U.S. lawmakers are welcoming the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but are cautioning that the threat of terrorist attacks remains. Republican lawmakers are crediting President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, for their roles in bin Laden's demise.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers paid tribute to U.S. military forces and intelligence officers for their highly successful mission Sunday, killing Osama bin Laden at his fortified compound in Pakistan. Republican House Speaker John Boehner was somber in tone as he described the significance of bin Laden's death. "The death of Osama bin Laden is an important moment in the war against radical extremism and terrorism and an important event for peoples all around the world who have been subject to the terror of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden," he said.
Boehner and other Republican lawmakers made a point of singling out the efforts of former Republican President George W. Bush to capture or kill bin Laden. "I also want to commend President Obama and President Bush for all their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice," he said.
Republican House Majority leader Eric Cantor said Mr. Bush had declared 10 years ago that bin Laden would be brought to justice, and on Sunday, President Obama proclaimed that justice has been served at last. "I think what this tells all of us is, that success and victory sometimes take a lot longer than we would like, sometimes it is a lot harder than we would like, and sometimes it brings about more tragedy than absolutely we would even believe," he said.
Democratic Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee singled out President Obama as the commander-in-chief for making bin Laden a top priority and completing the mission. "Finally, the mission is accomplished. The mission after 9-11 was to get Osama bin Laden and our troops did it, and they did it in a spectacular fashion," he said.
Apart from these slight differences of emphasis on who gets credit for the killing, lawmakers from both major parties largely put aside their political differences and remembered the victims around the world of al-Qaida terrorist attacks ordered or planned by bin Laden.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan, a Democrat, said the mythology that surrounded bin Laden as an invulnerable warrior enduring great hardships for his cause has been punctured by his death at a location of relative comfort and opulence. "While people were thinking about this mythological character in caves along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he was in comfort for many, many years in a big place, while minions sent out to kill people were doing their devilish deeds," he said.
Later this week, House and Senate committees will hold previously scheduled hearings on the threat to the United States emanating from Pakistan, and are likely to raise the question of how bin Laden was able to find shelter there.