National Security Desk / February 16, 2016

Hillary, Bill and Osama — Fact vs. Fiction

Rubio was right about Clinton’s failure to kill bin Laden.

During Saturday’s GOP debate, Marco Rubio made the point that “Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.” Naturally, Hillary Clinton took issue with that factual assertion. “Yes, there was an effort to kill him,” she conceded. “Based on the intelligence that was available, missiles struck what was thought to be a training camp. So it wasn’t like there wasn’t an effort.” Then she added, “I see somebody like Senator Rubio just twisting himself into pretzels, trying to appeal to the base of his party — to try to say things that have no common sense or merit to them.”

She is, of course, dead wrong. As Mark Alexander wrote in 2006, “The fact is, during his eight years in office, Clinton had numerous opportunities to capture or kill Osama, but refused. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Patterson, who carried the ‘nuclear football’ codes for the Clinton administration, notes, ‘[W]e could have prevented the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, we could have prevented 9/11 and we could have prevented the bombings of the embassies in Africa if President Clinton had taken one of these opportunities. … We had eight chances at least to either nab bin Laden or to kill him.’ Michael Scheuer, former CIA chief of the team responsible for hunting bin Laden, confirmed that prior to 9/11 SpecOps had two opportunities when Osama was literally in their sights, but Clinton pulled the plug on both operations.

"Additionally, after 9/11, Clinton admitted he turned down an opportunity to take custody of bin Laden: ‘He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan, and we’d been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again. They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.’

"Perhaps Mr. Clinton forgot that bin Laden had in 1995 been named a conspirator in the first WTC attack. Later, in his testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Clinton dismissed his own statement as ‘inappropriate’ — which is to say, ‘truthful.’”

Hillary can yammer all she wants about pretzels and lobbing a few cruise missiles, but, if anything, Rubio didn’t go far enough in detailing Clinton’s failure.

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