He initiated the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and was out of office before the mission was accomplished.

Now, former President George W. Bush has released his thoughts on the killing of bin Laden, saying that while he is not overjoyed at the news, it is ultimately a victory for the American people.

The guy is dead. That is good, Bush told ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday while at a conference of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas. Osama's death is a great victory in the war on terror. He was held up as a leader.

According to an ABC News contributor who attended the event, Bush said he was eating soufflé when he got the call from President Obama announcing bin Laden's death.

I excused myself and went home to take the call, Bush said. Obama simply said 'Osama bin Laden is dead.'

Bush said Obama detailed the secret mission to raid bin Laden's Pakistani compound - reportedly a mansion valued at $1 million - and told Bush of the decision he made to put the plan into motion. Bush told Obama, Good call.

The 43rd president, who has been noticeably absent from the spotlight since news broke nearly two weeks ago, has repeatedly declined interview requests, even refusing Obama's invitation to join him at Ground Zero to meet with the victims' families and first responders four days after the raid.

However, he was quick to give credit U.S. intelligence services, saying they deserve a lot of credit.

They built a mosaic of information, piece by piece, he said. 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 also pointed to the future, saying that U.S. foreign policy needs to continue to promote the ideas of democracy and freedom as a way to combat global terrorism.

The long-term solution is to promote a better ideology, which is freedom. Freedom is universal, Bush said. People who do not look like us want freedom just as much. It is only when you do not have hope in a society that you join a suicide bomber team.