(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Monday denied Republican criticism that he has turned the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden into a pep rally for his reelection campaign.
It was one year ago that Obama announced in a televised address to the nation that U.S. Navy SEALs under his direction conducted a secret mission in Abbottabad, Pakistan to capture or kill the al Qaeda leader who had been hiding inside his compound for years, which was practically next door to the Pakistani version of West Point. At the time, Obama was hailed for making a gutsy decision that could have just as easily been roundly condemned if bin Laden escaped again.
Killing bin Laden, the architect of the 9/11 attacks and other similar terrorist strikes around the world, has been viewed as a major blow to the al Qaeda network he formed, although U.S. law enforcement officials are in a state of heightened alert in the event bin Laden’s followers attempt to exact revenge for his death.
Meanwhile, the GOP has gone on the attack in the past few days since a video produced by Obama’s reelection team intimated that Mitt Romney would not have gone after bin Laden if he managed to win the GOP nomination in 2008 and became president.
Responding to these latest charges at the White House, Obama said, “I hardly think that you’ve seen any excessive celebration taking place here.”
With the first anniversary of Obama telling the nation that bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs on everyone’s minds, the president continued, “I think that the American people, rightly, remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 citizens.”
As for Romney’s statement four years ago that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,” the president pointedly added, “I said that I would go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. if there are others who said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, I’d go ahead and let them explain.”
Asked whether the public should celebrate that bin Laden is no longer a threat even if al Qaeda still exists, Obama asserted that it was entirely appropriate to appreciate the work of the military that carried out the mission and the intelligence that located the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire