Late Sunday night President Barack Obama announced that a group of Navy Seals had killed terrorist Osama bin Laden during a firefight in Pakistan. On Monday morning, some Connecticut officials reflected on that news.
At his Hartford office, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said it was a great day to be an American.
“We have brought to justice a criminal and terrorist who has rightly personified evil and we have brought him to justice for doing the most terrible kind of harm to America in generations,” he said.
Bin Laden’s death has special meaning to those in Connecticut, he said. The state lost 152 residents in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, he said.
Blumenthal said when he heard the news, he thought immediately about the families of those victims and hoped it afforded them some closure. He said he also hoped it marked a turning point in the war against terror.
It’s not clear yet what that turning point will be. In the wake of bin Laden’s death there are significant concerns about retaliation by his followers, he said.
“There are a great many reports and rumors swirling around about the possible revenge or retaliation that may take place, particularly in our metropolitan areas,” he said. “I think in the next days and weeks and months we will need to be vigilant.”
Blumenthal, whose son Matthew is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan on Thursday with the Marines, said he is hoping the country can continue to adhere to its military withdrawal date from that country in July.
Blumenthal also commented on the decision to bury bin Laden’s body at sea, a move some say is sure to add to the considerable number of conspiracy theories that persist around the attacks.
“I am very sure that the United States Navy and the Navy Seals who conducted the operation took any necessary forensic evidence to show that this was, in fact, Osama bin Laden,” he said, adding that he would be very dismissive of any conspiracy theorists who claim otherwise.
Blumenthal said his greater concern is that Bin Laden will be adopted as a martyr. He said the war on terror is far from over but he did speculate on how history will remember Bin Laden.
“I think he will be quickly relegated to the dust bin of history. Just as Hitler was and just as war criminals are. The kind of murder he committed really deserves the death that he had,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th, said the operation that killed bin Laden was a tribute to the capabilities and persistence of both the U.S. military and its intelligence community. He also said he hoped it comforted the families of bin Laden’s victims.
“He can no longer commit heinous crimes likes those of September 11, 2001. I hope this brings a sense of closure to the families of those taken from us that day nearly a decade ago,” Himes said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the news of bin Laden’s death serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the United States military in the time since 9/11, particularly Connecticut residents who have served. He also recalled his feelings on that day, now almost a decade ago.
“The news tonight that Osama bin Laden has been killed is 10 years in the making. As mayor of Stamford on 9/11, I remember waiting on the train platform there as scared, confused, and overwhelmed commuters made their way home, none of us fully understanding what had just happened. I also cannot forget the Connecticut residents we lost that day,” he said.
He wasn’t the only congressman to draw parallels between bin Laden and Hitler.
“The most wanted man in the world has been brought to justice by the American people. It is a historic moment, rivaled only by the demise of Adolf Hitler,” said U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st.
Larson said the spontaneous outbreak of national pride following the news reminded him of when members of congress joined together to sing God Bless America on 9/11.
On Sunday night reports out of New York City and Washington D.C. described groups of people spontaneously gathering at Ground Zero and the White House, chanting patriotic slogans.
Monday morning a small indicator of that same sentiment could be seen just outside of Bushnell Park. There, someone fixed a handwritten note to the ground with a small American flag.
“Hey man, this is for you. I had hoped to give this to you in person. We have waited a long time for this day,” the note said.
The flag was special to the note’s author, having been hung over a certificate that flew on A-10 over Afghanistan. The author was leaving it for whoever he or she was writing to.
“Never forget 9/11,” the author concluded, signing the note “The Voice of America.”