House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she had called former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to congratulate them on the raid by U.S. forces Sunday that killed Osama bin Laden.
“Earlier today, I called President Bush to congratulate him and to thank him for the leadership role that he had played in this quest over the years,” Pelosi told reporters after emerging from a closed-door briefing by CIA Director Leon Panetta for bipartisan House members. “I have also placed a call to President Clinton to thank him. As you may recall, in the ‘90s, he declared Osama bin Laden public enemy number-one for America.”
Following a 1998 al-Qaeda bomb attack on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton ordered cruise missiles fired at targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. Bin Laden was not hurt, and Clinton administration officials were subsequently cautious about taking action against him because of unclear intelligence.
Asked what Bush said on the call, Pelosi said that the former president expressed his thanks to her for calling.
“Well, he’s a very friendly person, as you know, and he thanked me for my call,” Pelosi said. “And I think he appreciated it. But I wanted him to know the appreciation that many of us have, in the bipartisan way we’ve all recognized in our public comments that his role was important in having this success.”
While lawmakers continue to spar along partisan lines over gas prices, the deficit, unemployment and other issues, they did express the bipartisan feeling that Pelosi mentioned when it came to the mission that killed bin Laden.
“Obviously, they hit a home run in terms of the operation and the planning of it and the implementation of it,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said after leaving Tuesday’s briefing. “So, this is one of those rare times when you just put politics and say, ‘Well done.’”