Joe Biden used the anniversary of 9/11 to claim that he remembered “standing there the next day and looking at the building” in New York – when in fact he was in Washington DC.
Biden, 80, has faced criticism for becoming the first president in the 22 years since the attacks not to celebrate his birthday at one of the three sites of the Sept. 11 plane crashes.
He compounded the criticism on Monday by falsely claiming he was at the Twin Towers the day after the attack – when in his own autobiography he writes that he was in Washington DC.
Biden also embellished his memories of the day on Monday, saying he saw a “ball of fire” at the Pentagon on September 11, while in his book he describes it as “a brown haze of smoke.”
Joe Biden is seen Monday, the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, speaking to troops in Anchorage, Alaska. He is the first president not to celebrate his birthday at the scene of one of three plane crashes.
Planes crash into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
Joe Biden speaking to reporters outside Congress on September 11, 2001.
Biden, seen on September 11, 2001, was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of the attacks.
Speaking to troops in Anchorage, Alaska, as they returned home from the G20 summit in Vietnam, Biden told them about his memories from 22 years ago, with typical Biden exaggeration.
“The plume of fire that shot into the sky at the Pentagon — I remember seeing it as I was getting off the Amtrak train on my way to work at the U.S. Senate,” he said.
Yet in his autobiography, he writes that the scene was decidedly less dramatic: “I could see a brown haze of smoke hanging in the otherwise crystal clear sky beyond the Capitol dome. »
Biden, who at the time was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was photographed on September 11 speaking to reporters outside the Capitol.
In his 2007 book Promises to Keep, Biden writes that he was in Washington, DC the day after the attack: “I returned to the Capitol the next morning,” he wrote.
A September 12, 2001 Gannett News Wire article, cited by the New York Post, confirmed his biography’s account, beginning: “Delaware Sen. Joe Biden spent Wednesday exactly where he wanted: in the Senate American.
Monday also told a radically different story about the next day.
“Ground Zero in New York. I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building,” he said.
“And I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell.”
“It looked so devastating because of how you could do it, where you could stand.”
Biden, in his book, describes a conversation with students at the University of Delaware on September 19, 2001.
Biden visited Ground Zero nine days after the attacks, on September 20, 2001, and was photographed touring the site with fellow senators Ted Kennedy and Barbara Mikulski – but Biden does not mention this in his book.
Biden (center) is seen visiting Ground Zero on September 20, 2001 with fellow senators Ted Kennedy (left) and Barbara Mikulski (center, in poncho)
Biden’s 2007 book says he was in Washington DC on September 11-12, 2001.
His book, however, mentions a visit to a mosque in Newark, New Jersey, on September 21, 2001.
Biden is known for his exaggerations and distorted and misremembered stories.
The president, who joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the age of 32 and became its chairman in 2001, has frequently spoken of his “arrest” by South African police.
On February 11, 2020, Biden told an audience in South Carolina that he had been arrested in the African country.
“Today, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela came out of prison and began discussions about apartheid,” he told the crowd.
“I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being stopped with our UN ambassador in the streets of Soweto to try to see him on Robben Island.
Biden did not specify the year, but was in South Africa in 1977.
Biden is seen in December 2013 visiting a memorial to Nelson Mandela outside the South African embassy. Mandela died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95.
Mandela was held behind bars on Robben Island from 1964 to 1982 – but Robben Island is off the coast of Cape Town, while Biden said it was in Johannesburg’s Soweto district.
Later that month, Biden repeated the story of his arrest to a Nevada crowd at a black history brunch.
“(Mandela) came to Washington and came to my office,” Biden said at a presidential campaign meeting in Las Vegas.
“He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’
“I said, ‘Why are you thanking me, Mr. President?’
“He said, ‘You tried to see me. You were arrested trying to see me.”’
And at a second event in Las Vegas a few days later, Biden repeated the arrest story for a third time.
He told the crowd that he “came back from South Africa to try to see Nelson Mandela and was arrested for trying to see him.”
Mandela is seen at a joint meeting of the US Congress in June 1990.
Mandela addressed the United Nations in June 1990, urging the UN to maintain sanctions against South Africa until apartheid was abolished.
The claim of an arrest was denied by The New York Times in February 2020, several Senate officials and former colleagues told the newspaper they had no memory of the arrest.
The newspaper even noted that Biden’s own accounts, in his autobiography and in his statements about Mandela, did not refer to an arrest.
Fact-checkers, who gave Biden’s account “four Pinocchios” and declared him “Pants on Fire”, found he was separated from his black colleagues when he landed at the airport in neighboring Lesotho in December 1976.
At the time, Biden was among 13 members of Congress to visit Lesotho.
“When I got off the plane, I was directed to one side of the tarmac, while the African-American members of Congress traveling with me were sent to the other side,” he said.
“I refused to break up and the officials finally relented.”
In late February 2020, amid intense interest in whether he had actually been arrested, Biden told CNN that he was not.
“When I said stopped, I meant I wasn’t able to move,” Biden said after recounting what happened to him.
“The cops wouldn’t let me go with them. I wasn’t arrested, I was arrested. I wasn’t able to go where I wanted to go.
He did not specify whether this meeting took place in Lesotho or South Africa.
Biden has a long history of exaggerating his own biography.
He claimed in January of this year, while speaking to students at historically black colleges in Atlanta, that he had been arrested during civil rights protests – a claim for which there is no evidence. no proof.
In September 2021, he told Jewish leaders that he remembered “hanging out” and “going” to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh after the mass murder of 11 people in 2018: he It later emerged that he had never been there.
The White House said he was referring to a phone call and misspoke.