A clip from the Showtime documentary “The Longest War” reveals the CIA had an opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s but were prevented from doing so by an order from President Bill Clinton.
Clinton famously confessed hours before the 9/11 attacks to having an opportunity to take out Bin Laden, but because hundreds of innocent lives would have been lost along with his, he opted not to greenlight the mission.
“I nearly got him,” Clinton told an audience in Australia 10 hours before the attack.
“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,” he lamented.
According to the documentary, CIA agents said they had another opportunity to take out Bin Laden with very little collateral damage.
Afghan tribal networks revealed that Bin Laden would be traveling a particular route and suggested U.S. military forces bury explosives ahead of his journey.
“We said absolutely not,” former CIA station chief Bob Grenier explained. “We were risking jail if we didn’t tell them that.”
“The CIA had a so-called ‘lethal finding’ [bill] that had been signed by President Clinton that said that we could engage in ‘lethal activity’ against bin Laden, but the purpose of our attack against bin Laden couldn’t be to kill him,” Grenier detailed.
“We were being asked to remove this threat to the United States essentially with one hand tied behind our backs.”
Perhaps the most damning detail of all in the documentary is the absolute disregard the Clinton administration had for Bin Laden as a threat.
Greg Barker, director of the documentary notes that every major national security entity – from the President to the Department of Defense – failed to take the 9/11 mastermind seriously.
If anybody were to suggest Bin Laden was a problem they “were often ignored and even ridiculed.”
The documentary proceeds to analyze what might have been if Clinton had taken Bin Laden seriously and did not block the CIA from taking him out.
“The threat was real,” according to Marty Martin, a CIA counterterrorism officer at the time.
“And if President Clinton had taken action and killed Usama bin Laden, there wouldn’t have been a 9/11, and if there wouldn’t have been a 9/11 there wouldn’t have been an Afghanistan, and if there wouldn’t have been an Afghanistan there wouldn’t have been an Iraq.”
“What would the world be like?” he asked.
What a devastating thought to have to ponder.
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