By Christopher Preble
All Americans celebrate the news that we have been waiting to hear for over nine and a half years: Osama Bin Laden is dead. The operation that resulted in his demise is a credit to the prowess and professionalism of the men and women in our military, and our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. All Americans — and the world — owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
Bin Laden’s death does not end the threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates, but it goes a long way toward delivering justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and al Qaeda’s other acts of terrorism. Importantly, the operation appears to bear resemblance to earlier operations that captured the 9/11 plotters Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. The details should remind us that some of the the most effective counterterrorism techniques do not rely on tens of thousands of troops stationed indefinitely in distant lands.
It is now clear that unrelenting pressure has severely weakened al Qaeda. Its capacity to harm Americans has been degraded for years, and yet we continue to dedicate tens of billions of dollars to combating terrorism in all forms. Here’s hoping that this evening’s welcome news contributes to an evolution of U.S. counterterrorism strategy that avoids costly and counterproductive policies, and that, going forward, we will always balance our efforts to advance American security with the need to preserve our essential rights and liberties.