Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s November 2003 visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan was spun into a fanciful tale of liberal pique online, framed in some iterations as a concerned email from an actual veteran.
Clinton, who was a senator representing New York state at the time, did indeed visit Bagram Air Base on November 27 and reportedly had dinner with “twenty officers and soldiers from Queens, Ithaca, Geneva, Brooklyn, Homer, New Rochelle and other towns across New York” as well as fellow Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. Both Reed and Clinton were members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the time of their visit.
However, a distorted account of the visit was passed around, presented as a report from the right-wing blog Newsmax saying that Clinton “cut in line” for her dinner after delaying the troops’ meal:
A soldier who witnessed the scene tells NewsMax:
“Thanksgiving Dinner started at 3 p.m. that day, so the line was forming around 2:30 p.m. She didn’t show up until around 3:30 p.m.
“Once she got there,” our source maintains, “Clinton and her entourage bumped everyone in line, forcing them to wait almost an extra hour.”
The brass at Bagram apparently had a hard time rounding up New Yorkers who wanted to have dinner with Clinton, D-N.Y. Only six GIs responded to an e-mail sent out last week that stated, “Looking for military members from New York and Rhode Island interested in meeting their Senator/Congressman.”
People magazine was on hand to cover the event and wanted to interview the troops for reaction to Clinton’s visit.
“But they were getting declined left and right,” our source said. “People were actually telling the reporters, ‘You don’t want to print what I think about her and her visit.'”
After Clinton and her entourage departed, the only topics GIs wanted to talk about were “how great the food was and how fantastic they thought George Bush’s visit to Iraq was.”
Another iteration of the post attaches an anecdote:
I hope this isn’t bogus. You know, one of those things that find their way around the internet only to be proven a made up story.
I received it in email. I believe it comes from Master Gunnery Sgt Lee Forester, who served with 1st. M.P. Bn. in Vietnam. (See our site at United States Marine Corps, 1st Military Police Bn., Force Logistics Command, DaNang, South Vietnam). But I’m not sure, because he was called up early this year and went back to Iraq (he was in the first gulf war), never getting any email from him since then.
On the other hand, if it isn’t bogus, it’s good to get a closer look. It looked on TV to be just this way, but you had to read between the lines.
No trace of the purported story regarding Clinton’s visit appears on Newsmax’s website. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported a friendlier reaction to her from troops at the air base:
After the meal, more than a dozen soldiers formed a line to have their photographs taken with the former first lady. A half dozen asked for her autograph, often inscribed to their daughters. One soldier had Mrs. Clinton autograph an American flag.
“It’s great that she came here,” said Capt. Jim Mullin, a 29-year-old from Mahopac who pointed out that Mrs. Clinton could have spent the holiday with her famous family. “It’s selfless, something I respect.”
As no credible information to the contrary has surfaced in nearly 18 years after Clinton’s visit, we’re updating our verdict on the claim that she “cut in line” and delayed the troops’ Thanksgiving dinner to Not True.
For its part, Newsmax garnered news coverage of its own in late 2020 after broadcasting debunked conspiracy theories questioning the election of President Joe Biden before publicly backtracking on statements it aired regarding two companies, Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, that make voting-related technology.
Regardless, Smartmatic sued both Newsmax and fellow fringe broadcaster One America News in November 2021 for their election-related “coverage.”
Update 11/05/2021, 4:15pm PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.