A new documentary from the executive producer of Showtime’s “Homeland” argues former President Bill Clinton had an opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden with little collateral damage but passed.
The documentary, "The Longest War," says bin Laden was found to be traveling in a caravan in Afghanistan. CIA operatives, according to Yahoo! News, said he could have been killed by burying a cache of explosives along his route.
But Clinton, according to Bob Grenier, CIA’s then-station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, had signed a “lethal-finding” bill that only allowed bin Laden to be captured, not killed.
“We were being asked to remove this threat to the United States essentially with one hand tied behind our backs,” Grenier said in the film, which was directed by Greg Barker and executive produced by Alex Gansa.
On Sept. 10, 2001, Clinton admitted in an Australian interview he could have killed bin Laden but would have had to destroy the town of Kandahar and kill "300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I just didn't do it."
That video interview, which took place only hours before bin Laden’s directed terrorist attack on the following day, was published in 2014.
“Bin Laden was constantly moving, and we were using Afghan tribal networks to report on his travels and his whereabouts,” Grenier said in the film.
“The Longest War” premiered Sunday night on Showtime.
“It’s hard to believe now, but back in the late ’90s, most of the Washington national security establishment — including President Clinton, the State Department, the Department of Defense — simply did not view Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda as a serious threat,” Barker told Yahoo! “The handful of U.S. officials who saw the looming threat clearly — and there were some, mostly mid-level officers at the CIA’s bin Laden unit and the counter-terrorism branch at the FBI — tried in vain to raise alarm bells at the highest levels, but were often ignored and even ridiculed.”
Barker also directed “Manhunt,” which followed female CIA agents who spent years hunting down bin Laden.