Clinton could have taken Bin Laden out, but didn't

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On at least 10 occasions in the '90s, Osama bin Laden was within the grasp of U. S. operatives, but the Clinton White House (specifically Sandy "Padded Pants" Berger) refused to give the order to act. The situation was dramatized in a scene that was ultimately cut from the ABC mini-series, "The Path to 9/11":

(Video link via Danny Carlton.)

If you want to read what the 9/11 commission had to say about the Clinton administration's half-hearted pursuit of bin Laden, here's a link to Chapter 4, "Responses to Al Qaeda's Initial Assaults."

Policymakers in the Clinton administration, including the President and his national security advisor, told us that the President’s intent regarding covert action against Bin Ladin was clear: he wanted him dead.This intent was never well communicated or understood within the CIA.Tenet told the Commission that except in one specific case (discussed later), the CIA was authorized to kill Bin Ladin only in the context of a capture operation. CIA senior managers, operators, and lawyers confirmed this understanding.“We always talked about how much easier it would have been to kill him,” a former chief of the Bin Ladin unit said.

In February 1999, another draft Memorandum of Notification went to President Clinton. It asked him to allow the CIA to give exactly the same guidance to the Northern Alliance as had just been given to the tribals: they could kill Bin Ladin if a successful capture operation was not feasible. On this occasion, however, President Clinton crossed out key language he had approved in December and inserted more ambiguous language. No one we interviewed could shed light on why the President did this. President Clinton told the Commission that he had no recollection of why he rewrote the language.

It's a depressing read: Over and over again, you see the people on the ground reporting a solid opportunity to act, and the people at the upper echelons tell them to stand down. In May 1999, there were three opportunities in two days, but none of them were acted upon:

Replying to a frustrated colleague in the field, the Bin Ladin unit chief wrote:“having a chance to get [Bin Ladin] three times in 36 hours and foregoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry. . . . [T]he DCI finds himself alone at the table, with the other princip[als] basically saying ‘we’ll go along with your decision Mr.Director,’ and implicitly saying that the Agency will hang alone if the attack doesn’t get Bin Ladin.”

Evidently, Bill Clinton's motto -- "The Buck Never Even Got Here" -- was taken to heart by his cabinet and chief advisers.

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3 Comments

XonOFF said:

Why isn't Sandy Berger in jail?

Bob said:

Much more serious of a threat to our national security than Osama Bin Laden was the generous technology transfers to China approved by the Clinton Administration.

Advanced computer technology, missle launch technology, and guidance technology were all severely restricted from export to potentially hostile countries.

Bill Clinton's early act was to get responsiblility for the control of the Export of Munitions transferred from the State Department over to the Commerce Department, under his wheeler-dealer Democrat politico Commerce Dept. Secretary Ron Brown.

When Ron Brown wasn't selling overseas Commerce department trips to the highest corporate bidders (like ENRON), he was busily signing off on WAIVERS of technology transfer restrictions so that our ever smiling Chi-Com future adversaries could radically improve their missle launch technology.

Hughes Missles and Clinton's #1 Democrat contributor Bernard Swartz' Loral Corp. then proceeded to show the Chi-Coms how to upgrade their 1950's era Soviet-style missle technology with our latest and greatest missle technology.

So, instead of 50% of the Chi-Com's Long-March rockets exploding on take-off as they routinely did, Hughes and Loral helpfully showed them how to get a 99% launch success.

And, they also showed them how to deploy multi satellites (i.e. WARHEADS) in a single launch, allowing them MIRV capability.

Also Clinton threw in a few super computers just for laughs, for nuclear simulations.

Then, with the 8 different nuclear Warhead designs that they had stolen from Los Alamos by their espionage agents (Wen Ho Lee, John Huang?), Plus the Lagrangian algorithms which cost the U.S. billions of dollars and decades to perfect in order to simulate nuclear warhead explosions, then you have managed to upgrade the Chi-coms to a first strike capability to obliterate our country. Totally destroy the U.S. with about 100 missles which they already had, and that now contain deployment packages with TEN nuclear warheads each.

Osama Bin Laden never has nor will have that awesome capability.

But Bill Clinton gave it all to his friends the Chi-Coms, for a few million in campaign contributions in 1995-1996 (and who knows how much under the table?).

Alfred said:

Berger should have been tried for treason considering the weight of evidence against him.Also, Secretary Aspin should be in the hat since he withheld the go ahead for armed aviation support in Somalia.Clinton may be "where the buck doesn't here" but being evasive during these opportunities to pop Usama.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 31, 2007 9:09 AM.

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