Man Without Qualities

Friday, July 23, 2004

Berger Rejected Four Plans To Kill Or Capture Bin Laden
The Washington Times reports:

President Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, rejected four plans to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, worrying once that if the plans failed and al Qaeda launched a counterattack, "we're blamed." ....

According to the [September 11 Commission] report, the first plan of action against bin Laden presented to Mr. Berger was a briefing by CIA Director George J. Tenet on May 1, 1998. Mr. Berger took no action, the report says, because he was "focused most" on legal questions.  "[Mr. Berger] worried that the hard evidence against bin Laden was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted," the report says.     Mr. Clarke asked Mr. Berger: "Should we pre-empt by attacking [bin Laden's] facilities?" Mr. Berger decided against it, but later that year, Mr. Clinton ordered an attack on a chemical plant in Sudan that was suspected of providing bin Laden with dangerous weapons material.

Another opportunity to strike at bin Laden occurred on Dec. 4, 1999, according to the report, when Mr. Clarke suggested carrying out an attack on an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the last week of the year.     "In the margin next to Clarke's suggestion," the report states in a footnote, "Berger wrote, 'no.'

Finally, in August of 2000, five months before Mr. Clinton left office, Mr. Berger was told that aerial surveillance from a Predator drone suggested another opportunity to kill bin Laden.     Mr. Clarke told Mr. Berger that the imagery captured by the Predator was "truly astounding," and expressed confidence that more missions could find bin Laden. Mr. Berger, however, "worried that a Predator might be shot down, and warned Clarke that such an event would be a 'bonanza' for bin Laden and the Taliban."     "In the memo's margin," the report states, "Berger wrote that before considering action, 'I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.'

The commission's report also notes a speech that Mr. Clinton gave to the Long Island Association on Feb. 15, 2002, in which — in the answer to a query from a member of the audience — he said that Sudan offered to turn over bin Laden to U.S. custody, but Mr. Clinton refused because "there was no indictment" in hand.

Mr. Clinton told the commission in April that he had "misspoken" and was never offered bin Laden.
There's more. The whole story is a grim view of the ghastly decision making process that characterized the clown show that was the Clinton administration. And the Kerry camp is already hiring these guys again!

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