July 31st, 2014
06:56 PM ET
3 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. Dmitri

    Haha, Robert, very well said, and obvious of course. It is astounding how people struggle with logic. One person here says that this is "proving that 9/11 was Clinton's fault," then insinuates that he's a conservative. I often wonder whether these stupid comments from conservatives are actually made by liberals to give conservatives a bad name, but I know that these people really are conservatives and illogical.

    August 1, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. juststephen250

    I believe that Obama.. Er, Osama is still alive and that we didn't actually kill him, it was just a presidential show to make Obama look better. A failed attempt in my eyes.

    August 1, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Comprehension

    People saying could have, should have... some things best left quiet, etc. These statements were made before 9/11 happened when someone asked him about terrorism. They have been released by a third party, not Bill Clinton. It is a known fact that his administration had a chance to take him out and chose not to because of the possible loss of 300 innocent people. How that makes 9/11 Clinton's fault is beyond me, that rationale is insane.

    August 1, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I dont post, but in this case I have to.....He did not strike because their were Saudi princes and heirs there....that is a fact and that is the truth.....

    August 1, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Greg

    I read the CIA's account of what happened, and there wasn't 300 civilians there, it was closer to 30 people associated with the Saudi prince who was falcon hunting with Bin Laden.

    August 1, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. nik green

    If he was the "mastermind of 9/11", then why did the FBI say: "...we have no hard evidence linking (OBL) with the attacks of September 11, 2001". Why was he never indicted by the US DoJ for his alleged part in those attacks? Why was he not detained in Rawalpindi o 9/10/2001, and why was he not arrested/detained by Dubai CIA field station agents when he was visited in hospital there in June 2001? Why was he deliberately allowed to escape after being surrounded by US troops in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan in October and November 2001 – on no less than FOUR occasions? Why was 9/11 never mentioned on OBL's dossier on the FBI's "Most Wanted" page? Why did President Bush say on two occasions that "he wasn't worried about OBL", and why did Dick Cheney say, in a Tony Snow interview, that "we don't have the evidence linking OBL with 9/11"?

    Just curious....

    August 1, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Barry Black

    This is just a rehash of old news-–we knew that right after 9-11 when Clinton told us so. I guess after 10 or so years old news can be news once again.

    August 1, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Megan

    Bin Laden was not killed by US Special Forces. He was killed by US Navy SEALs. There is a rather considerable difference. The Special Forces name applies specifically to US Army Green Berets, whereas the SEALs are a US Navy Special Operations Force. The two forces specialize in completely different mission types and operations.

    August 1, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. gdaym8

    Coulda...Shoulda...Woulda...

    August 1, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. casual observation

    Far cry from the bush decision to safely escort bin laden family out of u.s., on morning of 911, still wondering how he knew to do that. Nah, George w would never sacrifice Americans lives for his personal/ political gain, not him, no sir, he's a patriot.

    August 1, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Jeff

    So let me get this straight. Clinton passed at least twice on taking out Bin Laden, which contributed to 9/11 that happened on Bush's watch, so 9/11 is all Bush's fault. Bush took actions that contributed to the economic calamity we face on Obama's watch, so the economic calamity is Bush's fault.

    So now matter who is President when something bad happens, and no matter who took actions that caused that something bad to happen, that something bad is Bush's fault. Got it.

    August 1, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Lizzie

    Greg
    I read the CIA's account of what happened, and there wasn't 300 civilians there, it was closer to 30 people associated with the Saudi prince who was falcon hunting with Bin Laden.
    Forgot to mention the sniper who had Bin Laden in sight and was told to stand down.

    August 1, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. WillB

    Only reason he didn't was he realized he was in love with him.

    August 1, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Just Sayin

    Seriously, since when before 9/11 was it OK for the president to order assasinations, and the murder of innocents without a war being declared legally...Oh yeah that's right it's the US gov't, that would be always...especially now that GW and crew basically pushed through laws that allow for all those types of shenanagans post 9/11. A little freedom for security always works ot well for everyone. 2001=1984.

