WASHINGTON — Internal emails among U.S. military officers indicate that no sailors watched Osama bin Laden's burial at sea from the USS Carl Vinson and traditional Islamic procedures were followed during the ceremony.

The emails, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, are heavily blacked out, but are the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaida leader's death. The emails were released Wednesday by the Defense Department.

Bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011, by a Navy SEAL team that assaulted his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One email stamped secret and sent on May 2 by a senior Navy officer briefly describes how bin Laden's body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet, and then placed in a weighted bag.

According to another message from the Vinson's public affairs officer, only a small group of the ship's leadership was informed of the burial.

"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the May 2 email from Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea."

The email also included a cryptic reference to the intense secrecy surrounding the mission. "The paucity of documentary evidence in our possession is a reflection of the emphasis placed on operational security during the execution of this phase of the operation," Gaouette's message reads. Recipients of the email included Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. James Mattis, the top officer at U.S. Central Command. Mullen retired from the military in September 2011.

Earlier, Gaouette, then the deputy commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, and another officer used code words to discuss whether the helicopters carrying the SEALs and bin Laden's body had arrived on the Vinson.

"Any news on the package for us?" he asked Rear Adm. Samuel Perez, commander of the carrier strike group that included the Vinson.

"FEDEX delivered the package," Perez responded. "Both trucks are safely enroute home base."

Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defense Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden's body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden's body on the Vinson.

The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden's body if he were killed.

The Defense Department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the SEALs to Abbottabad crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind. People who lived near bin Laden's compound took photos of the disabled chopper.

The AP is appealing the Defense Department's decision. The CIA, which ran the bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, has not responded to AP's request for records about the mission.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • George W. Bush

    <blockquote>Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done. </blockquote>

  • Michael Bloomberg

    <blockquote>"After September 11, 2001, we gave our word as Americans that we would stop at nothing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. After the contribution of millions, including so many who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, we have kept that word. "The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation - and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation. "New Yorkers have waited nearly ten years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."</blockquote>

  • Bill Clinton

    <blockquote>"This is a profoundly important moment not just for the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in al-Qaida's other attacks but for people all over the world who want to build a common future of peace, freedom, and cooperation for our children. I congratulate the President, the National Security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks."</blockquote>

  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

    "This is a historic moment for the U.S. special operations and intelligence communities. I highly commend the special operations units who undertook this mission and carried it out with no injuries to women or children inside the compound. The CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community did a phenomenal job over several months in carrying out this assignment."

  • Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)

    <blockquote>"I commend President Obama on the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden. "Today, the American people have seen justice. The leader of the United States' top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. "In 2001, President Bush said 'we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.' President Bush deserves great credit for putting action behind those words. President Obama deserves equal credit for his resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda. "This great success would not have been possible without the tireless work of countless brave men and women who have served around the world in this War on Terror." </blockquote>

  • House Speaker John Boehner

    <blockquote>"This is great news for the security of the American people and a victory in our continued fight against al Qaeda and radical extremism around the world. We continue to face a complex and evolving terrorist threat, and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to confront and defeat the terrorist enemy and protect the American people. I want to congratulate -- and thank -- the hard-working men and women of our Armed Forces and intelligence community for their tireless efforts and perseverance that led to this success. I also want to commend President Obama and his team, as well as President Bush, for all of their efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice."</blockquote>

  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)

    <blockquote>"This is a day we have all been waiting for, for far too long. The brave men and women of our military and intelligence agencies have shown the world once again the reach and determination of American Power. "We have brought to justice a terrorist with the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands, and brought justice to the families of his victims. "This closes a key chapter in the war on terror - it's hard to imagine an end to Al Qaida without the death of Bin Laden. While we can all certainly celebrate this important victory, the fight will go on. We will not stop until Al Qaida has been eliminated."</blockquote>

  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    <blockquote>"Nearly a decade ago, in the days after 9/11, President Bush said, 'Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.' Tonight, we've learned that justice has been done. The man with the blood of more than 3,000 Americans on his hands, the man who forced us to begin to think the unthinkable - is now dead. "Families who lost loved ones at the hands of Bin Laden and his terrorist organization have grieved for far too long and this sends a signal that America will not tolerate terrorism in any form. The men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community have fought valiantly for the last decade and this is a major victory and testament to their dedication. I commend President Obama who has followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice. While this is no doubt a major event in our battle against terrorism, we will not relent in our fight against terror and our efforts to keep America safe and secure."</blockquote>

