Obama: There is no “credible” threat of terrorist attack in US

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama National Security Briefing: No ‘Specific’ Terror Threats Against U.S., but Americans Must Remain Vigilant.

President Barack Obama said there is no credible evidence of a terrorist threat against Americans now but added that the country must remain vigilant and united. “One of our greatest weapons against terrorism is our own strength and resilience as a people,” Obama said Thursday at the National Counter Terrorism Center. “If you see something suspicious, say something to law enforcement. The White House has seen a week of embarrassing news stories exposing federal investigators’ inability to screen social media like Facebook and Twitter for clues to the destructive intentions of potential visa-holders.

The president again sought to reassure Americans about the security risk at home after the terror attacks in Paris in November and in San Bernardino, California earlier this month. National security chiefs considered in 2011 green-lighting a policy of vetting visa applicants’ social media histories – but decided to deny rank-and-file State Department background checkers access to that tool. They can’t defeat us on a battlefield, but they can lead us to change in ways that would undermine what this country’s all about.” The president met with his national security team at the NCTC just days after a similar meeting at the Pentagon. Obama said nothing in his latest offering about that troubling liability, nor did he offer new policy prescriptions aimed at tightening the border-control noose around Islamists who mean to create chaos with blood.

The speech comes after he was roundly criticized for his response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack that killed 14, first suggesting it could be “workplace violence.” “Our intelligence and counterterrorism professionals do not have any specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland,” Obama said. It’s natural,” Obama said. “What the world doesn’t always see are the successes, those terrorist plots that have been prevented, and that’s how it should be,” Obama said. “This work oftentimes demands secrecy, but as Americans, we should not forget how good these patriots are. Because Malik and Farook had not been in direct contact with terror-linked groups listed in national security databases, they passed Homeland Security Department background checks. Over the years, they have taken countless terrorists off the battlefield, they have disrupted plots. they’ve thwarted attacks, they have saved American lives.”

The president insisted his team of information-sharing pros, working ‘literally shoulder-to-shoulder,’ can now shift gears into a new phase of terror prevention – although he didn’t say how. National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey all stood wordlessly behind Obama while he spoke.

They heard him boast that the U.S. has grown in its capacity to prevent mass-casualty terror attacks on the scale of the largest ones the western world have faced. ‘Here’s what I want every american to know,’ Obama said: ‘Since 9/11 we’ve taken extraordinary steps to strengthen our homeland security: our borders, our ports, our airports, our aviation security, including enhanced watch lists and screening.’ He said comparatively little about the mechanisms that prevent lone wolves from making it across the nation’s borders or slipping past airport passport counters. He again urged Americans to not give in to fear and said the latest attacks “only stiffen our resolve” to learn everything possible from them and make improvements where needed. And without mentioning Islam by name, Obama reiterated that dividing America by religious affiliation – as some Republican presidential candidates have toyed with doing – would be antithetical to basic American values. As if to underscore the faith-neutral nature of his charge to the country, Obama ended his remarks with a curt, ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’

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