Skip to comments.Clinton: My Bin Laden Confession Was 'Inappropriate'
Posted on 04/20/2004 8:27:38 AM PDT by truthandlife
In a closed-door meeting with the 9/11 Commission on April 8, ex-President Bill Clinton said that his admission to a Long Island business group two years ago that he turned down Sudan's offer to arrest Osama bin Laden was "inappropriate," according to 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey.
"What the president said, he just didn't understand the facts of the question," Kerrey told Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" on Monday. "He answered inappropriately."
Commissioner Kerrey told Alan Colmes that he'd been asked to "try to do some follow-up" on Clinton's bin Laden comments to the Long Island Association on Feb. 15, 2002.
"I haven't seen the full transcript of what he said or anything like that," Kerrey insisted, though the LIA supplied the 9/11 Commission with a videotape of Clinton's speech five weeks ago.
Rep. Peter King, R-NY, who attended the event in question, said Sunday that Clinton's bin Laden admission was spontaneous rather than a response to any direct question.
"I was actually there that day," King told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg. "[Clinton] brought it up - it wasn't even in response to a question. He was sort of ruminating and talking about what went right and what went wrong and then he brought up this whole story on his own about how he turned down taking bin Laden." [See transcript, below]
Last week, Commissioner Kerrey told North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen that when Clinton's bin Laden quote was read back to him during the 9/11 interrogation, the ex-president called it "a misquote."
When Hennen told Kerrey that Clinton's comments were on audiotape, the Nebraska Democrat asked for a copy - apparently unaware that the 9/11 Commission already has them on videotape.
During his interview with the 9/11 Commission, Clinton was accompanied by longtime aide and former White House counsel Bruce "the consigliere" Lindsey, along with former national security advisor Sandy Berger, who insisted in sworn testimony before Congress in Sept. 2002 that there was never any offer from Sudanese officials to turn over bin Laden to the U.S.
Ex-President Clinton's Remarks on Osama bin Laden Delivered to the Long Island Association's Annual Luncheon Crest Hollow Country Club, Woodbury, NY Feb. 15, 2002
Question from LIA President Matthew Crosson:
CROSSON: In hindsight, would you have handled the issue of terrorism, and al-Qaeda specifically, in a different way during your administration?
CLINTON: Well, it's interesting now, you know, that I would be asked that question because, at the time, a lot of people thought I was too obsessed with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
And when I bombed his training camp and tried to kill him and his high command in 1998 after the African embassy bombings, some people criticized me for doing it. We just barely missed him by a couple of hours.
I think whoever told us he was going to be there told somebody who told him that our missiles might be there. I think we were ratted out.
We also bombed a chemical facility in Sudan where we were criticized, even in this country, for overreaching. But in the trial in New York City of the al-Qaeda people who bombed the African embassy, they testified in the trial that the Sudanese facility was, in fact, a part of their attempt to stockpile chemical weapons.
So we tried to be quite aggressive with them. We got - uh - well, Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan.
And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again.
They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.
So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan.
We then put a lot of sanctions on the Afghan government and - but they inter-married, Mullah Omar and bin Laden. So that essentially the Taliban didn't care what we did to them.
Now, if you look back - in the hindsight of history, everybody's got 20/20 vision - the real issue is should we have attacked the al-Qaeda network in 1999 or in 2000 in Afghanistan.
Here's the problem. Before September 11 we would have had no support for it - no allied support and no basing rights. So we actually trained to do this. I actually trained people to do this. We trained people.
But in order to do it, we would have had to take them in on attack helicopters 900 miles from the nearest boat - maybe illegally violating the airspace of people if they wouldn't give us approval. And we would have had to do a refueling stop.
And we would have had to make the decision in advance that's the reverse of what President Bush made - and I agreed with what he did. They basically decided - this may be frustrating to you now that we don't have bin Laden. But the president had to decide after Sept. 11, which am I going to do first? Just go after bin Laden or get rid of the Taliban?
He decided to get rid of the Taliban. I personally agree with that decision, even though it may or may not have delayed the capture of bin Laden. Why?
Because, first of all the Taliban was the most reactionary government on earth and there was an inherent value in getting rid of them.
Secondly, they supported terrorism and we'd send a good signal to governments that if you support terrorism and they attack us in America, we will hold you responsible.
Thirdly, it enabled our soldiers and Marines and others to operate more safely in-country as they look for bin Laden and the other senior leadership, because if we'd have had to have gone in there to just sort of clean out one area, try to establish a base camp and operate.
So for all those reasons the military recommended against it. There was a high probability that it wouldn't succeed.
Now I had one other option. I could have bombed or sent more missiles in. As far as we knew he never went back to his training camp. So the only place bin Laden ever went that we knew was occasionally he went to Khandahar where he always spent the night in a compound that had 200 women and children.
So I could have, on any given night, ordered an attack that I knew would kill 200 women and children that had less than a 50 percent chance of getting him.
Now, after he murdered 3,100 of our people and others who came to our country seeking their livelihood you may say, "Well, Mr. President, you should have killed those 200 women and children."
But at the time we didn't think he had the capacity to do that. And no one thought that I should do that. Although I take full responsibility for it. You need to know that those are the two options I had. And there was less than a 50/50 chance that the intelligence was right that on this particular night he was in Afghanistan.
Now, we did do a lot of things. We tried to get the Pakistanis to go get him. They could have done it and they wouldn't. They changed governments at the time from Mr. Sharif to President Musharraf. And we tried to get others to do it. We had a standing contract between the CIA and some groups in Afghanistan authorizing them and paying them if they should be successful in arresting and/or killing him.
So I tried hard to - I always thought this guy was a big problem. And apparently the options I had were the options that the President and Vice President Cheney and Secretary Powell and all the people that were involved in the Gulf War thought that they had, too, during the first eight months that they were there - until Sept. 11 changed everything.
But I did the best I could with it and I do not believe, based on what options were available to me, that I could have done much more than I did. Obviously, I wish I'd been successful. I tried a lot of different ways to get bin Laden 'cause I always thought he was a very dangerous man. He's smart, he's bold and committed.
But I think it's very important that the Bush administration do what they're doing to keep the soldiers over there to keep chasing him. But I know - like I said - I know it might be frustrating to you. But it's still better for bin Laden to worry every day more about whether he's going to see the sun come up in the morning than whether he's going to drop a bomb, another bomb somewhere in the U.S. or in Europe or on some other innocent civilians. (END OF TRANSCRIPT)
Is this true? Klintoon wasn't alone?
"Bill Clinton is an unusually good liar." Bob Kerrey, 1996.
Since there was an earlier report that only half of the commissioners showed up for Condi's closed hearing, I wonder how many were there to hear clinton. Bob Kerrey seems remarkably uninformed. Did he attend, I wonder?
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