Keeping Americans safe

Obama

Over the past two days President Obama, while on holiday in Hawaii, addressed the American people about the attempted terrorist attack on an airplane December 25. In his speech December 29, Obama said he has ordered officials to review the government’s terrorist watch list system and air travel screening processes to “find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks.”

Preliminary findings of these reviews will be presented to the president by tomorrow, although more thorough reviews will likely take weeks. Already the reviews have indicated that problems occurred in this case, Obama said.

“We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks,” Obama said. “But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.”

Obama said his duty is to not only hold intelligence authorities accountable, but also ensure that they have the tools they need to keep America safe. A text of his speech is available on the White House Web site.

Obama orders airline review

As he vacations in Hawaii, officials are keeping President Obama informed of the latest developments regarding an attempted terrorist attack of a Detroit-bound airplane December 25. The suspect was apparently listed in one of the government’s terrorist-watch databases.

President Obama has ordered a review of these databases, to ensure that pertinent information “that needs to go to decision-makers gets to where it needs to go,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said December 27 on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Obama has also ordered the Department of Homeland Security to review screening procedures to determine how the suspect got on an airplane with a chemical explosive, Gibbs said.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos December 27, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterated a simple message she has delivered numerous times over the past few days: “The traveling public is safe.”

"Unprecedented Cooperation" in store for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Obama, Karzai and Biden

President Obama met with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss shared security concerns. “We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future,” Obama said during a press conference following the May 6 meetings.

Obama also discussed the need for the United States to help Afghanistan strengthen its economy and to provide “lasting support” for Pakistan’s democratic institutions. For more, see “‘Unprecedented Cooperation’ in Pakistan, Afghanistan Talks.”