Video flashback: U.S. drone had Osama onscreen — in 2000

posted at 12:18 am on September 8, 2006 by Allahpundit

Remember this? I didn’t. But two different readers e-mailed in to remind me. The Internet has a long memory, my friends.

Important to note: according to CNN’s report, Predators weren’t armed with missiles at the time. It would have taken between three and seven hours to hit the base with missiles after Osama had been spotted.

Why wasn’t it hit? Watch the clip and see. Why didn’t the producers of “Path to 9/11” dramatize this incident instead of the bogus composite scene with Sandy Berger? Alas, that’s known only to God.

FYI, I’ve saved a copy of the video to my hard drive. Just in case Harry Reid should suddenly find “irregularities” in NBC’s broadcasting license and the clip end up magically disappearing from their website.

Click the image to watch. (Update: Use IE. It doesn’t work in Firefox.)


We would have let it lie, Harry. This is what you get for making threats.

Update: Point Five thinks the Dems’ attempts at revisionism should be more ambitious.

Update: Dan Riehl’s doing some document capturing of his own.

I hadn’t written a single post about this story until this morning. It’s only because the nutroots got predictably hysterical over it that it ended up on Drudge, and now it’s galvanized the right. Well done, kids.

Update (Bryan): You say the Internet has a long memory…and you’re right.

O‘DONNELL: But many people have made the impression that something in the Bush administration was done wrong. But there‘s evidence that the Clinton administration knew full well that bin Laden had the wherewithal and was planning to attack the United States. Who is to blame and did the president, Clinton, get this information?

SCHEUER: Certainly the president got the information. And most certainly his closest adviser, Sandy Berger and Mr. Clarke—Richard Clarke, had the information from 1996 forward that bin Laden intended to attack the United States. There‘s no question of that. And in terms of which administration had more chances, Mr. Clinton‘s administration had far more chances to kill Osama bin Laden than Mr. Bush has until this day.

O‘DONNELL: That‘s very interesting. I don‘t think that many Americans know that or think that everything that they‘ve heard—you‘ve spent your life tracking Osama bin Laden. From what we know now and what you know, how many missed opportunities were there to prevent the 9/11 attacks?

SCHEUER: Well, we had—the question of whether or not we could have prevented the attacks is one you could debate forever. But we had at least eight to 10 chances to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in 1998 and 1999. And the government on all occasions decided that the information was not good enough to act.

There’s plenty more where that came from.

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Can you ‘YouTube’ it for posterity’s sake? For some reason, I get a green screen on a lot of these videos but You Tube never gives me that problem…

Great work, by the way.

tdau1997 on September 8, 2006 at 12:23 AM

Yeah I use firefox, I cant watch it.

kaltes on September 8, 2006 at 12:25 AM

Alas, that’s known only to God

posted at 12:18 am on September 8, 2006 by Allahpundit

Ah, but don’t be afraid to use the powers of your deity, O Lord. ;-)

speed647 on September 8, 2006 at 12:33 AM

First, BLOWS because you have to use IE to watch their video (pissing match with Firefox and others)

Second, hindsight is 20/20. Even if the Clintonian administration had the will to take out Bin Laden, would they have been able to? Don’t know. All I know now is, post 9/11, W. is going about it the right way in my opinion. I’d rather fight them over there than here in our blessed country.

Sacwannabe on September 8, 2006 at 12:53 AM

Interesting video. A couple of points:

First, the video makes the claim that Clinton & Co. wanted to capture instead of kill Bin Ladin. If true, why did we try to kill him 2 years earlier with TLAM strikes? I think by the time 2000 rolled around, we were looking to wax him and capture was a secondary option.

From an operational perspective, acting on that predator feed would have been difficult. 3-7 hours is a reasonable timeframe to send missiles that way. Unfortunately, to saturate the Tarnak Farms (to provide a reasonable kill probability if he remained in the area) would require a huge number of missiles. Without establishing a pattern with a reasonable expectation that he would remain in the area, then a missile strike would be very risky. If it failed, then Bin Laden would be tipped off and greatly increase his security making future attempts much more difficult. A second failed attempt to kill him would have many other negative repercussions as well. A Special Forces strike team was, at the time, virtually impossible logistically due to basing and aircraft range limitations (to say nothing of overflight permission), especially considering the force needed to kill hundreds of terrorists in the camp.

