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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Death of Bin Laden: Justice Has Been Served

May 2, 2011

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SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning. As President Obama said last night, Usama bin Ladin is dead, and justice has been done. And today, I want to say a few words about what this means for our efforts going forward.

First, I want to offer my thoughts and prayers to the thousands of families whose loved ones were killed in Usama bin Ladin’s campaign of terror and violence, from the embassy bombings in Africa, to the strike on the U.S.S. Cole, to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and so many more. These were not just attacks against Americans, although we suffered grievous losses; these were attacks against the whole world. In London and Madrid, Bali, Istanbul, and many other places, innocent people – most of them Muslims – were targeted in markets and mosques, in subway stations, and on airplanes, each attack motivated by a violent ideology that holds no value for human life or regard for human dignity. I know that nothing can make up for the loss of the victims or fill the voids they left, but I hope their families can now find some comfort in the fact that justice has been served.

Second, I want to join the President in honoring the courage and commitment of the brave men and women who serve our country and have worked tirelessly and relentlessly for more than a decade to track down and bring Usama bin Ladin, this terrorist, to justice. From our troops and our intelligence experts, to our diplomats and our law enforcement officials, this has been a broad, deep, very impressive effort.

Here at the State Department, we have worked to forge a worldwide anti-terror network. We have drawn together the effort and energy of friends, partners, and allies on every continent. Our partnerships, including our close cooperation with Pakistan, have helped put unprecedented pressure on al-Qaida and its leadership. Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead, because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Ladin. Indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts.

In Afghanistan, we will continue taking the fight to al-Qaida and their Taliban allies, while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security. We are implementing the strategy for transition approved by NATO at the summit in Lisbon, and we supporting an Afghan-led political process that seeks to isolate al-Qaida and end the insurgency. Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful political process.

In Pakistan we are committed to supporting the people and government as they defend their own democracy from violent extremism. Indeed, as the President said, bin Ladin had also declared war on Pakistan. He had ordered the killings of many innocent Pakistani men, women, and children. In recent years, the cooperation between our governments, militaries, and law enforcement agencies increased pressure on al-Qaida and the Taliban, and this progress must continue and we are committed to our partnership.

History will record that bin Ladin’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its heinous ideology.

All over the world we will press forward, bolstering our partnerships, strengthening our networks, investing in a positive vision of peace and progress, and relentlessly pursuing the murderers who target innocent people. The fight continues, and we will never waver. Now I know there are some who doubted this day would ever come, who questioned our resolve and our reach. But let us remind ourselves, this is America. We rise to the challenge, we persevere, and we get the job done.

I am reminded especially today of the heroism and humanity that marked the difficult days after 9/11. In New York, where I was a senator, our community was devastated; but we pulled through. Ten years later, that American spirit remains as powerful as ever, and it will continue to prevail. So this is a day, not only for Americans, but also for people all over the world who look to a more peaceful and secure future – yes, with continued vigilance, but more so with growing hope and renewed faith in what is possible.

Thank you all very much.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 2, 2011 10:40 am

    Hillary last May:
    “”I am not saying they are at the highest level…but I believe somewhere in this government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Taliban are,” Clinton said on May 10 last year, adding, ”We expect more cooperation (from Pakistan) to help us bring to justice capture or kill those who brought us 9/11.”

    Some are now spinning this to suggest she “nearly blew the lid on the ISI safe house.” Yeah, right.

    • stacyx permalink*
      May 2, 2011 10:56 am

      I have read the craziest stuff online today about this. Some people are just whacked. My favorite so far is that Obama announced it last night to preempt Trump’s show the Apprentice. Then there’s the story that he’s been in dry freeze for over a year with Obama waiting till the perfect moment to thaw him out to distract from other problems. All aboard the crazy train!

