Appearing on CBS News Sunday, former CIA agent Hank Crumpton revealed that the U.S. had a chance to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden months before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the Clinton administration didn’t take the shot.
While using an unmanned aerial drone to spy on members of al Qaeda in 1999, Crumpton said he watched as bin Laden himself stepped out of a vehicle convoy. Understanding that he’d been ordered to kill bin Laden on sight, Crumpton got the White House on the line immediately.
But that’s where it got sticky, he explained.
“The Clinton administration’s response was, ‘Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So you need to tell us where Bin Laden will be five or six hours from now,’” Crumpton said. “The frustration was enormous.”