Return to Transcripts main page


Bin Laden Killed

Aired May 2, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, reporting live from Ground Zero on an historic day, a day when America got its mojo back with the death of bin Laden.

Let me show you some of the headlines. Well, this one says it all from "Newsday": "Dead." "Daily News," "Rot in Hell." And my favorite, "The New York Post," "Got Him! Vengeance at Last. The U.S. Nails the Bastard." I don`t know if I can say "bastard" on TV, but I just did. And I think this sums up the feelings.

But I will say with one caveat, it`s really not about vengeance for most of the people who have come here to Ground Zero at this juncture. It`s really about justice. There is a sense that justice has been served.

We waited almost a decade, a decade that many described as terrible. We lived through terrorism and war and a recession on par with the Great Depression. And now, finally, a turning point. I feel a psychic shift here at Ground Zero. I feel electricity in the air.

Let`s check out some of the highlights in and around the announcement of the death of bin Laden.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.





HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Osama bin Laden is dead, and justice has been done.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Those were the celebrations. Now let`s go to the situation in Pakistan. We`ve got exclusive footage, courtesy of ABC News. It`s only 15 seconds, so look at it very closely. It shows the bin Laden compound. It shows a bed. It shows blood.

We have not seen a photo documenting bin Laden`s death, and we`re going to debate that coming up a little bit later here on ISSUES, but you are seeing this video.

We`re also going to be showing you some amateur video of the compound that was shot in the wake of the raid.

Now I want to bring in an expert and one of my heroes, frankly, to talk about this raid, ABC News correspondent Ashleigh Banfield.

Thank you so much for joining us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I say you`re one of my heroes, because when 9/11 hit on that day, I turned on the TV and I saw you in the rubble around here, your face covered with soot. You risked your life to heroically report on what was happening at Ground Zero. So I want to ask you, how do you feel? How did you get the news that bin Laden was dead, and what was your emotional reaction?

BANFIELD: You know, the ABC BlackBerry, for starters. We were on it very quickly. And that exclusive video that we obtained in Pakistan was pretty spectacular stuff.

But I have to say, it was very bittersweet, because in the last ten years, a lot of people have died in the effort to fight this war on terror. So while it was jubilation because the ultimate goal may have been reached, there`s been a lot of work to do, and a lot of people are still very sad, especially all the family members, the people who lost loved ones here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s bittersweet. And I`ve got a gentleman right behind the camera who was one of the first responders, a Teamsters member who`s walking around with a big American flag. We`re going to talk to him in a little bit.

I want to ask you, though, how did the United States military pull off this surgical strike? Tell us what you know.

BANFIELD: It`s pretty incredible. It was a lot of years in the making. Don`t just think it was one operation. They built this intelligence for half a decade.

And they followed the courier, because bin Laden need couriers. So they followed the lead of the courier. They identified a compound that was far bigger than anything else in this community in Abbottabad, not far from Islamabad. And they did it under cover of darkness. Two Chinooks, two Black Hawks. Black Hawk helicopters came in under cover of darkness. The Chinooks stayed back as support. The Black Hawk came in. One was damaged because it malfunctioned.

The other did land in the compound, and about 24 of the elite SEAL team -- SEAL Team 6, by the way, most elite members that there are, hand picked, made their way into the compound. They had practiced this -- they had practiced this in a compound that they had built in Afghanistan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is incredible when I found that out. That was one of the most incredible things, when I learned that the United States built a replica of this compound...

BANFIELD: They did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... so they could practice this raid in secret. And we`re going to talk a little bit about -- in a while about why didn`t they know this sooner? This compound has been around for five years. It has 18-foot walls surrounded with barbed wire. It has all the signs, practically screaming, "Terrorist resides here."

BANFIELD: Or a very wealthy person who`s a smuggler. That`s what some people said.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really? OK. Well, we`re going to get to that in a second.

BANFIELD: And who knows if he was there the whole time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, sure. That`s for sure. There`s a lot of unanswered questions. I mean, it`s total jubilation, and hats off to the U.S. military. But there are many, many unanswered questions.

