The Corner

More On That Clarke Tid-Bit

We apparently identified bin Laden at a camp, but held off an attack partly because of worries that a member of the UAE royal family was there too. But we hoped bin Laden might return to the camp and we would be able to target him then. Enter Richard Clarke and here is the commission’s narrative:

“Even after bin Laden’s departure from the area, CIA officers hoped he might return, seeing the camp as a magnet that could draw him for as long as it was still set up. The military maintained readiness for another strike opportunity. On March 7, 1999, Clarke called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden. Clarke later wrote in a memorandum of this conversation that the call had been approved at an interagency meeting and cleared with the CIA. When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such clearance. Imagery confirmed that less than a week after Clarke’s phone call the camp was hurriedly dismantled, and the site was deserted. CIA officers, including Deputy Director for Operations Pavitt, were irate. ‘Mike’ thought the dismantling of the camp erased a possible site for targeting bin Laden.”

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