What was your first reaction to the news?
Relief. Nobody knew why the President was going to be addressing the country. You imagined maybe a possible terrorist attack. Then there was a sense of satisfaction, then a sense of revenge.
So how much does revenge play into people's feelings about the killing of bin Laden?
People are human. When you take away their loved ones in a brutal way like that, the person who did it is someone you want to see you want to see vengeance, you want to see retaliation, you want to see satisfaction. Those are all raw, human emotions. And having lived through Sept. 11, you either have all of those emotions, or you're living in denial.
Does it bring closure?
I don't know that it brings closure to people who lost their husband or father, but it helps.
You famously said to George W. Bush, "When we catch him, let's bring him here and execute him." Looking back, do you think that would have just turned into a circus?
I didn't say "bring him back." I said, "When you get him, let me execute him." I would have gone anywhere to execute him at that point. That was four days after some of my good friends were killed. The anger was really raw.
It seems like bringing him back alive, burying him on land that all would have created problems for the U.S.
Absolutely. And no matter what you do, some people aren't going to believe he is dead. You could bring his body back and display it for a million to see, and there would still be a million who don't believe he's dead. I think I would have made the same decision President Obama made.
I believe President Obama called Bush right before the announcement.
Sure. If you're the person making this decision, then you know that a lot of the raw material you got is from the prior Administration. This is one of those rare times where two Presidents really share in the outcome.
Obama did say that this is a victory for bipartisanship.
I lived through this before! I was naive enough to think it would continue after Sept. 11. That lasted for about four, five, six months. It lasted until everyone realized that congressional elections were coming up and they better start dividing over things. But the good thing is, we know that when we have to, we can come together.
I know you don't want to talk about this, but how does this affect the field of play in 2012?
It puts a plus in the President's column. But American elections get decided on the economy. This is still going to come to what kind of shape America is in June of 2012.
Could there be an economic boost to getting rid of bin Laden?
I think so. There is a boost in confidence. That means people invest more, they invest more in the United States. America flexed its muscles. The President didn't do it for that purpose, but that really helps the economy.
You were at Ground Zero on May 2. What do you remember?
Looking up and not seeing the Twin Towers there. There was a real sense of satisfaction about bin Laden being caught. Then you realize that the damage he did was permanent. Those towers aren't there anymore. They're never going to be there again.