Former President Bill Clinton signed an order blocking CIA agents from killing Osama bin Laden when they had an opportunity to take out the world’s most-wanted terrorist in the 1990s, a new documentary has revealed.
The doc features interviews from CIA officials involved at the time and reveals that the United States had an opportunity to kill bin Laden after tracking his location with the help of Afghan tribal informants.
Then-President Clinton blocked the operation from moving forward by signing an executive order, however, with the agents risking jail had they engaged in the offensive.
The order placed the CIA in an impossible situation by allowing agents to engage in “lethal activity” against the Al Qaeda leader, but only if the purpose of the strike was not to kill him.
The bombshell is revealed in a clip from Showtime’s “The Longest War.”
“We were being asked to remove this threat to the United States essentially with one hand tied behind our backs,” now-former CIA station chief Bob Grenier tells the filmmakers.
Grenier was based in Islamabad, Pakistan at the time, according to Fox News.
“Our tribal contacts came to us and said, ‘Look, he’s in this location now. When he leaves, he’s going to have to go through this particular crossroads,’” Grenier recalls.
“And so what they proposed was to bury a huge cache of explosives underneath those crossroads so that when his convoy came through they could simply blow it up.
“And we said absolutely not. We were risking jail if we didn’t tell them that.”
The documentary’s director Greg Barker told The Daily Beast that at that point in time, the president, State Department, and other officials did not view bin Laden as much of a threat.
Senior officials reportedly “ignored and even ridiculed” those who said otherwise.
Clinton has in the past discussed why he did not go after bin Laden on another occasion.
He essentially argues that he did not want to kill innocent bystanders.
The documentary explores what could have happened if the administration took action at the time.
“The threat was real,” Marty Martin, who was a CIA counterterrorism officer at the time, said in the documentary.
“And if President Clinton had taken action and killed Usama bin Laden, there wouldn’t have been a 9/11, and if there wouldn’t have been a 9/11 there wouldn’t have been an Afghanistan, and if there wouldn’t have been an Afghanistan there wouldn’t have been an Iraq.
“What would the world be like?”