July 31st, 2014
06:56 PM ET
5 months ago

Bill Clinton: ‘I nearly got’ Osama bin Laden

Washington (CNN) - Bill Clinton, just hours before planes crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, reportedly told an audience in Australia that he almost killed Osama bin Laden during his presidency.

Speaking to a group of businessmen in Australia on September 10, 2001, according to audio aired by SkyNews Australia on Wednesday, Clinton said that he "nearly got" the al Qaeda leader but didn't go through with a missile attack because of the collateral damage that would have come from it.

"He [Osama bin Laden] is a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him – and I nearly got him once," Clinton said. "I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.”

The tape, which was provided to SkyNews by Michael Kroger, a former head of the Liberal Party of Australia, aired on the networks show "Paul Murray Live."

According to Kroger, who appears on the show, the Clinton remarks came from a meeting the former president had with 30 businessmen and women at Crown Casino Complex in Melbourne.

"The event was taped with his knowledge," Kroger says on the show. "The tape has never been played. … Bill Clinton was answering a question from a member of the audience about terrorism, international terrorism and he made some extraordinary remarks which had hitherto remained in my vault."

A number of books and the 9/11 Commission Report have acknowledged that the Clinton administration considered a December 1998 strike on bin Laden but scrapped the plan over possible collateral damage.

Bin Laden would infamously go on to be the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks that killed 2,977 people. After going into hiding for years, bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011 by U.S. Special Forces during an early morning raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.


Filed under: Australia • Bill Clinton • Osama bin Laden
soundoff (561 Responses)
  1. anthony

    he almost killed him. He was so busy with Monica if not the history can be written

    July 31, 2014 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Clinton didn't have the moxie. Plain and simple.

    July 31, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. Johnny 5

    Almost doesn't count.

    July 31, 2014 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  4. gahh

    With all the murder in Afghanistan, these people were probably killed anyway. Instead, 3000 Americans slaughtered, and a hundred billion dollars in damage done. Clinton should just keep quiet.

    July 31, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. Wade

    Further proof that all the mess was Clinton's fault!

    July 31, 2014 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Daniel

    Could've would've should've.

    July 31, 2014 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. the blood

    Always wanting to be the center of attention Bubba brags about what could have been, but he so nobly didn't do. Sadly, his nobility cost over 3000 Americans their lives. Wisdom keeps this kind of information to one's self after a tragedy like 911. Hubris lets it out.

    July 31, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Toomuch

    Why with Libs is it always Woman and Children? As it turns out this could have been one of the largest mistakes and miss calculations of our time... Way to go Bill..

    July 31, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. Dawn Kieballs

    Breaking News! from the time machine?

    July 31, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. cbp

    It is interesting to hear all the maybes and would have beens from Clinton, McCain, Romney, etc. There are so many issues facing us today and I really wonder why this stuff is news. We have a Congress which does nothing and that is not a maybe or would be. That is what is happening and until we all say enough they will continue to receive their paychecks and their perks while we continue to face uncertain times. Once would think they would be embarrassed but they are not. Led by Speaker Boehner they continue to play games with the American people. It really is a very sad state of affairs.

    July 31, 2014 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Gene

    Yeah–woulda, coulda, shoulda. Obama made the call.

    July 31, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. joe the plumber

    The Israeli's should read this

    July 31, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. Steve

    This is news?

    July 31, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. manny

    "I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.” Right... that's the only reason you didn't do it... something seems a bit off

    July 31, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. joe murphy

    what about all the people who died in the world trade center

    July 31, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. dudly dupa

    probably so didn't you plant a lot of folks in arkansas?

    July 31, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Chris..E.Al

    Bill c. thank you . It must weigh hard on your heart to know what you could have prevented and i admire your honesty . We all wish we could have that one back also too do over but hind sight is 20.20 and things happen we regret .

    July 31, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. SteveInMN

    "I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.”

    A way of thinking - a level of morality - that is an incomprehensible to members The Taliban and The Republiban...

    July 31, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. cinemattla

    How soon before the GOP blames 9/11 on Hilary?

    July 31, 2014 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. samus

    We only know who couldn't kill Bin Laden. And his name is a synonym for a certain female body part.

    July 31, 2014 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. joe

    Clinton would have instructed someone else to kill Bin Laden. Clinton just as with Obama is nothing more than a coward.

    July 31, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. OMEN

    special forces didn't exist then?

    July 31, 2014 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Nick

    Bad timing much?

    July 31, 2014 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  24. Carole Thomas

    Really............... Why do you report this?

    July 31, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. joejmauro

    he coilda,whats the difference

    July 31, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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