UK & World News
On 9/11 Eve, Clinton Spoke Of Bin Laden Miss
Audio has emerged of remarks Bill Clinton made just hours before the 9/11 attacks in which the former US President speaks of his missed opportunity to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Mr Clinton was addressing a business meeting in Melbourne, Australia, on September 10, 2001, when talk turned to terrorism.
He told the audience: "I'm just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden ... He's a very smart guy. I spent a lot of time thinking about him. And I nearly got him once.
"I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have had 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."
The audio was recorded by former Australian Liberal Party leader Michael Kroger and aired by Sky News Australia.
Mr Clinton did order cruise missile strikes in August 1998 on an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was suspected of bin Laden links.
But the Saudi militant had left the camp hours earlier, while the reliability of intelligence on the plant was later questioned.
The New York Times has previously reported that Mr Clinton approved strikes on bin Laden on at least three other occasions between 1998-2000, but the CIA pulled back because of doubts over the al Qaeda leader's actual whereabouts.
Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit, disputed Mr Clinton's version of events in the new audio.
He said he believed Mr Clinton was referring to an occasion in December 1998 when the al Qaeda chief went to visit Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar city, and ended up staying the night in the compound.
Mr Scheuer told Fox News: "The attack would've occurred in the middle of the night and it would've killed no one but Taliban people and Osama bin Laden and his crew."
As Mr Clinton spoke in Melbourne that day, bin Laden's hijackers were getting ready for their suicide mission to slam planes into New York City's World Trade Center.
Airliners also crashed in Washington DC and western Pennsylvania on a morning of mayhem that left more than 3,000 people dead.