The morning after President Obama announced that U.S. operatives had killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, lawmakers and pundits weigh in on the morning shows. Here's what they have to say.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security:
King told CBS’s Early Show that he received a call from the White House about half an hour before the president’s speech. “It took me, really, several seconds to comprehend what I was being told, because I lost so many friends and neighbors on September 11th,” he said. King also had ample praise for Obama: “Let me, as a Republican, give President Obama tremendous credit for what was done. He's the commander in chief. This was an amazingly successful military operation.... This is a wonderful moment for America, and the president deserves full credit.”
On what bin Laden’s death means for the war on terror: “This war goes on. We scored a victory. We have to make as much of it as we possibly can and move forward. But no, we can never let our guard down. Al-Qaida, Islamic terrorism, they are committed to destroying our nation,” he told CBS. “I think there will be a fight for power in al-Qaida. Yes, as far as we are concerned, I think al-Qaida will definitely try to avenge this death. We have to be on full alert. We have to be monitoring this very carefully, both U.S. installations overseas and attacks in the United States,” he said on NBC's Today show.
King also defended the work of U.S. intelligence agencies and their information gathering, even though bin Laden was found in an upscale suburb of Islamabad and not in remote, tribal areas of Pakistan as many suspected. “This is an area where the United States has limited access. And bin Laden does have support in Pakistan. They were able to move him around,” King said on Today. “This was a tough operation. That's why I was never confident right to the very end that we were going to get bin Laden.... The intelligence agencies stayed on this.”
And King said bin Laden’s death was good for America’s morale. “For the first time in 10 years, we did a collective fist-pump as a country, yes, we can.... Maybe a guy who has been out of work for two months and having trouble getting out of bed looking for a job, he's out faster today. Starting in this city, there's a pump that will be culturally profound that yes, we can,” he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President George W. Bush, tweets: "Justice has been done to Osama bin Laden: all Americans are proud of our military, intel & Presidents Bush, Obama. USA! USA!"
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was one of the backers of the 9/11 first-responders bill that passed Congress during the lame-duck session. She said her reaction was one of “extraordinary joy” when she heard the news. “It's a moment of justice for New Yorkers. So many people lost loved ones on 9/11. And this is an opportunity for them to celebrate a victory against terrorism, against those who perpetrated the attack on the people they love,” she said on CBS’s Early Show.
Gillibrand credits the president for his work to make the operation happen. “I think President Obama has showed dedication, resolve, he has never given up on this issue. President Obama has made sure this was a priority for our intelligence services, for our military, and this operation, I think, made a huge difference,” she said.
But she also warned New Yorkers to stay alert in case of possible retaliation attempts by al-Qaida. “You have to recognize since 9/11 there's been 12 terror attempts. And because of our extraordinary police force, our FBI, and all those folks on national security, we've been able to thwart those attempts.... People need to be on alert, and law enforcement are making the adjustments that they feel are necessary.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said reforms his committee put in place during his five years as chairman were clear in the success of the operation. “This is a great success for the cia and also for the navy seals,” he said. “They should be congratulated.”
Like many, he said that bin Laden’s death doesn’t necessarily mean the end of al-Qiada and warned about the possibility of retaliations. “Let’s be cautious. There will abreaction to this because you have Osama bin Laden operatives all over the world,” he said, citing the spread of al-Qaida in Yemen as an example. “We have to be aware that this is a big step in the right direction but the war is not over and we have to really be alert in America right now.”
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talked about the importance of information gleaned from detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. “We needed the intelligence. We had been fortunate that the intelligence was forthcoming. It may well have been partly a result of some of the -- interviews that took place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," he said. In a briefing late Sunday night, senior administration officials said information from detainees helped lead them to one of bin Laden’s trusted couriers who was living in his compound.
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