Former USS Cole Commander Kirk Lippold expressed reserved jubilation at the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by CIA-guided Navy SEALs.
“I am absolutely thrilled that he is dead,” Lippold said. “It definitely demonstrates that the United States is going to be relentless in its pursuit of those who attack the United States.”
Bin Laden directed the suicide bombing of Lippold’s ship in 2000. The explosion killed 17 and injured 39 sailors. Al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole is considered the deadliest attack on an American vessel since the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark in 1987.
Despite his relief that bin Laden was brought to justice, Lippold told TheDC that his thoughts remain with those who died in Al Qaeda attacks.
“I still lost 17 of my sailors, thousands of Americans are dead,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers also need to be with those families who are also I am sure feeling satisfaction today, but also a giant hole in their hearts.”
Lippold added Americans need to stay vigilant as Al Qaeda still remains dangerous.
“While bin Laden maybe dead, the threat that is represented by Al Qaeda and those that still believe that terrorism is a way to influence the world, we must still be on guard as Americans,” he said. “You can see the threat level has been raised throughout the world and people are being told to be very careful, stay in touch with the local embassy, and so there is still a grave threat to Americans worldwide.”
Lippold got political once during the course of his interview with TheDC, saying President Obama’s campaign pledge to close Guantanamo Bay was foolish.
“The thread of intelligence that lead to bin Laden started in Guantanamo Bay. This president has got to come to grips with the fact that Guantanamo Bay must stay open to defend America — and to not keep it open and to not use it as an intelligence gathering entity is irresponsible.”
Other former service members echoed Lippold’s relief. Former Navy SEAL Scott Taylor told TheDC that during this time of victory it is important to remember those lost and those responsible for ensuring the country’s safety.
“As Americans we must stand behind those brave men and women in harms way who protect us while we sleep at night,” Taylor said. “We must never forget those who selflessly paid the ultimate sacrifice, ensuring our way of life. While this act does not right the wrongs committed, those families who have given so much for this country can proudly stand with some peace knowing, in the end, justice came with an impact of an American bullet. Hooyah!”