I want to go now to the reaction outside the White House as word spread that bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. Check this out.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: And while I`m here at Ground Zero, I do want to take a second to step outside and show you some of the people gathered here. You really don`t even get a sense of just how many thousands of people are converging here from surrounding states and all over the city of New York. People waving flags, buying flags, with T-shirts that say, "We got him." It`s really a sense of jubilation.

And I would say the final actual shock and awe. We heard that phrase used in the context of war. But I really feel it`s more appropriate for this surgical strike which was absolutely unbelievable.

I want to go now to a woman who really lost so much, indescribable, in the 9/11 attack, Pat Waugh. Her daughter, Sandy, was a flight attendant on United Flight 93 that, as we all know, slammed into the field in Pennsylvania. But it was the heroism of the crew and the passengers on that plane that prevented a worse catastrophe. And Sandy was one of the flight attendants, and look at that beautiful young woman. She lost her life.

And, of course, those flight attendants and the passengers aboard that flight coined the famous phrase, "Let`s roll," when they confronted the terrorists.

So, Pat, I want to get the reaction from you. What are the emotions coursing through your body as you learn bin Laden is dead?

PAT WAUGH, DAUGHTER DIED ON UNITED FLIGHT 93 (via phone): We were happy to hear this. We wanted this for a long time. We`ve waited for this. And, you know, this was a good thing for us. It`s, you know, like a little closure to part of this -- you know, all of these happenings. So it -- it was something we were glad to hear.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you glad that it was a kill mission, that they killed him? Or would you have preferred that they took him live and bring him back for trial?

WAUGH: Well, I prefer that it ended the way it did, because having to deal with -- you know, hearing about the trial, all the years it would have gone and all of that, it would have been more heartbreak for us and more emotions. So I prefer it to be this way. This, to me, is the best way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is absolutely the popular opinion down here at Ground Zero. I`ve been talking to people all day long and everybody, without exception, has said it`s a great thing that it was a kill mission. We didn`t want to go through what we went through with some of the other terrorists that were captured, and the long drawn out struggle as to where and how to try them and Guantanamo and the rest of it. They feel this was a simple -- simple decision.

And now you`ve got to check this out. Let`s go to the west boy cadets and hear how they learned that bin Laden is dead and their reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention all cadets, attention all cadets. Osama bin Laden is dead. We got him.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist, a dear friend of mine, and she was one of the first responders down here for mental health for the survivors. She was here at 9/11, counseling and comforting those who had either lost loved ones or who had almost lost their lives.

That day, I know, is seared in your memory, Dr. Judy. Do you feel that this is the healing moment that we`ve all waited for? Is it enough?

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, it`s definitely a healing moment, Jane. There`s no question about that, because the team won! We`ve been vindicated. We found the guy who`s the evil monster who created all this pain, but it is not enough by any means.

There`s lots of grieving that is going to go on, and a lot of this has sparked more of the memory and the grieving and even the frustrations that more can happen, that there can be retaliation. I feel that myself.

I mean, I went through it, as you said, and I was the first responder there. I went around the very pit that you are standing near, the Ground Zero. As mental health workers, we circled the pit. We handed out water. We handed out gloves, because it got cold on some of those nights well into October after that event.

And the pain was so great after every anniversary, Jane. I was there all the time. Some people wanted it to just go away. I`ve spoken to lots of firemen and first -- other first responders who say, "I can`t deal with it anymore." I go up to the Mt. Sinai Program now and -- because of health problems that so many people suffer. Some don`t want to hear about it.

But this has brought up the feelings, and it`s important to heal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you, Dr. Judy.

Up next, we are going to ponder the question, should they release the photos of the deceased bin Laden? Will it do more good or will it do more harm? Will it be inflammatory or will it be closure? Stay with us. We are reporting live from Ground Zero on this historic turning point night.


JACK JOYCE, BATTALION CHIEF, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: A lot of emotion. It`s up and down. We`re happy that he`s dead. You know, and I`m going to bring it back, ten years of memories for these families have that have lost their son, their husband, a father, and a lot of empty chairs.




