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Osama bin Laden is dead, 'Justice has been done,' Obama tells nation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 2, 2011 - Reported by Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter, and Robert Koenig, Beacon Washington correspondent:

St. Louis area members of Congress issued statements welcoming the news, thanking the troops and saying Bin Laden's death would serve as a warning to America's enemies. But the officials also called for continued vigilance and warned that the death does not mean the end of the fight against terrorism. Here are statements from current and former officials:

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who was returning to the U.S. from a fact-finding mission in Somalia and elsewhere, told a Chicago radio station early Monday:

"It's a good day for the U.S. military. We have delivered quite a blow to the spiritual and political leadership of Islamic extremism."

Asked if there is enough proof of the death, Kirk said: "If you go on the internet, you can see some extremely grisly pictures of a dead bin Laden that have been published in Pakistan. The U.S. confirmed [the death] through couriers, DNA, and pictures of bin Laden.

"I'm happy that the U.S. Navy Seals dumped the body at sea, which denied al-Qaeda and its supporters any kind of burial place, rallying point, monument to advocate and gather for their cause."

Jim Talent, a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, served as a U.S. senator from Missouri:

"When it was announced that Hitler had died, my grandmother commented: 'The Devil has a companion.' Thanks to our heroic American special operations forces, the Devil has yet another companion.

"Many people are commenting that this event, while satisfying, portends no major change in what President (Barack) Obama refuses to call the war on terror. But it could portend such a change if it triggered a long overdue examination of America's goal in this war. Strategic war aims should be clear, should address the imperative that led to the war in the first place, and should be something that a broad cross section of people can support.

"The war on terror began with an asymmetric attack on the United States by a fanatical group of Islamic extremists. The interest at stake in this war is the most fundamental a nation can have: defense of the homeland against an existential threat. I suggest we celebrate bin Laden's demise by agreeing on the first and most important national war aim: eliminate the danger that bin Laden's followers and friends can successfully use asymmetric weapons against the United States again."

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau:

"I am very proud of our U.S. military and intelligence community for finishing a job they began after 9-11, in a dark hour for our nation and for the families of nearly 3,000 Americans killed in those heartless attacks. I hope the death of Osama bin Laden provides comfort to the many people still aching from that tragedy. The enemies of freedom should know that America will not stand down for one moment from the mission of keeping the world safe from the scourge of terrorism."

U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville:

"The death of Osama bin Laden is an extremely important and historic milestone in our fight against global terrorism. Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, this accomplishment is first and foremost a testament to the dedicated service of the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence agencies. Their determined and unflagging efforts have made this day possible, and I commend them all. However, while bin Laden's death is a significant victory and gives us some sense of closure, this is not the end of al-Qaeda and we must not let this great achievement in any way lessen our resolve to combat terrorism. We must maintain the same level of vigilance moving forward."

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville:

"I am pleased that our joint forces have been successful in carrying out this mission. Osama bin Laden founded al Qaida and planned and carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks and many other terrorist attacks killing thousands. We have been steadfast in our search for him and justice has been served."

Ike Skelton, former U.S. representative from Lexington, Mo., and former head of the House Armed Services Committee:

"On 9/11, I went to the Pentagon while the fires were still burning and witnessed the destruction brought about by Osama bin Laden and his fellow international criminals. Now Osama bin Laden's death should have a chilling effect on other al Quaeda members because they must know they are next. It makes me proud, humbled and awed to know the last thing Osama bin Laden saw on this Earth was a trained, armed, ready and willing member of the United States military. God bless America."

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.:

"I was advised by Vice President Biden this Sunday evening that Osama bin Laden has been killed. Though this is not the end of the threat of terrorism, it is a clear warning to our enemies that when they threaten and kill Americans, they will be pursued and held accountable. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to our intelligence community and military for pursuing this manhunt for almost 10 years and successfully eliminating the most high-profile terrorist on earth. Those who believed bin Laden and his network were invincible will now awaken to a new reality."

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.:

"Osama bin Laden's death is a major victory for America. This development is the culmination of the sacrifices and dedication from our brave troops and intelligence professionals. After nearly a decade, it also brings a great measure of justice and closure for all Americans who lost loved ones as a result of the brutal attacks against our nation on 9/11. While this does not mean the end of our fight against global terrorism, bin Laden's death is a major blow to al-Qaeda and the terrorist organizations that he financed."

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.: 

"After a long and very bad chapter of world history, Osama bin Laden is dead and justice delivered. Thank you to all of our intelligence and military personnel who have served and sacrificed to protect our freedoms and ensure our security."

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis:

"After 10 long years, we finally have justice. Thanks go to our brave troops who even now are fighting and dying to protect us. Though justice is served, the road to lasting peace and security is long. I look forward to working with our allies in the months ahead to achieve that goal."

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country:

"America was not expecting the infamous attack on September 11th. Numerous times America has sustained surprise attacks, and as the result of such attacks has proven to be a formidable opponent refusing to bend to tyranny. Our men and women in the armed services deserve tremendous credit for their tenacity, professionalism and courage in taking the battle to our enemy.

"The death of Osama bin Laden will stand as a warning to would be enemies of our country and as a fitting conclusion to the criminal mind behind the infamous and cowardly attacks of September 11th."

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth:

"This is a historic success in the war against terror, but the battle continues, and we must remain vigilant. The Middle East is a volatile region and it is critical that we continue to fight those who would do harm to Americans at home and abroad. This is a victory for our military and intelligence personnel who put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens. This is also a day to remember those we lost on 9/11, and those who gave their lives in the ongoing battle against worldwide terrorism since that fateful day."