Debra Burlingame, Sister of 9/11 Victim: 'Justice, Finally'

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 05:31 PM

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Osama bin Laden’s killing during a daring Navy SEALs raid is a great moral victory, but it ultimately will have little effect in the long war on terrorism, said Debra Burlingame, the sister of one of the pilots killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Charles Burlingame III was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which al-Qaida terrorists hijacked and flew into the Pentagon, killing all on board and 125 on the ground.

Debra Burlingame, bin laden
Debra Burlingame holds a photo of her brother Charles during a memorial service in this 2005 AP file photo.
When Newsmax asked her response to the death of a-Qaida's leader and No. 1 terrorist in the world, she said, “Justice, finally. I think it’s a great day for America and a great moral victory.”

Burlingame is on the board of directors of Keep America Safe, along with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Elizabeth, and William Kristol, founder of the conservative journal The Weekly Standard. The organization has been critical of the anti-terror policies of President Barack Obama. A statement the board issued after bin Laden’s execution praised those involved in the raid and the intelligence services but did not mention the president.

“We recognize this is a victory,” Burlingame said. She noted the irony that the intelligence that led to bin Laden’s death came from interrogations at Guantanamo, questioning that critics dubbed as “criminal” and a “stain on our honor.”

Burlingame also was sharply critical of the decision to spend 40 minutes to observe Muslim burial rights for bin Laden, including the cleansing of the body and robing it in a shroud .

“That’s insanity,” she said. “I don’t think that’s something you do in time of war on the deck of a U.S. naval carrier.”

Bin Laden’s demise, while important, will not do much to alter the war on terrorism, she said, noting that al-Qaida is not one man, and the organization now has a large Internet presence with its own magazine.

“I don’t think it changed anything in terms of the long war,” she said.

However, she said al-Qaida will have hard time replacing bin Laden, whose followers looked upon him as a mythic figure associated with the most spectacular terrorist attack in modern times. She derided him as a “folk hero among the bloody terrorist crowd. Who has that type of association?”

As to what actions to what al-Qaida might do in response to the killing of bin Laden, Burlingame said, “Al-Qaida doesn’t need an excuse to kill Americans. Everything is an excuse to kill Americans.”

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