Kerry, Rumsfeld on Face the Nation this week

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John Kerry and Donald Rumsfeld
CBS/AP

This week's guests on "Face the Nation" are Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

This could be the week that marked the beginning of the end of the war on terror. The killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden closes one of the most perplexing chapters of recent history.

Like "Who was Deep Throat" during Watergate, "where was Osama" was THE question on the minds of Americans after the attacks of 9/11. Nearly 10 years of fighting the war in Afghanistan didn't find him there and terrorism experts in and outside government offered varying opinions on where the terror mastermind was hiding.

The threat from al Qaeda and bin Laden's whereabouts had been quite an issue on Face the Nation over the last decade. The Sunday after the 9/11 attacks, Bob Schieffer asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to explain al Qaeda.

"Consider Al-Qaeda as something of a large holding company. And the head of that holding company is Osama bin Laden," said Powell on September 16, 2001.

A week later, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was on the program.

"The Taliban now says that Osama bin Laden, they're seeking him to see if they can issue the request to tell him to leave. But they also say they don't know where he is. Should we take them at their word?" asked Schieffer.

"Of course not. They know where he is," replied Rumsfeld on September 23.

CBSNews.com special report: The killing of Osama bin Laden

A few months later, Rumsfeld was in the studio again.

"You are aware as we are of these reports now being published that Osama bin Laden may be alive and living somewhere along the Pakistani border. What can you tell us?" asked Schieffer.

"Not much," said Rumsfeld in February, 2002. "What we do know is there has not been any recent evidence that he is alive. That does not mean he's not alive. It simply means that we don't have evidence that he is or isn't."

Senator Kerry, now the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, was also a guest on Face the Nation on September 23, 2001. He said that day that getting Americans to live their lives and to keep the economy moving was incredibly important in the U.S. response to the attacks.

"If you want to do an act of patriotism, if you were going to buy a car, go out and buy that car. If you were going to do some trip, go do that trip. It is safer to fly today in the United States than it has been in a long time...Americans must get on the with business of being American," he said.

Kerry also made an important point about the role intelligence would play in the decade long war on terror that started with the 9/11 attacks -- intelligence that ultimately led to the killing of bin Laden.

"This is not like any war we have ever fought... and the tragedy is, at the moment, that the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. It's the single most important weapon in this particular war," he said. "And we are the weakest, frankly, in that particular area. So it's going to take us time to be able to build up here to do this properly."

Now that the U.S. intelligence community painstakingly tracked down bin Laden and an elite military unit executed a midnight raid on the compound where he's been hiding for the last few years, what's next? What's next for the war on terrorism? What's next for the War in Afghanistan? Is al Qaeda still a threat and if so, who is their leader?

These are among the issues that many in Washington are discussing. They are the debates at the highest levels of government, and they will be among the issues discussed as Senator Kerry and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Face the Nation this Sunday.

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.