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

    <blockquote>"This is a thunderous strike for justice for the thousands of my fellow New Yorkers -- and citizens from all over the world -- who were murdered on 9/11. It took close to ten years, but the world's most wanted terrorist has finally met his deserved fate. New York's heart is still broken from the tragedy of 9/11, but this at least brings some measure of closure and consolation to the victims and their families. "This is a massive accomplishment for the countless military and intelligence personnel who have been urgently dedicated to this task for the past decade. Because Bin Laden's evil dogma has poisoned the minds of so many others, we cannot let up in the war on terror. This successful mission sends a definitive message to those who would test the resolve of the people of the United States of America: do not doubt our resolve; if you do us harm, we will find you, we will mete out justice, and we will prevail."</blockquote>

  • Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.)

    <blockquote>"This is the news we have long waited to hear. As Americans picked themselves up after the terrorist attacks of September Eleventh, President Bush told us that we would get Osama bin Laden. While it has taken longer than many expected, Osama bin Laden is dead. Bin Laden's death is proof to those terrorists who wish to harm us that they may be able to run and hide but we will get them eventually. "Our brave military forces and their civilian counterparts who have been working for more than a decade to capture or kill bin Laden have the gratitude of our nation. These warriors have paid tremendous sacrifices during this time, and tonight's announcement should help ease some of those burdens. "While we celebrate a major victory in one battle against evil, we should recognize that the larger war against terrorism continues. Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Africa and Asia remain dedicated to killing Americans and our allies. We know that even as they mourn the loss of their inspirational leader, they will not waver in their determination to attack us and our way of life. As we rejoice, we must remain vigilant, and continue to support our brave men and women in uniform, as well as our courageous intelligence officers, around the world who serve on the front lines against this determined enemy."</blockquote>

  • Mike Huckabee

    <blockquote>"It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden is dead. The leader of Al Qaeda--- responsible for the deaths of 3000 innocent citizens on September 11, 2001, and whose maniacal hate is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US servicemen and women was killed by U.S. military. President Obama confirmed the announcement late last night. DNA tests confirmed his death and his body is in the possession of the U. S. It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless in tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens."</blockquote>

  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

    <blockquote>"I commend our intelligence community and military personnel for pursuing this mass murderer and delivering justice."</blockquote>

  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

    <blockquote>"I am overjoyed that we finally got the world's top terrorist. The world is a better and more just place now that Osama bin Laden is no longer in it. I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done. I commend the President and his team, as well as our men and women in uniform and our intelligence professionals, for this superb achievement. "But while we take heart in the news that Osama bin Laden is dead, we must be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies, and we must remain vigilant to defeat them."</blockquote>

  • Tim Pawlenty

    <blockquote>"This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice -- and we did. I want to congratulate America's armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over."</blockquote>

  • FDNY

    <blockquote>Cmmr. Salvatore J. Cassano Statement: Osama Bin Laden was responsible for killing 343 members of the FDNY on Sept. 11, 2001. Tonight, in firehouses throughout the city, our members are grateful for the news, and thankful to all the brave members of the U.S. military that had a role in this successful operation.</blockquote>

  • Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.)

    <blockquote>"Congratulations to President Obama and his National Security Team for the capture and killing of the world's most dangerous and evil criminal mastermind, Osama bin Laden. Our appreciation and gratitude goes out to General Petreaus and the brave men and women in theater. Our Special Operations team executed a flawless, cross border operation, proving once again, our American Armed Forces are the most skilled, organized and highly trained forces in the world. Although this is a time of exuberance, rejoicing and healing, America, as well as our allies, must be vigilant and on guard for retaliatory attacks from the extreme Islamic world. What strongly concerns me is that bin Laden was not found hiding in a remote cave, but in an urban area of Pakistan where the Pakistan Army's premier training institution operates. This is a war that is no where close to being over."</blockquote>

