President Barack Obama officially announced Sunday that American assets had killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Obama made the announcement Sunday night from the East Wing of the White House in a nationally televised address. Many Americans expressed their opinions on social media.
Following the speech, survey participants holding varying political opinions and affiliations responded to a five-question survey about the president’s speech. The open-ended interview questions were formulated and administered by the reporter in survey format.
“Images of 9-11 are seared into our national memory,” said the president, initially reminding viewers about the tragedy that spurred the war in Afghanistan and the manhunt for bin Laden.
The president remembered “nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.”
Obama specifically divulged his direct involvement in the capture of bin Laden and revealed that he had been attending secret national security meetings regarding the capture of bin Laden.
“I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action,” Obama said. “The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Obama also mentioned that former President George W. Bush asserted the same.
Diane Jackson of New Jersey said she was “very glad to see him mention — not being at war with Muslims — we’re against terrorists and their affiliates.”
The president also made note of security in light of bin Laden’s death. “We must, and we will, remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
Several survey participants expressed concern over national security following bin Laden’s death. Randy Inman of North Carolina stated that he was “glad but worried about it causing more attacks.”
For Sherri Thornhill of Texas, the news was cathartic.
“I’ve told people for years that Osama bin Laden was the only person I held hate in my heart for, and now he is gone and I can let the hate go,” she said.
Some survey respondents also indicated that the president may have kept his reelection in mind during his speech.
“It felt like he was using this as a platform for reelection,” said Tracy DeLuca of Mississippi.
Emma Riley Sutton of Oklahoma felt that Obama “didn’t give enough credit to President Bush. I was surprised he took credit for this. Obama wanted to pull troops. “
Chuck Conlow of Nevada “liked his inclusion of President Bush, Director Panetta and Pakistani counterparts” in the speech.
“I was not a fan of the ‘God’ language at the end,” said Joann C. of Pennsylvania. “I didn’t think that was appropriate given that the decision to assassinate bin Laden was based on terrorism and not religion.”
“The president gave a very measured speech which took a very somber, yet congratulatory tone,” said James C. Wallace of Indiana.
“He was able to encapsulate the feeling pride of Americans nationwide in exacting a measure of justice against an evil terrorist,” Wallace commented. “Overall, I felt a measure of pride myself in his words and with our men and women service members who played a role in this long journey.”
Fred Hirsch of New Jersey was “relieved” to learn that bin Laden was dead and expressed gratefulness for part of Obama’s speech.
“I loved the fact that he assured us not a single soldier was hurt,” Hirsch said.
Tierra Jolly of Louisiana felt that the ” speech was appropriate. He wasn’t gleeful, which was a relief.”
However, Jolly expressed concerns over many Americans’ reactions over the death of bin Laden.
“Any time a human being is killed, it makes me sad, whether they deserved it or not. I am really uncomfortable at the widespread, apparently socially acceptable rejoicing over the death of another person,” Jolly said, also citing a large amount of Facebook and Twitter jokes and other messages expressing joy over bin Laden’s death.