On Sunday, as she made the rounds at the Litchfield Park arts festival in Litchfield Park, Arizona, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by GOP Senator Jeff Flake, was asked twice whether she regretted her controversial comments from 2003 when she told a radio host she didn’t care if Americans fought for the Taliban. Not only did Sinema refuse to say she regretted the comment, but she also implied that she is against the war American soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying it is “misguided.”
Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News caught up with Sinema at the arts festival and stated, “Martha McSally has asked you to apologize for what she said was treasonous comments about somebody being able to go and fight for the Taliban. Do you regret that statement at that time?
Sinema dodged, “You know, Martha crossed the line with those comments and that’s the choice she’s made in her campaign, to run a campaign that’s based on —“
Hillyard: “But do you regret that statement, though, at all?”
Sinema balked at any regret over her 2003 comments, then took a shot at the war Americans are currently fighting: “Well, it was an offhand comment during that interview about a war that I believed was misguided and still believe is misguided. What Martha has chosen to do is run a very negative campaign based on false attacks and smears and lies. And that’s her choice; but I think Arizonans are choosing the person that they believe shares their values and they believe will stand up for them.”
Sinema’s comments are all of a piece with her actions from 15 years ago; the day after her comments regarding the Taliban, at an anti-war event, a group led by Sinema showed an American soldier as a skeleton inflicting "U.S. terror" in Iraq and the Middle East, as reported by CNN's KFile,
While Sinema was belittling American servicemen who were risking their lives overseas, McSally was fighting alongside them. The first female U.S. fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first woman to command a fighter squadron, she was deployed to Kuwait in January 1995 and flew combat patrols over Iraq as part of Operation Southern Watch. In 2000, she reported to Saudi Arabia for a temporary assignment. Later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, she commanded the A-10 equipped 354th Fighter Squadron in July 2004, later deploying to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, where she dispatched weapons for the first time from her A-10 in combat.
While serving in Saudi Arabia, McSally sued Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over the military requirement that servicewomen wear Muslim garb when off base in Saudi Arabia; that policy was then changed. According to some news reports, McSally had been fighting to change the policy for seven years, and even the threat of a court-martial if she did not comply with the regulation did not stop her from filing the lawsuit.
In May 2010, McSally retired from active duty with 22 years of commissioned service in the U.S. Air Force.