The Center for Grassroots Oversight

This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a0698bergerdangerous


Context of 'June 1998: Top Clinton Official Calls Bin Laden ‘Most Dangerous’ Terrorist'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event June 1998: Top Clinton Official Calls Bin Laden ‘Most Dangerous’ Terrorist. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

In an interview on the television program Nightline, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger says “Osama bin Laden may be the most dangerous non-state terrorist in the world.” This is one of only a very few public warnings by top Clinton administration officials about bin Laden before the African embassy bombings later in the year. (Miller, Stone, and Mitchell 2002, pp. 215)

A presentation by the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center to the National Security Council’s Small Group emphasizes the importance of rendition operations in the CIA’s fight against al-Qaeda. The briefing says: “We will continue with disruptions of operations and renditions… but with an increased emphasis on recruiting sources; at this time, we have no penetrations inside [Osama bin Laden]‘s leadership.” (US Congress 7/24/2003, pp. 388 pdf file) The Small Group was formed by National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and includes members of Clinton’s cabinet cleared to know about the most sensitive counterterrorism issues. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 120)

The 9/11 Commission first learns that the US had a program to assassinate Osama bin Laden before 9/11 (see December 24, 1998). The program, which is disclosed to the commission’s staff by former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, was a response to the African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). The commission was not previously aware of the order and when Berger tells them about it they are confused, because the CIA has been telling them there was no such order for months. When the commission tells Berger what the CIA has said, he assures them that there is an explicit document, a memorandum of notification concerning Afghanistan, that gives the CIA the authority to kill bin Laden, not just capture him. It is unclear why CIA managers repeatedly told the commission there was no such order (see Before January 14, 2004). (Shenon 2008, pp. 253-254)


Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike