Leahy: Bin Laden “Suffered The Consequences Of His Atrocities”

As Prepared For Delivery

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today.


Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On The Death Of Osama Bin Laden
Senate Floor

May 2, 2011

Today is a memorable day in our Nation’s history.  Osama bin Laden, a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, including so many Americans lost on September 11, 2001, has been killed. 

I commend President Obama and his national security team for the careful planning of this operation, as well as the members of our intelligence agencies who spent years collecting information that made it possible.  I join Americans across the country in praising the brave team that stormed the compound where bin Laden appears to have been hiding for years.  They completed their mission without loss of American life, while taking care to avoid civilian casualties.

We remember today the victims of all of the attacks perpetrated by a man who more than any other represents the face of international terrorism.  The September 11 attacks are at the forefront of our minds.  Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, including those victims in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, and on the four airplanes.  We remember with gratitude the first responders who rushed to save lives, and gave their own in acts of heroism.  And we remember the passengers on Flight 93, who put the lives of Americans on the ground ahead of their own. 

We also remember the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the victims of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which left 224 dead, including 12 Americans.  We remember the lives of the 17 sailors killed in the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000.  The death of Osama bin Laden will not bring them back to us, but we hope that it may help bring closure to any and all who still grieve their loss. 

Today we remember the lives of the brave American service members who have served in the war in Afghanistan, and the sacrifices made by their families, who mourn their loss or help them recover from their injuries.  Vermonters have answered the call to serve—some for multiple deployments with the Vermont National Guard and many most recently with the 86th Infantry Brigade which returned last December.  We thank the brave men and women who have worked tirelessly to protect American soil from additional attacks. 

Osama bin Laden cloaked his attacks in anti-American rhetoric, but his murderous and criminal path took the lives of innocents around the world, including many of his own faith.  He proved himself be a cold-blooded murderer, whose indiscriminate attacks have led to the death or maiming of Muslims and people of other faiths all around the world.  Regrettably, he leaves behind followers who are committed to the same message of hate and destruction.  They have no regard for the values that unite the rest of humanity in common cause. 

President Obama pledged that we would bring Osama bin Laden to justice, and last night we learned that bin Laden has suffered the consequences of his atrocities.  Justice has been served.  Now, I hope that Americans will claim this moment to stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, as we did in the weeks and months following the September 11 attacks.  We must transcend our differences and stand in unity.  We are unified in our support for the victims of bin Laden’s crimes and in our resolve to keep our Nation safe. 

We should also stand united in our commitment to the rights and principles that define us as a democratic Nation that respects the rule of law.  That is what distinguishes us from those who seek to harm us, it is what will ultimately enable us to succeed against them, and it is what people around the world expect of us.  Regrettably, the September 11 attacks, and other acts of international terrorism, have often been used to justify policies which strayed dangerously from those rights and principles.  This has damaged our global reputation, hurt our credibility, and made it more difficult to build the broadest alliances against terrorism.

We must also remember that the use of military force, while at times necessary as it was in the operation against Osama bin Laden, is not a counter-terrorism strategy.  We have seen how, nearly 10 years after 9/11, and after spending hundreds of billions of dollars to combat terrorism, the recruitment of terrorists among disaffected youth continues apace around the world, including in our own country.  We have also seen how much more we have to do to counter the misperceptions and misinformation fomented by extremists about the United States and our intentions.  Addressing these challenges should be a priority as we go forward.

I urge all Americans to support our President in this continuing effort, and I urge all of us in Congress to join together for the good of the country and all Americans.

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