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Posted at 03:13 AM ET, 05/02/2011

Osama bin Laden is killed: Reactions from Capitol Hill

Top administration officials divided up the most senior members of Congress and began making calls Sunday evening to relay the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, according to congressional aides in both parties.

Vice President Biden contacted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Capitol itself was quiet early Monday morning, the same day that members were due to return to Washington from a two-week recess, but lawmakers sent out a steady stream of statements reacting to President Obama’s announcement. Below is a roundup of their reactions.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio):

“This is great news for the security of the American people and a victory in our continued fight against al Qaeda 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. 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.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.):

“Osama bin Laden is dead, killed in a targeted U.S. operation authorized by President Obama. 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. 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.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

“The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaeda. 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. It is a testament to the professionalism of our dedicated national security professionals that no American lives were lost in this operation. 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. Though the death of Osama bin Laden is historic, it does not diminish our relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

“The death of Osama bin Laden marks a long-awaited end to the work of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks. No one who remembers the horror of that day can help but feel relieved that Osama bin Laden is dead. This is a great victory in the War on Terror and for all who have worked so tirelessly over the years to thwart the monstrous designs of this madman and his disciples. On September 11, 2001, America came together and vowed that we would never forget the memory of those whose lives were lost on that terrible day. Tonight’s announcement shows that we have made good on that pledge. It is proof that no matter how difficult or how long it takes, our military, intelligence forces and law enforcement officials will never stop until the job is done. America celebrates tonight, and is grateful for the heroic efforts of the many men and women around the world who have fought and who are still fighting to protect the world from terrorism. Though they may never make the headlines, we are ever mindful of their many sacrifices. 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.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.):

“The killing of Osama bin Laden 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. Terrorists everywhere must never doubt that the United States will hunt them down no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women of our intelligence agencies and our military for their tireless dedication and enormous sacrifice to bring justice to a man responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11 and thousands more men, women, and children around the world. I commend President Obama and his national security team for never forgetting the need to secure justice for those who lost their lives nearly 10 years ago and for those who have lost their lives in the war against extremism that continues today. A single death does not end the threat from Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups. We must remain vigilant and committed to keeping the world safe and secure.”

House Armed Services Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.):

“This is the news we have long waited to hear. As Americans picked themselves up after the terrorist attacks of September Eleventh, President Bush told us that we would get Osama bin Laden. While it has taken longer than many expected, Osama bin Laden is dead. Bin Laden’s death is proof to those terrorists who wish to harm us that they may be able to run and hide but we will get them eventually. Our brave military forces and their civilian counterparts who have been working for more than a decade to capture or kill bin Laden have the gratitude of our nation. These warriors have paid tremendous sacrifices during this time, and tonight’s announcement should help ease some of those burdens. While we celebrate a major victory in one battle against evil, we should recognize that the larger war against terrorism continues. 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. 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.”

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.):

“I was advised by Vice President Biden this Sunday evening that Osama bin Laden has been killed. 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. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to our intelligence community and military for pursuing this manhunt for almost ten years and successfully eliminating the most high profile terrorist on earth. Those who believed bin Laden and his network were invincible will now awaken to a new reality.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.):

“Nearly a decade ago, in the days after 9/11, President Bush said, ‘Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.’ Tonight, we’ve learned that justice has been done. The man with the blood of more than 3,000 Americans on his hands, the man who forced us to begin to think the unthinkable — is now dead. Families who lost loved ones at the hands of Bin Laden and his terrorist organization have grieved for far too long and this sends a signal that America will not tolerate terrorism in any form. The men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community have fought valiantly for the last decade and this is a major victory and testament to their dedication. I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice. 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.”

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.):

“Nearly ten years after the horrific attacks of September 11, the United States has killed the mastermind behind that attack that took thousands of lives. That terrible day has been seared into our memory, and I hope Osama bin Laden’s death brings some measure of comfort to the families of those killed on 9/11 — and to everyone across America who wanted to see him brought to justice. President 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. Our military and intelligence community have tirelessly pursued Osama bin Laden, and it is a testament to their skill and determination that bin Laden has been killed. I, along with all Americans, commend their efforts and thank them for their service. While the enormity of this moment cannot be overstated, we all recognize that the threat of terrorism still exists and we must remain vigilant. We will continue to stay alert and confront the national security threats we face.”

