About a half hour after watching tonight's NBC News, which replayed the Clinton/Wallace unpleasantness, I came across a direct contradiction of Clinton's finger-pointing, table-pounding assertion that 'I came within 2 hours of nailing Bin Laden--we missed him by 2 hours.'
It was fall 1998 and the National Security Council (NSC) and the “intelligence community” were tracking the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the shadowy mastermind of terrorist attacks on American targets overseas. “They’ve successfully triangulated his location,” yelled a “Sit Room” watch stander. “We’ve got him.”
...Berger ambled down the stairwell and entered the Sit Room. He picked up the phone at one of the busy controller consoles and called the president. Amazingly, President Clinton was not available. Berger tried again and again. Bin Laden was within striking distance. The window of opportunity was closing fast. The plan of attack was set and the Tomahawk crews were ready. For about an hour Berger couldn’t get the commander in chief on the line. Though the president was always accompanied by military aides and the Secret Service, he was somehow unavailable. Berger stalked the Sit Room, anxious and impatient.
Care to speculate where X42 may have been?
Finally, the president accepted Berger’s call. There was discussion, there were pauses—and no decision. The president wanted to talk with his secretaries of defense and state. He wanted to study the issue further. Berger was forced to wait. The clock was ticking. The president eventually called back. He was still indecisive. He wanted more discussion. Berger alternated between phone calls and watching the clock. The NSC watch officer was convinced we had the right target. The intelligence sources were conclusive. The president, however, wanted a guaranteed hit or nothing at all. This time, it was nothing at all. We didn’t pull the trigger. We “studied” the issue until it was too late—the window of opportunity closed. Al-Qaeda’s spiritual and organizational leader slipped through the noose.
("Buzz" Patterson, Dereliction of Duty, Regnery) Patterson was Clinton's "football" carrier.
Clinton was not referring to the above event when he attempted to deceive Wallace. He was referring to the failed missile attack of August 20, 1998--where Clinton famously ordered a number of Tomahawks to be fired at suspected camps in Afghanistan ('shoving missiles up camels' asses' is the phrase used...)
In the meantime, a number of dresses were cleaned.
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