by John Hawkins | July 23, 2004 11:58 pm
Former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby, is contradicting the 9/11 commission and adding a new twist to a monster story that the mainstream press has long ignored: Clinton turning down Sudan’s offer to hand over Osama Bin Laden in 1996….
“I’m privy to some information on this,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
“I’ve been to Sudan. And I was in Khartoum and met with some of the higher-ranking people with the Sudanese government. They told me personally – I had heard that before – that they actually offered [him] up to the Clinton administration – that is, Osama bin Laden – if they wanted him.”
In its final report released Thursday, the 9/11 Commission said there was “no credible evidence” that the Sudanese offer had ever taken place – explaining that ex-President Clinton had “misspoken” when he described the offer in detail during a February 2002 speech.
But Sen. Shelby said Sudanese officials not only were prepared to arrest bin Laden, they were willing to “assassinate” him if necessary.
“They thought it might be deemed an assassination if he resisted,” Shelby said.
“I think that would have been the right thing to do,” he added. “We now know it would have been the right thing to do. If he’s offered up, take him, because a year later, a year or so later, they blew two of our embassies up.”
Here’s the thing that just kills me about this story: The first time I heard about it, was when “Mansoor Ijaz who negotiated with Sudan on behalf of Clinton from 1996 to 1998″ talked about it. Then in 2002, Bill Clinton publicly admitted that it happened…
“Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan.
“And we’d been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start meeting with them again – they released him.
“At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.
“So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, ’cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn’t and that’s how he wound up in Afghanistan.”
Now, we have a US Senator saying he has talked to Sudanese officials who say that it happened.
Amazingly enough, despite all of this, if you read the section dealing with this issue in the 9/11 commission report (P.476), a simple denial by Bill Clinton and a little pooh poohing by Sandy Berger of all people seems to have been enough to convince the commission there was nothing to this…
“President Clinton, in a February 2002 speech to the Long Island Association, said that the United States did not accept a Sudanese offer and take Bin Ladin because there was no indictment. President Clinton speech to the Long Island Association, Feb. 15, 2002 (videotape of speech). But the President told us that he had “misspoken” and was, wrongly, recounting a number of press stories he had read. After reviewing this matter in preparation for his Commission meeting, President Clinton told us that Sudan never offered to turn Bin Ladin over to the United States. President Clinton meeting (Apr. 8, 2004). Berger told us that he saw no chance that Sudan would have handed Bin Ladin over and also noted that in 1996, the U.S. government still did not know of any al Qaeda attacks on U.S. citizens. Samuel Berger interview”
I don’t know whether this was a whitewash or not, but at best, it doesn’t look like the 9/11 commission made a serious effort to find out the truth about what may have been in retrospect, the biggest gaffe of the entire Clinton era.
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