Clinton to Wallace: Wipe that smirk off your face

By KAREN MATTHEWS

In a combative interview on "Fox News Sunday," former President Clinton defended his handling of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, saying he tried to have bin Laden killed and was attacked for his efforts by the same people who now criticize him for not doing enough.


"That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," Clinton said in the interview. "They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try."

Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a "conservative hit job" and asked: "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, ‘Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?’ I want to know how many people you asked, ‘Why did you fire Dick Clarke?’"

He was referring to the USS Cole, attacked by terrorists in Yemen in 2000, and former White House anti-terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke.

Wallace said Sunday he was surprised by Clinton’s "conspiratorial view" of "a very non-confrontational question, ‘Did you do enough to connect the dots and go after Al Qaida?’"

"All I did was ask him a question, and I think it was a legitimate news question. I was surprised that he would conjure up that this was a hit job," Wallace said in a telephone interview.

Clinton said he "worked hard" to try to kill bin Laden.

"We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody’s gotten since," he said.

He told Wallace, "And you got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever, but I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try and I did everything I thought I responsibly could."

The interview was taped Friday during Clinton’s three-day Global Initiative conference.


Comments

  1. R. Ruffian

    Does Richard Mellon Shaife pay you by the word when you post to sites like this? Or does he and his foundations just pay all your bills and keep you on retainer? If I remember correctly your organization filed 18 lawsuits against the Clinton administration during Clinton’s tenure in the Whitehouse. Weren’t you guys continuously on the tube (FOX) during the Clinton years? The last I heard of you was a piece you lately did on FOX where your were spouting something about Clinton I can’t remember what. It’s amazing you are still filing FOIA request for Clinton administration documents? I would think the current crowd would provide ample opportunity for digging for new dirt.

    I know the Mark Rich pardon is a big deal for you because you think the details of his will embarrass Clinton. Here is the skinny. You know he was a foreign operative who helped finance the transfer of millions (some say billions)of dollars of heavily discounted newer weapons that came from US stockpiles in Europe and went to Israel. Then the older Israeli weapons were then shipped to mullahs in Iran during the Iran Iraq war. By the way some of the weapons were diverted to Jihadist like Osama Bin Laden to keep the soviets pinned down in Afghanistan. Didn’t you think it strange that the Iranians fought a long and bloody war with Iraq and they were still using western US weapons at the end of the war? I don’t see you asking for FOIA documents relating to the elder Bush pardoning all the rest of the Iran Contra Hoodlums, just Clinton. I detect a little bias. Clinton pardoned Mark Rich because the elder Bush forgot to when he left office. Ask his lawyer he is still around and now represents Scooter Libby. Do you think there is a pardon in Libby’s future?

  2. Pat

    Mr. Bill,

    I don’t think Bill Clinton has to “practice”. He just opens his mouth and the words flow, though I’m quite sure he anticipated it and was somewhat prepared.

  3. Mr. Bill

    Additional note for Bladder and Mutineer:

    Aside from all the other facts that are obvious to everyone else except you, aside from what was an obvious setup by Fox “news”, there is yet another question that arises from this. How come Bush dropped the ball in Afghanistan by allowing himself to get into the mess in Iraq? If he had finished the job, I’d bet OBL would be history.

    Oh and while we’re at it, we should thank GWB & Co. for Iraq. That “comma” is the blood of our best and brightest and the pouring of our national wealth into an unending rathole. Thanks George.

    One last comment, I’d bet Bill Clinton was up late practicing for this. he had to know a setup was on the way. Everyone loves a fighter. Give ’em hell Bill!!

  4. In the days leading up to the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while most Americans were remembering those murdered that day, Bill Clinton was busy launching a pressure campaign to prevent ABC from airing the docudrama, “The Path to 9/11.” Bill Clinton reportedly “went ballistic” when he learned the ABC program cast his administration in an unfavorable light. He turned purple at Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

    No one would contest the point that the world changed on 9/11. Yet there is no doubt Osama bin Laden was a looming menace long before his 19 hijackers boarded airplanes on that day destined for the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And Bill Clinton knew it.

    Why not examine the Clinton administration’s own records?

    Last summer, Judicial Watch efforts led to the declassification of a “top secret” Clinton State Department intelligence report, entitled, Terrorism/Usama bin Ladin: Who’s Chasing Whom?” The document, dated July 18, 1996, analyzes bin Laden and his network after the terrorist leader was “expelled” from Sudan and sent to Afghanistan. (The Sudanese had offered to turn bin Laden over to the U.S., but the offer was rebuffed by the Clinton administration. “The FBI did not believe we had enough evidence to indict bin Laden at that time…” former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Burger told The Washington Post.)