  • Sarah Palin

    The former Alaska governor <a href="http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150170174408435" target="_hplink">wrote</a> in a note posted on Facebook: <blockquote>Americans tonight are united in celebration and gratitude. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who contributed to carrying out the successful mission to bring Bin Laden to justice and who laid the groundwork over the years to make this victory possible. It's a testament to the hard work and dedication of these brave Americans who relentlessly hunted down our enemy. This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda's other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world. May God bless our troops and our intelligence services, and God bless America! </blockquote>

  • India

    <blockquote> Here is the statement issued by Chidambaram on the incident: Earlier today the United States Government informed the Government of India that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by security forces somewhere "deep inside Pakistan." After the September 11, 2001 terror attack, the US had reason to seek Osama Bin Laden and bring him and his accomplices to justice. We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the fire fight in which Osama Bin Laden was killed took place in Abbotabad "deep inside Pakistan". This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan. We believe that the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack, including the controllers and handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan. We once again call upon the Government of Pakistan to arrest the persons whose names have been handed over to the Interior Minister of Pakistan as well as provide voice samples of certain persons who are suspected to be among the controllers and handlers of the terrorists.</blockquote>

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

    <blockquote>"This moment will forever be remembered by each one of us as the day justice for that tragedy was finally served."</blockquote>

  • CAIR

    <blockquote>"We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel. As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also reiterate President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam."</blockquote>

  • Mitt Romney

    <blockquote>"This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist."</blockquote>

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    <blockquote>"The death of Osama bin Laden marks a long-awaited end to the work of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks. No one who remembers the horror of that day can help but feel relieved that Osama bin Laden is dead. This is a great victory in the War on Terror and for all who have worked so tirelessly over the years to thwart the monstrous designs of this madman and his disciples. On September 11, 2001, America came together and vowed that we would never forget the memory of those whose lives were lost on that terrible day. Tonight's announcement shows that we have made good on that pledge. It is proof that no matter how difficult or how long it takes, our military, intelligence forces and law enforcement officials will never stop until the job is done. America celebrates tonight, and is grateful for the heroic efforts of the many men and women around the world who have fought and who are still fighting to protect the world from terrorism. Though they may never make the headlines, we are ever mindful of their many sacrifices. This war on terror continues, but we can be happy tonight that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the world is a better place."</blockquote>

  • Pakistan

    <blockquote>Office of the Spokesperson: In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the surroundings of Abbotabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world. Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin. Osama bin Ladin's death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world. Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan's campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates. Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism. It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan's political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.</blockquote>

  • Tom Ridge

    <blockquote>Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former governor of Pennsylvania, released the following statement on the death of Osama bin Laden: "The news that Osama bin Laden is no more demonstrates the resolve of the intelligence and military community and the American community writ large. We did not forget, nor will we ever. May this news give some measure of comfort to those we lost on 9/11 and those we have lost since that day, who fought so bravely to answer brutality with justice. "As we mark this victory, we know that as one chapter closes, more chapters will be written. A flawed ideology did not die with one man. But just as surely as the fight will continue, so will our determination. We remain, just as we were nearly ten years ago, joined together and joined to the task."</blockquote>

  • Dick Cheney

    The <em>Weekly Standard</em> <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/statements-death-osama-bin-laden_558570.html" target="_hplink">relays</a> a statement issued by the former vice president: <blockquote>The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is a victory for the United States and a tremendous achievement for the military and intelligence professionals who carried out this important mission. Their tireless work since 9/11 has made this achievement possible, and enabled us to capture or kill thousands of al Qaeda terrorists and many of their leaders. I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team. At this moment when bin Laden has been brought to justice, we especially remember the sacrifice of the young Americans who've paid the ultimate price in defense of the nation, as well as the nearly 3000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11. Al Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy. Though bin Laden is dead, the war goes on. We must remain vigiliant, especially now, and we must continue to support our men and women in uniform who are fighting on the front lines of this war every day. Today, the message our forces have sent is clear -- if you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice.</blockquote>

  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

    <blockquote>"Osama Bin Laden's death at the hands of American forces is a fitting end to the world's most notorious terrorist. While we celebrate this accomplishment and express our thanks for the efforts of our military, intelligence agencies, diplomatic corps, and allies we must remain mindful that other dangerous terrorists still remain at large. The killing of Bin Laden should serve as a reminder that those who engage in terrorism should not expect to meet justice at a day in court, but rather at any second of any night wherever they may try to hide. It is also a reminder of tragic losses caused by terrorism and an important time to keep victims and others who have suffered in our prayers."</blockquote>

