More Fallout on Bill Clinton Eruption: Hillary Speaks

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - Affirming her support for her husband's weekend outburst on the Fox New Channel, New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton Tuesday said former President Bill Clinton would have done more with intelligence warnings than President Bush.

"I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,'" Clinton said, "he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."

Sen. Clinton was referring to an August 2001 intelligence memo Bush received, which warned that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack the United States and that evidence showed he planned to have airplanes hijacked. Bush had been in office for about seven months.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace Sunday, former President Bill Clinton defended his administration's handling of the terrorist threat. Expressing anger at accusations that he didn't do enough to eliminate bin Laden, Clinton said his administration "contracted with people to kill him."

"I got closer to killing him that anybody has gotten since," the former president insisted. "And if I were still president," Clinton added, "we'd have more than 20,000 troops there (in Afghanistan) trying to kill him."

Sen. Clinton, a likely candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday that she supports her husband's views.

"I think my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take these attacks," she said. "All you have to do is read the 9/11 Commission [Report] to know what he and his administration did to protect Americans and prevent terrorist attacks against our country."

Sen. Clinton commented at a news conference during which she and other Democratic leaders criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. This time, they pointed to the National Intelligence Estimate, an intelligence document that suggests the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism.

Addressing criticism that Democrats have failed to provide an alternative to the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, Sen. Clinton said Americans aren't familiar with her party's plan because they're not listening.

"I certainly think we've offered a very thoughtful assessment and strategy," she said. "Unfortunately it doesn't get much of an audience."

It is "very hard to talk about what we can do because we have the same people in charge who have failed consistently now over the last four-plus years," Sen. Clinton told reporters, adding that "we can have the best strategy in the world but we know very well that there is no way we can move forward on it given the current mindset and personnel within the Bush administration."

One aspect of the Democratic plan that Sen. Clinton did discuss was the development of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

"We would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. troops this year as a means of pressuring the Iraqis to take more responsibility for their future," she said.

Josh Holmes, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the Democrats have offered "a case study in political opportunism."

"When public support was high, Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats voted to support the use of force," Holmes said. "Now that polling reflects the difficulty of the battle, Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party are clamoring all over themselves to cut and run."

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