WASHINGTON — Former US vice president Dick Cheney congratulated President Barack Obama Monday on the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by US forces in Pakistan but warned that the "war goes on."
Cheney paid tribute to American forces and intelligence services for their "tireless work" in tracking down Bin Laden since the September 11, 2001 attacks but also offered rare praise to political opponent Obama.
"The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is a victory for the United States and a tremendous achievement for the military and intelligence professionals who carried out this important mission," he said.
"Their tireless work since 9/11 has made this achievement possible, and enabled us to capture or kill thousands of Al-Qaeda terrorists and many of their leaders," he said in a statement carried by the journal of the American Enterprise Institute.
"I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team," Cheney said.
"Al-Qaeda remains a dangerous enemy. Though bin Laden is dead, the war goes on. We must remain vigilant, especially now, and we must continue to support our men and women in uniform who are fighting on the front lines of this war every day," he added.
"Today, the message our forces have sent is clear -- if you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice."
Cheney, vice president at the time of the September 11 attacks, was one of the biggest hawks in former President George W. Bush's administration as the United States launched its invasion of Afghanistan and the hunt for Bin Laden.
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, meanwhile, told NBC television Monday that US success in cornering and killing Bin Laden was a US triumph, because the military ultimately succeeded in getting access to vital information about the Al-Qaeda leader's whereabouts.
"This was an intelligence problem from the beginning, of course. We have always had the ability to kill or capture -- we needed the intelligence," said Rumsfeld on the "Today Show" television program.
"We had been fortunate that the intelligence was forthcoming. It may well have been partly a result of some of the interviews that took place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," said Rumsfeld, who led the Pentagon during much of President George W. Bush's tenure.
He added that Bin Laden seemed to think that America would "do nothing" so many years after the September 2001 atrocity that cost some 3,000 lives in the United States.
"This is a man who called the United States a paper tiger and assumed that the United States would do nothing, that we would continue to not really react," the former defense chief said.
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