/>Former President Bill Clinton shook his left index finger at Chris Wallace
during an interview on "Fox News Sunday," denying charges he and his
administration did too little to catch Osama bin Laden and ward off the 9/11
terror attacks. Leaning forward and appearing angry, Clinton said, "At
least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all of the
right-wingers who are attacking me now. They (the Bush administration) had
eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed."
Clinton added that he authorized the CIA "to get groups together to try to
kill (bin Laden)." He said he had drawn up plans to go into Afghanistan to
overthrow the Taliban and launch an attack against bin Laden after the Oct.
12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni part of Aden. Clinton
suggested the plan was thwarted because Uzbekistan would not grant basing
rights and only did so after 9/11
Clinton apparently is coming out about this now because of the recently
aired ABC film "The Path to 9/11," which portrayed him and his top aides as
indecisive at best, and incompetent at worst, when they failed to take
advantage of an opportunity to kill bin Laden. A docudrama is not necessary
to counter Clinton's claims. There is testimony from many sources that he
and his administration blew chances to nail the al-Qaida mastermind.
One credible source is Michael Scheuer, a 22-year CIA veteran who used to
head the Counterterrorist Center's bin Laden unit. Scheuer, who is referred
to as "Mike" in the 9/11 Commission Report, wrote a July 5 op-ed column in
The Washington Times. In it, he referred to former "terrorism czar" Richard
Clarke and Clarke's assertion in his book "Against All Enemies" that the CIA
failed to put operatives in Afghanistan to kill bin Laden, relying instead
on Afghan locals. Scheuer writes, "In spring 1998, I briefed Mr. Clarke and
senior CIA, Department of Defense and FBI officers on a plan to kidnap bin
Laden. Mr. Clarke's reaction was that Œit was just a thinly disguised
attempt to assassinate bin Laden.' I replied that if he wanted bin Laden
dead, we could do the job quickly. Mr. Clarke's response was that the
president did not want bin Laden assassinated, and that we had no authority
to do so."
The planning and plotting by the hijackers was done on Bill Clinton's watch
and executed eight months into the Bush administration, which refused to
heed warning signs that an attack was imminent. A wealth of information and
evidence about the laxness of the Clinton administration can be found by
Googling "Clinton failures to catch terrorists and bin Laden." Some postings
are from what might be regarded as "right-wing" Web sites, but others are
from such left-wing sources as The Los Angeles Times.
In a Dec. 5, 2001 op-ed for that newspaper, Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the
Council on Foreign Relations and chairman of an investment company in New
York, wrote, "President Clinton and his national security team ignored
several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden and his terrorist
associates. Š I know because I negotiated more than one of the
Ijaz says that from 1996 to 1998 he opened unofficial channels between Sudan
and the Clinton administration, including National Security Adviser Sandy
Berger and Sudan's president and national intelligence chief, "President
Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan
lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of bin Laden and detailed
intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt's Islamic
Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.
"Among those in the networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial
airliners into the World Trade Center. The silence of the Clinton
administration in responding to these offers was defeaning."
When considering whether to take Bill Clinton's outrage seriously, it is
helpful to revisit his notorious finger wagging when he forcefully denied
having had sex with Monica Lewinsky. The Web site YouTube.com has juxtaposed
the latest finger wagging with the previous one. Viewers can judge for
themselves whether Clinton's latest claim and blame should be believed
anymore than his previous denial of extramarital sex with an intern.