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Clinton on Fox program.
Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden “is alive today” because former President Clinton didn’t go after him, one of the CIA’s unit heads under Clinton has confirmed.
On the CBS “Early Show,” former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer said yesterday he was stunned by Clinton’s televised outburst. In that interview a week ago with Chris Wallace, Clinton repeatedly jabbed his finger at Wallace and claimed credit for trying harder and getting closer to getting bin Laden than anyone.
“It’s just an incredible kind of situation,” Scheuer said, “for the American people over the weekend to hear their former president mislead them.”
Scheuer’s comments were reported by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak.
Novak pointed out that while Democrats were busy debating whether Clinton’s performance was good or bad for their party, they all were overlooking Scheuer’s harsh rebuke.
Clinton had accused Wallace of a “nice little conservative hit job” for asking him whether he believed he had done all he could to halt the terrorist campaign of bin Laden, who has claimed credit for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.
“Scheuer’s blunt remonstrance goes to the heart of what probably impelled Clinton’s finger pointing on national television,” Novak noted. “Rather than attempting to shape the midterm campaign, as Republicans believe, he was interested in protecting his legacy.
“No former president in the last half-century has seemed so sensitive to critical assessments of his tenure,” wrote Novak, who also said there have been reports of a 20-minute Clinton tirade about the Whitewater investigation, and Clinton’s infuriation at being described as weak on national security.
The newest criticism also comes from someone Novak said never would be “confused with being a Bush acolyte.”
Scheuer, the ex-CIA man, resigned in 2004 after 22 years and published a critique of efforts by both Bush and Clinton, throwing in his opinion (low) of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Scheuer told CBS that Clinton’s claim the CIA could not verify bin Laden was responsible for the earlier attack on the USS Cole is a denial of the facts.
“He defames the CIA … and the men and women who risked their lives to give their administration repeated chances to kill bin Laden,” Scheuer said.
He said the Clinton administration had eight to 10 chances that the decision-makers just refused to take, while the Bush administration had one chance at Tora Bora, which failed.
His conclusions aren’t going to be put in campaign ads for either party, however, Novak noted.
“Both President Bush and President Clinton have been very misleading to the American people, telling them we’re at war because of our freedoms and our liberties and because of gender equality and because of elections. None of that is true,” Scheuer said. “We’re at war because of what we do in the Islamic world.”
As WND reported earlier, Wallace said when Clinton lost his temper it felt like a “mountain was coming down in front of me.”
Wallace said he’d asked Clinton what he considered a non-confrontational question about whether he could have done more to “connect the dots and really go after al-Qaida.”
“The president was clearly stung by any suggestion that he had not done everything he could to get bin Laden. He attacked right-wingers – accused me of a ‘conservative hit job’ – and even spun a theory I still don’t understand that somehow Fox was trying to cover up the fact that NewsCorp. Chief Rupert Murdoch was supporting his Global Initiative. I still have no idea what set him off,” Wallace said.
It was not the first time Clinton has unleashed his temper when asked a question. It was during a 1999 White House picnic when Clinton erupted at a question from WND Washington bureau chief Paul Sperry.
Reported Sperry at the time: “Clinton’s not just intellectually intimidating, he’s physically imposing. He’s tall (6-2) and big-boned.
“Luckily, I’m the same height and was able to stand toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye with him. I’ll never forget the maniacal look in his bloodshot eyes. There was a moment, fleeting, where I sensed he wanted to try to take a swipe at me. I was getting full frontal Clinton. His volcanic temper, hidden so well from the public by his handlers, erupted less than 12 inches from my eyes.”
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