Clinton: CIA and Bin Laden

Ex-President Bill Clinton said that the Central Intelligence Agency scuttled his plans to capture or kill Osama bin Laden - even though he had already approved the missions. "I had approved in general three other operations against bin Laden," Clinton said during an AOL online interview about his new book, My Life. "And the CIA came back and said the evidence is insufficient to think that he was at the sites we were going to bomb." I have not read My Life. Informed comments would be welcome.

Randy Black saya: "I am not familiar with what President Clinton. Correction: says

On AOL), however, Clinton said others were responsible. Correction AOL

Randy Black saya: "I am not familiar with what President Clinton may or may not have said in My Life, but excerpts from the AOL interview include the statement: "Clinton said the primary reason he didn't give the order to attack bin Laden after an initial failed airstrike in 1998 was that he didn't want to violate the airspace of Middle Eastern nations and that he feared the collateral damage would be too great. (the deaths of local innocents)"
Another excerpt from the AOL interview: Clinton all but admitted that in hindsight, he made the wrong call: "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," he insisted, "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."

On AOL), however, Clinton said others were responsible for bungling the hunt for bin Laden. "There's not a shred of evidence that I denied either the military or the intelligence services of our country anything when they were after the terrorists in general and bin Laden in particular," he told AOL. "I gave them the full authority to proceed and to do whatever we could. And I wish we'd been successful in getting him." (His statements seem to contradict each other.) Other testimony by the CIA station chief in Pakistan and retired General Wayne Downing seems to indicate that Clinton created the barrier, not the other way around. "We were not prepared to take the military action necessary,” said retired Gen. Wayne Downing, who ran counter-terror efforts for the current Bush administration and is now an NBC analyst. “We should have had strike forces prepared to go in and react to this intelligence, certainly cruise missiles ­ either air- or sea-launched ­ very, very accurate, could have gone in and hit those targets,” Downing added. Gary Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, says the White House required the CIA to attempt to capture bin Laden alive, rather than kill him.

What impact did the wording of the orders have on the CIA’s ability to get bin Laden? “It reduced the odds from, say, a 50 percent chance down to, say, 25 percent chance that we were going to be able to get him,” said Schroen. A Democratic member of the 9/11 commission says there was a larger issue: The Clinton administration treated bin Laden as a law enforcement problem. Bob Kerry, a former senator and current 9/11 commission member, said, “The most important thing the Clinton administration could have done would have been for the president, either himself or by going to Congress, asking for a congressional declaration to declare war on al-Qaida, a military-political organization that had declared war on us.”

Ronald Hilton -