Bin Laden Death: Americans Divided Over Credit for Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton

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Bin Laden's Death: Who Deserves Credit?

Meanwhile, many Republicans have also questioned the leadership of Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, who was in the White House when bin Laden was thrust into the spotlight after his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya.

Conservatives have criticized Clinton particularly for 2002 remarks suggesting the Sudanese government had offered to surrender bin Laden but the U.S. turned it down.

"At the time, 1996, he [bin Laden] had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America," Clinton said. "So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato, and they didn't, and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan."

Clinton later said he misspoke, and an examination of the evidence by the 9/11 Commission largely affirmed Clinton's revised account.

"I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since," Clinton said in a 2006 interview, adding that he couldn't build a military or intelligence consensus within his administration during the late 1990s to pull off an operation.

Though the debate over the presidential role in finding bin Laden will likely continue, one point on which there is agreement is that members of the intelligence community and the U.S. military were the ultimate agents of justice for the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"People who want to find blame today, I think, are misplaced," Rogers said on Monday, "in the sense that when you look at the incredible undertaking of the analysts, of the operators, the case officers in the CIA, of the folks at the NSA, who got just little snippets, little tidbits, and put it all in one place and started drawing that noose, this was an incredible operation that I argue few countries in the world, if any, could do."

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