On 9/10, Clinton Said He Could Have Killed bin Laden

He decided against strike that would have killed civilians

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 1, 2014 12:37 AM CDT | Updated Aug 1, 2014 4:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – On the day before the 9/11 attacks, Bill Clinton spoke openly about having passed up a chance to kill Osama bin Laden, according to a tape unearthed by Sky News Australia. "I'm just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden—he's a very smart guy, I've spent a lot of time thinking about him—and I nearly got him once," Clinton says on the tape. "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."

When the recording was made, just 10 hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, Clinton was speaking to a group of business leaders in Melbourne, NBC reports. The talk was reportedly recorded with Clinton's permission, and the tape surfaced this week after one of the business leaders at the lunch remembered he had it. The 9/11 Commission found that the Clinton administration decided against a strike in Kandahar in late 1998, reports the New York Daily News, which notes that Kandahar isn't a "little town" but a city of more than 400,000 people—and one that is now very familiar to US troops.

Former President Bill Clinton gestures while delivering the keynote speech at the 16th Telugu Association of North America conference.
Former President Bill Clinton gestures while delivering the keynote speech at the 16th Telugu Association of North America conference.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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