WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Monday expressed deep gratitude to the military, intelligence, and homeland security forces that worked together to rid the world of Osama bin Laden. But they warned that the war against terror is not over and that radicalized individuals and lone wolves will continue to try to strike Americans where we live and work.
“I want to thank the men and women of the American intelligence, military, and homeland security communities for what they did for all of us yesterday. And I want to express my gratitude to President Obama for his leadership as Commander in Chief.
“The fact is that today the world is a safer and better place because of the brave and brilliant patriots who worked together yesterday to kill Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer,” Lieberman said at a press conference (full statement here). “For a lot of the past decade, the homeland security committee of the U.S. Senate, which Senator Collins and I have been privileged to be leaders of together, has concentrated on doing everything we possibly could to reverse the lack of coordination within the United States government that facilitated the attacks on America on 9/11.
“Our Committee will continue to monitor and investigate every element of what our country is doing to protect the homeland security of the American people. The enemy is out there and the enemy will continue to try and attack the American people here at home, where we live and work.
“I want to reassure everyone that all of our homeland security and intelligence agencies are alert to a heightened level of danger for a limited period of time as individuals or groups seek revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden. The government is using every tool it has to detect, and if necessary, prevent such an attack. My own great concern in the days ahead is that a so-called lone wolf, a single individual, who has been radicalized, will now mobilize himself or herself to take action here at home against the American people.
“My appeal to the American people is be alert, this is a classic “if you see something, say something” moment. If you see suspicious behavior, call the police immediately.
“It is fitting that bin Laden was killed just as democracies are being born in the Arab world. The peaceful, youth-driven, democratic revolutions now taking place in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria are the true repudiation of ‘bin Ladenism.’ It turns out, contrary to what bin Laden prophesied, that his extreme ideology is the weak horse and democracy is the strong horse after all. To rid our world not only of bin Laden, but of ‘bin Ladenism,’ it is critical we together now do everything in our power to help the democratic forces in the Middle East succeed. For it will be at the hands of his fellow Arabs and fellow Muslims that bin Laden is finally and firmly consigned to the ash heap of history.”
Collins said: “With the welcome news that Osama bin Laden is dead, I am tremendously grateful to everyone involved in this critical mission, including the President, our National Security team, the Navy SEALs who bravely carried out this mission, and many other members of our military and intelligence forces whom we may never know.
“I am pleased, too, that DHS and the FBI took the appropriate and immediate steps to coordinate with and disseminate information to state and local homeland security officials and law enforcement to urge them to be particularly vigilant. Yesterday’s operation demonstrated the importance of sharing of intelligence information across the agency silos as directed by legislation that Senator Lieberman and I authored in 2004.
“Going forward, we see that Pakistan remains a critical but uncertain ally and many questions must now be answered.”