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National Security / NATIONAL SECURITY

Officials React to Osama Bin Laden Death

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., holds a news conference to unveil a new report, "Summertime Blues: 100 Stimulus Projects that give Taxpayers the Blues during the Summer of Recovery," on August 3, 2010 on Capitol Hill.(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

May 2, 2011

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden broke the dramatic news themselves to top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders in telephone calls in the evening before Obama’s televised announcement -- prompting a wave of bipartisan celebration.

Hill Republicans did not hesitate to commend Obama, but many also reminded that the vow to bring bin Laden to justice dated to formerPresident George W. Bush.

(PICTURESNewspapers Front Pages Lead With Bin Laden’s Death)


In a statement on bin Laden’s death, Bush said, “Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida network that attacked America on September 11, 2001.

I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude.

This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

(PICTURESWorld Reacts to Bin Laden Death)

House Speaker John Boehner, who was in Washington and was notified by Obama himself, said in a statement that “this is great news for the security of the American people and a victory in our continued fight against al-Qaida and radical extremism around the world.”

“We continue to face a complex and evolving terrorist threat, and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to confront and defeat the terrorist enemy and protect the American people. I want to congratulate -- and thank -- the hard-working men and women of our Armed Forces and intelligence community for their tireless efforts and perseverance that led to this success,” said Boehner.

“I also want to commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice,” said Boehner.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was notified by Biden, called the death of bin Laden “the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida” and praised the nation’s intelligence community.

“I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment,” said Pelosi.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope that today’s action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores.”

Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was “overjoyed that we finally got the world’s top terrorist.”

The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it,” said McCain. “But while we take heart in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them.”

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that bin Laden’s death “closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world.”

“We are a nation of peace and laws, and people everywhere should understand that our ten-year manhunt was in search of justice not revenge,” Kerry said in a statement. “Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes... A single death does not end the threat from al-Qaida and its affiliated groups. We must remain vigilant and committed to keeping the world safe and secure.”

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee said, “It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden is dead. The leader of Al Qaeda--- responsible for the deaths of 3000 innocent citizens on September 11, 2001, and whose maniacal hate is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US servicemen and women was killed by U.S. military. President Obama confirmed the announcement late last night. DNA tests confirmed his death and his body is in the possession of the U.S.

“It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless is tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”

From former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: “Americans tonight are united in celebration and gratitude. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who contributed to carrying out the successful mission to bring Bin Laden to justice and who laid the groundwork over the years to make this victory possible.  It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of these brave Americans who relentlessly hunted down our enemy. 


“This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda’s other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said this is “terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice - and we did. I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said “This is the most significant victory in our fight against al Qaeda and terrorism, but that fight is not over.”

“We will continue to support our troops and the American civilians who are fighting every day to protect our homeland,’ said Reid.

He added, “Nine-and-a-half years ago, Osama bin Laden masterminded the horrific attacks against the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people. As we remember those who were killed on that dark day in September and their families, we also reaffirm our resolve to defeat the terrorist forces that killed them and thousands of others across the globe. Because of courageous Americans in our military and intelligence community, their leader is now gone.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said “it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., notified by Biden, said, “This war on terror continues, but we can be happy tonight that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the world is a better place.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison posted on her Facebook page, “Our mission has always been to take down Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, the terrorist network that killed thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. That mission has now been accomplished through the patience and steadfast determination of our military, our intelligence officials, and the united leadership of Presidents Bush and Obama. Now we must continue to dismantle this and other terrorist networks that attempt to destroy freedom and human rights throughout the world.”

“I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing bin Laden to justice,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who also got the news from Biden. “While this is no doubt a major event in our battle against terrorism, we will not relent in our fight against terror and our efforts to keep America safe and secure.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called bin Laden’s death “a thunderous strike for justice for the thousands of my fellow New Yorkers -- and citizens from all over the world -- who were murdered on 9/11.”

This successful mission sends a definitive message to those who would test the resolve of the people of the United States of America: do not doubt our resolve; if you do us harm, we will find you, we will mete out justice, and we will prevail,” said Schumer.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who also was called by Biden, said that “Though this is not the end of the threat of terrorism, it is a clear warning to our enemies that when they threaten and kill Americans, they will be pursued and held accountable.”

