Lara Logan, CBS: That mission actually began five years before 9/11. That's when the CIA set up what became Hank Crumpton's special unit tasked with finding Osama bin Laden.
But Crumpton says the Clinton White House didn't trust the CIA's Afghan sources alone and they wanted U.S. eyes on the target.
Hank Crumpton: So we were driven to look at various technical options. And we looked at a range of things. Long-range optics, they were too heavy, too cumbersome to get over the mountains. We looked at balloons. The prevailing winds would take those balloons to China. That would be a bad thing. We scrapped that. And then we stumbled across the UAVs, particularly the Predator. And sure enough, wasn't long before we had the Predator in theater over Afghanistan, the Predator unarmed at the time. And our human sources took us to a village-- far-- not far from Kandahar.
Lara Logan: And what did you see there?
Hank Crumpton: We saw a security detail, a convoy and we saw bin Laden exit the vehicle.
Lara Logan: Clearly?
Hank Crumpton: Clearly. And we had-- the optics were spot on. It was beaming back to us, CIA headquarters. We immediately alerted the White House. And the Clinton administration's response was, "Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So you need to tell us where bin Laden will be five or six hours from now." The frustration was enormous.
Lara Logan: So at that moment you wanted to kill him?
Hank Crumpton: Yes.
Lara Logan: But you couldn't get permission?
Hank Crumpton: Correct.
He couldn't get permission to do anything, including allowing the CIA's Afghan agents on the ground to attack bin Laden's compound. That missed opportunity in the late summer of 1999, led Crumpton and his CIA team to figure out how to arm the Predator drone with hellfire missiles.
Lara Logan: So the Predator drone strikes that take place in the tribal areas of Pakistan today are a direct result of what happened when you had Osama bin Laden in your sights in Afghanistan and no way to kill him yourselves?
Hank Crumpton: It was a response to the lack of response on the part of the administration or DOD. So the handful of CIA officers that we had, in great frustration, we began the discussion of, "Okay. We find him again we will have to engage ourselves. And we'll have to do it right then, right there."
What a freaking outrage. And equally outrageous? Legacy media's silence.
Remember when Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was caught destroying Top Secret documents related to the Bin Laden debacle? You don't? Maybe that's because legacy media barely reported it.
As Richard Miniter wrote in 2007, Berger's intent was to prevent disclosure of the Clinton cowardice that ultimately led to 9/11.
My informed sources suggest that what Berger destroyed were copies of the Millennium After-Action Review, a binder-sized report prepared by Richard Clarke in 2000—a year and half before the 9-11 attacks. The review made a series of recommendations for a tougher stance against bin Laden and terrorism. There are 13 or more copies of this report. But only one contains hand-written notes by President Bill Clinton. Apparently, in the margin beside the recommendations, Bill Clinton wrote NO, NO, NO next to many of the tougher policy proposals.
You can see why Clinton might be happy to see these records vanish down the memory hole... So Berger was stuffing in pants and socks and later shredding the evidence that President Clinton did not want to take a tougher line on bin Laden, following the 1998 attack on two U.S. embassies that killed 224 people (including 12 American diplomats).
Even now that CBS has confirmed the story, a quick Google News search reveals that no one in old media cares.
3,000 innocent Americans dead. Countless thousands of American warriors fallen and wounded in avenging the terrorist attacks and those who enabled them.
A president who knew Bin Laden was complicit in prior attacks and failed to act.
A cowardly president who was too busy golfing to do his job.
In other words, just another disastrous Democrat president.