Today at 2pm EST President Obama gave a long awaited speech at the University of National Defense in Washington, DC. In the speech he spoke about the war on terror, drones and drone policy, and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Here are the top 10 most important facts from today's speech.
1. He Defined What Groups And Kind of Terror is Most Active Right Now
Today President Obama said the the age of massive organized terrorism is over. Now, as in a pre-9/11 America, the biggest threats against the UNited States are domestic terroism, state-sponsered terrorist ogranization like Hezbollah which threaten to upset life in the Middle East, and Regional offshoots of organizations like Al Qaeda, which Obama called, "lethal but less capable."
2. We Rely Heavily on Alliances With Other Nations
The United States currently relies heavily on cooperation with other nations in our fight against terrorism. Obama specifically cited our relationship with the French in fighting terrorism in Mali, and our relationship with Pakistan in fighting extremism in the Tribal regions. However, U.S. initiatives are likely to run into trouble in nations that are unwilling or unable to help in these efforts.
He also mentioned that only now is our relationship with Pakistan returning to the strength it was before the Seal Team Six's incursion onto Pakistani soil to confront Osama Bin Laden.
3.Drones Help Save American Lives And Are Working
President Obama elaborated on the idea that missions carried out by special forces like that that killed Bin Laden cannot be the norm. He said not only are drones saving the lives of American soldier who would otherwise have to carry out these missions, he also said that these drone strikes are working. He specifically cites a note found in Osama Bin Laden's compound that said,
we could lose the reserves to the enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.
4.Deaths of Civilians Will Haunt His Administration "As Long as We Live"
President Obama said that there was no "moral safe harbor" when it comes to defending the United States oversees.
evertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For a full article on Obama's defense of drone strikes on American citizens read this:
5. Obama Wants to Establish Drone Oversight
In his speech, Obama proposed bringing in the judicial branch of the government in order to create special courts that would monitor strikes outside of war theaters. He also proposed creating an oversight committee but was worried that a committee might add too much bureaucratic
6. The New Policy: To Use Culture, Education, and Economy to Fight Terrorism
In an attempt to change the way the United State's fights terrorism, President Obama proposed a change in the way we combat extremism. Rather than trying to kill extremists, Obama proposed to invest in killing the attraction to extremism with foreign aid.
7. The Muslim-American Community is Vital to Preventing Terrorism
Barack Obama declared that one of the most important aspects of fighting domestic jihadists is to embrace Muslim-Americans as a fundamental part of the American family. Only with cooperation between all American, Obama said, can we have a more effective method of rooting out domestic extremists.
8. A Media Shield Law is Being Established
In an effort to balance freedom of the press with the illegality of publishing government leaks, President Obama as put into works a Media Shield Law that would protect investigative journalists.
Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. That is why I have called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government over-reach. I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th.
9. Guantanamo Should Never Have Been Opened
Barack Obama had some harsh words today in regards to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. He praised the strength of American maximum security prisons saying that there was no reason they could not safely house terrorists or terrorist suspects.
10. He was Heckled
In disrupting Obama's speech, @medeabenjamin asked POTUS a question no journalist has: What about the killing of 16 yr old Abdulrahman?
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) May 23, 2013
During his speech President Obama was interrupted numerous times by human rights Medea Benjamin activist that challenged him on the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike, the drone killings of Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as numerous other issues.
Check out our full post here:
Below is the complete transcript of President Obama's speech: