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Saturday, June 1, 2002 5:29 p.m. EDT

Clinton Nixed Plan to Infiltrate Al Qaeda, Top FBI Whistle-Blower Says

A presidential executive order issued during the Clinton administration hamstrung the FBI so badly that bureau lawyers decided it would be illegal to infiltrate Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, a senior FBI official during the Clinton administration said Saturday.

Former Deputy Assistant FBI Director Daniel Coulson fingered the Clinton White House in the decision to pass up what could have been an al Qaeda intelligence bonanza, during an interview on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" morning show.

ALLISON CAMMARATA: This morning we've also been talking about this FBI mole who had an opportunity to go to an al Qaeda commando training camp but was not allowed to, because at that time the FBI did not want to deal in criminal activity and give the sort of go-ahead for somebody to go be trained as a terrorist.

Is that changing now? Will we get our hands dirtier with these sorts of criminal activity because we have to infiltrate those areas?

COULSON: Well, absolutely we will. I think you have to understand that part of that concern came from an executive order of the president of the United States, Bill Clinton. They didn't want people working for the government who, as you said, had dirty hands or were involved in criminal activity. (End of Excerpt)

U.S. News & World Report reveals the FBI's decision not to infiltrate the al Qaeda terror camps in its latest issue, saying the episode took place just "months" before the 9-11 attacks.

But the magazine makes no mention of the role played by the Clinton restrictions, which also stymied CIA efforts to gather human intelligence. (See: Report: FBI Nixed Chance to Infiltrate al Qaeda Terror Camp)

Coulson predicted that the Bush administration would not allow the FBI to be hobbled in the same way.

"You can see a big change," he told Fox News Channel. "I think Attorney General Ashcroft has a different view of the world. ... So things like this need to be done. The rest of the world does it and we should be doing it too."

The former deputy FBI director first gained national attention during the late 1990s when he criticized his agency's over-zealousness during the Waco and Ruby Ridge debacles.

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
Al-Qaeda
Clinton Scandals
Media Bias
War on Terrorism

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