PAT HENNESSEY, BROTHER KILLED ON 9/11: The initial reaction was, I was almost flabbergasted and then exhilarated. And I -- I was kind of surprised that I would be so happy to see somebody killed. But I`m sure that he would be again pleased that nobody gave up, that mainly nobody forgot those 3,000 people that died that day.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, reporting live from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. And I just learned that President Obama is going to come here to Ground Zero on Thursday to meet with the relatives of those who died. Remember, almost 3,000 people lost their lives on 9/11, and the decade since has been a truly challenging and often horrific one.

I want to take a look at the compound where all of this went down. Now, apparently, this compound has been around for about five years, and it has 18-foot walls surrounded by barbed wire. On top of that, the residents burned their trash regularly, and even though the compound was worth about $1 million, they had no telephone or Internet service. To me, that absolutely screams that a terrorist lives here.

But nevertheless, John Avlon, CNN contributor, they didn`t figure it out until just recently, and I`m not in any way casting aspersions on our intelligence. I think what has been done is fantastic. But people are asking, what took so long?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sure, but 20/20 hindsight. The big thing is the intelligence service got this right. They got this right. They found him after ten years of intense searching and no success. So the first thing is, huge success for our military and our intelligence services.

There is going to be a whole sort of inquisition into why did this take so long? Could this have been done earlier? And those are appropriate questions to ask. The fact that this compound was less than a mile away from the West Point of Pakistan raises enormous questions about our relationship with Pakistan. Those questions all need to be answered.

But today I think it`s all about credit to the military and the intelligence services for getting this one right, making America proud, and bringing us justice, finally, after ten long years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Here`s another big question. Should they release photos of the dead body?

I want to go to my panel of experts and sort of get a little round table, starting with Rod Wheeler, former D.C. homicide detective and training officer. Is it going to do more harm or more good to release the photo of bin Laden`s body?

ROD WHEELER, FORMER D.C. HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: You know, Jane, that`s an excellent question. As a matter of fact, a lot of people have been pondering that today. And as a matter of fact, there`s also already some photos going around on the Internet showing what appears to be bin Laden after the fact.

Now, I`m not so sure from a law enforcement perspective, a military perspective, what good, Jane, that would do to release the photos of the dead individuals. You know, we in the United States, we know that we got this guy. It`s what we intended to do. Although we also know that the war on terrorism is not over, and we have to be cautious not to insight other individuals by showing the photos of the dead if there`s really no good reason to do that, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Steve Moore, former FBI agent, you were in Pakistan during the 9/11 attacks. I want to ask you: there are people here, while jubilant, while very happy, while very patriotic, that are wondering, well, did Pakistan know apparently this compound is a stone`s throw from Pakistan`s version of the West Point. And there are military people, Pakistani military living all around there. So a lot of people skeptical, saying, "Well, they probably knew." Your response?

STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI AGENT: It`s possible that somebody there knew. I think if anybody knew at all, it would be the ISID or the ISI, which is their version of the CIA.

Remember that you`re not dealing with a -- a monolithic organization when you`re dealing with the ISI. You`re dealing with people who may or may not support their current president, may or may not support right-wing Islam. And so you have people within ISI who are fighting other people within ISI. We get information from ISI one day and get completely different information the next day. That`s just the way things are in Pakistan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I`m going to talk in a second to this gentleman who is one of the heroes. He came here with an American flag, a ginormous American flag. He was one of the first responders. And we`re going to talk with him next. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that finally some vindication has been done. There`s still a lot more to be done. We know that. The threat is still not over. We all know that. But at least this is a big step.

I came all the way up from Woodbridge as soon as I heard. I had to be here. This is where I had to be tonight. I had to bring my son with me so we could share this time together.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the Pentagon, everybody had their flags and everybody loved us. And I feel that again. And it`s like reminiscent of the honor that I felt. You know, when September 11 happened after, all the bad stuff comes the resilience of the American public. And I`m just -- I`m excited to be here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got some fascinating breaking news just in. A photograph of the president of the United States as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden all completely mesmerized by a feed, a live feed of the surgical strike on bin Laden`s compound.

