Terrorism experts: U.S. safer with bin Laden dead, but not safe
(CBS News) With Tuesday being the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, four terrorism experts said on "Face the Nation" that the United States is safer today in a post-bin Laden world.
"We're readily much, much, much safer," said journalist Peter Bergen, whose new book on the search of bin Laden, "Manhunt," will be released Tuesday.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius agrees: "The fact that he's gone and his core al Qaeda leadership is so badly battered, I think does make us safer."
However, Bergen offers this perspective: "Seventeen Americans have been killed by Al Qaeda or people influenced by its ideas since 9/11. More Americans die in their bathtubs by significant amounts, by accidental drowning. We don't have a fear of accidental bathtub drowning."
However, Graham Allison, journalist who wrote Time Magazine's cover story on the hunt for bin Laden, said that although the U.S. is now safer, threats do exist.
"While al Qaeda is near strategic defeat, the idea that the U.S. in not vulnerable to major attacks in the future is unfortunately wrong," Allison said.
CBS News correspondent John Miller said the nature of al Qaeda is changing.
"We're seeing through the homegrown extremists it might not be al Qaeda's front office, but the message is getting out and we do see those plots every year against U.S. soil," Miller told host Bob Schieffer.
Ignatius, who has read some of the documents the U.S. obtained from bin Laden's compound, said the terror group's leader knew some aspects of his organization failed.
"If you read these documents you find a bin Laden who was deeply upset by mistakes that his affiliates had made in killing too many Muslims, to the point that in one document he ruminates about rebranding the organization, dropping the name al Qaeda altogether. So he knew before he died the extent of that military failure," Ignatius said.
However, the Washington Post journalist said the ideas of al Qaeda are stronger than the organization. "Bin Laden's violent dreams of jihad probably died with him, but the idea of purifying the Muslim world of Western influence, of getting what he called apostate leaders like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt out of their jobs, that's actually happened," Ignatius said.
Allison said the decision to approve the attack on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan is "an amazing story," where "one twist and turn is more amazing than the next." Allison said President Obama made "one of the toughest calls he's seen."
Graham added that Vice President Joe Biden had advised Mr. Obama against the risky mission. "If Biden had been president, Osama bin Laden would be alive today," Graham said.
- Leigh Ann Caldwell
Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
- Gates knocks "cartoonish" Benghazi criticism
- "Face the Nation" Sunday, May 19
- Maya Angelou recalls her childhood on Mother's Day
- Official: We knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack "from the get-go"
- "The witch hunt continues" on Benghazi, Durbin says
- May 12: Gates, Pickering, Ayotte, Durbin & Angelou
- Face the Nation: Local Listings
- Face the Nation transcripts May 12, 2013: Gates, Pickering, Ayotte, Durbin, and Angelou
- Pickering: Wasn't "necessary" to question Clinton in Benghazi report
- "Face the Nation" transcripts, September 16, 2012
- Face the facts: A fact check on gas prices
- Attkisson discusses "allegations of a coverup" on Benghazi
- Direct U.S. military involvement in Syria "would be a mistake," says Gates
- Roberts switched views to uphold health care law
- All administrations secretive, manipulative of press