Justice is Served: The Death of Osama bin Laden

Floor Speech

Date: May 4, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. CAPPS. Thank you, Mr. Garamendi, for yielding me time and for organizing us to have this conversation and this opportunity to pay tribute this evening.

I rise, like my colleagues have risen, to commend the many people involved in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. From all accounts, and from what we heard from Director Panetta yesterday, it was a meticulously planned and executed operation. I commend the President and his national security team for their focus.

When the President was running for office, he said that if he were presented with actionable intelligence on al Qaeda's leaders, that he would act, with or without the host country's permission or assistance. He got some heat on that commitment, if you'll remember, my colleague, but it's clear he was correct.

The result is that the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks has now been brought to justice and the organization he has led has been further weakened.

And I am so grateful to our colleague from New Jersey (Mr. Holt) for calling to mind, again, as all of us felt as we heard the news of Osama bin Laden's demise. We were immediately, at least I was, as well, reminded again of that awful day, 9/11 and the image, where we were when we heard the news, how we were riveted to watching the horror unfold, explode in D.C., at the Pentagon, and New York City and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

And I acknowledge that this was closure for those families who have suffered and continue to suffer, and a good thing that they have seen this person, this evil man brought to justice. But it doesn't lessen their sorrow and their loss, and we're mindful of that. And it comes back again to remind us that we have not, by any stretch, ended the threat of terrorism, and we must remain vigilant.

Mr. Holt talks about all of the New Jerseyans who lost their lives that day. And it was concentrated in our metropolitan areas surrounding New York City. But these were trans-country flights, and some of the passengers were bound for the west coast, and some of them were my constituents as well as, I don't know about Mr. Garamendi, but others in California I know, lost their lives and those families are still grieving. So my heart goes out to them this evening.

But I want to acknowledge also the comments and the contribution from our colleague from Detroit, Hansen Clarke, who acknowledges for us all, which I am very mindful of, that our need to remain vigilant includes our homeland security. And that goes immediately to the role that our first responders play, and the responsibility that we have in this body to make sure that our front line defense in our cities, in our rural areas, in our vulnerable places that we're all mindful of now with the heightened security, because we know that this event that happened just so recently is going to have some kind of effect, and we need to be even more on guard.

But every day we want and need our first responders to be there in our homes guarding our streets and guarding our communities and making sure that we're safe. And we have a responsibility to see that they have the resources to do that.

On the other hand, disrupting the operations of this murderous group is such an important step to safeguarding our country.

But, Mr. Speaker, my main reason for wanting to contribute and add to this discussion this evening is what I feel is our important duty to pay tribute to these Navy SEALs who pulled off this operation and to thank them. We don't know their names. We don't want to reveal their identities for the safety of their families. But these brave individuals serve, not for fame, not for fortune. They do it in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable. They do this service for us to protect our freedoms. They do it as they did this past weekend and on so many countless other occasions to keep our country safe. While we sleep, they are on watch. And for that, we owe them such a huge debt of gratitude.

Finally, I believe that all Americans are rightly impressed and grateful by the tireless work done every day by members of our intelligence and our military communities. Indeed, it was that relentless hard work that tracked down bin Laden and countless others of his ilk. The dedication, the sacrifice of these men and women and that of their families have been so critical to keeping our country safe. It is a duty that's been particularly heavy in the days since 9/11.

It's easy for us to go about our life and to resume our normal ways of living, but not for them and not for their families. And now, as this has occurred, we really want to call to mind all those who serve our country, at home and abroad in the military, wearing the uniform for love of country, for their patriotism. And we owe them so much. Their service in Iraq and in Afghanistan, whether we agree with the engagement or not, they are serving their country. And this has been nothing short of amazing.

I think of my own naval base, Ventura County, where the Seabees ship from, and the work that they have done and continue to do reconstructing the war-torn areas and assisting the folks in Iraq and Afghanistan and rebuilding their lives.

I think of the Air Force base at Vandenburg, which I'm also privileged to represent, where so much of this intelligence comes from as our operations are carried out with such precision and such skill. The multiple tours of duty, the extended tours, the time away from family and friends, the danger that goes along with every deployment. These burdens are, quite frankly, something that most of us don't think about enough. So much of what these brave men and women do goes unnoticed and uncommented upon.

So, tonight, as we pay tribute to the courageous Navy SEALs who stormed that compound in Pakistan, I want us all to recognize the daily sacrifices of all of their brothers and sisters in arms, in the intelligence communities and serving in uniform. Let us thank them for the service that they have given and do give to us. Thank them for carrying out their duty to serve their fellow citizens every single day, and thank them also for calling to mind for us that they do this, not as Democrats or Republicans. They do this in service to their country.

And I believe that this action, such as we came together in 9/11, calls for us to join together in this Congress and in this country in a call to unity to rededicate ourselves to serving our country.

We have many pressing challenges today. Our involvement in Afghanistan is one of them, and it's a major one, and in Iraq as well. But we have our own homeland with our economic struggles that calls for us to work together as well.

So your desire to bring us together, Mr. Garamendi, makes me think about
a great many things and, again, to say how grateful I am that we have taken this important step in our war for freedom, against al Qaeda, but for freedom and for this life that we can enjoy in this country.