George W Bush has been mostly mum on the death of Osama bin Laden but he talked openly about getting the news from President Obama with hedge fund managers conferencing at the swank Bellagio hotel in Vegas this week. He was eating souffle at Rise Restaurant when the president called. He told Obama that he had “made a good call” on the helicopter mission into Pakistan. He told the Bellagio crowd he was “not overjoyed” at the news, that chasing bin Laden was never about hatred but about justice.
“The guy is dead. That is good,” Bush told a CNBC moderator before a crowd of nearly 200, according to ABC news. “Osama’s death is a great victory in the war on terror. He was held up as a leader.”
Bush has declined interviews with the media and he turned down the president’s invitation to join him at Ground Zero with other political leaders in the wake of the news.
At the Wednesday appearance, hwever, he spoke freely. He said the intelligence services deserve the credit for the success of the mission because they built “a mosaic of information, piece by piece.”
He also talked about the the soldiers who conducted the raid.
“I met SEAL Team Six in Afghanistan. They are awesome, skilled, talented and brave. I said, ‘I hope you have everything you need. One guy said, ‘We need your permission to go into Pakistan and kick ass.'”
Bush reasserted his belief that the U.S. must to continue to promote ideas about democracy and freedom around the world to combat terrorism. He made that point, according to an ABC blogger at the event, in the sort of clanging well-meaning manner he made familiar to Americans and people all over the world during his presidency. In talking about the desire for freedom, he described “people who don’t look like us,” by which he presumably meant non-white non-Christians, and he talked about the “relatives of Condoleezza Rice,” by which he presumably meant black American slaves.
“The long-term solution is to promote a better ideology, which is freedom. Freedom is universal,” he told the hedge funders. “People who do not look like us want freedom just as much. The relatives of [former Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice over 100 years ago wanted freedom. It is only when you do not have hope in a society that you join a suicide bomber team.”