  • Condoleezza Rice

    <blockquote>"The demise of Osama Bin Laden is a tremendous victory for the American people. Justice has been done and we are all indebted to the American military and intelligence community for their skill and dedication. Nothing can bring back Bin \Laden's innocent victims, but perhaps this can help salve the wounds of their loved ones. I am overwhelmed with pride in America and in those who protect us. We are all united tonight in gratitude and love for our country. God Bless America."</blockquote>

  • Hillary Clinton

    The AP reports: <blockquote>Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is warning al-Qaida and its affiliates around the world that the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan proves the network cannot wait out or defeat the United States and is calling on members of the group to abandon violence and rejoin society. In brief comments on Monday, Clinton said bin Laden's death was a milestone in the war on terrorism, but stressed that the "battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror" is not over. She said the operation to find and kill bin Laden nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks showed the U.S. would never abandon its pursuit of justice. And, she said the U.S. would continue to boost its counterterrorism cooperation with other nations, including Pakistan.</blockquote>

  • Colin Powell

    <blockquote>"An evil person has been eliminated, Osama bin Laden is dead and buried at sea. Justice has been done. His death brings a sense of relief to the families of 911 and the families of all those brave America troops who have fought this war over the past ten years. I congratulate the intelligence community and the assaulting troops for this flawless operation. Osama bin Laden was just one man. The al-Qaeda threat remains and we must be vigilant and aggressive against them until they are totally destroyed."</blockquote>

  • Rudy Giuliani

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54089.html" target="_hplink">issued a statement</a> to Politico on Monday reacting to the death of Osama bin Laden. He said he feels a "great deal of satisfaction that justice as been done." He said, "I admire the courage of the president to make a decision like this because if something had gone wrong everyone would be blaming him." Giuliani continued, "And I admire the courage and professionalism of our military intelligence officials who carried this out and this is a great victory against terror. nobody can minimize it. He was a symbol more than anything else right now but...symbols are really important." <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54089.html" target="_hplink">Click here</a> to read more.

  • Donald Trump

    Donald Trump <a href="http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/05/donald-trump-congratulates-obama-on-osama-bin-laden-killing-asks-for-end-to-party-politics-debate-fo.html" target="_hplink">issued a statement</a> to ABC News on the death of Osama bin Laden on Monday. He congratulated President Barack Obama and the men and women of the Armed Forces for the accomplishment. "I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory," he said. "We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those currently fighting for our freedom. God Bless America!"

  • DC Mayor Vincent Gray

    <blockquote>"Along with the residents of the District of Columbia, I thank President Obama and members of the national security team for the leadership demonstrated in conducting the operation that resulted in the death of one of world's most sought-after terrorists, Osama Bin Laden. And while the operation will not erase the pain nor diminish the threat of terror, I hope that this service of justice brings some comfort to the families and friends of loved ones lost on September 11, 2001. I salute the courageous men and women of the United States armed forces and members of the intelligence community for their dedication and steadfast commitment to the fight against terrorism worldwide. We will continue to work in coordination with our federal partners to ensure that appropriate protective measures are being taken to ensure our ongoing readiness and safety. District residents are reminded to remain vigilant at all times."</blockquote>

  • Donald Rumsfeld Reflects On Writing Of Memoir

    Donald Rumsfeld <a href="http://www.facebook.com/notes/donald-rumsfeld/statement-of-donald-rumsfeld-on-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden/159060637490565" target="_hplink">posted</a> the following statement on Facebook on Monday: <blockquote>The man who once called the United States "a paper tiger" and issued a fatwa to "kill all Americans" believed that our nation would not strike back if provoked. Today that man, responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans on September 11th, Osama bin Laden, is dead. It is an achievement of which our country can be proud. Credit belongs to the courageous special operators who executed the mission. As America awoke to celebration this morning, these professionals quietly went about their work, for they know as well as any that this fight is not over. Recognition should also go to the intelligence professionals who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to collect information on al Qaeda. Initial reports indicate that intelligence efforts at Guantanamo Bay may have played an essential role in this success. All of this was made possible by the relentless, sustained pressure on al Qaeda that the Bush administration initiated after 9/11 and that the Obama administration has wisely chosen to continue. This is an important victory in the fight against Islamist terrorism, but the struggle will go on. We must not have any illusions that it ends today or that America can afford to let down its guard tomorrow. </blockquote>

  • Sen. Scott Brown (R -Mass.)

