The Connecticut Post reports that another Connecticut political candidate — this time Tom Foley, a Republican candidate for governor — may be stretching the truth about his time in a war zone.
Foley lived in Baghdad’s Green Zone in 2003 while working for the Coalition Provisional Authority. On his campaign web site, he describes his time there as pretty hairy.
Security was tight when Tom arrived, but it significantly deteriorated during the fall of 2003. Travel outside of the Green Zone became more and more risky. Even so, Tom and his team had to travel outside of the Green Zone to conduct their work. Donning bullet proof vests, dodging rockets and mortars, and avoiding IED’s became regular parts of the routine.
But in a speech after he returned to the U.S. in 2004, the Post points out, he downplayed any threat he faced. Foley said there were two Iraqs: the real Iraq and the “TV Iraq.”
“The TV Iraq, if we can call it that, is a place that seems chaotic, and it seems that there has been very little, if any, progress since the war. It appears to be a place where nobody has a job and people are either cowering in basements or are part of some roving mob ready to do trouble,” he said.
“It appears to be a place where they hate Americans, and where Americans aren’t safe walking on the streets.”
On the contrary, Foley explained.
“It’s a place that, except in certain isolated areas, Westerners move around freely. When I was in Iraq,” he said, “I used to go out into Baghdad frequently by myself, and I had no problem walking up and down the streets. I never once ran into a situation that I considered hostile. I did for entertainment carry around a 9-millimeter pistol. It runs in the family. But I never needed it, and it was probably mostly for show.”
Foley’s press secretary could not immediately reached for comment.
Asked about the apparent discrepancy, Foley stood by his comments. He said that while he never “came under fire” directed at him specifically, he did have to often flee mortars shot into the Green Zone.
“I never came under fire that was directed at me,” he said. “Outside the Green Zone there was never a situation when somebody directly was targeting me or there was a firefight.” He did remember running for cover during mortar attacks in the Green Zone.
“The sound of incoming mortar rounds is very distinctive,” he said. “When I first got there I thought the danger level pretty low and pretty often traveled outside the Green Zone without security,” Foley said last week. But after a rocket attack on a major hotel in the fall of 2003, daily life became “riskier,” Foley said.
“It was pretty regular that mortars were being sent into the Green Zone,” he said. “A few times a week. Frequently we would have to go down in the basement of the building we were in, if we were working. When we were not working, we lived in trailers with no armor protection.”
At least once, a mortar shell landed near his trailer, he said. “Traveling outside the Green Zone became very risky and (improvised explosive devices) were inflicting damage on our troops,” he said. “On a lot of the major highways around Baghdad, they were shooting at vehicles.” He said that even after the fall hotel attack, he went outside the Green Zone “three, four, five times a week” visiting various ministries and state-owned enterprises.
Foley was endorsed by the state Republican Party, but faces two other GOP-ers in an August primary.
Earlier this year, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal got into hot water after the New York Times reported that he had often suggested he had served in Vietnam, when in fact he had remained stateside in the Marine Corps Reserves during the war. Blumenthal still leads his presumptive Republican opponent, Linda McMahon, by 15 points, according to the TPM Polltracker Average.