A chilling recording recently surfaced in Australia. While meeting with a group of Australian businessmen just hours before the 9/11 attacks, Bill Clinton is recorded saying:
“I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden … He’s a very smart guy. I 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 had 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.”
This audio was recorded by Michael Kroger and originally aired by Sky News in Australia.
In the clip, the news anchor says, “you’re right 99% of the time. What happens if its 1%?” implying that he feels as though Clinton made the wrong choice. If you search this story anywhere on the internet it always says something along the lines, hours before 9/11 Clinton says, I could have killed Osama. Implying that on September 10, 2001 Clinton had the power to kill Osama Bin Laden, which he didn’t.
According to the 9/11 Commission Reports, there was an attack proposed in December of 1998 on the town of Kandahar. The President was advised by the Joint Chiefs not to attack due to the collateral damage this attack would cause, the lives of 2-300 civilians.
Is it our job to judge whether or not the President made the right choice. In 2014 we can launch a missile directly on a target with ease and have a small amount of collateral damage. In 1998 we had to get the intelligence, have it reach the President, have a choice be made and have a plane bring the payload, which at that time could take 4-5 hours. Osama could have left where they thought he was by then. Is bombing the whole town acceptable to kill just one man? Would that have been the better choice in hindsight?
If you watch the videos by Fox News and ABC News you see two very different points of view. ABC News is very clearly on the side of Clinton making the right choice, for the times and good for him to not want to kill innocent civilians. The Fox News anchor seems frustrated that the military expert he brought on to discuss this matter isn’t for Clinton killing those civilians–and Bin Laden.
I think that hindsight is just that. Could different choices have been made? Yes. There were many choices that could have been made by different leaders, and maybe 9/11 wouldn’t have happened–maybe. But that is just it; maybe. And focusing on those moments when you could have made a different choice is not the best for your health or sanity. And it isn’t the best for the United States.