Richard Clarke: U.S. was lax on bin Laden

May 11, 2011 at 11:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- There were never any serious attempts made to capture or kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden until last year, a former U.S. intelligence official said.

U.S. President Barack Obama last week announced a team of Navy SEALs infiltrated a fortified compound in Pakistan and killed the man who sanctioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. intelligence officers allegedly started tracking the terrorist leader last year.

U.S. lawmakers are examining the need to continue fighting the war in Afghanistan after the terrorist leader was killed. U.S. President George W. Bush launched an invasion of Afghanistan in an effort to take on al-Qaida leaders harbored in Afghanistan, including bin Laden.

Bin Laden was cornered in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001 but vanished across the border to Pakistan.

Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism czar under U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told German news magazine Der Spiegel there were a series of attempts on bin Laden, but few were taken seriously.

"They were given the authority to capture and kill him, but they didn't really try very hard. It wasn't a priority," he said. "In fact, they really didn't want to do it at the working level. They frankly were more concerned about the safety of their personnel."

The United Nations called on Washington to provide further details on the raid that killed al-Qaida's co-founder after officials provided a shifting narrative on the raid.

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