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Losing bin Laden
by Trevor Bothwell
24 October 2003Losing Bin Laden

Richard Miniter’s unrelenting, impressive exposé chronicles the Clinton Administration’s many failures in our war against terrorism.

One of the most pressing questions inside the minds of millions of Americans for over two years now has likely been this: Could the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have been prevented?

If you’re of the Sheryl Crow/George Clooney variety, you possibly believe terrorism can be thwarted if the United States would simply quit being so gosh-darned mean to all its neighbors. But fair-minded Americans, who understand that defense and intelligence agencies are on constant alert for those who would do us harm as we sleep, want real answers to perhaps the most important question of our time.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find in Losing bin Laden, Richard Miniter’s unrelenting, impressive exposé chronicling the Clinton Administration’s many failures in our war against terrorism.

Although Osama bin Laden was unknown to many Americans prior to September 11, 2001, explains Miniter, “[he] was tracked by the CIA as early as December 1992.” So why weren’t we prepared for 9/11? What are the real reasons for bin Laden’s hatred of America? And what does the future hold for us when it comes to further terrorist attacks?

In Losing bin Laden you’ll find answers to all these questions, and learn much more, including:

  • How Bill Clinton’s refusal to pursue bin Laden’s first attempted attack on American soldiers overseas (Aden, Yemen 1992) during his presidential transition only emboldened bin Laden.
  • Why the Clinton Administration insisted on treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter when it should have been in the hands of the Department of Defense; and how this prevented the FBI and CIA from sharing critical information.
  • Why Dick Morris considers Clinton’s treatment of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as merely a criminal matter “the single greatest omission of his presidency.”
  • How Bill Clinton’s refusal to provide U.S. troops with adequate equipment in Somalia cost dozens of American casualties.
  • How Clinton’s many personal scandals caused him to spend more time fighting charges of sexual harassment, perjury, and illegal campaign contributions instead of fighting terrorism.
  • Why the Clinton Administration’s attempt to successfully strike bin Laden secretly in Afghanistan was compromised, allowing the terrorist to narrowly escape.
  • How Sudan repeatedly attempted to win America’s favor by offering to share intelligence on bin Laden’s activities, but was consistently rebuked by the Clinton Administration.
  • And the truth behind the working relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda as early as 1993.

While Miniter is scrupulous to point out that critics who insist Bill Clinton did nothing to fight international terrorism are being disingenuous, the author nonetheless explains that Clinton simply did not do enough. Indeed, one of the most prevalent revelations in the book is that whenever the former president had opportunities to retaliate against bin Laden, it always seemed he was too consumed by fundraising, election year timidity, or personal scandal to be bothered to react.

The reader is also left with the lucid understanding that the Clinton Administration’s most damning trait throughout was likely its insistence upon handling terrorism as a law enforcement matter, as opposed to one of national security. Aside from bureaucratic strangleholds that were placed on street-level agents as they sought to communicate and share pertinent intelligence, handling investigations from a legal perspective ostensibly restricted the administration from indicting bin Laden based on a perceived lack of evidence.

Though Miniter falls short of explicitly suggesting intentional malfeasance by the Clinton Administration as it pursued terrorists, the keen reader cannot discount the potential accuracy of this inference: while the administration repeatedly claimed it did not have enough reliable information to legally indict bin Laden, in truth it may have deliberately chosen to consider terrorism a law enforcement matter as an excuse to take a less decisive and vigorous tack.

As Americans now know, Bill Clinton’s failures to deal forcefully with terrorism have allowed President Bush to demonstrate the leadership qualities so foreign to his predecessor. But unlike President Clinton, George W. Bush, like Ronald Reagan before him, understands that the primary responsibility of the Commander in Chief is to defend the nation.

President Bush has risked his presidency to fight the War on Terror, and as Richard Miniter has so exhaustively presented in Losing bin Laden, it was the one risk Bill Clinton was never prepared to take.

Trevor Bothwell is the editor of The Right Report

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