WASHINGTON -- The kill shots that took down Osama bin Laden had a special resonance for three New York lawmakers who have spent the past decade recovering from the devastation al Qaeda had wrought in their midst.
Top priority for Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney and Republican Rep. Peter King was passing a law to help the thousands of Sept. 11 responders who missed out on the first rush of national unity and gratitude after the terrorist attacks, and who were coping with sickness and depression on their own.
Maloney shepherded the efforts on the bill, eventually dubbed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is worth $4.3 billion in compensation and health care aid to those ailing responders.
King would eventually head the House Homeland Security Committee, where he focused heavily on guarding New York. For his part, Nadler pushed to preserve individual rights from his seat on the House subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
So consider how they took the stunning revelation that bin Laden was dead.
“It took two or three seconds for it to sink in,” King told The Huffington Post. He said National Counterterrorism Center boss Michael Leitner informed him around 10 Sunday night -- after leaving a message warning King something of interest to him was on the way.
“I thought maybe they intercepted someone coming into the country, or locked some guy up overseas,” King recalled. “If you had given me 10 things to put on a list, I wouldn’t have put bin Laden there, so when he told me it really took a few seconds ... it was so off my radar screen.”
Maloney declined to reveal her initial response, but said the moment meant a lot, even if it didn't exactly bring what she or her colleagues would call closure.
“I can hear my city breathing a sigh of relief,” she said. “Over the last 10 years, the most asked question I received from New Yorkers was ‘When are we going to find Osama bin Laden?’”
Nadler and King were less reserved.
“I was delighted,” Nadler told The Huffington Post, even as he acknowledged the continuing need to heal the harm bin Laden did. “Here’s a guy who’s evil in every sense of the word, who declared war on us and civilization, who was trying to take us back to the seventh century, and was willing to kill large numbers of men, women and children with no discrimination. The earth is better off without him being here,” Nadler said.
“My second reaction was, OK, we know how the President reacts to a 3 a.m. phone call -- he does it very well,” Nadler added, in a reference to a campaign ad run against Obama in 2008.
King also praised President Obama, but was most effusive in relishing the death of the man responsible for a trail of monuments to the dead “every four or five blocks” in King’s Long Island neighborhood.
“I have no regrets at all about bin Laden being killed, and I have no regrets about telling you I feel a certain joy in that,” King said. “It’s not the most important reaction to have, but it is a reaction and I’m honest enough to admit that I have it.
“There is a legitimate time and place for revenge, and for me, this was it,” he added.