Time for resolve, confidence, optimism
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 watch list system and air travel screening. I've directed my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser 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 intel-ligence, law enforcement and homeland security commun-ities have the tools and re-sources they need to keep America safe. This includes making sure these commun-ities -- and the people in them -- are coordinating effectively and are held ac-countable at every level. And as president, that is what I will do.
Meanwhile, the investiga-tion into the Christmas Day incident continues, and we're learning more about the sus-pect. We know that he trave-ed to Yemen, a country grapp-ling 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 hat-red, and that we will do what-ever 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 refocus-ed 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 South-east Asia, from Europe to the Persian Gulf. And though often out of sight, our prog-ress 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 con-tinue, 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.
The remarks were made Saturday in President Barack Obama's weekly radio address.