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  • terrorism    July 31 
A day before 9/11, Bill Clinton said he could have killed Osama bin Laden
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It turns out that Bill Clinton had Osama bin Laden on his mind mere hours before al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Speaking to a group of Australian businessmen on Sept. 10, 2001, Clinton said he once had the opportunity to kill bin Laden, but decided not to because it would have led to the deaths of innocent civilians. An audio recording of the remarks was released for the first time today by Australian media.

Here's what he said (h/t MSNBC):

And I'm just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he's very smart guy, I've 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 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. [MSNBC]

Clinton tried and failed to kill bin Laden a couple times in the 1990s, launching missile strikes at his residences in Sudan and Afghanistan. In this speech, he appears to be referring to a famous missed opportunity in 1998, when he balked over concerns about collateral damage.

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