    Here are a few excerpts from the Clinton State Department document:

    · “Bin Laden’s willingness to issue recent public anti-western threats hardly fits the image of a man running scared.”

    · [bin Laden’s] interest in supporting radical Islamists extends well beyond the Middle East.”

    · “[bin Laden’s] prolonged stay in Afghanistan…could prove more dangerous to US interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum [Sudan].”

    · “Even a bin Laden on the move can retain the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack US interests almost worldwide.”

    With all of the intelligence failures that contributed to 9/11, this is one piece of good intelligence that was simply ignored. Just as the State Department report essentially predicted, bin Laden attacked the U.S. on two more occasions during the Clinton years. The 1998 bombing of two U.S. Embassies in Africa, and the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen resulted in the murder of 300 people. Then came 9/11.

    The truth – whether Bill Clinton wants to acknowledge it or not – is that the Clinton administration was warned about the threat posed by bin Laden. The administration chose not to address the threat seriously.

  5. Pat

    Ted,

    Thanks for the link. It was chilling, especially the part about the military. Everyone who voted for Bush/Cheney should read this speech as a refresher course.

  6. Ted

    Adder and Mountaineer,

    Bushies like yourselves are up to your nostrils in snake oil and just keep on buying more from the conmen named W. Bush and D. Cheney.

    In fact I would bet a years salary that you both believe Dick Cheney’s fantasy:

    “George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged. He is a man without pretense and without cynicism. A man of principle, a man of honor. On the first hour of the first day he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office. He will show us that national leaders can be true to their word and that they can get things done by reaching across the partisan aisle, and working with political opponents in good faith and common purpose. I know he’ll do these things, because for the last five years I’ve watched him do them in Texas.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/08/02/politics/main221310.shtml

    Adder or Mountaineer I have a great piece of property for sale in Louisana …. are either of you interested.

  7. Pat

    Sandman,

    I remember a wave of optimism as well as unprecedented prosperity, and I long to feel that optimistic again. Most of the people I know have gone through several jobs, each one usually worse than the one before. The opportunities are fading and taking with it a sense of
    hope.

    With more and more of the population struggling just to maintain a minimal existence people aren’t buying the “talking points” anymore. Oh well, at least the top 1% are thriving!!!

  8. sandman

    Funny I don’t remember the US being attacked when Clinton was in office. I remember working for a decent wage and having an expectation of some civil rights though.

  9. Pat

    Chris Wallace was up against a pro and he should have known better than to bait Clinton. Did he actually think Clinton would stutter and shrink?

    As for FOX’s agenda – the bottom line is always ratings and this interview was undoubtedly a huge boost for them. It was the first and ONLY time I’ve ever watched a FOX news program. I’m quite sure there were more like me.

    I noticed some righties trashing President Clinton here and his record and I have to assume they didn’t really listen to the interview. Everything he said can be verified and documented. If you wish to debate the issues, you need to bring facts to the table, not personal opinions.

  10. TRUTH 101

    WELL; we have heard two dissenting voices on this forum today that will stand by their man no matter what he does or what he says.

    You know loyalty is a good thing, but taken too far when the proof is right in front of your face and you refuse to see, acknowledge or even offer and explanation for your views when confronted with the TRUTH is mind-boggling to me.

    STAND BY YOUR MAN.

    But Mr. Bush’s minions can’t listen in on your phone calls iof you don’t have a phone. And he can’t monitor your e-mails if you don’t have electricity or a computer…OR BOTH.
    And he can’t monitor what you read at the library if the only book you ever read was MY PET GOAT….And you can’t be on a no-fly list if you’ve never flown and scared to fly if you could.

    And after 9-11 your only purchases other than food amounted to an American Flag and half a dozen bumper stickers.

    Hell, you’ll be taken care of cause you can’t get slapped down if you blindly support the man cause he’s the man even if you didn’t vote for anyone.

    HERE ARE SOME FACTS:

    Bush is in violation of his OATH OF OFFICE 5 Counts

    BUSH has LIED to all of us about everything

    Secret Prisons
    Secret Flights
    Torture
    Monitoring calls of terrorists only. Can we get a copy of that list please?

