Clinton Was 'Obsessed' With Osama

Bill Clinton's memoir about his life and presidency goes on sale tonight and despite some disappointing reviews, stores expect it to sell very well. In a wide-ranging interview with "60 Minutes," Dan Rather asked the former president, among other things, about allegations he missed a chance to capture Osama bin Laden.

Rather: Mr. President, when the 9/11 attack occurred you were in Australia. What was the first thing you thought?

Clinton: Osama bin Laden did this. There were one or two other countries with intelligence services that might have been able to pull it off. But they wouldn't do it because if a country had done this to us, our retaliation against the country would have been grievous. But bin Laden had a network that was centered in Afghanistan and camps and caves.

President Clinton says he was "obsessed" with bin Laden during his time in office and denies he refused opportunities to capture the al Qaeda leader.

Clinton: To the best of my knowledge it is not true that we were ever offered him by the Sudanese even though they later claimed it. I think it's total bull. Mr. Absurabi, the head of the Sudanese government was a buddy of bin Laden's. They were business partners together. There was no way in the wide world this guy who was in business with bin Laden in Sudan was going to give him up to us.

Mr. Clinton says he did everything he could to catch bin Laden and to keep the focus on containing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons from North Korea – a threat he says we still face.

Rather: At any time during your time as president were we in danger of going to war with the North Koreans?

Clinton: I wouldn't go that far. But it was very serious in 1994. North Korea is the most perplexing country on Earth. It's the last great Communist outpost and was the most isolated country on Earth. They couldn't grow enough food to feed their people. On the other hand, they are world-class bomb and missile-builders. They're great at it. So, I was determined that they could not become a nuclear power, because I thought a country that can't feed itself, that's got bombs and missiles, will be under enormous temptation to sell the bombs and missiles to the wrong people.

And so, what the president and the other world leaders have got to do is to figure out a way to meet some of their objectives. Hopefully without going to war; without allowing them to become a permanent nuclear or missile power. Because it's too dangerous – not because I think they'll use them but because I think they'll sell them.
  • Joel Roberts

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