barack obama, in the news

Nine years, seven months, and twenty days since nine-eleven

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.

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I’ve been following the news since about 7 pm while I was taking a break from writing one of my last undergrads paper by watching The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon and looking through my twitterfeed that the President was planning to announce… something. And that something turns out to be a something that caused me to stop everything I was doing (like getting my paper done on time, which is a first in my entire education) to sit and read and reflect. My emotions have been on a rollercoaster trying to sort through my overwhelmed state.

I can’t celebrate a death. Not even of someone who is responsible for thousands of deaths. I don’t think that’s where wisdom and truth comes from, so I refrain from it. But I’m relieved and proud of my country and everyone involved in this event. I’m just overwhelmed. It took almost a decade, but we did it. The details are continuing to leak out, and I’m taking a break from looking at them to jot this for posterity sake.
What happens now and what does this mean? I’m not sure anyone can predict. We’ll still fight bad guys, try to stay true to our values, make friends and enemies. What does this change? I’m trying to answer, at least partially, and I can’t come up with anything. Not that I should, but it would make it feel a little better. American Embassies received a warning about possible retaliation attacks. When does it end?
But really, what a ride this weekend. The jubilant party of last night’s Correspondents’ Dinner to the capture today of the number one most wanted for almost ten years. I don’t think he can beat this weekend for the rest of his life if he tried.
It also reminds me how difficult this job is. That you do so much and can’t talk about most of it. That a lot of it doesn’t pan out so you can’t talk about it. But when it works, it works.
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