      How in the world would Hillary have blown the lid off this operation when pretty much everyone suspected he was somewhere in Pakistan and some in the Pakistani government and ISI might have known where he was? She was just stating the obvious. Pakistan is a pain in the ass and I think we should cut their economic aid in half immediately. I’m sick of my tax dollars going to these governments. We b*tch about giving the PA a token amount of financial aid now that they’re possibly going to unify with Hamas but we’ll keep dumping billions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Makes perfect sense. Did you see the article yesterday in the NYT about a road we are building in Afghanistan that is costing us tens of millions of dollars and the money is going right into the pockets of corrupt private contractors and the Taliban and we’ve known it all along?

      Some are also using the death of Bin Laden to try to justify staying in Afghanistan longer (past the deadline). I’m not sure that logic really flies. I hope Hillary doesn’t feel that way but I can’t help but think she wants to stay. Panetta said there’s something like 50 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Hello? Time to go, they are all in Pakistan!

  2. Thain permalink
    May 2, 2011 11:05 am

    Here’s a taste of many comments from sites like No Quarter and right wing sites:

    I don’t give obama credit for this one. According to other reports, the information given to the special ops team came from interrogation techniques used under Bush. That being accurate or not definitely needs investigating further, because we all know obama will use this to advance his political capital and has no shame for taking credit for the work of others. Moreover, I also believe the timing is suspicously times to counter the hit obama has been taking in the polls lately.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures that prove osama is dead, if it is indeed OBL, since for years it’s been reported that there are numerous osama doubles. they compared pictures of his videotaped statements to pictures of osama in earlier years and they don’t look exactly like the same person.

    Yes, the timing is VERY suspicious. Not.

    Also, we don’t know for sure how much information was gleaned from GITMO vs. good old fashioned intelligence like noticing a huge compound in the suburbs that had 18 foot high walls, no internet, guards all around etc. I’ve heard some reports that CIA etc. were following couriers in and out of the compound. But hey, if it makes some neocons feel like their dick is bigger because we tortured this information out of some poor bastard, more power to them!

  3. jillforhill permalink
    May 2, 2011 5:55 pm

    Here is picture of the Obama team watching the attack on bin laden.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      May 2, 2011 7:05 pm

      A caption to the photo (can’t remember where I saw it — maybe the UK Daily Mail?) said, “The look of shock is evident on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s face.” I’m not going to editorialize — just curious what other people here think of that caption.

      • Seamus permalink
        May 2, 2011 9:08 pm

        Oh, they are just reading into things that aren’t there.

  4. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 2, 2011 7:15 pm

    OK, it was the UK’s Daily Mail — their story had a bunch of stuff about the raid that I haven’t seen in the US press — like photos from within the compound just after the raid. But the tidbit that really caught my eye:

    “Officials say CIA interrogators in secret
    overseas prisons developedthe first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of OBL…9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed
    provided the nom de guerre of one of Bin Ladin’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics within secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.”

    Uh, secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania?

    • Seamus permalink
      May 2, 2011 9:12 pm

      Yes, you can never have too many secret torture prisons! It really helps bolster one’s credibility when lecturing other countries about how they should conduct themselves. 🙂

      But it’s ok, I’m sure you Yanks only mistreat the bad people who are undeserving of rights!

      Keep calm and carry on…

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        May 2, 2011 9:45 pm

        I guess this was news to nobody but little innocent me!

        • May 3, 2011 7:05 am

          No, I didn’t know but I’m not surprised. I’m sure we have little secret black sites all over the world.

  5. May 3, 2011 8:20 am

    I think the pro-torture folks who feel vindicated by the death of OBL are celebrating too early. Don Rumsfeld said the information about the couriers was not gleaned from the so-called “harsh interrogation” (I don’t know why we don’t just call it what it is- torture) but rather from standard interrogation procedures.

    Than I just read this:

    The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA’s so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.

    “We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,” said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.

    Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation, they said, leaving it once again up for debate as to whether the harsh technique was a valuable tool or an unnecessarily violent tactic.

