Former President Bill Clinton once had the chance to kill Osama bin Laden but decided he wasn’t a threat back then.
In the new documentary, CIA agents said that Clinton had another opportunity to take out the terrorist, but once again didn’t take it.
The revelation is discussed by former CIA station chief Bob Grenier in the new Showtime documentary The Longest War, which was released Tuesday. Grenier, who was based in Islamabad, Pakistan, explained that the agency was permitted to engage in “lethal activity” against the terrorist leader but could not perform a strike with the explicit purpose of killing him.
“We were being asked to remove this threat to the United States essentially with one hand tied behind our backs,” Grenier said. He also explained a specific opportunity that the CIA had to eliminate bin Laden using intelligence sourced from tribal networks in Afghanistan.
“Our tribal contacts came to us, and they said, ‘Look, he’s in this location now. When he leaves, he’s going to have to go through this particular crossroads.’ And so what they proposed was to bury a huge cache of explosives underneath those crossroads so that when his convoy came through, they could simply blow it up,” Grenier recounted. “And we said, ‘Absolutely not.’ We were risking jail if we didn’t tell them that.”
Just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Clinton said that he had the opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden while he was president, but didn’t pull the trigger because that would have led to the deaths of many civilians as well.
Clinton said, “I nearly got him. 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 just didn’t do it.”
Marty Martin, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, highlighted the consequential decision against killing bin Laden and tied it to events happened more than two decades later.
“The threat was real,” Martin said. “And if President Clinton had taken action and killed Osama 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 probably wouldn’t have been an Iraq. What would the world be like?”
That’s quite an interesting thought though isn’t it? If he would have been taken out all those years ago, so many lives would have been saved and the world would be a very different place than it is today.