North Dakotans express range of emotions after bin Laden’s death

FARGO – North Dakota politicians are among the millions of Americans today expressing relief and joy at the death of Osama bin Laden – as well as gratitude to the nation’s servicemen and women who helped make that achievement possible.

For many Americans, news of the terrorist’s death brings a measure of closure to nearly 10 years’ worth of waiting following the Sept. 11 tragedy. (In case you missed it Sunday evening, you can watch President Barack Obama’s address to the nation here.)

Kent Conrad

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said, “With the killing of Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer has been eliminated.”

“The world is better off without him,” Conrad continued. “Let this be a lesson to America’s enemies — you can run, but you can’t hide. … While the death of bin Laden is a victory against terrorism, the fight is not over.  There are still many evil forces looking to destroy America. They are a determined enemy. We must remain vigilant. ”

In 2006, Conrad – member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – authored legislation that the Senate later passed, which reinstated a special CIA team dedicated to finding bin Laden.  The legislation dedicated $200 million in emergency money to the intelligence task force focused on bin Laden.

“President Obama deserves our thanks for his focused leadership on bringing bin Laden to justice,” Conrad said. “I — along with all Americans — applaud the perseverance and dedication of our military, special operations forces, and intelligence community.”

North Dakota’s freshmen representatives echoed Conrad’s sentiment in their own statements.

John Hoeven

Republican Sen. John Hoeven said bin Laden’s death “brings to an end the unrelenting effort to bring one of the world’s most infamous terrorists to justice.”

“On September 11, the American people were unified in both their horror and grief of the tragic events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and also in their resolve to see those responsible held accountable for their actions. Today marks the fulfillment of that sacred commitment,” Hoeven said. “We owe an extra debt of gratitude to America’s military and intelligence forces, who never yielded in their determination to secure justice for the nearly 3,000 men, women and children who perished on September 11, 2001.”

“We have made clear to the entire world that the United State will not rest until those who use terror and deliberate violence against innocents feel the full force of American justice,” he added.

Rick Berg

Republican Rep. Rick Berg called yesterday’s news an “historic moment for the people of our nation and those across the world who have fought for freedom from fear and oppression.”

“The president’s announcement speaks magnitudes to both the trials our country has faced, as well as the triumphs of American perseverance,” Berg said. “May we never forget the military members and their families who have selflessly sacrificed so much to protect our nation and those who have lost their lives at the hands of senseless terror.”

“This news reinforces that the United States will stand ready for any other challenges to our liberty and remains the symbol of freedom to the world,” Berg added.

Meanwhile – whether Americans like it or not – political analysts are already speculating what the achievement of Osama bin Laden’s death will mean for the 2012 elections.

The discussions focus most prominently on Obama’s re-election bid, but prospective presidential contenders and other federal candidates are also being drawn into the mix, as many have issued statements of their own.

Brian Kalk

In North Dakota, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Kalk called bin Laden’s death “a step forward in the worldwide struggle against international terrorism.”

“Freedom has taken a step forward with the death of Osama Bin Laden,” said Kalk, a retired Marine and North Dakota Public Service Commissioner.

“He was a malignant symbol of terror, hate, and tyranny,” Kalk continued. “While we can take a moment to savor the passing of this evil man, we cannot relax our vigil or our determination to stop international terrorism.  We must be even more vigilant during the coming weeks and months.  The terrorists will spare no effort to retaliate for the death of their leader.  Their primary targets will be American assets abroad, as well as in our country.  So, we must always stay alert.”

Like other government leaders, Kalk praised the military and intelligence operatives who planned and carried out the raid Sunday in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

“The military and intelligence services deserve our deepest gratitude for their perseverance, skill, and courage,” Kalk said. “They put in years of effort and planning to set the stage for the successful operation.   The men and women in our military and intelligence services are the thin line defending our liberties and protecting our nation.  We cannot thank them enough.”