WASHINGTON – Counterterrorism experts in the Pentagon suspect Pakistan and Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden is behind the deadly attacks on America’s nerve centers, WorldNetDaily has learned.

And they say they are looking at targets to take him out once and for all, something that they say the Clinton administration never seriously considered.

“No one seriously went after him,” one Pentagon official told WorldNetDaily. “You go after him, he’s dead. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to play at the periphery.”

“I hope we get some good targets,” the official added, “and I hope I’m busy responding to them.”

On Aug. 20, 1998, three days after half-confessing to lying about Monica Lewinsky and the day she testified before a federal grand jury, former President Clinton declared bin Laden the world’s most dangerous terrorist and retaliated against him for blowing up two U.S. embassies in Africa months earlier.

Three years later he’s still at large.

Clinton ordered the military to pump as many as 20 Tomahawk missiles into what he said was a chemical-weapons plant in Sudan financed by bin Laden. It turned out to be a pill plant owned by a Saudi businessman to whom the administration later had to pay $1 million in interest for seizing his plant.

Intelligence officials at the time expressed reservations about including the plant on the target list. Clinton picked the target himself.

Clinton ordered another 60 or so Tomahawks launched against six camps near Khost, Afghanistan, where bin Laden operated with the blessing of the ruling Taliban militia.

None of them came close to hitting bin Laden.

The mission, which used some 80 missiles at a price of about $750,000 apiece, was seen as a very expensive failure – if, that is, Clinton’s mission was in fact to knock out bin Laden, and not to distract attention from his impeachment scandal.

“Clinton knew it wouldn’t work in Afghanistan. It was a public-affairs move,” the Pentagon official said, arguing that bombing is an extremely unreliable way to destroy a terrorist cell or assassinate its leader. “If he hit him [bin Laden], he would have been lucky.”

“All he did was give him confidence that he could prick at the giant and win, and we wouldn’t do anything about it,” the official said. “We knew about bin Laden, and we knew about others who have been playing with us. We’ve got intelligence on the countries that have been supporting them. And we just talk at them and slap them with sanctions.”

Tellingly, Clinton refrained from a military response in 1996, when 19 U.S. airmen were killed in the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia. He also took no military action against terrorists last year for blowing a hole in the USS Cole in Yemen. The blast killed 17 sailors.

In those cases, the Clinton administration “wanted court-quality evidence before they’d go forward” and retaliate, said a Pentagon anti-terrorism official.

“Frankly, they just let guys like bin Laden grow in strength to the point where they felt they could pull off things like they pulled off today,” he said.

The U.S. accuses the Taliban of sheltering bin Laden, and supports United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan.

The Islamic militia recently jailed two American women in Afghanistan on charges of preaching Christianity, which makes some officials wonder if the latest American attacks aren’t part of a new holy war.

The Taliban, which wants the U.S. to recognize it as Afghanistan’s government and to ease sanctions against it, may be using the American prisoners as a bargaining chip.

U.S. consuls met with Taliban officials last week to negotiate the release of the women, who may face execution. The consuls’ visas expired today. They’ve sought an extension on the two-week visas.

“We have bad guys there that we know wish us harm, and we have not gone after them,” the Pentagon official said. “We’ve done this reasonable retaliation, yes, but it doesn’t work.”

“We should have done like the Soviets did it along time ago,” he said. “They didn’t stomach this kind of crap. Anybody who played with them, they got evidence or strong suspects and they didn’t live very long.”

“We need to go back to the days when the national security of our citizenry was the most important piece of government,” the official added.

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