President Obama gave his third Oval Office address of his presidency on Sunday night. The president called the San Bernardino shooting terrorism, but added that the shooters were likely not instructed by a terrorist organization.
“So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home, but it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of islam that calls for war against america and the west,”
Earlier in the week, the president was reluctant to call the shooting “terrorism,” but on Friday, the FBI announced that they were investigating the attack as a terrorist act. Shortly after the shooting, most commentators and analysts were nearly certain that the shooting had all the signs of a terrorist attack.
“And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.”
Obama listed some steps he would like to see taken to help prevent future attacks. One step that he mentioned during the Oval Office address, and one that he’s mentioned before, is the “no-fly list loophole.” Currently, Americans on the no-fly list are legally allowed to buy firearms. This, Obama says, is unacceptable.
“There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun,”
The President also renewed his call for other increased gun-control measures. He said that we need to make it harder for people to buy so-called assault weapons.
As The Verge noted, Obama also called for “high-tech and law enforcement leaders” to make it more difficult for terrorists to use technology to avoid being caught. The terrorists that staged attacks in Paris last month reportedly used encrypted messaging to communicate with one another.
Some have suggested that companies leave a “backdoor” for government agencies to spy on encrypted communication in the hopes that they can thwart terrorism. So far, tech companies have shown no interest in giving the government special access to private data.
“Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless. And by drawing upon every aspect of American power,”
During the Oval Office address, the President attempted to reassure a fearful nation. Noticeably, Obama did not announce any new policies to combat ISIS. After the recent attacks in Paris, Obama was expected by many to ramp up the United States’ efforts in the war against ISIS. Instead, the President said that the current strategy was working and he said that ISIS is “contained.”
It appears as though the American public does not approve of the President’s handling of ISIS. A CNN/ORC poll released Sunday said that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of terrorism.
As noted by CNN, Republicans have been capitalizing on Obama’s unpopular foreign policy. Senator Ted Cruz, who’s running for the Republican nomination for president, has vowed to carpet bomb ISIS and “utterly destroy” them.
Another Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has perhaps had the most controversial plan for dealing with ISIS. Trump thinks U.S. muslims should be tracked and that we should kill terrorists’ families. Many people have expressed outrage at Trump’s comments on muslims, but he still remains the Republican frontrunner by a large margin.
[Photo by Saul Loeb/AP]