Home > Political Ranting > Osama on a Silver Platter? Yeah, Right.

Osama on a Silver Platter? Yeah, Right.

March 25th, 2004

At the hearings just starting right now, with Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke, you may or may not hear mention of a person by the name of Mansoor Ijaz, and how Clinton was offered Osama bin Laden in 1996 (and possibly in 2000), but let him go. Quite frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of this old overcooked falsehood repeated again and again. The idea is that Clinton was given a viable chance to get bin Laden and somehow decided, “nah, we could put him in prison, but let’s intentionally let him go free.” This is unadulterated Drudge-style garbage.

The oft-repeated right-wing version of the story originates from one Mansoor Ijaz, an investment banker now based in New York, a former “lobbyist for Pakistan” who is now a regular Clinton hit-man on conservative FOX News and the National Review. The story seems to have many variations, that Osama was offered up once, twice, even three times. However, Ijaz has no evidence whatsoever that he was integral, or more than just a liar–and the Clinton White House fully denied that Ijaz was of any use in the situation. They saw him as self-serving, having business ties with Sudan, which was then under embargo for their terrorist ties, wanting the embargo lifted so he could position himself profitably when Sudan opened its oil fields for export as planned in 1997. Clinton’s people, having worked with him before in dealing with Pakistan, this time disregarded him because of the conflicts inherent in his Sudan business connections, not to mention Ijaz’s tendencies to present himself inaccurately to several foreign nations as “agent” of the U.S. government. The Clinton administration underwent negotiations with Sudan without Ijaz, but Ijaz’s self-important story gets repeated ad nauseam–by Ijaz himself–with right-wing platforms eager to give him air time and column space. Ijaz later made even more fantastic claims that he could get Osama extradited in 2000, again unsupported. Apparently, Ijaz would have us believe that he had Osama in a bottle and pleaded with Clinton to take him, but Clinton maliciously unleashed him to wreak havoc upon the world.

Here is the story as it happened:

The government of Sudan, using a back channel direct from its president to the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States, offered in the early spring of 1996 to arrest Osama bin Laden and place him in custody in Saudi Arabia, according to officials and former officials in all three countries.

The Clinton administration struggled to find a way to accept the offer in secret contacts that stretched from a meeting at hotel in Arlington, Virginia, on March 3, 1996, to a fax that closed the door on the effort 10 weeks later.

Unable to persuade the Saudis to accept Mr. bin Laden, and lacking a case to indict him in U.S. courts, the Clinton administration finally gave up on the capture. …

Resigned to Mr. bin Laden’s departure from Sudan, some officials raised the possibility of shooting down his chartered aircraft, but the idea was never seriously pursued because Mr. bin Laden had not been linked to a dead American, and it was inconceivable that Mr. Clinton would sign the “lethal finding” necessary under the circumstances.

In short, Sudan claimed that it would arrest Osama and extradite him to another country, though the veracity of that offer has never been confirmed, and was doubted by many. But the Clinton administration tried to achieve this. However, the U.S. itself could not take him because at that time (and this is what the right-wing hatchet stories usually leave out), bin Laden had not been connected with any U.S. deaths, and the U.S. did not have any jurisdiction to try him. So they tried to convince the Saudis to take him, but the Saudis refused. To suggest that Clinton had the ability to nab bin Laden but decided not to goes contrary to Clinton’s 10-week effort to get bin Laden put in a Saudi jail and possibly executed there. The deal was simply unworkable, pure and simple.

It will interesting to see what Clarke does say, in the light of an unrelenting smear campaign against him by the Bush administration. Cheney, for example, said that Clarke was “out of the loop,” which is bizarre considering that he was the head of the administration’s counter-terrorist operations. Powell claimed that no one handed them a plan for dealing with al Qaeda (though Berger is at this moment claiming the exact opposite, that he told Rice she would be dealing more with al Qaeda than anything else), and in general Bush people are saying, “hey, no one told us” among attempts to pain Clarke a partisan, a bitter and disgruntled man, or a profiteer. Of course, none of that fits the profile for Clarke, and the fact that he served under Reagan and both Bushes as well as Clinton–and that others back up his story.

There are just too many people saying the same things, Clarke is the icing on the cake. At some point, the rantings of the Bush administration, aimed now at so many different people, are going to wear impossibly thin on the ears of the American people (if they haven’t already). With so many respectable names coming out and saying that Bush is a dangerous fool, it is becoming more and more clear that they’re not all kooks, liars and profiteers.

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  1. Jerod – New York
    March 25th, 2004 at 02:59 | #1

    Hey Luis I have some questions for you that are completely off track. Im a 23 yr old living in New York and Iam very curious about teaching english in Japan. I was wondering if you have any ideas or suggestions that you could give me. Iam not yet certified but am determined to do so. Hopefully through CELTA. Though I have to admit that I fear standing in front of large groups of people, I kind of hope I get over that. The thing is I probably will become a teacher anyway so this will be a good start I think. How is it for you over there? Im assuming your not Japanese, in fact I think your white from the picture with the sausages. Tell me as much as you can I really would appreciate it. I have to admit I kind of have a thing for Asian women and Spanish so where I would like to go is either Spain or Japan. Anyway please bestow (sp?) upon me your knowledge of teaching in Japan. Thank you

  2. Luis
    March 25th, 2004 at 07:22 | #2


    A lot depends on what kind of job you are looking for. If you want to get just any job teaching English, then not much more than a B.A. degree is required, minimum. If you’re lucky, then one of the McSchools like NOVA might hire you, salary at the base level of 250,000 yen/mo., a living wage without much room to save unless you scrape and save.

