By Mike Lillis - 05/06/11 03:49 PM EDT
The first Iraq war veteran to join Congress after 9/11 said Friday that the killing of Osama bin Laden has done nothing to make U.S. troops safer overseas.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said America's enemies won't fade away simply because the al Qaeda leader is dead.
“I don't think we are any safer,” Hunter said on the CBS "Early Show." “This gave us a big symbolic victory, [and] it's great to have it. But … I don't think that there are not going to be suicide attacks now just because bin Laden’s dead.”
“The world is safer,” Obama said Monday from the White House. “It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”
But Obama has also warned that the development does not signal the end of America’s war against terrorism — a sentiment echoed by leaders in Congress.
“I don't know how much of an impact the death of Osama bin Laden had. He’s a person, he’s a symbol, it’s a historic event,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “But it isn't an end to the threats to our national security.”
Washington is also abuzz this week over the White House’s decision not to release the photos of the deceased bin Laden. A number of intelligence officials and congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced support for that move, arguing that their release could inflame tensions and endanger Americans worldwide.
“If it even endangers one military life, one intelligence officer overseas, then the president is right to make that decision,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told CBS Friday morning.
But Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, disagreed. He's urging Obama to go public with the photos, arguing they would bring closure to both the troops and the families of 9/11 victims. Such a move, Hunter added, would not make Americans less safe, either at home or abroad.
“We're already in as much danger as we're going to be in,” Hunter said. “It's not like the extremist Muslim radicals are going to all of a sudden say, ‘We aren't going to go suicide bombing today because they did not release those photos.’
“We should not curb our First Amendment rights because of what some crazy people might do,” he said.