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. Steve C

    Even with hindsight being 20/20, killing hundreds of innocents to kill one man would be wrong. Basic morality is what separates us from people and groups that believe as OBL did.

    July 31, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Can you say "coincidence shemincidene"? Hours before the attacks the president says this. Me thinks he forgot the time zone difference or wrote the coordinated time down incorrectly. This is the smoking gun that proves Clinton's involvment with the conspiracy to execute these attacks.

    July 31, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. Carter

    Well he should have.

    July 31, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. judy

    wow! this is just proof that israelis are right to be going after terrorists that want all the jews dead.....clinton now looks cowardly for not going after bin laden because of "collateral damage" 2977 Americans needed to get killed instead.....Go IDF and finish off terrorist Hamas before they finish you off...

    July 31, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  5. Garth

    Coulda woulda shoulda. What's the point of this article, I know...to promote the Clinton's.

    July 31, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  6. RJSON

    Oh I'm sure you would have gotten away with it Mr Clinton – look what we allow Benjamin to get away with.

    July 31, 2014 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  7. John TheRapist

    Maybe he could have given him a Monica flavored cigar.

    July 31, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  8. Mk82LAHD

    3000 Americans vs 300 Afghans. Good job, Mr President...

    July 31, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  9. AmadoC

    As far as I'm concerned, he killed him when he accepted Christ as his savior. With such suicide-bomb mentality I wouldn't doubt he fell in the arms of Obama or was sacrificed by his own type. As I'm sure with a grin in his face Obama was trigger-ready to rub it in the face of Republicans. Thank God only.

    July 31, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  10. John Friskel

    This event is also detailed in the 2004 book 'Ghost Wars' by Steve Coll. If I remember correctly, Mr. Coll reports that Osama was hawk hunting and had a very large entourage. At the time (pre 9/11), Osama wasn't a clear and present danger and the strategy was to "keep him moving" and feared some Saudi backlash. Plus the extent of collateral damage was quite a real possibility. Therefore it was decided not to take the shot. With the benefit of hindsight, I know we all regret things we haven't done. Read Steven Coll's book for the more complete picture of the events.

    July 31, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  11. RocketJSquirrel

    Bill Clinton will be criticized for not accepting the collateral damage and taking out the threat. Many of the people that criticize him are the same people who criticize Israel for collateral damage in the pursuit of taking out the threat.

    July 31, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. Guest

    Thanks, Clinton. You could have done something after the USS Cole.

    July 31, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  13. Daniel

    Daaaaaang, What say you Bush haters? Clinton admitted he could have stopped 9/11 and stopped the Iraq war before it started...But chose not to?

    July 31, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    He should have and he failed to do it. And that makes him stupid.

    July 31, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  15. Sarah 1123

    He should have and he failed to do it. And that makes him stupid.

    July 31, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. Name

    The war eventually cost more innocent lives, many more.

    July 31, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. Roland

    Man that made you think.

    July 31, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. John

    Hmm, precisely the day before it happened? Coincidence or did he know it was coming?

    July 31, 2014 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  19. Ty

    Bin Laden was killed by Special Operations forces (specifically a unit within the Navy SEALs) not Special Forces, which is a unit in the US Army. There is a very significant difference. It is akin to calling a radio talk show host a prime time news anchor, since, you know, they're all in the media. It would lend legitimacy to news articles if they were correct.

    July 31, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  20. Aaron

    Wow. 300 compared to what we lost in 911, cumulatively.

    July 31, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  21. JustSaying

    But you didn't.....

    July 31, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  22. Finally

    So all those who blamed Bush..... Shame on you.

    July 31, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  23. Truth

    Billy was too busy under his desk to do his job. 9 11 was because of his inaction.

    July 31, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. Socrates

    Why? He was working for you. Right?

    July 31, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. Anonymous


    July 31, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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