    A B.A. in a teaching-related field, or any B.A. with a widely-acknowledged teaching certification would be next best, and might get you hired at a wider variety of schools, but that base standard pay has become pretty common, and it’s hard to find good jobs paying better than that. An M.A. in a teaching field will give you better results, like it did for me (I teach at a college, a good, high-paying gig; I have an M.A. in TESOL and had many years’ experience teaching in Japan).

    As for motivation, girls is not usually an indicator of eventual success. That kind of thing could become quite lacking as a reason to brave out the difficulties of living in a new country after a short while, as the readjustments involved can be pretty drastic; involving yourself in the culture and language would be a good way to integrate better, allowing for a healthier transition.

    To see what kind of jobs might be available, try http://www.ohayosensei for their twice-monthly issue of a newsletter listing a great many jobs. The Monday edition of The Japan Times, if you can get it, has a more comprehensive list of jobs perhaps more in your area, if your qualifications are the basic B.A.-and-certificate. Few schools will hire you from overseas, which means you would have to come to Japan for two or three weeks, self-paid, with no guarantee of any job at all, and do the job-seeking bit, and if hired, you’d have to have enough personal funds to see you through until your first paycheck, often 45 days after you start working–that can be quite an expensive chance to take, so you’d better be very serious.

    Otherwise, look into the JET programme ( http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/jet/index.html ). Also check out my (rather outdated, I’m afraid, not updated in 6 years) Teaching English in Japan web pages, at http://www.poza.net/japan/ for more info.

  3. March 25th, 2004 at 12:01 | #3

    Cheney, for example, said that Clarke was “out of the loop,” which is bizarre considering that he was the head of the administration’s counter-terrorist operations.

    Actually, I’d be inclined to believe this, and in a way it actually corroborates part of what Clarke says. At least in the limited sense that he was out of the Iraq loop, the ideological group with the “received wisdom” (find the evidence to support our preconceived notion). So in a twisted sort of way you might say Clarke was out of the loop, but it depends on your perception of where “the loop” is. It might be more accurate to say that Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, etc. were out of the loop when it came to the fact that Iraq didn’t have terrorist connections — and from their perspective Clarke was just another bothersome intellectual who didn’t “get it.”

    Did that make sense? lol..

  4. harry
    October 30th, 2004 at 10:14 | #4

    This is what you call a left leaning blogger. One of you legs must be at least 6″ shorter than the other. You probably walk at a 45 degree angle. I can clearly see your a leftie. May the best man win. I trust the American people to make a good judgement on this election. I just hope it is settled at the polls and not in some court by a bunch of attornies.

  5. Houdini
    September 8th, 2006 at 15:38 | #5

    Random right-wing personal attacks like that would be sort of irritating if they weren’t just so sadly ignorant and hollow.

  6. LL
    August 9th, 2009 at 19:03 | #6

    I found your blog searching for counter-arguments for the retarded rhetorics from the Right claiming that “Clinton let Osama free.” I would also like to add, especially for all the narrow-minded people out there that Bush Sr. had ties with Osama as early as the 70’s. To point the finger at Clinton, you should be pointing the other 7 (or 9 if you count thumbs) at Bush and Co. The Bush family are opportunists, and have ties with Osama’s brother even before Clinton was in office. Google “Khalid bin Mahfouz and Bush”, “Arbusto 78”, “Harken Energy”. All you right-wingers and conservatives have no leg to stand on when it comes to defending how Bush and Bin Ladin are of the same body of a 7-headed dragon, so the only thing you can do, is try to insult people.

    Not that Democrats are angels either. With only 2 main parties to choose from on election day, one thing is a given: Our president will cater to corporations more than the people. Still, I find it annoying when the RW love to bash Democrats and twist the truth every way they can, when they are just as crooked, hypocritical, and brainwashed.

    Everytime you hear conservatives complain at how Program X “costs taxpayers X millions/billions” do a little research for once. BY FAR, the majority of your hard-earned tax dollars to go MILITARY SPENDING & DEBT! “37.3 cents went towards military-related spending (military and military-related debt), while environment, energy and science-related spending split 2.8 cents.” We have the best military in the world, but at the same time, the water you drink, the soil you live off of, is contaminated, under-regulated, carcinogenic (that means cancer-causing for all of you inbreeds out there) and poisonous. Your own paranoia will kill you before terrorists do.

    And people wonder why there will never be world peace? Because without wars to start (indirectly, of course), military share holders cannot profit or justify this “highway robbery” of your hard-earned money! THINK ABOUT IT!

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