    <blockquote>"This is a great day for America and our allies across the free world. Osama Bin Laden has finally gotten the justice he deserved. I commend President Obama, former President Bush and the highly capable men and women in our military and intelligence community whose tireless work over the last decade made this day possible. It is also a time to reflect on the victims of 9/11 and their families, as well as those who have died across the world fighting terrorism. Let this be a lesson that there is no sanctuary in the world for America's enemies." </blockquote>

  • Janet Napolitano

    <blockquote>The death of Osama bin Laden is an important success not only for the United States, but the entire world. Our efforts to combat terrorism, however, do not fixate on one individual, and we remain completely focused on protecting our nation against violent extremism of all kinds. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but the Department of Homeland Security does not intend to issue an NTAS alert at this time. I have been clear since announcing NTAS in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public. However, our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond. I commend the President and offer my gratitude to the men and women who defend and protect our nation at home and abroad, whether they wear a military or law enforcement uniform or serve as one of thousands of unsung heroes in the intelligence and homeland security community. It is true that we are stronger and safer than we were on 9/11 - not only because Osama bin Laden is dead, but because of the unflagging dedication and hard work of so many people throughout the world committed to freedom and security.</blockquote>

  • Leon Panetta

    <blockquote>Today, we have rid the world of the most infamous terrorist of our time. A US strike team stormed a compound in Abottabad, Pakistan and killed Usama Bin Ladin. Thankfully, no Americans were lost, and every effort was taken to avoid civilian casualties. Nothing will ever compensate for the pain and suffering inflicted by this mass murderer and his henchmen. But just as evil never rests, neither does good. May the fact that Usama Bin Ladin no longer inhabits the earth be a source of comfort for the thousands of families, here in America and around the globe, who mourn the victims of al-Qa'ida's barbarity. Within our Agency family, our thoughts turn to those who died fighting to make this day possible. Our brothers and sisters who gave their lives in the war against al-Qa'ida--from Mike Spann to our heroes at Khowst--are with us, in memory and spirit, at this joyful moment. In all that we do, they are our constant inspiration.</blockquote> Read the full statement <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/dispatch/2011/05/02/cia-director-panettas-statement-on-bin-laden-death/?mod=google_news_blog" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

    <blockquote>"Osama bin Laden is dead, killed in a targeted U.S. operation authorized by President Obama. This is the most significant victory in our fight against al-Qaida and terrorism, but that fight is not over. We will continue to support our troops and the American civilians who are fighting every day to protect our homeland. Nine-and-a-half years ago, Osama bin Laden masterminded the horrific attacks against the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people. As we remember those who were killed on that dark day in September and their families, we also reaffirm our resolve to defeat the terrorist forces that killed them and thousands of others across the globe. Because of courageous Americans in our military and intelligence community, their leader is now gone."</blockquote>

  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

    <blockquote>"The death of Osama bin Laden marks the most significant development in our fight against al-Qaida. I salute President Obama, his national security team, Director Panetta, our men and women in the intelligence community and military, and other nations who supported this effort for their leadership in achieving this major accomplishment. It is a testament to the professionalism of our dedicated national security professionals that no American lives were lost in this operation. "As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope that today's action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores. "Though the death of Osama bin Laden is historic, it does not diminish our relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country." </blockquote>

  • Former 9/11 Commissioners Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton

    Former 9/11 Commission Chair and Vice Chair Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, now co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG), released the following statement today regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, who was responsible for masterminding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: "We commend the brave men and women of both the United States intelligence community and the U.S. military for the successful completion of one of our top national priorities: the elimination of the world's most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. "In the wake of the horrific attacks of September 11th, the 9/11 Commission was charged with recommending a set of reforms to improve American counterterrorism intelligence capabilities. As a result of these reforms, there is much closer collaboration between intelligence and military components of the federal government and with state and local law enforcement. "And while the elimination of Bin Laden is an historic achievement for the intelligence community, the U.S. military and President Obama's administration, we cannot let our guard down, given the increasingly diverse and decentralized terrorist threat that continues to exist around the world. We must continue to be vigilant and ensure the success of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the ongoing battle against terrorist networks both at home and abroad. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, and while we know their sense of loss will never go away, we hope that this event will bring them some comfort in the knowledge that justice has been served."

