Focusing The Fight On al Qaeda Instead Of Iraq

Uploaded by UpTakeVideo on 02.01.2010

It has now been more than a week since the attempted act of terrorism aboard that flight
to Detroit on Christmas Day. On Thursday, I received the preliminary findings of the
reviews that I ordered into our terrorist watchlist system and air travel screening.
I've directed my counterterrorism and homeland security advisor at the White House, John
Brennan, to lead these reviews going forward and to present the final results and recommendations
to me in the days to come. As I said this week, I will do everything
in my power to make sure our hard-working men and women in our intelligence, law enforcement
and homeland security communities have the tools and resources they need to keep America
safe. This includes making sure these communities-and the people in them-are coordinating effectively
and are held accountable at every level. And as President, that is what I will do.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the Christmas Day incident continues, and we're learning
more about the suspect. We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing
poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al Qaeda, and
that this group-al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-trained him, equipped him with those explosives and
directed him to attack that plane headed for America.
This is not the first time this group has targeted us. In recent years, they have bombed
Yemeni government facilities and Western hotels, restaurants and embassies-including our embassy
in 2008, killing one American. So, as President, I've made it a priority to strengthen our
partnership with the Yemeni government-training and equipping their security forces, sharing
intelligence and working with them to strike al Qaeda terrorists.
And even before Christmas Day, we had seen the results. Training camps have been struck;
leaders eliminated; plots disrupted. And all those involved in the attempted act of terrorism
on Christmas must know-you too will be held to account.
But these efforts are only part of a wider cause. It's been nearly a year since I stood
on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and took the oath of office as your President. And
with that oath came the solemn responsibility that I carry with me every moment of every
day-the responsibility to protect the safety and security of the American people.
On that day I also made it very clear-our nation is at war against a far-reaching network
of violence and hatred, and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them and defend
our country, even as we uphold the values that have always distinguished America among
nations. And make no mistake, that's exactly what we've
been doing. It's why I refocused the fight-bringing to a responsible end the war in Iraq, which
had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and dramatically increasing our resources in the
region where al Qaeda is actually based, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It's why I've set
a clear and achievable mission-to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist
allies and prevent their return to either country.
And it's why we've forged new partnerships, as in Yemen, and put unrelenting pressure
on these extremists wherever they plot and train-from East Africa to Southeast Asia,
from Europe to the Persian Gulf. And though often out of sight, our progress has been
unmistakable. Along with our partners, we've disrupted terrorist financing, cut off recruiting
chains, inflicted major losses on al Qaeda's leadership, thwarted plots here in the United
States, and saved countless American lives. Yet as the Christmas Day attempt illustrates,
and as we were reminded this week by the sacrifices of more brave Americans in Afghanistan-including
those seven dedicated men and women of the CIA-the hard work of protecting our nation
is never done. So as our reviews continue, let us ask the questions that need to be asked.
Let us make the changes that need to be made. Let us debate the best way to protect the
country we all love. That is the right and responsibility of every American and every
elected official. But as we go forward, let us remember this-our
adversaries are those who would attack our country, not our fellow Americans, not each
other. Let's never forget what has always carried us through times of trial, including
those attacks eight Septembers ago. Instead of giving in to fear and cynicism,
let's renew that timeless American spirit of resolve and confidence and optimism. Instead
of succumbing to partisanship and division, let's summon the unity that this moment demands.
Let's work together, with a seriousness of purpose, to do what must be done to keep our
country safe. _ _As we begin this New Year, I cannot imagine a more fitting resolution
to guide us-as a people and as a nation.