Chasing a long story to its finality

Osama Bin Laden Killed
In this file image, Osama Bin Laden, the al Qaida leader, appears on this layout for an FBI poster after he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in June 1999, in connection with the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. A person familiar with developments said Sunday, May 1, 2011 that bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has the body. (AP Photo/FBI, File)
AP/FBI

This month we begin my 21st year as the moderator of "Face the Nation," and as I was looking over our broadcasts for the past ten years, I was struck by just how much time we have devoted to 9/11 and its aftermath.

From that Sunday when we heard these chilling words from the president, "We are at war," we have devoted more time to this story and its aftermath than any other single story.

We spent about 50% of our time on this one.

The Bush Administration told us early on what was coming: "We are coming, I think, to the end of the diplomatic phase, if you will," said Vice President Dick Cheney.

We saw a buildup of American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, the ins and outs of policy, the things we did right and the things we did wrong.

We never found Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

But we found the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein.

For most of that 10 years, Osama bin Laden alluded us.

"We don't know where he is," admitted Condoleezza Rice, "but we do know one thing: We know he is on the run."

Washington argued over policy. Sen. John McCain said, "We should be prepared to do whatever is necessary." And in the end, we did.

Through two administrations we pursued Osama bin Laden and finally last week we got him.

Does that mean the "war on terror" is over?

Most certainly not, but the terrorists of the world have been dealt a mortal blow, and they have learned again what is - and has always been - our core strength: We never give up.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.