OBAMA: ‘We are in a new phase of terrorism’

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

With national security fears on the rise, Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans preparing for the holiday season that there was no “specific and credible” threat facing the United States. “We do not have any specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland,” Obama said, flanked by members of his national security team and vice-president Joe Biden. “That said, we have to be vigilant.” The president’s speech arrived on the heels of growing unrest over the threat of terrorism following attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.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.

Americans gearing up for Christmas holiday travel are as safe as the world’s more technologically advanced government can make them, President Barack Obama told Americans in a rerun of earlier status reports delivered Thursday from the National Counterterrorism Center. 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. Echoing his address to the nation earlier this month, Obama on Wednesday said attacks like those in San Bernardino “stiffens our resolve” in terms of preparedness.

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. 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 moves come as the president seeks to toughen his message against Isis amid diminishing confidence among the American people over national security. The president has ordered investigators to “leave no stone unturned” as they work to learn how and why the San Bernardino attacks were carried out. 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. Malik, who aided her American-born husband Syed Rizwan Farook in the attack that left 14 dead and 21 more injured, is believed by investigators to have been radicalized prior to her arrival in the US.

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. Obama noted that while many Americans may not be aware of it, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have taken in terrorists, disrupted plots, thwarted attacks and saved lives.

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. He said the U.S. was focused on three areas: going after terrorists overseas; working to prevent terrorists from entering the country; and strengthening ties between law enforcement and local communities and the technology sector to prevent attacks at home. 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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