Clinton authorized “killing” of OBL? Not so fast

Remember that interview Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace did with Bill Clinton last September, in which an enraged, defensive, red-faced Clinton wagged his finger at Wallace, claimed he was there as part of a conservative set up, and attempted to ‘set the record straight’ on his admnistration’s ‘efforts’ at capturing or killing OBL? Let’s recap:

“What did I do? What did I do?” … “I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.”

Not quite. A recently released report detailing CIA’s pre-9/11 failures says otherwise. Via those right wing nuts Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball at Newsweek (page 3):

The report also criticized intelligence problems when Bill Clinton was president, detailing political and legal “constraints” agency officials felt in the late 1990s. In September 2006, during a famous encounter with Fox News anchor Wallace, Clinton erupted in anger and waived his finger when asked about whether his administration had done enough to get bin Laden. “What did I do? What did I do?” Clinton said at one point. “I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.”

Clinton appeared to have been referring to a December 1999 Memorandum of Notification (MON) he signed that authorized the CIA to use lethal force to capture, not kill, bin Laden. But the inspector general’s report made it clear that the agency never viewed the order as a license to “kill” bin Laden—one reason it never mounted more effective operations against him. “The restrictions in the authorities given the CIA with respect to bin Laden, while arguably, although ambiguously, relaxed for a period of time in late 1998 and early 1999, limited the range of permissible operations” the report stated. ([former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit Michael] Scheuer agreed with the inspector general’s findings on this issue, but said if anything the report was overly diplomatic. “There was never any ambiguity” he said. “None of those authorities ever allowed us to kill anyone. At least that’s what the CIA lawyers told us.” A spokesman for the former president had no immediate comment.)

Scheuer, you may recall wrote a piece earlier this year criticizing some of the claims former CIA director George Tenet made in his book At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA. Scheuer also minced no words when it came to the reason why OBL is still alive today: he’s pointed a finger directly at the Clintion admnistration. Scheuer has also criticized counterterrorism ‘guru’ Richard Clarke as a “risk-averse poseur who didn’t do enough to fight bin Laden.” His crediblity came under attack by the usual suspects last year when he made his presence known during the renewed debate over who did more/less to stop/capture/kill OBL.

As Captain Ed says, and I agree, even though playing the 9-11 blame game is pointless at this point, Bill Clinton made it hard to ignore with the claims he made about his administration’s alleged efforts to ‘kill’ OBL.

Clinton dropped the ball – period. End of story. That’s the reason he was so defensive about it on Chris Wallace’s show, and why his apologists were out in full force on his behalf in the days leading up to the airing of the Wallace interview as well as the controversial ABC docudrama “Path to 9-11.”

In essence, once again – as he did during the Lewinsky scandal – the gentleman doth protest too much.

Brian at Liberty Pundit said it best: “How do you know if Bill Clinton is lying? His lips are moving.”

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