The President addressed the nation last night in an effort to not only reassure a nervous populace that the government is working to keep Americans safe, but also to advance some of his more controversial ideas, which will make politicians look like they’re doing “something,” while doing nothing to protect our people. It’s unfortunate, because there’s lots in that speech to agree with, but fundamental problems remain. So I figured I’d take it apart – or fisk it. Feel free to agree/disagree/comment/question as needed.
The full transcript is here. And on a technical note: I use the blockquote function on this blog, which makes it very clear which paragraphs are from the President’s speech and which are mine. However, if you’re viewing the blog on a mobile device, you will not be able to distinguish one from the other. I’d say it’s probably fairly easy to tell the difference between my writing and the President’s speech, but I’m giving you a warning anyway.
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. On Wednesday, 14 Americans were killed as they came together to celebrate the holidays. They were taken from family and friends who loved them deeply. They were white and black; Latino and Asian; immigrants and American-born; moms and dads; daughters and sons. Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.
Tonight, I want to talk with you about this tragedy, the broader threat of terrorism, and how we can keep our country safe.
Those are beautiful sentiments, and they’re all true. The murder victims were Americans. They came from all walks of life. Some of them sacrificed themselves to save the lives of their coworkers and friends. Some of them were, in fact, heroes who faced the threat head on.
The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife. So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.
I will disagree on one of those points. As I pointed out in an earlier essay, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they were part of a broader conspiracy at home, including the group of Middle Eastern men that had been observed to have been hanging around, and whom no one wanted to report as suspicious, because they feared being accused of racism. And there’s evidence to suggest that maybe, by getting into an altercation at work and going on a hate-fueled rampage, the terrorist may have triggered early, and we may have avoided a more significant massacre.
Also “stockpiled assault weapons”??? Is he for real? Two ARs and 2500 rounds of ammo do not “stockpiling” make. I can go through 500-700 rounds on one trip to the range. It’s not uncommon, nor is it dangerous or indicative of terrorist activity.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.
We can debate all day how effective some of those measures have been, but I will agree we’ve made some good strides in targeting terrorists. The problem is terrorism is a wiggly worm, so you’re never really finished with it. It just creeps up in different forms and various countries.
For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.
Again, note what I’ve said before. I don’t see terrorism going away anytime soon. I don’t see the Islamist extremists going away anytime soon, but let’s focus on the root of the problem and eradicate the jihadists at their core.
Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.
OK… tell me more! I want details!
Here’s how. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies — including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom — have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.
ISIL will be replaced by other groups. You’re not eradicating fundamentalist Islam, but rather a group that exercises it. Fundamentalist extremist Muslims (y’all will be amused to know that I initially and very much unintentionally mistyped the word “extremist,” and it came out “excremist,” which is probably more accurate anyway) exist, and anyone who walks that walk needs to be eradicated. That said, I’m all about kicking some ISIL ass, so let’s do it!
Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying Special Operations Forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and we’ll continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground.
This concerns me a bit, because invariably a number of those arms and munitions wind up in ISIL hands.
The rest of the strategy focuses on using the resources we have – financial intelligence, intelligence sharing with our allies, etc., as well as examining the visa program that allowed the female terrorist sow to enter this country in the wrong place. He did refer to it as a “visa waiver” program, but that’s not accurate. She came here on a K1 – fiance visa.
There are a number of strategies that can be utilized to fight jihadists, but first we need to acknowledge that fundamentalist Islam exists, and that these jihadi assholes are a threat to everything good and decent in this world.
The real problem with his speech comes toward the middle, where he informs us what Congress should do to prevent such attacks from happening in the future.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
There are so many things wrong with this suggestion, I don’t even know where to start! The people on this list literally don’t know they’re on it until they try to board a plane. There is no due process, and according to leaked documents, nearly 40 percent of the people on the list have no affiliation with any terrorist group. None. There are people on the list who are affiliated to several known and designated terrorist groups, but according to the government’s watchlisting guidelines, officials don’t need “concrete facts” or “irrefutable evidence” to secretly place someone on the list. Their standard is “reasonable suspicion,” and the inclusion on the list is nearly automatic.
And based on this vague and arbitrary standard, the President wants to relieve hundreds of thousands of people of their rights?
Oh, and by the way, neither Farook nor that pig humping whore he brought home from Saudi Arabia and married were on the list. So tell us again, how this list will help prevent attacks such as San Bernardino?
And then he goes full turnip.
We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.
Is this where we point out that the .223 cartridge is essentially a varmint rifle? Is this where we point out that California has some of the most draconian gun control laws in the nation, garnering an “A-” from the Brady Center, to which the more tyrannical the gun control laws, the better? Is this where we note that France has very strict gun control laws, and yet several terrorists went on a rampage, killing 130 people, and despite those facts, he claimed that these massacres don’t happen? Is this where we note that banning scary, black guns didn’t make us any safer in 1994 and that after the ban’s sunset in 2004, violence writ large continued to decline?
The rest is irrelevant. It’s more “inspirational” pablum about standing together to fight ISIL. I will note, however, that he stressed we weren’t at war with Islam, and that we need the help and participation of Muslims around the world and here in the United States if we are to win the war against ISIL.
I will remark once again, that while our war is not with Islam writ large, it is with extremist, fundamentalist Islam. It’s not ISIL per se that we need to get rid of, but rather any jihadist loons who are looking to destroy us. ISIL is a leaf on the same poisonous bush that spawned al Qaida, al Nusra Front, the Taliban and other psychotics. If we are to win this war, we need to recognize this and encourage and protect those Muslims who take the bold steps of standing up and condemning the radicals in their midst – at great risk to them and their families, by the way. And there are quite a few of them.
So let’s keep our eye on the ball and our focus on protecting our lives and our rights.