Media Give Hillary Clinton a Pass Regarding Her Selective Amnesia

Did you see Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) suggest last week what her husband would have done if he had received the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief concerning bin Laden? Touching, wasn’t it? If only there was an ounce of truth to it.

To refresh everyone’s memory, after former president Bill Clinton’s meltdown during an interview with Chris Wallace on September 24, the junior senator from New York felt compelled to come to his rescue:

I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside United States,’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team,” Hillary Clinton said. [emphasis added]

What Mrs. Clinton was referring to was the now infamous PDB  that the left and their media minions have claimed for years was ignored by the Bush administration in the days just prior to the 9/11 attacks. True to form, and certainly to be expected, the junior senator was once again exhibiting the famous Clinton selective amnesia, a trait that apparently doesn’t require genetic transmission, and is never challenged by the press.

As previously identified by NewsBusters, the following comes from page 128 of the 9/11 Commission report:

On Friday, December 4, 1998, the CIA included an article in the Presidential Daily Brief describing intelligence, received from a friendly government, about a threatened hijacking in the United States. This article was declassified at our request.

This is the actual article from the PDB in question:

The following is the text of an item from the Presidential Daily Brief received by President William J. Clinton on December 4, 1998. Redacted material is indicated in brackets.

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and OtherAttacks

1. Reporting [—] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing forattacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release ofShaykh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sadiq‘Awda. One source quoted a senior member of the Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of late October, the IG had completed planning for an operation in the US on behalf of Bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold. A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options—perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.

• IG leader Islambuli in late September was planning to hijack aUS airliner during the “next couple of weeks” to free ‘Abd al-Rahman and the other prisoners, according to what may be adifferent source.

• The same source late last month said that Bin Ladin mightimplement plans to hijack US aircraft before the beginning ofRamadan on 20 December and that two members of the operationalteam had evaded security checks during a recent trialrun at an unidentified New York airport. [—]

2. Some members of the Bin Ladin network have received hijack training, according to various sources, but no group directly tied to Bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida organization has ever carried out an aircraft hijacking. Bin Ladin could be weighing other types of operations against US aircraft. According to [—] the IG in October obtained SA-7 missiles and intended to move them from Yemen into Saudi Arabia to shoot down an Egyptian plane or, if unsuccessful, a US military or civilian aircraft.

• A [—] in October told us that unspecified “extremist elements”in Yemen had acquired SA-7s. [—]

3. [—] indicate the Bin Ladin organization or its allies are moving closerto implementing anti-US attacks at unspecified locations, but we do notknow whether they are related to attacks on aircraft. A Bin Ladin associate in Sudan late last month told a colleague in Kandahar that he had shipped a group of containers to Afghanistan. Bin Ladin associates also talked about the movement of containers to Afghanistan before the East Africa bombings.

• In other [—] Bin Ladin associates last month discussed pickingup a package in Malaysia. One told his colleague in Malaysiathat “they” were in the “ninth month [of pregnancy].”

• An alleged Bin Ladin supporter in Yemen late last monthremarked to his mother that he planned to work in “commerce”from abroad and said his impending “marriage,” whichwould take place soon, would be a “surprise.”“Commerce” and“marriage” often are codewords for terrorist attacks. [—]

Somehow this little piece of history slipped the Senator’s mind, as well as a less than investigative and overly compliant media's. Maybe more importantly, the information contained in this Brief was far more detailed than anything in the August 6, 2001 memo to President Bush, which was largely an update concerning bin Laden and al Qaeda’s activities since the August 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Africa.

In fact, and almost comically, some of the information in the Bush PDB came right out of the Clinton one:

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a——service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.

Sound familiar? Apparently, it didn’t to the junior Senator from New York -- or her adoring press -- even though some of the information that Mrs. Clinton complained President Bush didn’t act on was actually more than two and a half years old, and was originally presented to her husband when he was Commander-in-Chief. 

Ah, the wonders of selective amnesia.

Yet, what also eluded the memory of supposedly the most intelligent woman in America was that unlike what was available to the Bush administration and the intelligence community in August 2001 – i.e. no information about bin Laden’s whereabouts – the CIA knew exactly where the terrorist leader was just sixteen days after Clinton received his PDB. The following is from pages 130 and 131 of the Report:

On December 20, intelligence indicated Bin Ladin would be spending the night at the Haji Habash house, part of the governor’s residence in Kandahar. The chief of the Bin Ladin unit, “Mike,” told us that he promptly briefed Tenet and his deputy, John Gordon. From the field, the CIA’s Gary Schroen advised: “Hit him tonight—we may not get another chance.” An urgent teleconference of principals was arranged.

The principals considered a cruise missile strike to try to kill Bin Ladin. One issue they discussed was the potential collateral damage—the number of innocent bystanders who would be killed or wounded. General Zinni predicted a number well over 200 and was concerned about damage to a nearby mosque.

Unfortunately, this mission – like others before it – never occurred. As a result, according to the Report, “Mike” – who we now know to actually be Michael Scheuer  – couldn’t sleep that night:

“I’m sure we’ll regret not acting last night,” he wrote, criticizing the principals for “worrying that some stray shrapnel might hit the Habash mosque and ‘offend’ Muslims.”

Regret it indeed, for when you add it all up, on December 4, 1998, President Clinton received a written warning of an al Qaeda plot to hijack American planes. Sixteen days later, the CIA believed it knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts in Kandahar, and had a plan to take him out. The last time there was such a plan, for some reason it was aborted, and within months, two U.S. embassies were bombed in Africa.

Yet, despite this deadly precedent for inaction, just four months later, with a PDB warning of new attacks imminent from this same enemy, a plan to kill Osama bin Laden was once again scuttled, this time seemingly due to the risks to civilians and holy religious structures in the area.

What this rather convincingly proves is that despite protestations to the contrary, the Clinton administration was more concerned with the politics of the Middle East than in preventing the loss of American lives. And, Bill, Hill, and their adoring media are shamefully more interested in protecting his legacy and her political future than being honest with the American people about national security issues.

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