So a decisionmaker in this situation is faced with a choice: Conduct a relatively low probability-to-kill missile strike or collect further intelligence on patterns of behavior, travel, etc. to ensure success in a future strike. If it were me, at that time, I probably wouldn’t have ordered a strike either. With 20/20 hindsight I might have tried, but, IIRC, killing Bin Ladin in 2000 would not have prevented the 9/11 attacks as the operation was already underway.

I’m pretty sure this is the video that started the CIA down the road to arming the Predator, which has been a huge success. The video obviously demonstrated a huge capability gap in attacking mobile targets. Even with armed predators and procedures to quickly strike such time-sensitive-targets, it’s still a difficult task today.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 1:08 AM

The video doesn’t seem to work for me. Maybe they pulled it?
Either way, just another moment of “forgetten truth,” so easily discarded by ideologists on the left whose mantra “Blame Bush” rings loud and proud.

Vincenzo on September 8, 2006 at 1:33 AM

It works for me using Maxthon, which uses the IE engine.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 1:43 AM

Use Internet Explorer to watch the video.

Allahpundit on September 8, 2006 at 1:48 AM

I use IE and Firefox, and the vid doesn’t work for me either.

Even then, it wasn’t treated as terrorism. When they could lob a missle it was only after an embassy was struck or something like that. Plus it had to be polled heavly so Clinton wouldn’t loose he “International Man of Popularity” status. Or maybe he was still chasing a hummer.

Kini on September 8, 2006 at 1:51 AM

I’m going to make you a youtube version of this for you. Hang on!

Vincenzo on September 8, 2006 at 1:53 AM

One bit of context missing from the NBC report is the attack on the USS Cole. NBC dates the video as “a year before 9/11” and “Fall of 2000.” That puts the video a few weeks before the Cole attack. A hit probably wouldn’t have stopped the attack, but is it worse to have not taken out OBL before or after the Cole attack?

Wasn’t there a theory that WJC ignored OBL and the Cole attack so as not to enrage the Arab street while he was trying to secure his legacy by resolving the Israel/Palestinian issue before the end of his term? The summit at Camp David had fallen apart several weeks earlier and the intifada had recently begun. WJC was still meeting and negotiating with Arafat even in early Jan 2001.

rw on September 8, 2006 at 2:45 AM


Stop forcing us to use Internet Exploiter… what is this a fascist state… you towel heads are all the same!

Internet Explorer is pure junk and if your serious about having “content” on the Internet, you best start making it available to those who use FireFox!

It’s 2006 for God’s sake!

Bob Mileti on September 8, 2006 at 8:47 AM


There are a few reasons why Clinton wouldn’t want to kill bin Laden in 2000.

Clinton started a war in the Balkans and the ground forces of Clinton’s army were very loyal to bin Laden. Bin Laden supplied Clinton’s KLA ground army with training and men. How would that army react to news that Clinton killed bin Laden?

Clinton also had his Saudi money men, such as those who contributed to his library. It is likely that there was some Saudi influence guiding Clinton’s policy toward bin Laden.

Clinton was pushing hard for a Nobel Peace Prize at this time. Although killing bin Laden would be a positive for world peace, it wouldn’t appeal to the turds who choose the winners for that award.

Perchant on September 8, 2006 at 9:04 AM

Here is a YouTube version of the report.

Vincenzo on September 8, 2006 at 9:14 AM


Uh, no. First of all, the Kosovo war was long over by the time the fall of 2000 rolled around. Second, the KLA was never “Clinton’s army.” There was no real coordination between the KLA and NATO during the war, as evidenced by the fact that we inadvertantly bombed the KLA a few times.

Finally, suggesting that Clinton decided not to attack Bin Ladin because he was influenced by Saudi’s and wanted a nobel smacks of moonbattery. Why did these factors not keep Clinton from attacking him in 1998? What you’re suggesting is that if the Predator had been armed, Clinton still would not have ordered the strike.

As I said above, the main issue in 2000 was the ability to successfully take out the target, not the will to do so.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 10:15 AM

Love it, love it, love it!!

Just as I said on another thread, by howling about the ABC docudrama democrats are drawing attention to their ineptness on national security during an election seasons … and lo and behold, it is bearing fruit already as this video demonstrates!!

thirteen28 on September 8, 2006 at 11:26 AM


Are you saying Clinton’s jihadi ground troops were no longer armed and active in 2000?