And they hedged a little bit as to whether they were watching a live video feed or perhaps hearing a live feed. But you can see from the expression of the secretary of state particularly, that this is history going down.

And speaking of history in the making, I want to come out to a very patriotic individual, and his name is Scott McCabe. He was one of the first responders here at 9/11. We`re talking to him because this man brought this huge American flag down here to Ground Zero where we are reporting from live and where President Obama will be visiting Thursday to meet with families of the victims.

And I`ve got to ask you, Scott, when you heard the news, what ran through you?

SCOTT MCCABE, FIRST RESPONDER ON 9/11: I was so excited. It was like a shot of hope that -- for America, because it`s been a rough ten years, you know.


MCCABE: It`s been unbelievable, you know. And I came down here to show respect to all of the people that have passed the last year, and I just wanted -- my country, I want it to go up from here on in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you were actually taking the dirt from Ground Zero in the wake of the World Trade Center collapse, and they put it in your truck and you drove away? That`s your role?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are a hero, my friend. And thank you for coming down and showing your patriotism.

I want to quickly go to Kelly from Iowa. Your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. My first comment is God bless the military. And the Bible says not to celebrate the death of an enemy but to pray for him and all of the lives lost. And also, who will be getting the $25 million reward? Will it be the Navy SEALs or divided for the military?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s an excellent question. Steve Moore, I know you`re former FBI, and you were in Pakistan on 9/11. You know a lot about this. There was a $25 million bounty on bin Laden`s head. Is anybody going to be getting that money, given that it was a military operation?

MOORE: Well, certainly the SEALs would love to split it, but I`m afraid that`s not going to happen. What`s going to -- what`s going to happen is the CIA and the FBI -- or the CIA likely had a source who may get that money. We will never know if that money is paid or to whom, because just knowing who gets that money could be life threatening for them.

But I believe that that`s what will probably happen. There`s likely somebody who actually did the -- did the deed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk security. Are we safer, Americans, or has the danger level just gone up? Stay with us. We`re reporting live from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice. It`s never right for anyone to be murdered, but as an American, it`s a proud day. Except for the soldiers who gave up their lives to keep us safe.






OBAMA: The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not matter who you voted for, what party you`re in. This is a night for everybody in the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called and I said bin Laden is dead and we`re like, all right, cheers.

Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, good-bye


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: And we are here -- we are here live at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. I`m reporting live for you as people have converged from around the Tri-State area and indeed around the country to really celebrate this turning point in history.

And it really isn`t about vengeance exacted. It`s really more about justice served. There is not an ugly mood here of anybody truly happy over the death. This is really that we were attacked and we continue to be threatened -- something we`re reminded of every time we all go to the airport -- and that this was something that needed to happen and was long overdue and that`s where the jubilation comes from.

I`m very honored to have on our show tonight, CNN`s Wolf Blitzer. I call him "The Machine" because every time I look up at television, there is he. He was there on 9/11 reporting for hours on end from Washington, D.C. And first of all, since you were so personally involved having been anchoring the coverage, what was your reaction when you heard bin Laden was killed?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, originally it was just my suspicion. I was in my kitchen when I got a call from CNN saying the President was going to be in the East Room at the White House at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday night and would make a ten-minute address to the nation.

Now 10:30 on a Sunday night, this is extraordinary. I`ve been covering Washington for more than 30 years. And it`s something really, really unusual for the President, for the White House to call a briefing, to a call a statement like this from the President in the East Room.

I began making phone calls, Jane, and I quickly learned it had nothing to do with Libya; it had had nothing to do with Gadhafi. It had everything to do with another part of the world, they wouldn`t tell me what. But my initial suspicion was bin Laden is dead.

At that point I rushed to the bureau, I got on the set, and we began reporting the news, obviously. The President didn`t actually come in to the East Room until closer to 11:30, an hour later, but we had learned, based on briefings that White House officials were sharing with members of Congress, word was getting out very quickly bin Laden was dead.

