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Sunday, Aug. 11, 2002 12:05 a.m. EDT

Clinton Admits: I Nixed Bin Laden Extradition Offer

Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman who says he was rebuffed by the Clinton White House after negotiating a deal for the extradition of Osama bin Laden to the U.S. in 1996, has gained an important new witness who backs his story - none other than ex-President Clinton himself.

Former Clinton administration officials such as senior National Security Council aide Nancy Soderberg have described Ijaz as an unreliable witness. Former Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri recently slammed him as "a liar" and "a crackpot."

But a tape recording obtained exclusively by shows Clinton himself confirming all the key points of Ijaz's story.

In never-before-reported comments to a New York business group last February, the ex-president never mentioned Ijaz by name. But the events he related paralleled the freelance diplomat's story exactly.

"Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan," Clinton explained to a Feb. 15 Long Island Association luncheon.

"He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan. And we'd been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start meeting with them again.

"They released him," the ex-president confirmed.

"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, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.

"So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, 'cause they could have," Clinton explained. "But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn't and that's how he wound up in Afghanistan."

Since last December, Ijaz has insisted that he negotiated the deal for bin Laden's release from Sudan. But he maintained that the White House declined to take advantage of the offer because of legal technicalities - a detail now confirmed by the ex-president.

Immediately, however, former Clinton officials trashed the bin Laden extradition story as an exaggeration at best - a complete fabrication at worst.

Asked to respond to Ijaz's account in January, ex-NSC aide Soderberg told Fox News Channel, "He's living in a fantasy land. There was no such Sudanese offer."

"He's lying," Palmieri, now chief spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said of Ijaz's story in May. "The guy has absolutely no credibility. You'll see that you never see him on television anymore once he was outed as being a fraud."

Mainstream reporters, apparently unaware of Clinton's February comments, have also trashed Ijaz's account.

In May, both New York Times reporter Judith Miller and NBC newswoman Andrea Mitchell told radioman Don Imus they declined to cover the bin Laden extradition story because they didn't find it credible.

Listen to excerpts of Clinton's speech where he explained how he let bin Laden off the hook - Click Here.

Also, another NewsMax bombshell: Clinton proves Time magazine was wrong - Click Here.

Listen to excerpts from the same speech where >Clinton describes the options he had to take out al-Qaeda.

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
Clinton Scandals
NewsMax Scoops

A product that might interest you:
FBI whistle-blower tells how the Clintons helped cause 9-11

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