U.S. News


Bill Clinton: 'I Could Have Killed' Bin Laden

In a newly discovered audio tape, Bill Clinton reveals he decided not to kill bin Laden during a fundraiser held hours before the 9/11 attacks.
Posted at 11:41 PM, Jul 31, 2014

Sky News Australia has just uncovered chilling audio of former president Bill Clinton admitting he passed up an opportunity to attack Osama bin Laden. Clinton's remarks came on Sept. 10, 2001 — one day before the horrific 9/11 attacks.

"I could have killed him, but I would have had to destroy a little town called Kandahar in northern Afghanistan, and kill 300 innocent women and children. And then I would have been no better than him."

Sky News Australia obtained that audio clip from former Australian politician Michael Kroger, who said Clinton made those remarks during a fundraiser. Hours later, the September 11 terrorist attacks orchestrated by bin Laden killed almost 3,000 people. (Via Getty Images)

Now, the fact that Clinton had a shot at bin Laden isn't news; as these surveillance tapes aired in 2004 by NBC show, the CIA had been able to pin down bin Laden's location at least once in the past.

And the 2004 report from the 9/11 Commission concluded the Clinton administration had at least two good chances to kill bin Laden, but didn't take either over concerns of collateral damage.

But it's the eerie timing of Clinton's remarks which grabbed headlines, mostly from conservative outlets. But instead of simply condemning the former Democratic president for not taking action, the right's response is a bit more complex.

ERIC BOLLING: "We lost 3,000 Americans the very next morning. Things might have been different."

ANDREA TANTAROS: "He was being very thoughtful about how he handled it, and that's what presidents do, they make tough decisions."

When Fox News' Eric Bolling tried to use Clinton's remarks stir up some outrage, Mediaite notes​ "The rest of the Five hosts honestly didn’t really find anything too outrageous, and there were even some defensive words spoken in favor of Clinton."

And Clinton seems to have been spared the wrath of some other conservative media sites as well. A writer for Hot Air, while still critical of Clinton's decision, points out 9/11 fundamentally changed how America views the fight against terrorism.

"​Post-9/11, when you’ve got a big fish on the hook, you reel him in come what may. ... There’s a reason why the term 'September 10th mentality' exists, and Bill Clinton’s not the only one who was guilty of it."

Bin Laden was ultimately killed in May 2011 during a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.