Obama: No "Excessive Celebration" Of bin Laden's Death

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS News) President Obama responded on Monday to criticism that he is engaged in a "despicable" "politicization" of the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying "I hardly think you've seen any excessive celebration taking place here."

"I think that people, the American people rightly remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3000 of our citizens," he said. "And it's a mark of the excellence of our intelligence teams and our military teams, a political process that worked. And I think for us to use that time for some reflection, to give thanks to those who participated, is entirely appropriate and that's what's been taking place."

Mr. Obama has come under fire from John McCain, Arianna Huffington and others for a video released on Friday in which former President Bill Clinton was shown lauding Mr. Obama for deciding to approve the mission to go after the terrorist leader.

"Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" the ad asks, before pointing to an April 2007 comment from Romney in which he said of bin Laden, "It's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

Speaking during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Mr. Obama said Monday afternoon that people should "take a look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden."

"I assume that people meant what they said when they said it," he continued. "That's been at least my practice. I said that I would go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, I'd go ahead and let them explain it."

Asked Monday if he would have authorized the mission Monday, Romney said, "of course."

"Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," he added. Romney is set to mark bin Laden's death tomorrow in New York City, accompanied by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Obama has taped an interview to coincide with the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death which is set to air tomorrow. The interview, set in the White House Situation Room, is part of an effort to "present the definitive account of what took place leading-up to and during the tension-filled hours of the mission targeting Osama bin Laden," according to a release from NBC News.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama was mocked as naive by McCain and then-rival Hillary Clinton for stating that "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [then-Pakistani leader] President Musharraf will not act, we will."

In 2007, Romney said he does "not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours...I don't think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort."

That same year, Romney was asked about "moving heaven and earth" to get bin Laden during a debate.

"We'll move everything to get him," he replied. "But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person -- Osama bin Laden -- because after we get him, there's going to be another and another."

"It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die," Romney added.


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