Bill Clinton, Hours Before 9/11 Attacks: 'I Could Have Killed' Osama bin Laden

Audio of Clinton's statements emerged in Australia.

Clinton was speaking at a business meeting in Melbourne when the topic turned to terrorism.

“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,” Clinton said in the audio, which was recorded by former Liberal Party head Michael Kroger and aired by Sky News.

“And so I didn’t do it.”

Clinton’s recorded statements from 2001 referred to a proposed strike in December 1998, after intelligence indicated that Bin Laden was staying at the governor’s residence in Kandahar. That proposed attack was addressed in the 9/11 Commission Report, released in 2004.

According to the report, the missed chance made some lower-level officials angry, but later intelligence appeared to show that bin Laden had left his quarters.

“The principals’ wariness about ordering a strike appears to have been vindicated: Bin Laden left his room unexpectedly, and if a strike had been ordered he would not have been hit,” the commission wrote.

“This episode may have made officials more cautious than might otherwise have been the case,” the commission’s report stated.

From May 1999 until September 2001, authorities did not again actively consider a missile strike against Bin Laden.

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