U.S President Barack Obama addressed a “nervous nation” in a prime time speech from the Oval Office last night. According to CNN, the president’s aim was to outline his plan to combat a “fast-evolving” threat of terrorism in the United States, as well as the public’s perception of his handling of ISIS, which is said to have fallen to record lows.
It is only the third time in his two terms as president that Barack Obama has addressed the United States from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. on Sunday evening. The speech being a move to “address public disquiet over terrorism,” which is reported to be at levels unseen since the period following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
President Obama started his address by remembering the 14 Americans who lost their lives on Wednesday, December 2 in San Bernardino, California at the hands of the an American Muslim man and his wife who had recently immigrated, legally, from Pakistan. The two are thought to have been radicalized, as reported by the Inquisitr.
“Each of them served their fellow citizens, and all of them were part of our American family,” the president stated somberly of the victims in San Bernardino.
The president stated that he wished to speak with the nation about the San Bernardino tragedy, about the “broader” terrorism threat, and “how we can keep our country safe.”
President Obama stated that the FBI believes that the San Bernardino shootings were carried out by a coworker of the victims and his wife. He stated that there is no indication that they had been directed by ISIL leaders overseas, or that they were members of a “broader conspiracy” within the United States.
“This was an act of terrorism.”
The president described the situation that the United States faces, being at war with terrorists since 9/11 and noted that “countless” terror plots have been averted by law enforcement agencies and that authorities work “around the clock” to keep Americans safe.
President Obama described the U.S. armed forces and counter terrorism forces “relentlessly” following terrorist organizations in foreign countries. He noted that Osama bin Laden was killed and that al-Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated.
As the United States and its allies have become better at detecting and thwarting complex terror plots, says President Obama, terrorists have shifted their focus to “less complicated” acts, such as the shooting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. He described the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas and the attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee early in 2015 as being perpetuated by “terrorists.”
The Internet has been an effective tool in ISIL’s fight to recruit militants and spread its ideology, reports President Obama. He cited the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino shooters as examples of terrorists who ISIL had reached through the Internet.
“We see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris.”
“The threat from terrorism is real,” President Obama stated. “We will destroy ISIL.”
The president encouraged Americans not to “abandon” their values, or to give in to fear. Obama stated that’s what radical groups like ISIL are “hoping for.”
President Obama stated that the United States will win the war against terrorism by being “strong and smart” and “resilient and relentless.”
The president stated that the U.S. military will continue to pursue terrorists in foreign countries and target ISIL strongholds in Syria and Iraq. President Obama noted that in the wake of the Paris attacks, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have each increased air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq. He also described training and arming “tens of thousands” Syrian and Iraqi troops to combat ISIL and deploying special operations forces to “accelerate” these missions.
Obama described a “surge” in intelligence sharing between the United States and European allies following the Paris attacks. The president said that his administration had been working with the Government of Turkey to stop any flow of militants or arms across the Turkish/Syrian border.
The president stated that he has ordered a review of the visa waiver program that allowed the radicalized female San Bernardino shooter to enter the United States legally.
President Obama implored U.S. Congress to enact legislation to stop people identified as terrorists on no-fly lists to be permitted to purchase firearms.
“What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terror suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?” Barack Obama asked the United States. The president also cited a belief that semiautomatic weapons like the type used in San Bernardino should become more difficult to buy.
President Obama expressed frustration with what he sees as the reality that no matter how hard law enforcement officials work, it is not possible to detect and stop every single mass shooter before they act. The solution, the president says, is to reduce the amount of damage a person who is set on committing a violent act can inflict.
The president stated that the United States needs to do a better job of screening out people who have traveled to war zones and then arrive in the United States without visas.
Obama stated a belief that the United States is at war with ISIL and he asked U.S. Congress for authorization for the “continued use of military force” against them.
President Obama then addressed actions that he believes that American should not engage in. He stated that the United States military should not be brought into a “long and costly ground war” in Syria, noting that is exactly what ISIL wishes. Obama described a ground campaign in Syria and Iraq as unnecessarily risking thousands of American lives and reinforcing, rather than undermining, the credibility of ISIL with potential recruits.
“We cannot turn against each other,” the president stated. He expressed a strong desire that Americans not view the war with ISIL as a war between America and Islam, stating that this is one of ISIL’s goals.
“ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers… part of a cult of death.”
Obama described radical Muslims as comprising a tiny fraction of the Muslim community worldwide and the majority of terror victims as being Muslim. He described an alliance with Muslims as being a necessary part in the destruction of radical elements.
President Obama then made it clear that an “extremist ideology” has spread through some Islamic communities, and that it is an issue that Muslim leaders must address “without excuse.” The president stated that Muslim leaders in the United States and globally must reject extremist ideologies and speak out against violence and radical interpretations of Islam, incompatible with the “values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.”
The president then stated that it is the responsibility all U.S. citizens to “reject discrimination.” Obama noted religious tests to enter the United States as a form of discrimination. He stated his belief that no American citizen should be treated differently on the basis of their religion and that under the law, every citizen should be treated equally.
“Let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear.”
Is that all there is? We need a new President - FAST!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
President Obama is right. ISIS will be destroyed with an international coalition. pic.twitter.com/BzIW0RMqlT— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 7, 2015
[Feature Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]