Literally the night before this historic month began, we’d just watched President Obama crack wise on Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner. A mere two days after the president released his long-form birth certificate to quell the growing hysteria whipped up by the real-estate mogul and reality television star. But in the late evening of May 1, an e-mail from the White House press office held a simple message.“[T]the president will make a statement as early as 10:30 p.m.”
Speculation was rampant. What could the president possibly say at 10:30 on a Sunday night that couldn’t possibly wait until Monday morning. We all had a pretty good idea by the time he strode down the red carpet leading to the East Room of the White House just after 11:30 p.m. We just needed to hear him say it.
The killing of Osama bin Laden
“Tonight,” the president said, “I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”
The operation was risky and dramatic which Obama approved against the advice of then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It was a stealth plan that saw American jets and helicopters alight from Afghanistan to carry out the operation on Pakistani soil — without Pakistani assistance or knowledge. A helicopter would crash. Shots would be fired. Evil would be cornered, killed and later cast into the sea.
A complex moral and ethical debate would ensue, not to mention the unseemly game of wondering who deserved credit for bringing bin Laden down. Was it right to cheer death so openly as so many people, particularly young people, did across the country? When questions started being asked about the role enhanced interrogation techniques may have played, I found myself thinking, “I don’t care what was done.” When the question about whether he should have been captured instead of killed arose, I found myself not caring that bin Laden took two bullets to the head. What I cared about was that bin Laden was dead.
All these months later, my feelings haven’t changed. The world is a better place without him stalking it. As the president said that night, “Justice has been done.”