America After Osama bin Laden

by Andrea LeBlanc
May 3rd, 2011

America after Osama bin Laden
I and my group of 9/11 victims’ relatives hope we will take this opportunity to restore the US to the path of justice, not war.

I did not hear the news Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed until a reporter called me at 12.30am to ask for my reaction. I doubt that the killing of another person is ever just cause for celebration, no matter what horrific acts he has committed. Relief, perhaps, that the long hunt was over, but my reaction was not one of jubilation.

I wondered how the Muslim world viewed the celebrations here in the US and was reminded of the distressing scenes of public celebration after the attacks on 9/11 in some parts of the world. Bin Laden was the ringleader, the inspiration for many, but his death won’t end the threats from al-Qaida. I suspect that he would never have allowed himself to be captured alive. His death has undoubtedly made him a martyr and perhaps will be cause enough for renewed attacks.

There are not many things I know to be absolutely true, but one of them is that violence begets violence. I suppose bin Laden’s death proves the point. I and my fellow members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows want the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks brought to justice, but we believe justice is achieved in the courtroom, not on the battlefield.

I do not seek revenge, but rather justice – and these are two very different things. Bin Laden’s death doesn’t change the fact that my husband is dead. For nine and a half years, I have been thinking about the human costs of 9/11 – not only the lives that were taken on that day, but all those, military and civilian, who have died since, in two wars, and whose lives are still threatened and being destroyed in the name of 11 September. And I have been thinking about the costs to our society through the erosion of civil rights, the compromise of our principles and the undermining of belief in our judicial system.

I am very glad President Obama said in his speech Sunday night that Osama bin Laden did not represent Islam, but rather contorted it to fit his own aspirations. I hope Americans were listening. He also spoke of upholding the principles the United States was founded on.

I sincerely hope that we will makes decisions and policies going forward that are wholly based on our true confidence in those principles, in our belief in the rule of law, civil rights and the protections of the US constitution.

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