July 31st, 2014
06:56 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. bclark

    "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." makes it seem like they knew this was going to happen before it did 0_0

    August 1, 2014 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  2. Ted Ward

    Clinton reasons like a self important child. Yale should be so proud.

    August 1, 2014 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  3. zaqaz

    No Disqus comments? That's a shocker.

    You don't kill a village of 300 to kill a single person who hasn't yet killed 3,000 people.

    August 1, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  4. Hugh Jeffenkok

    Clinton could've killed Obama Bin Laden, but he was too busy with impeachment issues because he had to show Monica Lewinsky his spitting snake.

    August 1, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  5. Carole Curtis

    I find it suspicious that in this above article you site President Clinton's words that he could have killed BinLadin, further in the article you do not mention that Special Forces under President Obama killed Bin Ladin. CNN, like Fox discriminates against President Obama. It wouldn't matter what he did right, he never gets credit.

    August 1, 2014 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  6. foundstar

    Shoulda ,coulda woulda,...changed the world.

    August 1, 2014 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  7. Captain Hindsight

    2997 innocent American lives, 4683 US military personnel, almost 100,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians, 2 wars costing over $4 trillion, and a financial collapse later...doesn't seem like it would have been such a bad move.

    August 1, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  8. RT Colorado

    "Yeah, I could have killed bin Laden, but Monica and I were busy getting busy, if you know what I mean".

    August 1, 2014 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  9. @RI_Roger

    The Obama money machine at work. Obama does not want Hilary to succeed him. Don't under-estimate the reach of the Obama machine to search out issues and exploit the media to help discredit the Clinton's. The academic princess, Elizabeth Warren, is O's pick for the White House..... time will tip his hand.

    August 1, 2014 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  10. SixDegrees

    I'm sure that within the year, we'll hear Hilary claiming she single-handedly ripped bin Laden's heart out with her teeth, despite her poverty.

    August 1, 2014 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  11. justsickofit

    Very OLD news. Nothing new for sure.

    August 1, 2014 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  12. Goran

    Why did he not do it then? Was he too busy with messing around with this little tramp Lewinsky?
    Come on, your wife wants to run for the presidency! I could throw up about all these lies here!
    Elisabeth for President!!! Go Elisabeth!!!

    August 1, 2014 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  13. Bob

    Irrelevant. Osama isn't the one that flew the planes into the buildings.

    August 1, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  14. Marie MD

    He would have found a way to either get away or the US would have then be considered a terrorist country (even tough it's already considered a country full of terrorists . . . look at the teaklans in congress destroying it from the inside out – like cancer).
    The fact that the shrub #43 administration knew what was being planned and he thought it would be best to read children goat stories is worse. There were plenty of red flags. Maybe cheney, his puppeteer is color blind. Same goes for Rice.

    August 1, 2014 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  15. Mike_Shanahan


    August 1, 2014 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  16. Matt

    Probably should have sent in special forces then...

    August 1, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  17. nunYerDamnBizness

    well appreciated you Bill, we can't go around being as ruthless as the people we oppose. I would vote for you again if possible but not by proxy.

    August 1, 2014 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  18. American


    August 1, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  19. Ron

    I could have ate at McDonalds....

    August 1, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  20. Greg

    Clinton had no less than 3 chances to kill Bin Laden, and turned down all of them. Clinton could have prevented 9/11 and by the time he left office the 9/11 plot was fully planned and ready to go. Bush gets most of the blame, Slick Willy deserves 75% of the blame.

    August 1, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  21. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Should hAVE killed that Moslem LOSER!!!!!

    August 1, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    -could be true, but Obama killed while Bush hid him in Pakistan, gave 30 billion dollars yearly. Republicans ideology is keep Bin Laden alive, hide him, let him make threats, so that these republicans scare people, wonton go to wars, collect foreign contracts like Halliburton, make money, live ever happily. Send people to wars, these ignorant, uneducated go to war, die, if alive collect war-provided money–for going to war USA gives money just like a bone to a dirty dog, this type goes on, on, on, for ever. Vote all repos out.

    August 1, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  23. Gabbo

    Once a liar, always a liar – Bill Clinton

    August 1, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  24. Funkae

    So it was Clinton's fault

    August 1, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  25. architectjohn

    Poor irony & unfortunate timing, but this is not news, as the article states, the aborted strike has been well known.

    August 1, 2014 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
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