    He has over 30 violations of the Constitution on the NSA wiretapping issue alone. That’s not from me, that’s from LEGAL SCOLARS who KNOW the law.

    I am an American, a thinking American who stays current on Current events, who listens to BOTH sides of an argument and will not make an excuse for EITHER SIDE when after reasoning I believe they are wrong.

    Mr. Bush is NOT the President of the United States except in Name only and whether you like it or not, he loves the title and the adulation that goes with it…but nothing else.

    Those Mr. Adder and Mr Mountineer ARE COLD HARD UNDENIABLE FACTS…FAIR AND BALANCED….PERIOD

  11. David Rosenberg

    Bill Clinton did more to protect us then the screwed up admin, we have now. Reports today prove we are in more danger now, with bush’s war on terror and the Iraq war.
    Mr. Innocence Chris Wallace claims it wasn’t a “Hit” so, why didn’t he ask questions about Global Warming, as that was the intent of the interview? I’m glad he side swiped Bill, since Wallace got what he wasn’t expecting.

  12. ClarkB

    Bill Clinton belongs in the cell next to Scott Peterson. George W. Bush belongs in the next cell over. These are the two worst presidents that this nation has ever suffered, and they served back to back terms.

    They are not just negligent or incompetent, they are actual traitors to the nation and the oath they swore. I have zero respect for either one.

  13. wayfarer

    Dave, Down boy. Clinton did authorize the CIA to find and kill OBL. It has been repeatedly reported, including by Richard Clarke. As for your “liberal press” comment, if memory serves it was Sun Myung Moon’s conservative paper (The Washington Times) that first reported that the US Gov’t was tracking al Qaida’s calls.

  14. R. Ruffian

    Mr. Adder,

    What an appropriate name for you.

    If you want to go into who is ultimately responsible for Bin Laden you can go back to Reagan and the CIA’s Saudi Arabia’s and Pakistan’s arming the Jihadist fighters in Afghanistan to push out the Soviets. Bin Laden collected allot of US money and arms and was regularly given shelter in Pakistan in this effort. He built his terrorist network and made connections during this time. After the Soviets left Afghanistan he spent the late 80’s and most of the 90’s helping the Taliban gain and consolidate power in Afghanistan. After securing his bases he moved onto the world stage with bombings and propaganda. In 1998 he declared holy war (Jihad) on the US. According to Richard Clark Clinton moved aggressively to kill him by authorizing the CIA and other agencies plus the military to track him down and do the deed.

    At the time the people who can share responsibility for Bin Laden getting away are the Republicans in Congress. Clinton was roundly criticized at the time by Republicans in the House, Senate, Most presidential hopefuls and by Bush himself in these efforts. Even Arlen Specter got up and pontificated on the danger of a “Wag the Dog “ attempt to stave off impeachment. The Republicans even talked about adding to his articles of impeachment that fact that he had taken action in the Sudan and Afghanistan. Yeah the only things Republicans could focus on at the time was a blue dress.

    Clinton left office at noon on 01-20-01 and here is a news flash to you, Mr. Adder he was no longer President or in charge from that moment on. By the way his national security staff left a detailed summary and plans for follow up against the Jihadist specifically Bin laden. Bush and his people could have cared less. Bush was even warned specifically on 08-06-01 in a daily briefing that Osama wanted to “Use aircraft to attack the US” His comment was “OK you’ve covered your ass” Bush continued his vacation. The twin towers came down 09-11-0. So both Presidents failed to get Bin Laden.

    Form 09-11-01 until now is a period of time longer that the whole US involvement in WW2 from beginning to end with the Japanese surrender. How come Osama Bin Laden is still breathing? (There have been rumors of a natural death recently but no conformation and what a pity because it would be from natural causes!) What is Bush’s excuse? I am sure he has one he has an excuse for everything. Blaming Clinton just won’t hunt any longer.

  15. Steve

    Like you, Adder, I cheered when the cruise missiles were launched. I was appalled when Orrin Hatch and others in the right wing of the Republican Party promptly went on TV to decry Pres Clinton’s “attempt to divert attention from his domestic problems.” When the cruise missile launched into Afghanistan hit an empty camp, Clinton was excoriated by conservatives for, yes, diverting attention from his domestic problems. Clinton then wanted the CIA and FBI to certify that al Queda existed and was operating against us. He couldn’t get that certification. Clinton was burned twice by the CIA, something no one seems to remember.

