May 2, 2011
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Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following statement on the Senate floor regarding the U.S. mission that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“This was an American mission – ordered by President Obama and accomplished by America’s brave and brilliant military and intelligence professionals.
“Last night’s news stunned the world – but this operation’s success should surprise no one. America’s special forces and intelligence operatives are the best – the best trained, the best equipped, the best led. Every day of every year, they risk their lives for our sake, for our safety.
“They are the most professional and proficient forces on the planet, and yesterday they brought down the most wanted mass murderer on Earth.
“Their success is the most significant victory yet in our fight against Al Qaeda and terrorism. It sends a strong and unmistakable message to terrorists who threaten our country, our people and our interests.
“This success is a direct result of President Obama’s leadership, from the national-security priorities he outlined when he took office to the green light he gave our forces this weekend.
“President Obama insisted that we refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan as the central battlefields in our fight against terrorism. Those tremendous military, diplomatic, intelligence and economic efforts are the reason we woke up this morning in a world that is no longer home to Osama bin Laden.
“But the end of his life is not the end of this fight. Yesterday’s operation is indeed a measure of justice. But it is only one measure of justice. It absolutely is a definitive victory, but it does not define absolute victory.
“America welcomes the success of our fellow citizens’ extraordinary mission. Even as we breathe a sigh of relief, though, we are not relieved of our duty to be vigilant, to be persistent, to defeat our enemy and to make our nation stronger.
“The leader of Al Qaeda is gone, but his organization is not. We know our enemy is widespread and motivated – and the truth is, it may be more motivated today than it was yesterday.
“Our troops continue to fight. Our intelligence professionals continue to work. Their families continue to sacrifice. We continue to support all of them, and each other.
“We also pause today to once again lend a shoulder to those whose grief never ends – not with time, not with bin Laden’s demise, not ever.
“This significant measure of justice is but a small measure of comfort to those who lost loved ones at bin Laden’s direction – in America and around the world, in New York and Virginia and Pennsylvania, aboard the U.S.S. Cole, at American embassies in Africa, on trains in London and Madrid, and in so many other places.
“Bin Laden’s death does not bring back the thousands of innocent people his thugs killed, or make whole families that will forever be incomplete.
“But it is an important milestone that reminds the world America does not suffer the wicked and will not submit to evil. Our resolve is strengthened when it is challenged, and our unity – though it, too, is often tested – is unbreakable.
“Because of the hard work of courageous Americans in our military, intelligence, diplomatic and law-enforcement communities, a long and painful chapter in our nation’s history closed yesterday. Today we welcome a spring of new optimism and renewed patriotism.
“The chapter now behind us ended with justice. We hope the chapter ahead of us will bring security and peace.
“While the nation and the world absorb this crucial development, the work of the Senate continues.
“Today we begin a new month and a new work period and a new opportunity to come together to create jobs.
“I hope this month will be a productive one. There are several important and time-sensitive items on our plate.
“One, I hope to wrap up the small-business jobs bill. This has been on the floor for far too long, and we need to resolve it so we can move on to other matters.
“Two, we will have the same debate in the Senate that the American people are having at home. That is the question of whether we should keep giving away money to oil companies who clearly don’t need taxpayer handouts. That will be part of a larger debate we will continue having about how best to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and invest better and smarter in clean energy.
“Three, we will vote on the House-passed budget. A majority of the House has embraced it, a majority of the American people has rejected it, and the Senate will soon have its say, too.
“Finally, we will confirm judicial nominees, many of whom have waited too long for the Senate to act. If the minority forces us to file cloture on these nominees in order to get to a final vote, I will file cloture. We cannot waste any more time or play these games any longer. The country needs these empty benches filled.
“We also have other nominations to confirm, including the Attorney General’s top deputy, Jim Cole.
“The Deputy Attorney General runs the day-to-day operations of the Department of Justice. He also is the person who signs the critical warrants that permit our intelligence officials to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists. But he can’t do that unless the Senate confirms him – so we must do that soon.
“Especially given last night’s developments, it is unthinkable that partisanship and legislative ploys are keeping a well-qualified nominee out of this important national-security role.
“A moment ago we began this remarkable new day in the Senate the same way we begin every day in session: with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. Its closing words were the powerful closing words of President Obama’s address to the nation last night, and their meaning is even more profound today, the first day of this new era.
“Those words – ‘liberty and justice for all’ – represent America’s purpose. This weekend, in the name and pursuit of liberty, heroic Americans halfway around the world secured justice – for an evil man’s victims, for the survivors of his terror, for Americans, for our allies and for the entire world. Liberty and justice, for all.”