Fact Check

Biden Says He Stood at Ground Zero the Day After 9/11

According to all available evidence, then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden was in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12, 2001.

Published Sep 11, 2023

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks to service members, first responders, and their families on the 22nd anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, on September 11, 2023.  (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Claim:
Then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden visited ground zero, the site of the fallen twin towers of the World Trade Center, the day after 9/11.
Context

In a Sept. 11, 2023, speech commemorating the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Biden said he visited the ruins of the World Trade Center at ground zero the day after the attacks took place. The evidence says otherwise.

In a commemorative speech on Sept. 11, 2023, the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in which thousands of people died, U.S. President Joe Biden said he remembered standing at ground zero in New York City the next day and looking at the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center:

I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow: never forget; never forget; we never forget. Each of us ... each of those precious lives stolen too soon when evil attacked. Ground zero, New York. I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell, it looked so devastated.

As a great many social media users were quick to point out, however, there is no evidence Biden visited ground zero on Sept. 12, 2001, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

The Congressional Record shows that Biden was in Washington, D.C., that day, not New York City. Not only was he in attendance at a Senate session, but as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee managed the discussion prior to a vote that would unanimously confirm a joint resolution condemning the 9/11 attacks.

This in confirmed in contemporaneous news coverage. As The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, reported the following day:

Just as he had hoped and demanded, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden spent Wednesday [Sept. 12] exactly where he wanted: in the U.S. Senate.

Biden was one of the first and most vociferous in demanding that Congress return to action to prove the government is functioning. Terrorists win, he said only hours after Tuesday's attack, when the government goes into hiding.

Biden would not visit ground zero for the first time until a week later, on Sept. 20, 2001, when, according to The Associated Press, he joined a delegation of senators who traveled by train from Washington to New York to see the devastation with their own eyes.

Snopes reached out to the White House for comment on Biden's apparent misremembrance of the date. This article will be updated if we receive new information.

Sources

"Article Clipped from The Naples Daily News." The Naples Daily News, 21 Sept. 2001, p. 25. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-naples-daily-news/131648046/.

"Biden: September 12, 2001." The News Journal, 13 Sept. 2001, p. 7. newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/article/the-news-journal-biden-september-12-20/131632102/.

President Biden on America's Resolve During 9/11. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1bzR_3E00k. Accessed 11 Sept. 2023.

Senate Session, Part 1 | September 12, 2001 | C-SPAN.Org. https://www.c-span.org/video/?165972-1/senate-session-part-1. Accessed 11 Sept. 2023.

The Avalon Project : Congressional Record Senate - Terrorist Attacks Against the United States; September 12, 2001. 22 Mar. 2009, http://web.archive.org/web/20090322031224/https://avalon.law.yale.edu/sept11/senate_proc_091201.asp.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.