    I have heard over and over again from current and former FBI and CIA that if interrogators are really good at their job, they can get the information from someone without using torture. Frontline did a fantastic, very balanced special on torture and it’s the sort of program probably every American should have seen. The show wasn’t pro or anti, but I think the experts largely agreed that torture has been shown again and again to produce unreliable information and false confessions.

    The interesting thing is, if you’ve ever read any books on the CIA, it seems like they have always used torture in different secret, black operations and programs and they have also used really sketchy, likely illegal medical experiments. I read a whole book on it based on classified (leaked) info. a few years back and it was really unbelievable. I think why this became such an issue in the Bush admin. was because it was made public. I personally agree with Secretary Clinton and many others who say that torture should be banned and that it’s not about them, it’s about us. But that’s just my opinion, I know it’s controversial.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      May 3, 2011 10:28 am

      Post-9/11, I used to waffle about this issue before I read what you’ve just pointed out — that torture doesn’t work. While I was disappointed Obama didn’t follow through on closing Guantanamo Bay, I respect him for ordering that the black sites be shut down. But now I wonder how much of that is public posturing…Who the hell knows what our government is doing behind the scenes?

      • May 3, 2011 11:34 am

        I sort of feel like it’s one of those things that separate Them from Us if you know what I mean. If we start using the tactics of our enemies, how do we maintain the moral high ground?

        Unfortunately, when Obama signed his much-lauded anti-torture executive order the media didn’t really report on one important thing- there was an exception or loophole that would essentially allow torture if deemed necessary. I feel like this is the sort of thing where one exception can swallow up the whole rule. And as you pointed out, who the hell knows what goes on behind the scenes?

        As bad as 9/11 was, I feel like it’s during times of crisis, war etc. that we need to work even harder to maintain our principles and ideals. In a sad way I think OBL was able to accomplish something- he forever changed us- we now curtail civil liberties in the name of national security, we used torture and black sites and our politicians used fear to justify abuses. Some say abuses are still going on at places like Bagram and a secret prison called Tor prison.

        This article is really depressing:

        Al Qaeda will never destroy America outright but what they can do is undermine everything we stand for. It’s one of the [many] reasons I hate all this Islamaphobia- it really plays into the hands of Muslim extremists. Instead of being paralyzed by hate and fear what better way to give OBL, Al Qaeda etc. a big “f*ck you” than to totally support the democratization in the middle east and note that it was achieved largely through peaceful resistance (even if some governments used violence against that resistance). What better way to screw Al Qaeda in principle than to stick together and remain true to our founding principles of justice, religious tolerance etc.?

        Also, after Mogadishu OBL’s strategy was apparently to try to get the US involved in as many “bleeding wars” as possible so that we would be stretched really, really thin for a long, long time. He seems to have succeeded in that. To me that’s the irony of the war hawks- they think they are being patriotic by championing a new war every year but are they? Is it really in our best interest? We are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and apparently Pakistan not counting alleged secret wars in Yemen. Are we safer for them? Or for each person we kill does that create 10 new jihad recruits? I don’t know.

        • Tovah permalink
          May 3, 2011 12:09 pm

          Well said. I agree.

          Did anyone see the Frontline special on how big our intelligence agencies have become? I think the program is “Are We Safer” and you can watch it on Frontline/PBS’ website. According to people working in the agencies after 9/11 they created new bureaucracies and there is so much duplication of effort, so many private security contractors and tons of fraud and abuse. But no one complains about this when we talk about the budget or the debt because so long as you scream “national security” you are considered a patriot and anyone who dares to suggest some of these funds aren’t being well spent, then you are labeled weak on national security.

          When you think about it, if the CIA wants to torture what is going to stop them? Look what they did with the so-called torture tapes under Bush. The head of the CIA orders them destroyed knowing he’s tampering with evidence and what does Obama do? Say we aren’t going to look into it or prosecute.

          I think every President feels they have to pander to the intelligence community/military to a degree that probably isn’t good. It would take a very strong POTUS to stand up to them when need be and Obama is not very strong. Now he’s put a 4 star general at the helm of the CIA which just militarizes yet another agency.