Look, it was sort of eerie for me because when I first suspected that bin Laden had been killed I was standing in my kitchen watching TV, almost exactly at the same spot where I had been almost ten years ago when those planes went into the World Trade Center towers. And I saw what was going on.

Like everyone it was just -- that was a frightening moment, and this was a moment I frankly thought, you know, who knew if it would ever come. Whenever I would go on vacation, Jane -- and you could appreciate this as a journalist -- whenever I would go on vacation I would say, "All right guys. I`m going on vacation, I`m going someplace nice. Don`t call me unless they get bin Laden."

Fortunately, last night, Sunday night, I was not on vacation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you never seem on vacation. As I said, look, every time I look up you are there. You`re really the voice that carries us through all these crises.

I want to ask you about this word that we keep hearing that there might be some kind of tape that bin Laden recorded before his death that might be played. Do you know anything about that? And what about fears of retaliation -- are we getting any kind of buzz that our threat level might need to be increased?

BLITZER: There is apparently some sort of tape that bin Laden may have made years ago that would be released upon his death. They`re calling it almost like one of those martyr`s tape. You know, when a suicide bomber goes out and blows himself up or herself up in a supermarket or on a bus in a crowded populated area, later they release what they call a martyr tape explaining why this individual did that.

So supposedly there is some sort of tape from bin Laden. I don`t know if it`s just audio; if it`s audio and video. I got a lot of tweets from my followers out there on Twitter appealing to CNN, "Don`t air it. You`ll just play into the hands of terrorists;" that there are crazy people out there who will be inspired if they hear from bin Laden.

It will get out there. Others will play it on the Internet and elsewhere. So there probably is this kind of tape and we`ll see what is on it.

As far as retaliatory action by al Qaeda and its splinter groups, the only thing I know Jane, and I`ve spoken to a lot of homeland security types, counter-terrorism types, they are bracing for it. They don`t have any hard evidence that anything is in the works, but they know that bin Laden inspired a lot of supporters out there. And they are worried that someone, perhaps an individual or a group, whether al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in North Africa, al Qaeda in Indonesia, who knows where these various splinter groups, they might do something.

And so they`re worried. They are stepping up their security as a prudent measure which is probably a very smart thing to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: James Ryder, you`re a 9/11 first responder. You`re also a former NYPD patrol man. Certainly New York City is an obvious target. The World Trade Center was attacked once in 1993 and of course, infamously on September 11th. Do you feel that this is an increased threat situation, that let`s say New York City should be taking extraordinary action to make sure that nobody here on the streets of New York where we`re all celebrating is plotting something horrific?

Remember, it was a terrorist who tried to do something at Times Square not so long ago. And luckily the explosives in some kind of vehicle did not detonate but there is always that threat.

JAMES RYDER, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: There is always going to be that threat. That`s just the reality of the life that we are in now. September 11th changed that world forever. I know the NYPD is the greatest police department in the world and they will do all they can do to stop any threats that we get.

Osama bin Laden was a coward and the people around him are cowards and they were stupid enough to follow him but they come to New York and do anything here. We will hunt them down like we hunted him down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring Ashleigh Banfield back because I think there`s a lot of talk -- while there`s a tremendous sense of excitement and jubilation here at Ground Zero from where we`re reporting live, and really around the country, obviously, there`s also kind of a question that why wasn`t this compound spotted sooner? It`s been around for five years and it virtually screams "terrorists live here" because it has 18-foot walls with barbed wire, the residence burned their trash. They had no telephone or Internet service even though it`s a million-dollar place. All the markings of a terrorist lair.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could have been that or it could have been a drug lord. The reality is, that there is some thought that these Pakistanis were not being as helpful to us as they could have been given that we have spent so much money and funneled billions of dollars to their economy and to the fight against terrorism. So there`s going to be a lot of questions being asked about that. Why they didn`t perhaps zero in and help us to direct ourselves there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wolf Blitzer, you`ve obviously been covering this since 9/11. Do you get a sense that there`s a feeling in the administration which did not share its plans for a surgical strike with the Pakistan government that they don`t really trust that, hey, they didn`t know about it all along?

