Washington (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said the world is a better and safer place with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden dead, when speaking to a group of veterans and military families on Monday.
In an East Room ceremony at the White House, Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to two Korean War veterans.
“This is a good day for America. Our country has secured its commitment to see that justice is done,” Obama said. “The world is safer and a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden. Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do when we put our shoulder to the wheel, when we work together, and we remember the sense of unity that binds us as Americans.”
Obama went on to talk about the spontaneous rallies that occurred after the news of the death of bin Laden, who was the lead figure of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, which saw two planes destroy the World Trade Center in New York City; one plane crash into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.; and another hijacked plane crash in Pennsylvania after passengers intervened to stop another attack.
“We’ve seen that spirit and that patriotism in crowds that gathered here outside the White House and Ground Zero in New York, and across the country, holding candles, waving flags, singing the national anthem, people are proud of the United States of America,” Obama said.
Obama then praised the military service of veterans before awarding to Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano of the U.S. Army and Private First Class Henry Svehla of the U.S. Army the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Family members accepted the medals.
“We are reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to helping that cause,” Obama said. “They volunteer. They train. They endure separation from their families. They take extraordinary risks so we can be safe. They get the job done. We may not always know their names. We may not always know their stories, but they are there every day on the front lines of freedom.”
The president first spoke about bin Laden’s death after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night.
A senior administration official told reporters on a conference call that suspected terrorist detainees directed U.S. intelligence to investigate a courier who is close to bin Laden, which led them to the compound where he was staying.
“One courier in particular had our constant attention,” the senior administration official said. “Detainees gave us his nom de guerre (or his nickname) and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.
“Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But, for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location,” the official said.
“Then in August 2010, we found their residence, a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad,” the official later said. “The area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military.”
“So the final conclusion, from an intelligence standpoint, was twofold,” the official said. “We had high confidence that a high-value target was being harbored by the brothers on the compound, and we assessed that there was a strong probability that that person was Osama bin Laden.”