Nearly 10 years after he orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden has been killed, President Obama confirmed in a news conference moments ago.
Obama said he authorized a mission enabling a small team of Americans to storm bin Laden’s reported location in Abad Abad, Pakistan. The team killed the terrorist leader in a firefight and took custody of his body.
It goes without saying that this is a seminal moment in America’s War on Terror. For the past decade, bin Laden’s continued existence was viewed as a major indictment of U.S. policy and used to argue for the inadequacy of counterterrorism operations. Now, his death is a symbol or American perseverance and resolve.
In the weeks and months ahead we’ll learn more about the impact on bin Laden’s death on Al Qaeda specifically and the terrorist threat more general. But it’s important that this not be taken as the end of the War on Terror.
There will also be a lot of debate over who deserves credit and how this helps Obama politically. Clearly, this will bolster Americans’ perception of Obama’s handling of national security. Killing bin Laden is an antidote to the portrayal of him as a modern Jimmy Carter, who famously had to abort a mission to rescue American hostages in Iran when aircraft got caught in a sand storm.
But whatever one’s political orientation, and whatever the implications of this event going forward, tonight is a time for Americans to celebrate.