BLITZER: They don`t trust elements of the Pakistani government. Whether the ISI, the intelligence service, or the military, or some of the government leaders. They certainly don`t. They know there are some. They think President Zardari is a good supporter of the U.S. They think for example, the Pakistani ambassador here in Washington, Husain Haqqani is someone whose heart is in the right place and wants to cooperate with the U.S. on the war on terror.

But it`s interesting, it`s intriguing and Ashleigh will certainly appreciate this, they did not share anything with the government of Pakistan at any level before, during, or after the operation until all those U.S. helicopters were out of Pakistani air space and they were out of there. Only then did they tell the Pakistani government, here`s what happened.

They didn`t want to have an incident and they were deeply concerned that if they did say anything to the Pakistanis in advance, the whole operation could have collapsed. Someone would have tipped off bin Laden and he would have escaped as he did at Tora Bora back in 2001 after 9/11.

And so they didn`t trust -- the bottom line, you`re right, Jane. And they didn`t trust the Pakistanis.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and with good reason. I`ve heard that the Pakistan`s version of West Point is literally a stone`s throw away from this compound and this area of Pakistan is where a lot of military families retire, which is absolutely bizarre to me, that all this was going on with these military cadets from Pakistan.

BANFIELD: The community is actually run by the military, believe it or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. So, I mean that`s also a very bad sign. Yes. It really is.

When we come back, and I want to thank Wolf Blitzer for joining us; you really are a fount of information and you have been the face of all of these events that happened that are seared into our memory. And let`s hope that the next time we have you on ISSUES, it`s for something, again, a very positive -- and I do feel that this is a new chapter for the United States and it really has lifted a pall that has existed over our country ever since the World Trade Center and Pentagon was attacked. So thank you once again Wolf for joining us.

BLITZER: Thank you. Thanks very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And when we come back, we`re going to talk a little bit more -- all right, thanks. We`re going to talk a little bit more about bin Laden`s burial at sea. Was that a good idea to put the body in the sea and have no shrine; no place where people can gather and turn this man into some kind of martyr? And what is the reaction going to be in the Middle East amongst extremists? We`re going to discuss all that with a team of experts.

We`re live from Ground Zero and reporting to you. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next week is his birthday, May 13th. He was born on Friday the 13th in 1966 and next week is Friday the 13th and it`s his birthday again. And I think this is a wonderful birthday present that our -- God love them -- our military have given not only to George but to every single one of the victims of September 11th.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that Mr. bin Laden had to experience the same type of brutal and prolonged death that nearly 3,000 people had to endure in the World Trade Center on 9/11.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: America`s celebrating tonight. I`m Jane Velez- Mitchell reporting live from Ground Zero.

And you can`t really get a sense of how many people are here, but I can give you just an inkling, people are converging from around the city and in fact, around the tri-state area and I`m sure that everybody in the country would love to hop on a flight and come down here and really celebrate this turning point event in American history.

And nobody is celebrating as much as the fans at the Philly-Mets game in Philadelphia when they got the news via Twitter last night. Check out the reaction of these fans.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: And believe it or not, they were celebrating on the ninth inning and the Mets and Phillies were tied 1-1. So everybody said that was absolutely extraordinary because that`s 9/11, ninth inning tied 1- 1. What`s the chance of something like that happening?

Let`s go out to Phane from Nevada; your question or thought, sir.

PHANE, NEVADA: Jane Velez-Mitchell, it`s such a pleasure to be in contact with you, your great voice, dynamic and for a fantastic closure -- agent of fantastic closure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much. What`s your comment?

PHANE: I have a question and then a comment. Why should bin Laden have been buried in any respectful way, Jane? He was a radical (INAUDIBLE) Muslim who cowardly and wickedly and heinously disrespectfully trashed the lives of well over 3,000 of our loved ones.

And Jane, I believe that and it`s been said by my colleagues that bin Laden -- his unholy body should have been returned to our grand old USA then placed absolutely, securely on the site of the twin towers until all Americans related to all those dear lost loved ones could have their closure by passing and reviling review of the body.

