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August 16, 2005
Bill Clinton Rewrites History On Al-Qaeda

Bill Clinton tells New York magazine that he desperately wishes that the FBI had been able to "prove" that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda had masterminded the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 so that he could have attacked Afghanistan instead of George Bush (Newsmax also reports this here):

"I desperately wish that I had been president when the FBI and CIA finally confirmed, officially, that bin Laden was responsible for the attack on the U.S.S. Cole," Clinton tells New York magazine this week. "Then we could have launched an attack on Afghanistan early."

"I dont know if it would have prevented 9/11," he added. "But it certainly would have complicated it. ...

"I always thought that bin Laden was a bigger threat than the Bush administration did."

Clinton has tried on more than one occasion to adapt history to make his eight-year turn in the White House something more than a paean to lost time while Islamofascists gained ground. This particular effort fails miserably, mostly due to the efforts of the 9/11 Commission, which detailed exactly when the FBI and CIA made their determination that al-Qaeda had executed the attack on the Cole. On pages 192-3, the report shows that Clinton still had two months left in his presidency when that determination was made:

On November 11, the Yemenis provided the FBI with new information from the interrogations of Badawi and Quso, including descriptions of individuals from whom the detainees had received operational direction. One of them was Khallad, who was described as having lost his leg. The detainees said that Khallad helped direct the Cole operation from Afghanistan or Pakistan. The Yemenis (correctly) judged that the man described as Khallad was Tawfiq bin Attash.

An FBI special agent recognized the name Khallad and connected this news with information from an important al Qaeda source who had been meeting regularly with CIA and FBI officers.The source had called Khallad Bin Ladins run boy, and described him as having lost one leg in an explosives accident at a training camp a few years earlier.To confirm the identification, the FBI agent asked the Yemenis for their photo of Khallad.The Yemenis provided the photo on November 22, reaffirming their view that Khallad had been an intermediary between the plotters and Bin Ladin. (In a meeting with U.S. officials a few weeks later, on December 16, the source identified Khallad from the Yemeni photograph.)

Clinton's insistence on "proof" refers to a legal certainty that demonstrates his continuing fecklessness on the war that Islamists had declared on the West years earlier. In fact, he already had "proof" that al-Qaeda and bin Laden had masterminded earlier attacks on US interests, especially the twin Embassy bombings in Africa in 1998. One reason that the FBI knew of Khallad was because they had established Khallad as one of the terrorists who helped plan and execute those attacks.

Besides, take a second look at the wording used by the consummate lawyer in his assertion to Jennifer Senior. He would have "launched an attack". That is what he did after the embassy bombings; in the words of his successor, Clinton launched a two-million dollar missile at a ten-dollar tent and hit a camel in the butt. Did it disrupt anything else that al-Qaeda had planned? Not at all.

The long record of gross ineffectiveness based on the faulty premise that terrorism required indictments and civil trials created the Clinton legacy on al-Qaeda, not a lack of opportunities. Clinton's whine about "proof" demonstrates that very clearly. He had all the "proof" he needed to order military action in November 2000 to retaliate against bin Laden and the Taliban for sheltering him and chose not to do so. His attempt now to recast himself as a terrorism hawk who had the misfortune of bad timing makes him even more pathetic than ever.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 16, 2005 6:01 AM

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