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Obama’s San Bernardino Speech - David Harris
U.S. President Barack Obama’s December 6 speech contained few surprises and, on many points, he said the right things.
He mentioned the “I” word, admitting there is a perversion of Islam out there that resulted in last week’s San Bernardino massacre. He gave us the very quotable quote: "If we are to succeed in defeating terrorism, we must enlist Muslim communities as our strongest allies in rooting out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization."
But outside of that, and a plea for all in America to use non-inciting language, his televised White House speech focused on ISIS. His speech lacked a clear policy on what to do about the Islamist extremists already operating in the United States – with or without the support of ISIS, al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.
This was where Obama missed the point in his speech:
“But over the last few years, the threat has evolved as terrorists have turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all-too common in our society. For the past seven years, I have confronted the evolution of this threat each morning. Your security is my greatest responsibility. And I know that, after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.”
The obvious follow up to this would have been to give at least some details of the numbers of arrests in the U.S., or the types of actions being taken by the FBI and other agencies, without going into sensitive operational details. However, Obama’s logical follow up was not on home soil but rather:
"So, tonight, this is what I want you to know: The threat of terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us." (this part of the speech was bolded in the statement to the media)
Maybe the president is trying to avoid panic in the homeland, but he did not give the American public any reason to feel calmer by ignoring the very real, palpable threat in the United States.
Suffice it to say, unless the president announces a clear intention to increase surveillance and other interventionist measures at home – and yes, it should come from the president himself – he will leave Americans scared and the terrorists feeling emboldened.
Note: For President Obama's full speech click HERE
Note: President Obama has raised the issue of the terror watch list and purchasing weapons. A more salient issue is that 72 Homeland Security employees are on the terror watch list.