Transcription from President’s Obama announcement and confirmation that Osama Bin Laden was killed. (I searched several news sites for this same transcription w/o finding a completed copy. There might be minor differences but transcribed from the official televised statement Sunday, May 1, 2011.)
Good evening, tonight I can report to the American people and the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaida and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory. High jacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky, the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground, black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon, the wreckage of Flight 93 from Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heart break and destruction. And yet we know the worst images where those that were unseen to the world, the empty seat at the dinner table, children forced to grow up without their mother or their father, parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace, nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
In September 11th, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together, we offered our neighbors a hand and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other and our love of community and country, on that day, no matter where we came from, what god we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one America family. We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those that committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaida, an organization headed by Osama Bin Laden which had openly had declared war on the united States and was committed to killing innocence in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaida to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last ten years thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counter terrorism professionals we have made great strides in that effort. We have disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan we removed the Taliban government which had given Bin Laden and al Qaida safe haven and support. And around the globe we have worked with our friend and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaida terrorists including several who were apart of the 9/11 plot, yet Osama Bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile al Qaida continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of our war against Al Qaeda even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his networks.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to Bin laden. It was far from certain and it took many months to this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located Bin Laden hiding within a compound, deep inside Pakistan. And finally last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorize an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out that operation w/ extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed and they took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body.
For over two decades Bin Laden has been al Qaida’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaida. Yet his death not mark the end of our effort. There is no doubt that al Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do not at war we must also reaffirm that the United States is not and will never be at war w/ Islam. I have made clear just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11 that our war is not against Islam as Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed al Qaida slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity. Over the years I have repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where Bin Laden was and that is what we have done. But it is important to note that our counter terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound that he was hiding. Indeed Bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people. Tonight I called president Zardari and my team has already spoken w/ their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations and going forward it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaida and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight it came to our shores and it started w/ the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war, these efforts weigh on me, every time I, as command and chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded. So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country we will never tolerate our security being threatened or stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are and on nights like this one we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaida’s terror, justice has been done.
Tonight we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counter terrorism professionals who have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work or know their names but tonight they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice. We give thanks to the men who carried out this operation for they exemplified professionalism, patriotism, and unpatrolled courage of those who server our country and they are part of a generation that bore the heaviest part of the burden since that September day. Finally let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, that we have never forgotten your lost, nor waivered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores and tonight let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that at times it has frayed.
Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to, that is the story of our history whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people or the struggle for equality for all of our citizens, our commitment to standup for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power but because of who we are, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Thank you, may God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.