Brian Williams Praises Bill Clinton for Trying to Kill Bin Laden, Ignores All the Missed Opportunities

NBC's special presentation of Rock Center on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's assassination wasn't just a victory lap for Barack Obama.

It was also a chance for host Brian Williams to praise Bill Clinton for going after the former al Qaeda leader without mentioning all the times his administration passed on chances to get him (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

The program began with a focus on the now iconic picture taken inside the White House Situation Room while Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, et al were watching live video of the mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"The picture," said Williams dramatically, "was actually years in the making. When he was president, Bill Clinton spent 75 cruise missiles trying to kill bin Laden."

For those that forgot, this was akin to what Clinton himself told Fox News's Chris Wallace in a testy exchange shortly after the fifth anniversary of 9/11:

CLINTON: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke says. You think Richard Clarke has a vigorous attitude about bin Laden?

WALLACE: Yes I do

CLINTON: You do?

WALLACE: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties but yes.

CLINTON: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He was loyal to him. He worked for George Herbert Walker Bush and he was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said, read his book and read his factual assertions — not opinions, assertions. He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies. We probably nearly got bin Laden.

WALLACE: …

CLINTON: Now wait a minute…

WALLACE: ..cruise missiles..

CLINTON: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him.

As CNN.com reported August 20, 1998:

Let our actions today send this message loud and clear there are no expendable American targets, U.S. President Clinton said in a televised address to the American people Thursday evening. There will be no sanctuary for terrorists. We will defend our people, our interests and our values.

U.S. officials say the six sites attacked in Afghanistan were part of a network of terrorist compounds near the Pakistani border that housed supporters of millionaire Osama bin Laden.

An official of the Taliban, Afgahanistans [sic] Islamic rulers, reported 21 were killed and 30 were injured in the missile strikes in eastern Afghanistan.


Okay, but that doesn't come close to telling the whole story of Bill Clinton and Osama bin Laden.

Not by a long shot.

As NewsBusters has reported for years including this past Saturday, our 42nd President passed on up to ten opportunities to capture or kill the former al Qaeda leader before 9/11.

To make it seem that Bill Clinton had anything to do with what occurred in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, was the height of revisionist history that everyone associated with Rock Center should be ashamed of.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.