In a released statement, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, “Tonight’s news, that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan, brings to justice a heinous individual who masterminded the murders of thousands of innocent people through many terrorist attacks around the world and thousands of Americans nearly ten years ago on September 11, 2001.

“This terrible chapter in American history will never be forgotten, but tonight we can go to sleep knowing that no other innocent life will be taken by this terrorist.

“I cannot thank enough the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence agencies, who bravely fought, and continue to fight, to protect all Americans from terrorism. The fight has been long, but tonight, because of you, America rid the world of a mass murderer.

“President Obama’s leadership in making the targeting of Osama Bin Laden our highest military and intelligence priority, warrants our gratitude. He deserves credit for refocusing U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to root out terrorism which no doubt helped lead to this historic announcement.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y. said in a statement “The leader of the United States’ top enemy has gotten what he deserves …” He also said former President Bush deserves great credit.

“In 2001, President Bush said ‘we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.’ President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda,” said King.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney congratulated Obama and called the news “a victory for the United States and a tremendous achievement for the military and intelligence professionals who carried out this important mission.”

Still, Cheney warned, “Al Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy. Though bin Laden is dead, the war goes on. We must remain vigilant, especially now, and we must continue to support our men and women in uniform who are fighting on the front lines of this war every day. Today, the message our forces have sent is clear — if you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice.”

Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former governor of Pennsylvania, said in a statement: “The news that Osama bin Laden is no more demonstrates the resolve of the intelligence and military community and the American community writ large. We did not forget, nor will we ever.

"...As we mark this victory," he continued, "we know that as one chapter closes, more chapters will be written. A flawed ideology did not die with one man. But just as surely as the fight will continue, so will our determination. We remain, just as we were nearly ten years ago, joined together and joined to the task.”

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., stressed that al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Africa and Asia “remain dedicated to killing Americans and our allies.”

“We know that even as they mourn the loss of their inspirational leader, they will not waver in their determination to attack us and our way of life,” he said. “As we rejoice, we must remain vigilant, and continue to support our brave men and women in uniform, as well as our courageous intelligence officers, around the world who serve on the front lines against this determined enemy.”

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who has worked closely with the White House on foreign policy issues, likewise stressed that bin Laden’s death “in no way eliminates the threat from the terrorism he espoused.”

“This is another reminder that Americans cannot hide from global affairs,” Lugar said. “Americans must continue to be vigilant to ensure that terrorist groups and rouge states do not obtain weapons of mass destruction, a goal that I and many other Americans have sought for 20 years.”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told National Journal that bin Laden’s death represented an “uplifting” moment for the United States.

“I think it’s a great day,” Westmoreland said late Sunday. “He was one of the real culprits of violence that we’ve been fighting for a long time. You have to think that this is a pretty good day, especially for the American troops that have been after him for so long.”

“Long-term implications, I don’t really know, but it’s got to be good. I don’t know any other way you can describe it. This guy has just been a terror to us.”

Queried about whether the U.S. would face repercussions for taking out one of the leaders of the country’s antagonists, Westmoreland said, “No more blowback than could’ve been going on right now. I think this administration’s been trying... awfully hard to reach out to the Muslim world. if you look at all the things that have been going on, I don’t know that you can see a lot of difference in that.”

Asked to clarify his view of Obama’s outreach to the Muslin world, Westmoreland said, “I think you can say that’s not necessarily been effective.”

The House’s No. 2 Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Obama “made bin Laden’s death or capture a top priority, and it was that focus that helped bring about our biggest victory against al Qaeda.”

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said that Bin Laden’s death “strikes a significant blow to those violent extremists who seek to do our nation harm.”

“This outcome is a testament to the commitment and determination of our military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel who continue to use all available resources to defeat our enemies and protect our homeland,” she said in a statement. “This sends a clear message to the families of those who perished on September 11, 2001 and in the ongoing battle against the agents of hatred, that the sacrifice of their loved ones is not forgotten. It sends a clear message to our adversaries that we will not rest and will not waver in our defense of liberty.”

Brendan Steinhauser, top strategist with FreedomWorks and Tea Party-affiliated think tank headed by former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, said, “Joining the celebration at the White House now. Great news for everyone. Justice is finally served.”

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