  • Jon Huntsman

    <blockquote>"This is a proud moment for all Americans. Our success in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice is a tribute to our entire intelligence and military infrastructure. I applaud the president's handling of the mission. In Utah, the hardest part of my job was presiding over the funerals of our brave National Guard soldiers. This is a reminder that the lives that have been lost fighting the War on Terror were not lost in vain. We are so grateful for their sacrifice and for the service of all our young men and women in the armed forces."</blockquote>

  • Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)

    <blockquote>"At this time, we remember the deaths and injuries that resulted from bin Laden's vicious attacks on our embassies, ships, planes and the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the many thousands of deaths caused by the havoc he sowed. Our hearts once again go out to all the families affected. "Today, America's military and intelligence services demonstrated why they remain the best in the world. Osama bin Laden's removal will not immediately end the threat of terrorism against the United States, but his death represents a crippling blow to the organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I congratulate President Obama and the dedicated and brave members of our military and our intelligence services for acting to eliminate this threat to the American people. "The length of time this has taken to accomplish--more than 13 years since the embassy bombings--reminds us that military and paramilitary operations have limitations and the fight against terrorism requires a multifaceted approach and reminds us that we must develop as much international cooperation as possible to defeat it."</blockquote>

  • Herman Cain

    <blockquote>As Americans, we mark this occasion with a somber sense of satisfaction for the families, friends and loved ones who still suffer the pain of irreplaceable loss of life. Justice has been served. We all owe a deep and abiding gratitude to the men and women in uniform and throughout our intelligence agencies for placing themselves in harm's way to protect our way of life, while defending the honor and memory of their fellow citizens. Although eradicating terrorism and those that would carry out its cowardly and despicable ends is far from over, we pause at this time to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001 and pray that those lost on that day know they are far from forgotten by their country. For them and for America's future, we remain ever vigilant.</blockquote>

  • Stanley McChrystal

    The AP <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/02/stanley-mcchrystal-osama-bin-laden_n_856571.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>: <blockquote>The raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan took extraordinary courage not only from the service members who carried it out, but from the "decision makers" behind the operation, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Monday. "Think of what would have happened if the mission had not been successful, and all of the second-guessing that would have happened," Ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told a meeting of the American Iron and Steel Institute in Colorado Springs. "This mission sends a message about our will to stand up for what is right." McChrystal was removed last summer as U.S. commander in Afghanistan after he was quoted in a Rolling Stone magazine profile as criticizing the Obama administration. A Pentagon inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing last month. The magazine has said it stands by its story. McChrystal said Bin Laden's death shows al-Qaida is vulnerable, but he added parts of al-Qaida will use the raid as a "cause to go after something." He also warned against the "temptation to think who is next to kill." "You can't kill everybody, and it becomes a never-ending" cycle of retaliation, he said in remarks reported by The Gazette of Colorado Springs. McChrystal emphasized he was not aware of any details of the raid. He did describe the extensive planning needed for similar operations. "You pull together a story on what the target needs to live, the security and privacy needs, and use that in your planning. In this case, it took almost a decade to put it all together," McChrystal said.</blockquote>

  • Karl Rove

    Karl Rove <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/05/02/karl-rove-bin-ladens-death-president-obamas-challenge-explain-war-terror-far/" target="_hplink">reacted</a> to the death of Osama bin Laden in an opinion piece published by Fox News online on Monday. <blockquote>What grand words to bookend a long and dangerous effort. On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush said "whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." Last night, President Barack Obama proclaimed, "Justice has been done." Usama bin Laden is dead. Much credit goes to our Navy SEALs, armed forces, CIA operatives, and the intelligence community. They proved again they are the best in the world at what they do.</blockquote> Rove congratulated President Barack Obama, as well as his predecessor George W. Bush, whose policies he said "provided the tools that led to the discovery of Bin Laden's hiding place." He suggested that the next challenge that awaits Obama is explaining to Americans that the War on Terror is far from over. <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/05/02/karl-rove-bin-ladens-death-president-obamas-challenge-explain-war-terror-far/" target="_hplink">Click here</a> to read more.