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. Rob

    I could have invented the internet too but Al Gore beat me to it.

    August 1, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Bill

    We all know he was busy playing golf.

    August 1, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. bskb

    a) He didn't
    b) He only said it to prove he is morally superior for not killing women and children.

    August 1, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. dave-0

    Funny – he spoke as if he was holding the gun. Maybe "WE could have got him" or "they could have got him" but " I could have killed him" cracks me up. Bill the gunslinger.

    August 1, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Gorio

    This fool was too busy playing golf and suckin cigars at the white house to even care about Bin Laden. He should shut up before he embarrasses himself and the facts come out. Again.

    August 1, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Absopt

    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.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    Liberals just as often blame 911 entirely on Bush when there were considerable errors of complacency on both "sides" over several administrations. Quite sadly, the vast majority of the population of this country believes their party is 100% responsible for all successes and the other party is 100% responsible for all failures. As with pretty much all things good and bad, both parties have made significant contributions.

    August 1, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Snafusarge

    Slick Willie must be losing his mememory with oldl age. By the time, Slick Willie decided to forgo the launch, intelligence had already told him Bin Laden had moved out of the targeted area.

    August 1, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    300 lived, 2900 dies(Americans mostly)

    August 1, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. Anon

    But instead he used sanctions on Iraq that the United Nations and UNICEF proved killed 500,000 children. Clinton killed more people in Iraq than Bush.

    August 1, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. john wayne

    They also almost caught him a few years later, but that was a real blunder and not reported by much of the US media. A joint British SAS and US Delta Force were searching an area in Pakistan? The SAS located him, no reflection on Delta Force, he simply happened to be where the SAS was searching. The SAS called it in, but were told to wait for the US forces to arrive for strictly political reasons!! In the delay, Bin Laden slipped away!

    August 1, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. tiktin

    Fiction is a wonderful thing, but not in news reports.

    August 1, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. DJ

    "I nearly got Osma bin Laden. But then I settled for Monica Lewinsky."

    August 1, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. stanusvet

    Bill,

    You had 8 years as the President and accomplished "0"; yes, you had a good time.

    Stop grandstanding about what you could have done, if you hadn't been stalking interns.

    Take a poll + cover up = Clinton era

    Clinton era = 0

    Sorry

    August 1, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Zen Galacticore

    "Almost" doesn't count. There's a Monty Python skit in there somewhere.

    August 1, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Jouptheanna

    We will never know all that went on. Can we please move on with our lives.

    August 1, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. Michelle

    This isn't the Wizard of Oz, where the flying monkies don't know what to do when the witch dies. The terrorists would have gone ahead with plans whether Osama was alive or had been killed.

    August 1, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    LOL – look at all the hypocrites bloviating about President Clinton not doing what they whine about President Obama doing! The same hypocrites who are up in arms about "collateral damage" from President Obama using drones to take out the bad guys are the same hypocrites who are up in arms about President Clinton's concern about "collateral damage" causing him to NOT use a missile to take out OBL.

    Oh, BTW you hypocrites – did any of you notice that President Clinton made his remarks BEFORE the events of September 2001? Yeah, didn't think so.

    August 1, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    john wayne
    They also almost caught him a few years later, but that was a real blunder and not reported by much of the US media. A joint British SAS and US Delta Force were searching an area in Pakistan? The SAS located him, no reflection on Delta Force, he simply happened to be where the SAS was searching. The SAS called it in, but were told to wait for the US forces to arrive for strictly political reasons!! In the delay, Bin Laden slipped away!

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

    And you know this because you were there, right?

    August 1, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    buzz peterson has a slightly different story.

    August 1, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    "You're mistaken. In the 2012 campaign, Obama said al Quaeda was decimated."
    -----------------------
    There you go again. Taking words out of context. He was talking about Afghanistan when he said that....and they were.

    August 1, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. liberal disease

    too busy chasing interns

    August 1, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Pierce

    I don't think he could have killed bin laden.
    How can one who spent his youth trying to avoid the draft/serve his country get into a position to kill anyone?
    Oh, I get it. He would have someone else do the dirty work. Oh, ok.
    You are so macho, Mr. Ex-President!

    August 1, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Richard Right

    Yea, I guess he could have had Bin Laden killed because he presented a continuing threat to the U.S. as a radical jihadist leader. But no, it was more important to look good to his supporters,

    August 1, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. Nick Moore

    John Wayne, was that before or after our sniper was told to stand down at Tora Bora? I heard we had the back of bin Laden's skull in the scope, but the sniper didn't mention to The Nation Magazine about SAS tagging along.

    August 1, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. Greg

    Slick Willy was too busy screwing every woman with a pulse. Military members were totally embaressed by Clinton. In Somalia when the Black Hawk down incident happened, clinton pulled our military out, making us look like cowards. We wanted to go back in and clear the city.

    August 1, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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