Perchant on September 8, 2006 at 11:32 AM


No, I’m saying they weren’t “Clinton’s Jihadi ground troops” to begin with. The KLA were never loyal to anyone but the KLA and their goal is not global Jihad but an independent Kosovo state. Secondly, if the KLA has such a big love for Bin Laden and AQ, why did they not attack US troops while they were part of KFOR after 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan and the GWOT? You seem to suggest that Clinton, through NATO, and the KLA were in some kind of active, strategic alliance. They were not. The idea that Clinton would not kill UBL because it might piss off the KLA is ridiculous.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 11:59 AM

Re: Update

One thing I think is so funny is that Scheuer and other former CIA agents are considered by the right to be totally partisan left-wing political hacks, but their criticism of Clinton, his cronies and policies is pretty telling.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 12:03 PM

Dang… the firewall here chokes ANY links. That and I’d rather use my Firefox browser…

ricer1 on September 8, 2006 at 12:21 PM

Lisa Meyers on the video …

“We tried to get a response from Clinton, Albright and Berger for this broadcast but they declined. When contacted, they did vigorously defend their record.”

Just like their doing now in the wake of the ABC report on the lead up to 9/11? That is the problem. They are defending their record, their perception, their spin on the truth. When, oh when, will they stop defending their version of history and start defending the facts?

Anyone care to guess why the military option was always on the back burner for draft card burning, I didn’t inhale Slick Willie? Duh.

Time for Clinton to order some fake tent poles to prop up his fake legacy.

fogw on September 8, 2006 at 12:27 PM


if the KLA has such a big love for Bin Laden and AQ, why did they not attack US troops while they were part of KFOR after 9/11

In 1999, bin Laden’s jihad was in the Balkans and was allied with the US. Clinton’s jihadi ground troops have been killing Bush’s ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years now.

They aren’t going to cause trouble for US forces in the Balkans. It would be foolish for them to jeapordize their terrorist stronghold that they have gained ( with Clinton’s help ) in Europe.

Perchant on September 8, 2006 at 12:45 PM

I have one question for Clinton, why wasn’t the American public told about this threat from Osama bin Laden back in the late 90’s? I don’t recall ever hearing this name mentioned back then. In fact, I didn’t know his name until 9-11. Why?

moonsbreath on September 8, 2006 at 1:13 PM


UBL wasn’t widely known until the embassy attacks. We tried to kill him in 1998 with a missile strike – I’m surprised you didn’t at least hear about him then.

NPP on September 8, 2006 at 2:15 PM

NPP, you mean the missile strike that no one remembers ever giving orders for? Nope. I did watch ABC news at that time and I still don’t recall Osama’s name. I must have been cooking dinner, doing the dishes, washing clothes or just a bathroom break during that split second of reporting.

moonsbreath on September 8, 2006 at 3:49 PM

That Predator looks naked without a Hellfire hanging off it.

jdpaz on September 8, 2006 at 4:41 PM

Lol, yeah, let’s all blame Clnton and lie about his efforts. Idiots.

Let’s not forget about this:

duffyb on September 8, 2006 at 5:13 PM

Fare thee well, duffy. Try to offer something more than “idiots” and “lol” on the next right-wing blog you haunt. We’ll miss you so.

Allahpundit on September 8, 2006 at 5:20 PM

Lol, yeah, let’s all blame Clnton and lie about his efforts. Idiots.

Fare thee well, duffy.

When you can’t dazzle em with brilliance, and you’re too dumb to baffle em with bull****, call names! o.O

SilverStar830 on September 8, 2006 at 5:48 PM

You are so freakin rockin this Allah, that I almost used the real “F” word there…;-)

Rightwingsparkle on September 8, 2006 at 6:08 PM

Nice that Clinton didn’t have enough evidence to take OBL out on the 8-10 occasions he could have, but had no problem bombing civillians and the Chinese embassy during the butchering of the Balkans.

What would we do without Allah and the long memory of the “internets”?!

NTWR on September 8, 2006 at 7:30 PM

Unfortunately it seems lke yesterday. back in that day yes, missles were not reliably on the Predator yet due to certain reasons. I also recall the mindset back then and I know they didn’t want to entirely unleash AlQuiedas rath if they didnt have to. Not my mindset, but their mindset back then. After the Cole incident, we were sort of dumb to not do more, and who would have thought a sucker punch was coming. Like now with all teh replays, they [the terrorists] are just asking for more trouble for themselves.

my .02

johnnyU on September 9, 2006 at 7:28 PM

If we had this, it might have been different.

NPP on September 10, 2006 at 1:10 AM

Osama Bin Laden was interviewed on CNN in 1998.

aengus on July 31, 2009 at 3:09 PM