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. Casino

    This is a well known and previously documented fact. Why is it being treated like news now?

    July 31, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  2. marionpr

    Wise desicion mr. clinton. you will be blessed.

    July 31, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  3. Winston

    "I nearly got him". Well, you didn't, so thanks for nothing. You act like you had his neck in your hands and all you had to do was strangle him single-handedly. It's this ridiculous arrogance that has brought us to where we are now. Evil triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing. Evil also triumphs when other evil men are so self-absorbed that they don't see the danger.

    August 1, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  4. Winston

    "I nearly got him". Well, you didn't, so thanks for nothing. You act like you had his neck in your hands and all you had to do was strangle him single-handedly. It's this ridiculous arrogance that has brought us to where we are now. Evil triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing. Evil also triumphs when other evil men are so self-absorbed that they don't see the danger. So you traded 300 innocent lives in Kandahar for 3,000 innocent lives in the United States.

    August 1, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  5. Parker

    While Bin Laden was the "mastermind" behind these attacks, al Qaeda likely would have gone forth with the 9/11 attacks (as I'm sure it was months, if not years, in the making). That being said, still incredibly upsetting to read.

    August 1, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. Bill Clinton

    And I invented the internet before Al invented it.

    August 1, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. Reginald Weatherby

    This statement was made the day before the attack? If so, how ironic.

    August 1, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  8. rick

    Clinton had the opportunity to kill bin laden another time with a tomahawk strike but it would have also killed 1/2 the kuwaiti royal family too. Bin Laden was well connected among saudi and kuwaiti royalty.
    America is a slave to the wealthy, who have ties to middle eastern money and could care less about our security.

    August 1, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  9. ne2indy

    I wish today we'd take collateral damage into consideration before drone attacks. When we kill innocent civilians we are destroying our image before the world & making people in that particular country hate us even more.
    In this case, Clinton would not have known about the 911 attack plot. People can debate whether he should have attacked anyway but hindsight is always better than foresight.

    August 1, 2014 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  10. bevmccar@gmail.com

    You coulda, woulda, shoulda! Go away already! LIAR!

    August 1, 2014 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  11. Michael

    "I could have killed Osama, but I was way too busy with a cigar, lying to my wife, hiding my mistress, and tossing bombs on foreign countries to throw the public off my trail."

    August 1, 2014 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  12. Monologue

    Oh, really! He killed so many Bosnian woman and children by bombing them from 30,000 feet! Who is he fooling!!!!

    August 1, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  13. Merrill Liebensberger

    Something does not make sense. Clinton's presidency ended on Jan 20,2001. George Bush was president at the time of the attack. Is Clinton embellishing or has he reached senility?

    August 1, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. paul

    Kandahar is a large city, 1 million people including the surrounding suburbs. Maybe Clinton was "inhaling" again when he said it's a tiny village of 300!

    August 1, 2014 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  15. Alexix

    Oh my

    August 1, 2014 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  16. edmundburkeson

    someone may be hitting the sauce

    August 1, 2014 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  17. Question

    Did one of these business men ask Clinton specifically about Bin Ladin? Seems worthy of investigation.

    August 1, 2014 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  18. lee

    even if a pig has wings it still isn't a bald eagle

    August 1, 2014 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  19. reply

    Way to go Billary–you could have got him with 300 dead on their side but let him live to murder 3,000 on our side!

    August 1, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  20. DaLe

    U.S. President's powers:
    – a blast killing 300 or more
    – or doing nothing
    ?

    August 1, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  21. Motley

    So is it a good thing to get someone like that and have the collateral damage,.. or expose one to the possibility of a large terrorist attack orchestrated by such person?

    History asks this over and over,.. Israelis are currently in midst of an international debate about that very thing,...

    August 1, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  22. DaLe

    U.S. President's powers:
    – a bla st killing 300 or more
    – or doing nothing
    ?

    August 1, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  23. Name

    I'm happy he didn't.

    August 1, 2014 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  24. KevininAtlanta

    So he didn't get bin Laden because he was afraid of killing innocent women and children?

    I can respect that. He had no idea what horror this terrorist scum would be capable of just hours later, but I can see why he would not have gone after bin Laden. Just a shame about the outcome.

    August 1, 2014 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  25. Dr. Jack

    I wish, he would have done it, saving thousands of American lives and the lives of tens of thousands around the world,

    But, he was busy with Monica!!

    Priorities!!

    August 1, 2014 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
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