“Tonight, I addressed the nation from the Oval Office on my top priority as President: Keeping the American people safe.
It weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of all of us in the wake of the terrible tragedy in San Bernardino. Fourteen Americans — dads, moms, daughters, sons — were taken from us as they came together to celebrate the holidays. Each of them a public servant. All of them a part of our American family.
The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. 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 these killers had embraced a perversion of Islam, stockpiled assault weapons, and committed an act of terrorism.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Since then, we’ve hardened our defenses. Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counter-terrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.
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.
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. Here’s how:
First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary, using air strikes to take out ISIL leaders and their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies – 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.
Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we are deploying Special Operations forces who can accelerate that offensive.
Third, we are leading a coalition of 65 countries to stop ISIL’s operations by disrupting plots, cutting off their financing, and preventing them from recruiting more fighters.
Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has established a process and timeline to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution to the Syrian civil war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL.
That is our strategy — designed and supported by military commanders, counter-terrorism experts, and countries committed to defeating these terrorists. And we constantly examine further steps needed to get the job done. That is why I have ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that is why I will urge high tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice…
I am confident America will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. Even as we debate our differences, let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional: We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — the idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.
Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. That we have always met challenges — whether war or depression; natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals. As long as we stay true to who we are, then I have no doubt that America will prevail.
President Barack Obama”