The Washington Post

In words spoken hours before 9-11, hear Bill Clinton say why he could have, but didn’t, kill bin Laden

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A recording has turned up in Australia in which former President Bill Clinton explains why he didn’t kill Osama bin Laden, just hours before the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He made the comment reportedly during a Sept. 10 meeting with business leaders in Australia, ABC news reports:

“And 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.

“I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have had 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.”

According to news reports, the comment was recorded by former Liberal Party head Michael Kroger and aired by Sky News. It’s not clear why exactly it’s turning up now.

According to records compiled by the Washington Post, Clinton was scheduled to speak that day in Melbourne to J.T. Campbell & Co., for a fee of $150,000.

In a 2006 Fox News interview, Clinton said “I got closer to killing him than anybody’s gotten since,” but did not elaborate.


Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.

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