The Obama campaign has decided to make the death of Osama bin Laden a campaign issue, and they have enlisted President Bill Clinton to spike the football this time:

This latest ad contradicts President Obama’s own pledge after he took out bin Laden. “You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Obama told CBS soon after the terrorist mastermind had been taken out. He added: “Americans and people around the world are glad that he’s gone. But we don’t need to spike the football.”

How strange it is to have President Clinton give praise to Obama for making the call to go get bin Laden, even going so far as to call the decision “the harder and more honorable path,” considering when president, Clinton chose to let bin Laden walk:

Clinton’s comments and his actions relating to American efforts to capture bin Laden have taken on renewed interest because of claims made in a new ABC movie, the “Path to 9/11,” that suggests Clinton dropped the ball during his presidency. Clinton has also angrily denied claims the Monica Lewinsky scandal drew his attention away from dealing with national security matters like capturing bin Laden.

During a February 2002 speech, Clinton explained that he turned down an offer from Sudan for bin Laden’s extradition to the U.S., saying, “At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him.”

But that wasn’t exactly true. By 1996, the 9/11 mastermind had already been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by prosecutors in New York.

9/11 Commissioner former Sen. Bob Kerrey said that Clinton told the Commission during his private interview that reports of his comments to the LIA were based on “a misquote.”

During his interview with the 9/11 Commission, Clinton was accompanied by longtime aide and former White House counsel Bruce Lindsey, along with former national security advisor Sandy Berger, who insisted in sworn testimony before Congress in Sept. 2002 that there was never any offer from Sudanese officials to turn over bin Laden to the U.S.

But other evidence suggests the Clinton administration did not take advantage of offers to get bin Laden — and that the Monica Lewinsky scandal was exploding during this time period.

At least two offers from the government of Sudan to arrest Osama bin Laden and turn him over to the U.S. were rebuffed by the Clinton administration in February and March of 1996, a period of time when the former president’s attention was distracted by his intensifying relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

One of the offers took place during a secret meeting in Washington, the same day Clinton was meeting with Lewinsky in the White House just miles away.

On Feb. 6, 1996, then-U.S. Ambassador to the Sudan Tim Carney met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammed Taha at Taha’s home in the capital city of Khartoum. The meeting took place just a half mile from bin Laden’s residence at the time, according to Richard Miniter’s book “Losing bin Laden.”

During the meeting, Carney reminded the Sudanese official that Washington was increasingly nervous about the presence of bin Laden in Sudan, reports Miniter.

Foreign Minister Taha countered by saying that Sudan was very concerned about its poor relationship with the U.S.

Then came the bombshell offer:

“If you want bin Laden, we will give you bin Laden,” Foreign Minister Taha told Ambassador Carney.

Still, with the extraordinarily fortuitous offer on the table, back in Washington President Clinton had other things on his mind.

A timeline of events chronicled in the Starr Report shows that during the period of late January through March 1996, Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was then at its most intense.

Again, strange that they would tap Clinton to heap praise on an action he refused to take in 1996.

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