Upon learning that key al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Aulaqi had been killed by a drone strike Friday, members of Congress released a flurry of statements in a rare show of bipartisan sincerity.
President Obama on Friday credited American intelligence operations and cooperation with the Yemeni government for the death of Aulaqi (whose name is also often spelled al-Awlaki), calling it a “major blow” to al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate. Members of Congress followed his lead, voicing strikingly similar sentiments:
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R.-Ky.):
“The killing of Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen is another great step forward in breaking the back of al-Qaeda...We must not relent in our efforts to defeat this terrorist network.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R.- N.Y.):
“The killing of al-Awlaqi is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community... We must remain as vigilant as ever” in the fight against Islamist extremists.
House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D.-Wash.):
“The death of Anwar al-Aulaqi is a significant blow to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and to the al-Qaeda movement... Anwar al-Aulaqi’s death is the latest in a long line of successes by the President and the men and women of our intelligence community.”
Sen. Olympia Snowe, a a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee (R.-Me.):
“This is yet another significant and striking blow against a damaged but still dangerous terror network.”
Gov. Rick Perry (R.-Tex.), a 2012 presidential contender:
“I want to congratulate the United States military and intelligence communities... The death of American-raised al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Aulaqi is an important victory in the war on terror.”
The outlier was Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who condemned the Obama administration for killing an American-born al-Qaeda operative without a trial, saying the action amounted to an “assassination.”
“Nobody knows if he ever killed anybody,” Paul said after a breakfast at St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “If the American people accept this blindly and casually…I think that’s sad.”