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The Legend Grows: Joe Biden Lying About Bosnia?

From today’s Washington Post:

During last week’s debate with his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Biden twice gave himself credit for shifting U.S. policy on Bosnia. The senator from Delaware declared that he “was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia led by President Clinton.” At another point he noted: “My recommendations on Bosnia — I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives.”

But, despite the bravado, Biden was not a key player in the legislation that ultimately forced Bill Clinton to lift an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations on Bosnian Muslims fighting the Serbs, according to congressional officials involved in the issue and a review of Biden’s speeches and voting record.

In his autobiography, “Promises to Keep,” Biden says that the pivotal Senate vote came “nearly three years after I called for the plan” to unilaterally lift the embargo. But the charge actually was led by then-Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), who has since become an independent.

“His views were consistent with what we were doing,” said Stephen G. Rademaker, then a House Republican aide who initially drafted the legislation and brought it to Dole’s attention. “But I never regarded him as a leader in the effort.”

And then there’s this doozie:

In April 1993, Biden spent a week traveling in the Balkans, meeting with key officials, including a three-hour session with Milosevic. The trip was detailed in 15 pages of the senator’s autobiography. Aides said that Biden insisted there be no news media allowed because he did not want the Serbian leader to use the visit as propaganda.

(A quick jog down memory lane from the primary and propaganda wars with foreign dictators: “I got into an argument with Senator Clinton about this,” Obama said. “She said that will lead to propaganda. And I said I’m not afraid of losing a propaganda battle to a bunch of dictators. That sends a signal to the world.”)

Back to the Washington Post. Is Biden lying about his “I think you’re a damn war criminal” statement to Milsoevic? The WaPo reports, you decide:

According to Biden’s book, Milosevic asked the senator what he thought of him. “I think you’re a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one,” Biden said he shot back. Milosevic, he said, did not react.

Milosevic is now dead and only a handful of people were in the room. Ted Kaufman, then Biden’s chief of staff and now an aide in his vice presidential campaign, said the incident occurred exactly as Biden recounted it.

But John Ritch, then deputy chief of staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, does not remember such a blunt statement, but rather that Biden more gently made the case that Milosevic could be a war criminal. “The legend grows” regarding the meeting, Ritch said. “But Biden certainly introduced into the conversation the concept that Milosevic was a war criminal. Milosevic reacted with aplomb.”

A third Biden aide in the room did not recall the confrontation and a fourth declined to comment.

That three votes against, one vote for the Biden version of events. If this were Governor Palin, is there any doubt this would be leading the news tonight?


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