Did the former president forget that prosecutors, two years after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, named Osama bin Laden as an unindicted co-conspirator? Or that our government suspected bin Laden of aiding, financing, training and arming terrorists for several years?
Over the rest of Clinton's term, al Qaeda remained busy. It attacked U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. It bombed the USS Cole in 2000. In 1998, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, a plan to capture bin Laden at his Tarnak Farms compound in Afghanistan was shot down at a high level, although, according to the commission (page 114), "Impressions vary as to who actually decided not to proceed with the operation. . . . Before it was canceled, [lead CIA officer in the field, Gary] Schroen described it as the 'best plan we are going to come up with to capture [bin Laden] while he is in Afghanistan and bring him to justice.' No capture plan before 9/11 ever again attained the same level of detail and preparation."
Regarding the Clinton administration's efforts, the 9/11 Report (pages 350-351) reads: "Before 9/11, the United States tried to solve the al Qaeda problem with the same government institutions and capabilities it had used in the last stages of the Cold War and its immediate aftermath. These capabilities were insufficient, but little was done to expand or reform them. . . . At no point before 9/11 was the Department of Defense fully engaged in the mission of countering al Qaeda, although this was perhaps the most dangerous foreign enemy then threatening the United States. The Clinton administration effectively relied on the CIA to take the lead in preparing long-term offensive plans against an enemy sanctuary."
Also (page 358): "Responsibility for domestic intelligence gathering on terrorism was vested solely in the FBI, yet during almost all of the Clinton administration the relationship between the FBI Director and the President was nearly nonexistent. The FBI director would not communicate directly with the President. His key personnel shared very little information with the National Security Council and the rest of the national security community. As a consequence, one of the critical working relationships in the counterterrorism effort was broken."
Bottom line, the Clinton administration treated terrorism as a law enforcement matter. And neither he nor former members of his administration want Americans to understand or remember this. In his Saturday radio address after the first World Trade Center attack, Clinton barely mentioned the attack before beginning a much lengthier discussion about his economic program.
No amount of whining letters to ABC can change those facts.
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