And lastly, Jane -- lastly --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well -- sir, I appreciate your comments but let`s take them one at a time. You brought up an excellent point about why was bin Laden buried at sea? And Ashleigh Banfield, ABC News correspondent who was here heroically reporting on 9/11, we can show you some of her pictures again of her covered in dust, knows this scoop on the burial at sea and the significance of doing it that way.

BANFIELD: Yes. Listen, there was a big concern that this could incite even further violence and a lot of people think it will anyway, but to mitigate that in some way, to at least afford the body of bin Laden the right of the traditional Islamic burial; meaning wash the body, wrap it in a white sheet. But perhaps don`t bury it underground in a place where everybody can treat it as a shrine and he could be the martyr that he always wanted to be. But instead to send it into the sea where no one will know -- somewhere in the Arabian where no one will know where he is.

And I am told that that is what happened. They tipped a white board off the U.S. aircraft carrier and slipped that body down into the ocean. So that`s it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hope that they videotaped everything that they did because we have to take --

BANFIELD: I bet you that they taped --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and that we get to see it because a lot of people in the Muslim world might not just take America`s word for the fact that they followed Islamic law and they might be assured, John Avlon if they watch the video of this process.

JOHN AVLON, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: I think that`s right, Jane. I think it`s precisely why they should release the photograph of him shot. I think that not only will further de-mythologize Osama bin Laden, being force to confront his corpse which will also help the healing process here in the United States. But I think given the fact that we did show the decency, and distinguished ourselves as a civilization by giving him an Islamic burial and then putting him to sea wisely, so that any location was not made a shrine, it only increases more important why it`s important to release those photographs so that no conspiracy theories can take root.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What is next for America?





VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell reporting live from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. I`m here with my colleague Ashleigh Banfield who heroically reported on 9/11 as the World Trade Center crumbled. And here are some of the photos of her covered in dust as she continued to report.

We will never, any of us, forget the horror and the madness of that day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is smoke everywhere and people are jumping out of the windows. They`re jumping out the windows, I guess, because they`re trying to save themselves. I don`t know. I don`t know. Everybody just doesn`t know where to go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terrorism is a state of mind, and that`s why I personally believe it cannot be fought just with boots on the ground because we`ve seen evidence that terrorism can crop up anywhere. Look at the U.S. Army soldier who attacked people and went on a rampage at Ft. Hood.

So I think personally this is a major turning point, because we have really had a psychic shift finding out that bin Laden is dead. He was the pebble in our shoe that we couldn`t forget about. He was the constant headache for ten long years who really made us feel impotent, who made us feel frustrated, who questioned the idea of our being a superpower. If we`re a superpower, why can`t we find this one guy? He thumbed his nose at America, and we all felt helpless as a result.

John Avlon, CNN contributor, what is this going to do for America psychologically?

AVLON: It`s a great question, Jane. I think this is going to absolutely increase our confidence, our sense of being -- completing this mission finally after ten years of frustration. You know, 9/11 created such a fundamental psychic wound in our nation, that this gives us really resolution.

It`s not so much rejoicing we`re seeing, it`s resolution. That sense of pride and commitment of following through; that we can see a future beyond bin Laden, and that freedom does ultimately defeat fear and terror. That`s the major take-away, that`s a resilient society and that`s how we move forward.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Moore, former FBI agent who was in Pakistan on 9/11, how long you do you think the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East, is going to react? Is it going to galvanize terrorism or is it going to hasta la vista, that didn`t work, let`s try something new. How about peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution?

STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI AGENT: I was, by the way, in Pakistan a little after 9/11. But no, it`s not going to be a seat change as far as how they`re going to react to the United States. The people who hate us are still going to hate us.

In the short term there`s going to be --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about that. I don`t know about that. Look at what`s happening in the Middle East with the Twitter and Facebook democracy movements. I think that we live in a global village, and I think the whole world is changing. Let`s hope for the better.



OBAMA: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.



CROWD: God bless America.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Osama bin Laden is dead and justice has been done.