How many of you have heard (and possibly even repeated) the story that President Clinton “bombed an aspirin factory” to distract the public from the Monica Lewinsky story? I just heard it repeated on the Peter Werbe radio show.
In light of current events I think it’s a good idea to let people know what really happened. On August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by al-Queda, killing 257 people. In response, on August 20, 1998, President Clinton ordered a massive cruise missile attack on an al-Queda training camp in Afghanistan, and an attack on a chemical plant in Sudan. The attack missed killing bin Laden by a very short time. Here is a USA Today story on the attack. Here is a 1999 BBC roundup of stories about this.
From President Clinton’s statement to the public, at the time — remember, this is 1998, three years before 9/11:
Our target was terror. Our mission was clear — to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today.
Earlier today, the United States carried out simultaneous strikes against terrorist facilities and infrastructure in Afghanistan. Our forces targeted one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. It contained key elements of the bin Laden network’s infrastructure and has served as a training camp for literally thousands of terrorists from around the globe.
We have reason to believe that a gathering of key terrorist leaders was to take place there today, thus underscoring the urgency of our actions.
Our forces also attacked a factory in Sudan associated with the bin Laden network. The factory was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.
So when you hear that Clinton “bombed an aspirin factory,” think about how this fits into the pattern of Republican lies claiming that President Clinton did little to fight terrorism and WMD (it was a chemical plant that they thought was making nerve gas components for bin Laden) in general and bin-Laden in particular. Think about how Republican criticism of Clinton’s anti-terrorism efforts actually helped al-Queda and helped keep us unprepared for what happened on 9/11. And think about how their furthering this story is part of an attempt to cover up their own share of the responsibility for what happened.