          I really don’t know if I am voting for Obama in 2012. I won’t vote GOP I don’t know what I’ll do.

  6. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 4, 2011 12:27 am

    I was looking back at some of those taped messages OBL would send our way every now and then, and came across this one, taped in 2004, just before the election, where he acknowledges he ordered the attacks. Here was his reasoning:

    “He said he was first inspired to attack the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital.

    “While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women,” he said.

    “God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind,” he said.


    • May 4, 2011 5:28 am

      Yes, but don’t say that too loudly because we’ve been programmed to believe they hate us for our freedoms. Not that anything justifies terrorism- nothing does. But it’s clear some of them hate us for our policies. It’s no big secret our unquestioning, knee-jerk support of even really bad Israeli policies has turned that region of the world against us. We know that and yet we do nothing because domestically we are afraid of the Lobby.

      That guy who blew himself and CIA officers up in Khost, Afghanistan- his reason? Operation Cast Lead and the blockade. That radicalized him.

      Another thing about our great ally- Max Blumenthal reminds us that after 9/11 Netanyahu’s response was that the attack on NY, Pentagon, PA was good for Israel. Do you believe that? That’s our ally. It’s always about what’s good for Israel, never mind that’s really twisted. Bibi thought it would make us more sympathetic to them. You know, probably hoping we’d take the mindset of perpetual victims bent on revenge- birds of a feather and all. That’s really twisted and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this “relationship” is unhealthy, one-sided and destructive.

    • Thain permalink
      May 4, 2011 7:39 am

      Petraeus and other military/CIA have said our total unquestioning support for all Israel’s policies, particularly the Occupation, creates huge risk for the US. Guess who went ballistic whenever that was hinted at or said directly? Oh yes, the J-community. We can’t speak the truth about Israel! Lets just instead pretend we get some HUGE benefit from our relationship and ignore their continual spying on us, their status as American trust fund baby, their constant belligerent attitude towards every US president, giving us self-serving intelligence, their stealing our intellectual property and defense secrets. Because hey, that’s what special friends do!

      Oh, by the way, J-community’s big priority right now? Freeing spy and traitor Jonathan Pollard.

      Perhaps someone could explain the psychology of why a superpower like the US has to bend over and kiss the ring of it’s client state, Israel, even when it threatens our national security and our reputation and legitimacy and creates nothing but constant problems? Every month a new problem WE have to solve because they are so friggin’ incapable.- we have to run interference and clean up after Cast Lead and Goldstone, after the Gaza flotilla, we have to act as apologist for their crappy, illegal occupation. If this is what Israel wants to do then why not let them deal with the consequences? Oh, right, the Lobby.

  7. Steve permalink
    May 4, 2011 9:27 am

    We have no interest in being an honest broker in the region because that would necessitate putting equal pressure on both sides. If anyone bothered to read even a little bit of the Palestine Papers, they know that the US threw the Palestinians under the bus at every available opportunity, forcing Abbas to go back to his people with nothing to show for his many concessions. He’s weak and illegitimate and the US and Israel helped ensure that.

    Now we have a Hamas-Fatah pact and Israel and the US (and the J Lobby) are all aghast. Oh my! What a shocker! Hamas joined with Fatah? What did we expect? How long did we think we could use Abbas and Fayyad as our little circus ponies to jump when we say jump and grovel when we say grovel? We couldn’t even give Abbas a settlement moratorium during negotiations that he could take back to his people and show them that the US was serious and that they were willing to try to resolve the conflict in a just manner. But instead, we decided keeping the Jewish community happy pre-election was more important than peace. So the Hamas Fatah unity deal is called chickens coming home to roost.

    The US needs to get out of the peace process charade and let the UN take it over. We can’t be both mediator and enabler of one side at the expense of the other and anyone who says we can, including Obama and Clinton, lose all credibility on the matter.

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