (Glenn Kessler, "Hillary Clinton's Claim That She Tried To Join The Marines," The Washington Post , 11/12/15)

CNN's Jeff Zeleny: "It Seems So Unusual" That Clinton Would Have Wanted To Join The Marines When She Had Just Moved To Arkansas And Bill Clinton Was About To Become The Attorney General. ZELENY: "So we asked her campaign for just a few more details on this because it seems so unusual that a Yale-educated lawyer who worked on the anti-war campaigns of McCarthy and McGovern, who had just moved to Arkansas, whose husband was about to become the attorney general of the state would decide to want to join the marines. But the campaign said they're not going to add any more comment on to this, so the questions are left to discuss here." (CNN's " New Day," 11/12/15)

Click To Watch

In 1994, The New York Times' Maureen Dowd Pointed Out That The Idea Of Clinton Wanting To Join The Marines In 1975 "Did Not Seem To Fit In" With Her Persona. "And it did not seem to fit in with the First Lady's own persona. After all, Hillary Rodham was an up-and-coming legal star involved with an up-and-coming political star. She had made a celebrated appearance in Life magazine as an anti-establishment commencement speaker at Wellesley College, where, as president of the student government, she had organized teach-ins on her opposition to the Vietnam War." (Maureen Dowd, "Hillary Clinton Says She Once Tried To Be Marine," The New York Times, 6/15/94)

  • At The Time, Clinton "Was An Up-And-Coming Legal Star Involved With An Up-And-Coming Political Star." "And it did not seem to fit in with the First Lady's own persona. After all, Hillary Rodham was an up-and-coming legal star involved with an up-and-coming political star. She had made a celebrated appearance in Life magazine as an anti-establishment commencement speaker at Wellesley College, where, as president of the student government, she had organized teach-ins on her opposition to the Vietnam War." (Maureen Dowd, "Hillary Clinton Says She Once Tried To Be Marine," The New York Times, 6/15/94)
  • "She Had Made A Celebrated Appearance In Life Magazine As An Anti-Establishment Commencement Speaker At Wellesley College, Where, As President Of The Student Government, She Had Organized Teach-Ins On Her Opposition To The Vietnam War." "She had made a celebrated appearance in Life magazine as an anti-establishment commencement speaker at Wellesley College, where, as president of the student government, she had organized teach-ins on her opposition to the Vietnam War." (Maureen Dowd, "Hillary Clinton Says She Once Tried To Be Marine," The New York Times, 6/15/94)
  • "She Was A Yale Law School Graduate Who Had Worked On The Anti-War Presidential Campaigns Of Eugene J. McCarthy And George McGovern." (Maureen Dowd, "Hillary Clinton Says She Once Tried To Be Marine,"The New York Times, 6/15/94)

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