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When the two men finally spoke, King recalled that Leiter began the conversation by saying, “This is a call that is going to mean a lot to you and your constituents.”
While King acknowledged that bin Laden’s death was a “major victory” in the fight against terrorism, he said the war is hardly over.
King already has several hearings on extremism planned for this summer.
“This is a major chapter in a long book,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity in this moment of confusion to make real inroads against al-Qaida.”
For Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. military forces delivered a cathartic release and a sense of emotional closure on behalf of their constituents, many of whom suffered more directly from the terrorist attacks than any other group of Americans.
Schumer knew people who died that day — a man he played basketball with in high school and a businessman who had been supportive of his political career in its early days — and it was clear Monday that he took satisfaction in bin Laden’s death. Schumer said the fact that bin Laden remained out of the reach of American justice for nearly a decade following the attacks felt particularly “galling” to New Yorkers.
“When you talk to the families of those who were lost, they would say it just galls them that bin Laden is still alive. A few of them told me they think about him every day,” a visibly emotional Schumer said Monday in an interview. “There will still be a hole in the hearts; their loved ones will never come back; but at least some justice was done.”
No state delegation can claim more concern or attention to the war on terrorism. But Schumer and Menendez — and their fellow New York and New Jersey Members — say they feel an acute sense of responsibility to keep their constituents safe, given that New York City continues to be among terrorists’ major targets.
Schumer said the first thing he did Monday was telephone the head of the New York FBI office and the head of Homeland Security counterterrorism to discuss any potential terrorist threats.
Like King, Menendez said the need to be vigilant and strongly prosecute the war on terror must continue, although Sunday’s action might be viewed as a turning point that tipped the scales in favor of the U.S.
“While we may have cut off the head of the snake, the body is still alive,” Menendez said in an interview. “This doesn’t end our challenge.”
Jessica Brady contributed to this report.