Lawmakers react to bin Laden's death

Sen. Charles Schumer says bin Laden's death may

Sen. Charles Schumer says bin Laden's death may help 9/11 victims' loved ones move toward closure. (March 28, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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ALBANY -- At the State Capitol Monday, lawmakers talked about the "sobering" news of Osama bin Laden's death and said it offered a "measure" of peace and justice.

At the Association for a Better New York breakfast in Manhattan, keynote speaker Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he wasn't celebrating a death as much as he was honoring the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11.

It was all part of a careful dance on the part of powerful New Yorkers to acknowledge the seismic event without appearing to gloat.

"It is a delicate walk for public officials," said Douglas Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "You don't see the president fist-pumping and high-fiving. . . . And I think most public officials are reacting the way the president reacted in his speech."

The political community is "celebrating a major accomplishment," said Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff. "They don't want to appear to go too far, too fast."

That thought shaded nearly all political reactions.

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"This is a day of complex emotions: jubilation and reflection," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. "Justice has been done. A murderer has been stopped . . . At the same time, you see people crying. It's a time of reflection. You think back to 9/11 and it comes rushing back. And the pictures come rushing back."

"The sober reflection for me," the governor added, "is that this [the fight against terrorism] is not going to end."

State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who has served in Iraq and is a captain in the Army Reserves, said President Barack Obama set the right tone in refraining from gloating. "It would have been inappropriate," he said.

Schumer, when asked about celebrations of a death, said the reaction is about sending a message to other would-be terrorists whom that they won't prevail. And it is about a step toward closure for families of 9/11 victims.

"Many of those who lost people said to me they think of bin Laden every day, how that evil man is alive," he said. "That troubling, anxiety-producing thought does not cross their minds ever again."

A top New York City official who asked not to be quoted by name recalled how during Passover it is taught that when Egyptian armies were drowning in the sea, there were songs of jubilation, but God chided them for singing praises as his creatures were perishing.

But the practical matter, the official added, is "what this will lead to -- if we are going to see incidents here."

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