    I’m glad he ripped Fox News. It’s just too bad he had to take it out on Chris Wallace. Fox’s chief shouters, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, would have been sliced, fileted, and turned into sushi by Bill Clinton, and in their worthless little hearts they both know it.

  16. Adder

    We ARE all in this together, no doubt.

    Really, its high time we acted like we are.

    The left seems only interested in destroying abd bashing Bush. We have a war to fight and terrorists to kill.

    I support the war in Iraq but it has been filled with errors. Nevertheless, the jihadis are coming there to fight and we are killing them.

    The Taliban appeared to be well defeated but have now resurged. How, exactly, was that a misclaulation as the former prez and others like John Kerry want to charge?

    The former prez was trying to defend indefensible actions. I remember cheering the news that he launched air strikes but there was zero follow-up. That was a pure wtf moment.

    No, 9-11 happened and we have to fight these people.
    Period.

  17. Shag

    Good for Bill. This group of reichwingers in power are the biggest screw-ups imagineable. The only thing they done right is to enrich their thieveing buddies.

  18. Shag

    Good for Bill. This group of reichwingers in power are the biggest screw-ups imagineable. The only thing they done right is to enrich their thieveing buddies.

  19. Uncle Ludwig

    Thanks, Adder and Dave, for showing the sensibilities of the right. Clear thinking, above the fray. As documented elsewhere on the ‘Net, http://mediamatters.org/items/200609240002, Fox News has not been “fair and balanced” in its reportage.

    It’s a valid statement to say that Clinton answered them correctly, while questioning their motives. You can say he wagged to dog all you want, but notice then when your guys do it, too.

    After all, you may not believe this, but we’re ALL in this together.

  20. Dave

    If Bill Clinton had signed authorization for UBL’s death he would be dead. Bill told the CIA to find him but never authorized them to kill him. UBL was greatly aided when our liberal press published the secret info we were tracking UBL’s satellite phone. Clinton may be a lover but he is not a fighter. He will probably be remembered most for his unusual choice of cigar humidors.

    Dave
    Mountaineer

  21. Adder

    So Billy Bubba shows his true and hysterical colors.

    What a buffoon and a clown he is.

    Judging from the comments above, there are a lot more just like him who refuse to understand that this man had eight years to deal with Bin Laden and did nothing of any substance to deal with him, even though we were attacked by his minions multiple times.

    His shouting notwhithstanding, he is directly responsible for 9-11.

    yeah, Bush might have had [all of]8 months but the clown prince had 8 YEARS.

    Maybe instead of leaving stains on a blue dress, he might could have tried to do his job abd defend this country.

  22. Irene

    Finally the Democrat’s voice is heard. When will those in office now stand up for themselves and their beliefs? Instead of being intimidated by the ruthless antics of the Republican party, stand up and put them on the defensive. Force them to accountability for all their miscreant deeds.

  23. BarkLeigh

    Yes, thank God for Bill. It’s high time the democrats came out swinging and turning everything the neo-cons say back on them. Projection is the defense mechanism of the weak-minded.God Bless you, Clintons.

  24. Judy bodnar

    Clinton was invited on Wallace’s show to talk about his involvment in global warming projects.
    Wallace, alway calm & cool until now.. was in the arena with the best of the best when it comes to talkers. The question he asked Clinton, may have been legitimate 5 yrs ago, but not today. Wallace is not stupid, and asked the question figuring he could control the answer like Fox new has always done.. This time, there was no panel to out shout each other silencing honesty, and Clinton was not about to let this opportunity pass..and Wallace was not able to do a damned thing about it. I have waited for this moment to come about on Fox for years, and it finally happened. Clinton, who is far more inteligent and capable than the interviewer and who has been branded a liar for years by the right wing, siezed control and answered fully the baited question..
    then in closing, he proceded to ask the best and most legitimate question of all..”why hasn’t Bush been asked these same questions?” As Dean Livingston (posted above) absolutely nailed Bush …perfectly… when he noted “everything is just ” A Comma “, as far as Bush is concerned.

  25. Jerry

    I didn’t have an opinion one way, or the other about Chris Wallace before I watched this interview. Now, I put Mr. Wallace in the same classification as that stupid barracuda, Connie Chung. I notice that every time Bill Clinton began to make some headway explaining his position, Wallace would break in, and try to change the subject. Everyone with half a brain knows that Fox News Network should be called The Republican News Network.