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. Greenspam

    Clinton made a mistake. Kandahar is not a small town, it is the second largest city in Afghanistan (see wikipedia). So either Clinton got the name of the city wrong, or this whole thing was made up.

    August 1, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    The only part that Bin Laden played in the BOMBING of the trade centers was...patsy....scapegoat. You people should do your home work and stop accepting everything that's said by politicians and the media...and we that know, know who's running that show. Wake up!

    August 1, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. 13directors

    So what. W could have as well.

    August 1, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    If he did kill bin laden It will look like the 9/11 was in response to his killing or people around him.

    August 1, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. joe

    We're doomed to be Bs' d for the rest of our insignificant lives by professional bsers.

    August 1, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. DRJJ

    I almost caught Bin Laden with his pants down! Unfortunately, my pants were down at the time.

    August 1, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    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.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    CIA huh? Yeah, real trustworthy guys there!

    August 1, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. yeah

    Great, you sacrificed 3000+ Americans instead of 300 sand rats.

    Great job.

    August 1, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Tom

    Just noticing that half of the people here failed to read the article. This was stated hours before the 9/11 attack. Clinton is not currently discussing this matter.

    August 1, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. yea, right

    A saying from my dad, "And if the dog didn't stop to take a krrap he would have caught the rabbit"

    August 1, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. sly

    "Great, you sacrificed 3000+ Americans instead of 300 sand rats."
    =====
    Ah, it's always fun to read Americans who admire Hitler.

    No wonder Bush murdered 500,000 innocent civilians in Iraq – after all, he had WMD's to find.

    Fools – no wonder they are named "The Party of Stupid".

    August 1, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    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.
    ------------------------------
    Do you seriously believe that? Do you actually think that the world is as orderly and well-behaved as all that?

    Facts speak for themselves. Killing Bin Laden in 1998 would probably have made little or no difference. Bin Laden has been dead, for what, three years now? Somehow Al-Qaeda is doing very well, despite Bin Laden being dead. In fact, they seem to have formed their own little caliphate called ISIS. The main thing that Bin Laden had brought to the group was money and a vision. The man has died, but the money and the vision have lived on.

    August 1, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Noneya

    I find it funny that conservatives still find time to blame Clinton for 9/11, by not killing OBL... They completely gloss over the fact that OBL's power was derived from Ronald Reagan training and funding him. So despite right-wing foreign policy breeding people like Osama Bin Laden, we are going to blame Clinton because he didn't want to murder a bunch of innocent women and children to get at one person.

    August 1, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Scott

    Yea, he might of, but I think he was too busy hiding his personal missile to do anything effective.

    August 1, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. geopolitical perspective

    Perhaps someone should have told billie boy about Seal Team 6!!!

    August 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Noneya

    I find it funny that conservatives still find time to blame Clinton for 9/11, by not killing OBL... They completely gloss over the fact that OBL's power was derived from Ronald Reagan training and funding him. So despite right-wing foreign policy creationg people like Osama Bin Laden, we are going to blame Clinton because he didn't want to murder a bunch of innocent women and children to get at one person.

    August 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. YoonYoungJo

    ? Why do we need to get Bin Laden? He was just protecting his ideals and people, and living. Plus, when we went after him he wasn't even doing anything. He was just helping his people, of course at the cost of Americans but who cares about that. We should have been protecting him. LoL. That was really really dumb sarcasm. Anyways, it would have been better if we had caught him. Not sure if these reports were true but I heard Bush knew about him before the 9/11 attacks. But for the sake of world solidarity and all, and Saudi oil, decided it was better for the country to ignore it. But those stories could have been fake.

    August 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Duh Scientists

    Does no one remember that bin laden was offered to Clinton on 3 different occasions? he wouldn't have had had to kill anyone. I don't know of bigger liars that the clintons, especially h clinton.

    August 1, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. starbuck

    Made up.....Clinton couldn't find his "keys" with both hands and a flashlight...

    August 1, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. smore17

    It wouldn't have made any difference if Clinton would have killed bin Laden. The terrorists were in the U.S. already and making their last minute plans to board the planes. I don't know why this is brought up now.

    August 1, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Brad

    Hindsight is always 20/20

    August 1, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    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.
    ----------
    Do you seriously believe that? Do you actually think that the world is as orderly and well-behaved as all that?

    Facts speak for themselves. Killing Bin Laden in 1998 would probably have made little or no difference. Bin Laden has been dead, for what, three years now? Somehow Al-Qaeda is doing very well, despite Bin Laden being dead. In fact, they seem to have formed their own little caliphate called ISIS. The main thing that Bin Laden had brought to the group was money and a vision. The man has died, but the money and the vision have lived on.
    ---------
    You're mistaken. In the 2012 campaign, Obama said al Quaeda was decimated.

    August 1, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Jodo

    Hey Bill - I nearly won the lottery. But nearly doesn't count

    August 1, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. andnowforsomethingcompletelydifferent

    I and my LATE husband would have to disagree – you are already no better than OBL. Coward.

    August 1, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. geopolitical perspective

    Obama simply has better judgment. He didn't consider bombing the entire city, only to weaver and let OBL go free. No, instead he sent in Seal Team 6 on a covert mission to get the job done Now, that's a President for ya!

    August 1, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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