Osama bin LadenIt doesn't get any more official than that. President Barack Obama confirmed tonight in a rare late-night television address that Osama bin Laden is dead. Billed as the top man on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List as Usama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by American forces.
He had a week to prepare his address, a week since he gave the OK for CIA operatives to move in on the compound where bin Laden was hiding, and it showed. Obama's brief message laid out all the critical details of the operation -- which more or less went on as we were all gee-gawwing over the royal wedding -- but gave Osama himself only a brief amount of actual time. The message was clear: mission accomplished, go ahead and party outside the White House if you want (and people are out there singing the national anthem), but we're not done.
What President Obama laid out for the nation is a picture of what comes next. First up -- peace with Pakistan. The president said he always intended to have American forces enter the country if bin Laden was found to be hiding out there, and that he'd made that clear to the Pakistani government as well. And with Osama dead, Obama affirmed things are kosher between the two nations, noting President Asif Ali Zardari has been in touch and agrees this is a positive turn of events for his own nation.
Next -- the nation's "counter-terrorism" efforts continue, including a battle to snuff out Al Qaeda. Although Obama said he made the "killing or capture of bin Laden" the priority in the war against al Qaeda, now that war shifts to the remaining arms of the jihadist group. Like the mythical hydra, cutting off one head will not slay the beast.
Finally, the president was quick to enact a gentle tug on the reigns of the celebrations. Note the president didn't say "go party in the streets" even as he acknowledged justice has finally been served for the families who have lost their loved ones. Instead, he reminded Americans that "we will be true to the values that make us who we are." It's a time to come together, in other words, to be the "bigger man" in many ways on an international scale:
[America] is not and never will be at war with Islam ... Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. ... Let us think back to the sense of unity felt on 9/11.
The message is clear. Osama bin Laden is dead. But beware what you celebrate and how -- because America isn't resting on its laurels tonight.
What did you think of the President's address? Were you cheering?
Image via FBI