AP FACT CHECK: Trump book didn’t foreshadow bin Laden attack
Published 8:20 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018
WASHINGTON — In an echo of his campaign rhetoric, President Donald Trump is back to portraying himself as the Paul Revere of the terrorism age — the one who told the country Osama bin Laden was coming. There was less to his foreshadowing than he states.
Trump’s tweet about bin Laden on Monday has some truth to it: “I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center.”
But the book, with only a passing mention of bin Laden, did not do more than point to the al-Qaida leader as one of many threats to U.S. security. Trump’s book, “The America We Deserve,” came out more than 1½ years before al-Qaida’s deadly attack on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, not just before.
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TRUMP’s tweet: “Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!”
THE FACTS: There was nothing original or clairvoyant in the reference to bin Laden in Trump’s 2000 book. As part of his criticism of what he considered Bill Clinton’s haphazard approach to U.S. security as president, he stated: “One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy Number One, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”
Trump’s book did not call for further U.S. action against bin Laden or al-Qaida to follow up on attacks Clinton ordered in 1998 in Afghanistan and Sudan after al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The U.S. attacks were meant to disrupt bin Laden’s network and destroy some of al-Qaida’s infrastructure, such as a factory in Sudan associated with the production of a nerve gas ingredient. They “missed” in the sense that bin Laden was not killed in them, and al-Qaida was able to pull off 9/11 three years later.