Kirk says release a bin Laden photo

 
 
Updated 5/2/2011 9:45 PM
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  • JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com, file photoU.S. Sen. Mark Kirk called bin Laden's assassination "an intelligence triumph" during a news conference Monday.

    JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com, file photoU.S. Sen. Mark Kirk called bin Laden's assassination "an intelligence triumph" during a news conference Monday.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk supported Osama bin Laden's burial at sea, and he said the White House owed Americans and the foreign media some proof he was dead.

"They should release a photo or two," said Kirk on Monday at a news conference at O'Hare. "While grisly, it will confirm he's dead. The media is rough in the Islamic world."

Kirk also called bin Laden's assassination "an intelligence triumph."

"I'm proud of what the U.S. Navy was able to do," said Kirk, who learned of the mass murderer's death on his way back from a trip to Somalia. "Talk about unsung heroes."

Kirk wasn't surprised that bin Laden was finally located in Pakistan, but was a little shocked to hear he was in a $1 million house near a military compound in Abbottabad.

"He had support in some tribal areas (of Pakistan) but this was not in a tribal area," Kirk said.

As a naval intelligence officer, Kirk knew the intimate details of the decade-long manhunt all too well. He was stationed in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, at a breakfast with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

A staffer came into the room with a Post-it note, Kirk said, that a twin-engine aircraft had hit the World Trade Center.

"We thought it was a crazy pilot or a navigation error at first," said Kirk during an interview earlier on Monday.

But minutes later, a staffer came in with a second note for Rumsfeld.

"Already someone had mentioned bin Laden, that he had (been responsible for blowing up) embassies in Tanzania and Kenya," Kirk said.

Kirk noted he spent the last week with special operations warriors focused on the Horn of Africa.

"All of the friends were emailing and talking about details of the mission," he said.

Kirk said his immediate reaction to bin Laden's death was "pride in the U.S. military."

"This is a cultural event for the U.S.," he said, noting 9/11 is "the political memory for an entire generation of young Americans, with pride in their country. They want to remember how their parents reacted and how their schools reacted."

Along with the U.S. military, Kirk called bin Laden's death an "achievement for the president, the diplomatic and intelligence community. There's nothing like success," he said.

Still, Kirk said, the job isn't done.

Al-Qaida's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Kirk, reiterated, "is still alive tonight."