Newly-discovered audio from a September 10, 2001 meeting in Melbourne confirms that former President Bill Clinton could have killed Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s, but chose not to do so as hundreds of civilians would have also been killed. The audio was forgotten about until recently and was released on Australian television on Wednesday.
Clinton was asked a question about international security, prompting his response about almost killing the head of Al-Qaeda. (emphasis added)
“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,” Clinton is heard saying. “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.”
Hours later a terrorist attack organized by Bin Laden killed thousands of innocent men, women and children, fundamentally transformed the world as we know it and eventually led to two wars in the Middle East.
As my colleague Noah Rothman writes over at Hot Air, it's pretty fair to assume that Clinton would appreciate a do-over in this situation, but there are significant inconsistencies with Clinton's statement. Kandahar, for instance, isn't a small town—it's the second-largest city in the country.
Obviously, nobody in the room had any idea what was about to unfold in a few hours in New York, the District of Columbia, and in a field in Pennsylvania, but the world is still paying the price for Clinton's inaction in the mid-90s.