A tape has been released in which former President Bill Clinton admits that he had an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden, but ultimately chose not to.
What's more, he said this only a day before September 11, 2001, in which the United States was deliberately attacked by the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, led by none other than bin Laden.
Clinton was speaking to an audience of businessmen in Australia when he stated:
And I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he’s very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him — and I nearly got him once. 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.
We all have regrets in life, but one can only imagine how Clinton must have felt on 9/11 having expressed these sentiments within 24 hours of the attacks. As CBS puts it
It's a startling and tragic bit of irony.
In the past, Clinton has been criticized for not killing Osama bin Laden when he had the chance, so this is hardly a new topic. What is new, however, is evidence that Clinton personally admitted that he had the chance to kill him and he didn't.
Regardless, it would not be fair to blame 9/11 on Clinton. In 2008, FactCheck published an article entitled: "Clinton Passed on Killing bin Laden?"
Their response to this question was,: "Probably not, and it would not have mattered anyway as there was no evidence at the time that bin Laden had committed any crimes against American citizens."
We now know that he did pass on a chance to kill bin Laden. With that said, they are also correct in saying that Clinton made the choice not to pursue killing him based on the information he had at the time. As noted above, he also wanted to prevent the deaths of civilians.
In 2004, NBC published an article on this topic as well, making a very important point:
In reality, getting bin Laden would have been extraordinarily difficult. He was a moving target deep inside Afghanistan. Most military operations would have been high-risk. What’s more, Clinton was weakened by scandal, and there was no political consensus for bold action, especially with an election weeks away.
In essence, it's very easy to criticize someone in hindsight, but it tends to be extremely unfounded. Clinton's statements are only generating so much press due to there proximity to the attacks, but in reality, this is old news.
H/T: NY Post, Photo Credit: Getty Images