- Pence launched a new podcast Friday, with the first episode commemorating the 9/11 terror attacks.
- He claimed four times there have been no major terrorist attacks in the US in the last 20 years.
- His claim ignores white supremacist attacks in El Paso, Charleston, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.
On the first episode of his new podcast, former Vice President Mike Pence falsely claimed there have been no major terrorist attacks in the 20 years since September 11, 2001, ignoring a spate of white supremacist terrorist attacks — and even the persistence of violent jihadism — in recent years.
“For the last 20 years I have marveled at the heroes that have stepped forward to defend our nation, to bring us to a place now, 20 years on, without a major terrorist event taking place on American soil,” said Pence on the first episode of “American Freedom with Mike Pence” a new podcast sponsored by the conservative Young America’s Foundation.
Pence repeated the claim four separate times over the course of the 48-minute episode, often using it to justify the War on Terror and the costly invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that the United States initiated in the years following 9/11.
“This country should be proud of how we’ve responded 20 years on,” Pence said.
In recent years, a string of major white supremacist terrorist attacks have, in fact, taken place on American soil. Current and former US law-enforcement and intelligence officials now say white supremacists and far-right militants pose a far greater danger to the US than foreign terrorism.
In 2019, a gunman murdered 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso after posting a manifesto online that bluntly said “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
In 2018, Robert Bowers shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after writing online that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish nonprofit that assists refugees, “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.”
In 2015, Dylann Roof murdered nine people at an African American congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, declaring upon his arrest that he wanted to initiate a race war.
And in 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page shot and killed 6 people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before turning the gun on himself.
Many have even described the January 6 assault on the US capitol earlier this year — which claimed the lives of 5 people and injured dozens of others – as a terrorist attack. Some protesters professed their desire to kill Pence himself.
“A mob of extremists and terrorists launched a violent and deadly assault on the people’s house, and the sacred ritual to certify free and fair elections,” said President Joe Biden at a ceremony in August awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol police officers.
According to research published by the New America think tank, jihadists have killed 107 people in the US since 9/11, while far right extremists have killed 114.
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, wrote in a recent Foreign Affairs op-ed that the 9/11 attacks themselves have fueled right-wing extremism.
“The attacks were a gift to peddlers of xenophobia, white supremacism, and Christian nationalism: as dark-skinned Muslim foreigners bent on murdering Americans, al Qaeda terrorists and their ilk seemed to have stepped out of a far-right fever dream,” she wrote.
The podcast episode also included a conversation with former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, interviews with family members affected by 9/11 and the Iraq War, and a pair of student activists who were working with the Young America’s Foundation during college.
“What does it mean to you today to come to the 20th anniversary of September 11th and know that there’s been no major terrorist attack on American soil in those 20 years, and that your father played a role in that?” Pence asked Brandi Anderson, whose father died in a mortar attack in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2004.
In ignoring the recent rise in right-wing terror, Pence focused entirely on terrorist attacks committed by Islamic extremists. “Twenty years ago, America fell under attack. Nineteen radical Islamic terrorists seized control of four commercial airlines,” Pence said at one point.
But Pence’s claim doesn’t hold up even if applied only to terrorism committed by Islamic extremists.
Such attacks have continued even in the post-9/11 era, including an ISIS-inspired attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people in 2016, a shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people in December 2015, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and an attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 service members in 2009.
Updated 9/10/2021: This story was updated to reflect that Anderson’s father died in Ramadi, Iraq, not Fallujah, Iraq.
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