On August 2, 1996, Clinton told Branch that the FBI was “rechecking” its interviews with “some fifteen ground witnesses who saw a bright streak in the sky near the plane.” If corroborated, Branch adds, this “could suggest a missile rather than a bomb.” Clinton knew it was a missile. By this time, the FBI had interviewed at least 200 eyewitnesses who had seen a bright streak. Still, he gave away more than he might have intended in this interview. Clinton traced the likely attack to Iran. So obsessed was he on the upcoming election that he claimed terrorists had struck “to undermine [his] chances for reelection because he was pushing the middle-east peace process.”Bolded to point out that according to Branch's reflection the president believed (on August 2, 1996 at least) that Iran was likely behind an attack on the US that killed hundreds because they didn't want him solving Middle East peace. Could make sense--they had a large investment in Hizballah and Hamas. And Cashill has long talked of a 'come to Jesus' meeting at the White House on August 22, 1996 after which the 800 story suddenly began morphing from a terrorist act to a spark in the fuel tank, no worries, just an accident.
“They want war,” Branch quotes Clinton as saying. Those three words suggest the probable justification used to stop this investigation at the water’s edge as well.
It's not hard to believe that Clinton might have thought "they" were trying to goad us into war to stop peace by staging an attack to sway the public towards the election of war hero Bob Dole later in 1996.
Bit it seems a lot depends on the meaning of the word "they". Conventional wisdom about 9/11 is that bin Laden was trying to bait us into a long war, which sounds similar to what Clinton was saying about Iran. Several AQ members were holed up in Iran for years after the attacks, most likely including the interim leader al-Adel and at least one of bin Laden's grown sons. Since proxies are normally used to do the dirty work, KSM's 'planes' operation was certainly in line with Yousef's earlier attacks on aviation. Was it just the Iranians he thought were trying to goad us into war? Or was 9/11 not a shock to him?
In a world of WikiLeaks perhaps such a truth may someday come out, although since it hasn't yet maybe that's not a rock solid guarantee. And maybe for good reason--just imagine such a revelation coming now as Iran gets closer to nuclear weapons every day while we prepare to leave the battlefields both east and west of them.