    August 1, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Lance Haley

    For all of you people who are bashing Clinton and declaring that Bush-Cheney, et al did something about it . . . I have two things to "put in your pipe and smoke it" – especially Time to Flee:

    First: The Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) of August 6, 2001 – just Thirty Five days . . . count them Time to Flee . . . before 9/11. Bush AND Cheney AND Rumsfeld were briefed on this that day. What was the heading on the PDB? "Bin Laden Intends to Strike U.S." This was a report generated by the CIA, NSA , and FBI intelligence and then presented to Bush and company by CIA Director George Tenet and the rest of the White House Intelligence Staff. Unfortunately, their bosses were not very intelligent and ignored the warning. Just Google "PDB August 6, 2001". You can literally read a copy of it There is your first puff genius.

    Second: Operation Jawbreaker. Go read the book. I have! Read about Gary Berntsen – decorated CIA officer who had Bin Laden and his entourage located in the Valley of Tora Bora in early December, 2001. He calls the Pentagon on his Sat Phone (satellite phone) and tells them to insert Special Forces at the top of the valley on the pass that leads into Pakistan so Bin Laden and his army of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters could not escape into Pakistan. Rumsfeld, Cheney, et all, told him "NO! You can order targeted air strikes. That's it."

    The Battle of Tora Bora ensues. U.S. B2 Stealth and B – 52 bombers rain down thousands of 500 lbs ordinance. But as Berntsen warned, the deep cave complex that had been built into the mountains lining that valley back when the Afghan rebels were fighting the Russian Army in the late 1970's was "virtually impervious" to bombing. He was right.

    Bin Laden and Company escaped with their leadership in tact.

    Bush and Company spent $3 Trillion borrowed from China, and thousands of American lives over the course of seven years and accomplished nothing.

    Obama spend $25 Million, with no casualties, and in two years, found him, killed him, and dumped his worthless waste of human skin into the ocean as shark bait. Their is your second puff Time To Flee

    Stick that all in your little Conservative Pipe and choke on it . . .

    August 1, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. mike

    could of kept his weiner in his pants but he did not do that either

    August 1, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. casual observation

    Sarcasm, its what's for lunch.

    August 1, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. jacknyd

    Another Clinton Lie.
    He tried to Kill Bin Laden but was way too late. The problem was. It took around two hours minimum to get permission to fire on Bin Laden after the European command sent the data back to the pentagon and then to the President. Bin Laden new this and that is why he kept moving from place to place and never staying in one location for MORE than 2 hours. There is NO way that Bill Clinton could have given an order to kill him because of the time factor. That changed under Bush, SO that a commander in the theater could order the hit if it was already authorized prior by the President of the United States.

    August 1, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. johnbiggscr

    'juststephen250 – I believe that Obama.. Er, Osama is still alive and that we didn't actually kill him, it was just a presidential show to make Obama look better. A failed attempt in my eyes.'

    Nah, you cant really believe that, that would be just stupid. Heck all it would take is Osama to pop up on tv to show it was all a con and he would gain thousands of followers. That he doesnt do that does point to him being dead.

    August 1, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. JohnInCA

    Ending a major terrorist leader’s life with acts of extreme prejudice will eliminate the threat immediately and preserve countless others from the senseless acts of terror these extremists are compelled to carry out regardless of our moral courage. Clinton should have struck him down and then pay homage, spiritually and monetarily, to the immediate family members of the survivors for allowing a free State to rid this world of hate filled terrorists with extreme prejudice.

    August 1, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. sly

    "I believe that Obama.. Er, Osama is still alive and that we didn't actually kill him, it was just a presidential show to make Obama look better. A failed attempt in my eyes."
    ====
    Yes, and this is why we call y'all "The Party of Stupid".

    But that's ok – all the Republicans have gone home for a 7 week summer vacation.

    Don't worry – America is thriving with President Obama leading the way. Simply put: America doesn't need Republicans anymore, and frankly, we are thriving BECAUSE there are no Republicans.

    August 1, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. OK

    juststephen250
    I believe that Obama.. Er, Osama is still alive and that we didn't actually kill him, it was just a presidential show to make Obama look better. A failed attempt in my eyes.
    -

    Yeah, and we never went to the moon, the WTC was taken down by controlled demolition, jetliners are spraying us all with chemicals, Paul is dead, and you're a nutjob.

    August 1, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. itisabouttime

    Just like a liberal, bragging about another failure,

    August 1, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Gary

    people often hate with their eyes closed ... my opinion from what I'm reading in posts

    August 1, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. moderatethis

    And if my aunt had balls shed be my uncle.

    August 1, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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