It’s not surprising that my inbox this morning is littered with statements from members of Congress, political figures and presidential candidates praising the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden. (Some of those on the left may find this candid expression frightful or odious, but, yes, the assassination of one of the planet’s most evil figures is something to celebrate.)
The most poignant to date has to be this from the president who was at the helm on Sept. 11 and launched the war in Afghanistan:
Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda 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.
It’s hard to imagine the sense of relief and satisfaction George W. Bush must feel, after weathering undeserved and vicious criticism throughout his presidency, to see American deliver justice to the greatest evil-doer of them all. It is also regrettable, but not unexpected, that President Obama would mention Bush only in passing and fail to specifically credit him with eight years of tireless work that contributed to this victory. As with so much else, Obama paints moments of success as beginning and ending with himself:
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Bush had already made the killing of bin Laden a top priority, but Obama cannot even in this moment of jubilation credit Bush, nor his detainee policy which allowed us to extract critical information.
Other politicians chimed in as well.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman had this to say:
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 who continue to use all available resources to defeat our enemies and protect our homeland. 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.
Presidential contender Mitt Romney offered this:
“This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden’s many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”
And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) had this statement:
“I want to commend President Obama’s Administration for its commitment and dedication to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. As the former U.S. Attorney and now Governor of New Jersey, I speak for all the families of this state who have courageously endured the unspeakable and devastating consequences of terrorism. There is hardly a life that has gone untouched in New Jersey by the horrifying assault on American soil that took place on September 11th and today, after years of waiting, justice has finally been delivered. While our fight against terrorism continues, Osama bin Laden’s reign of terror has come to an end, sending a clear signal that even in the face of immeasurable horror, democracy and freedom continue to prevail.”
More statements will certainly follow. But let's be clear: This is an American victory, triumph shared by two presidents and a magnificent accomplishment for all the military and intelligence officials who worked to see this day.