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.):

“The terrorist leader behind the September 11th attacks on American soil, Osama Bin Laden, represented a threat not only to our nation, but to those seeking freedom and democracy around the world. Our brave troops have done a tremendous job in bringing an end to this symbol of hatred and intolerance, never wavering in their commitment to protect our nation. I join the President and all Americans in commending the members of our armed forces and intelligence community for the sacrifices they’ve made, and continue to make, on behalf of our security and freedom.”

Assistant House Democratic leader James E. Clyburn (S.C.):

“This is a great day for America and a tremendous victory in the global war on terror. Justice has been served. Congratulations to President Obama, the intelligence community, the team who conducted the successful operation and the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought over the last decade in the war against al Qaeda and its affiliates. Our lives were changed forever on September 11. And although many years have passed, we still struggle with the wounds ripped open that day. This finally brings some closure to those wounds. God bless the brave men and women and their families who work every day to protect our nation and its people. God bless America.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.):

“This is 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. It took close to ten years, but the world’s most wanted terrorist has finally met his deserved fate. New York’s heart is still broken from the tragedy of 9/11, but this at least brings some measure of closure and consolation to the victims and their families. This is a massive accomplishment for the countless military and intelligence personnel who have been urgently dedicated to this task for the past decade. Because Bin Laden’s evil dogma has poisoned the minds of so many others, we cannot let up in the war on terror. 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.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.):

“I am 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. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement. 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.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.):

“The death of Osama bin Laden strikes a significant blow to those violent extremists who seek to do our nation harm. But our struggle against the enemies of freedom continues. This outcome is a testament to the commitment and determination of our military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel to use all available resources to defeat our enemies and protect our homeland. It sends a clear message to the families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, and in the battle against the agents of hatred and terror, 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 waiver in our defense of freedom and liberty.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking Democrat Howard L. Berman (Calif.):

“Osama Bin Laden was an enemy of the United States and the free world, and his death represents a great success in the long fight against terror. Tonight we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of our armed forces and our entire intelligence community. Still, the fight against extremism must continue. We now face diffuse, decentralized threats around the world, and we must intensify our efforts if we are to make certain the extremism Bin Laden represented is ultimately defeated.”

House Armed Services Committee ranking Democrat Adam Smith (Wash.):

“Osama Bin Laden orchestrated a devastating attack on our nation nearly 10 years ago designed to destroy our way of life. Since that day, he has continued to call for the death of innocent Americans and those who disagree with his distorted, violent ideology. His death is a victory for all those who champion freedom around the world and sends a resounding message to violent extremists who seek to do our country harm. I applaud the hard work of our men and women in the armed services and intelligence community, the President and all the individuals who have worked tirelessly to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.”

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.):

“I commend President Obama on the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States’ top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. 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. This great success would not have been possible without the tireless work of countless brave men and women who have served around the world in this War on Terror.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.):

“I commend our intelligence community and military personnel for pursuing this mass murderer and delivering justice.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.):

“It goes without saying that this is good news to the free world. Bin Laden was a madman who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. Most of us remember the morning of the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001. It’s taken nearly a decade, but Bin Laden’s death brings a measure of justice to the families of those who lost loved ones in the tragic events of that day. We must not drop our guard. Al Qaeda continues to operate and we must be persistent in our efforts to fight terrorism. No doubt, though, the death of the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks deals a blow to al Qaeda and is good news in the fight against terrorism.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.):

“Just as every American will never forget where we were when America was attacked on 9/11, this moment will forever be remembered by each one of us as the day justice for that tragedy was finally served. I congratulate our intelligence and military communities on this monumental operation. Their persistence and relentlessness in tracking Osama Bin Laden down have finally brought us this long awaited event. While this diabolical terrorist’s death at America’s hands is a moment to celebrate, we must never forget the serious terrorist threats that remain and will demand an enduring vigilance.”

By and  |  03:13 AM ET, 05/02/2011

 
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