President Joe Biden suggested once again on Thursday that he had been “shot at” alongside State Department members overseas. In 2007, Biden first claimed he had been “shot at” in Iraq, but later walked back that claim.
Addressing State Department employees before his speech on Thursday, Biden said, “You have great personal courage. I’ve been with some of you when we’ve been shot at.”
It’s unclear which incident Biden was referring to on Thursday. The White House did not immediately respond to an American Military News request for comment.
In a 2007 Democratic presidential debate, then-Sen. Biden said he’d been shot at inside Baghdad’s diplomatic Green Zone. Discussing security in the Green Zone, Biden said, “Let’s start telling the truth. Number one, you take all the troops out — you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.”
In comments to The Hill two weeks later, Biden said there were three separate instances where he said he felt he was shot at or might have been shot at. He said one incident involved a “shot” landing outside the building where he and other senators were staying.
“No one got up and ran from the room—it wasn’t that kind of thing. …It’s not like I had someone holding a gun to my head,” Biden said.
He added that, in hindsight, it would have been more accurate to say “I was near where a shot landed.”
Aides for Biden at the time said during Biden’s 2004 visit to Iraq, his plane’s anti-missile system was triggered, indicating that they had been fired upon by a surface-to-air missile. The aides also told the Hill he had been in the Green Zone in 2005 and heard mortars fired nearby, which shook the building where Biden was staying.
Then Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander told The Hill, “When mortars are fired into the Green Zone or surface-to-air missiles are fired at a plane, they don’t have names or addresses on them. The nuance of being shot at or shot near means nothing in a war zone. The point Sen. Biden was making is that Iraq is a dangerous place — for our troops, for Iraqis, for everyone.”
In a 2019 campaign trail incident, Biden again came under scrutiny for telling a war story that appeared to combine elements of three separate incidents. In his telling of events, Biden said he was sent to Afghanistan to award a Navy captain the Silver Star for heroic actions. Biden described being warned that flying to the award ceremony in Afghanistan was too risky but saying, “We can lose a vice president. We can’t lose many more of these kids.”
The Washington Post reported in reality, the service member was an Army soldier, the soldier was awarded a Bronze Star, and the ceremony took place six years after Biden visited Afghanistan, with then-President Barack Obama presenting the award. The newspaper noted that in the span of his three-minute recounting of the story, Biden got the time period, location, heroic act, type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient, and his own role in the ceremony wrong.