Here’s the full transcript of the President’s interview with NBC dunderhead Chuck Todd, and if you want to know why I refer to Todd that way, here’s a perfect example.
Obama mentioned Syria specifically four times before Chuck Todd blurted out, “You’ve not said the word, ‘Syria,’ so far in our conversation.”
I’m preparing the country to make sure that we deal with a threat from ISIL. Keep in mind that this is something that we know how to do. We’ve been dealing with terrorist threats for quite some time. This administration has systematically dismantled Al Qaeda in the FATA. We just yesterday announced the fact that we had taken out the top leader of Al-Shabaab the terrorist— organization in Somalia.
ISIL poses a broader threat because of its territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria.
But right. And I—I want everybody to understand that we have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats to the homeland from ISIL. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is an organization that, if allowed to control significant amounts of territory, to amass more resources, more arms to attract more foreign fighters, including from areas like Europe, who have Europeans who have visas and then can travel to the United States unimpeded, that over time, that can be a serious threat to the homeland.
In— in the more immediate term, it’s an imm— it’s a threat to friends, partners in the region and is causing all kinds of hardship. And we’ve seen the savagery not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage but the killing of thousands of innocents in— in Iraq thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women the complete disruption of entire villages.
Not yet. But they— they can evolve. And I was very specific at that time. What I said was, not every regional terrorist organization is automatically a threat to us that would call for a major offensive. But what is absolutely clear in ISIL, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq and arose out of the U.S. invasion there and was contained because of the enormous efforts of our troops there then shifted to Syria, has metastasized, has grown.
Well, they’re not a JV team. But keep in mind that we anticipated some of these problems in the speech that I gave at West Point you know, several months ago, where I specifically said, our goal should not be to think that we can occupy every country where there’s a terrorist organization.
Our goal has to be to partner more effectively with governments that are committed to— pushing back against the kind of extremism that ISIL represents. And that’s going to require us to do things a little bit differently. We’re going to have to work smarter.
We’re going to have to train the military there more capably. We’ve got to do more effective diplomatic work to eliminate the the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq. And so we put together a plan that is compatible with the kind of work that we’re doing now.
You’ve not said the word, “Syria,” so far in our conversation. Obviously, if you’re going to defeat ISIS, you have used very much stronger language. It’s gone through the week during your trip to Wales. You got to go to Syria in some form or another.
Notice that Obama’s last mention of Syria came two sentences before Todd made his fatuous statement.
If one of the traits of a good interviewer is listening to the answers given by the subject, Chuck Todd fails. Miserably.
Here we go again, folks; you can see it coming already. During his press conference today, President Obama talked at length about the need to develop a strong, comprehensive regional strategy with US allies and partners to address the threat of ISIL.
So what are the right wing blogs going to be screaming about? At one point, Obama said these words:
We don’t have a strategy yet.
This will be the right wing’s next “You didn’t build that” — a deliberately distorted, out of context deception to enrage their base. It’s starting already:
But here’s the transcript, and for the record, I’ll pull out everything else Obama said about developing a strategy. I don’t expect this to affect the coming right wing freak-out (they’re impervious to facts), but for the record:
ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region, and that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL, and that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they’ve made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.
Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region, countries that don’t always agree on many things, increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.
As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy.
What is true, though, is that the violence that’s been taking place in Syria has obviously given ISIL a safe haven there in ungoverned spaces. And in order for us to degrade ISIL over the long term, we’re going to have to build a regional strategy. Now, we’re not going to do that alone.
But when we look at a broader strategy that is consistent with what I said at West Point, that’s consistent with what I said at the National Defense College, clearly ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively. And that’s going to be a long-term project.
QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?
OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.
But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.
Now as we go forward, as I’ve described to Chuck, and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in, not just in Syria, not just in Iraq but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
But, as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. And in some of the media reports, the suggestion seems to have been that, you know, we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL.
We are gonna work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region. And we’re gonna cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy. There will be a military aspect to that. And it’s gonna be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.
If those things are followed through on and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful. If we can’t, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
There you have it. The right will have their very predictable freak-out session, but maybe some people will refer to this post for the rest of the story.
Live from the Brady Press Briefing Room.
Yes, folks, the Republican Party is threatening the President again over immigration; this time it’s far right Rep. Steve King on Fox News Sunday, saying “none of us want to do it” (yeah, right) but if Obama forces them into it they’ll have no other choice but to start impeachment proceedings.
Are we actually going to witness the spectacle of a gang of old white men trying to remove the first black President from office — over immigration? It’s looking more and more like they’re actually going to go for it. I’m only surprised it took them this long.
“None of us want to do the thing that’s left for us as an alternative,” King explained. “But if the president has decided that he’s simple not going to enforce any immigration law or at least not against anybody except the felons — which essentially he has done already, this is a broader group of people — I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution, and that includes that i-word that we don’t want to say.” The Iowa Republican added: “And I only say that now because I want to encourage the president, ‘Please don’t put America into a constitutional crisis. Please don’t do that. There’s too much at stake in this country to be decided that you can take over the Constitution and write it at will.’”
“You’re saying that if he were to do that, impeachment would be on the table?” Wallace pressed.
“I think then we have to sit down and take a look at that,” King insisted. “If that’s not enough to bring that about then I don’t know what would be. We’ve never seen anything in this country like a president who says I’m going make up all the immigration law that I choose.”
In his press conference today, President Obama said, “After 9/11… we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
And you can just imagine the reaction from conservatives to that. Well, actually, no need to imagine. Here’s a representative tweet from Ted Cruz’s senior communications advisor.
I am stunned our President just said “we tortured” people from the podium. This is a PR victory for our enemies. Make it stop. Make it stop.
And of course, that’s just the tip of the crazyberg that is the conservative movement. I’ve been blocking and muting people on Twitter for the past hour, many of them self-professed “Christians” like these:
Replace “Folks” with “Terrorists”. Obama can't do it. That would be talking against his kin. @joshuafoust
Obama’s statement on torture wasn’t really news; in May 2013 he said pretty much the same thing: Remarks by the President at the National Defense University | the White House.
Meanwhile, we strengthened our defenses — hardening targets, tightening transportation security, giving law enforcement new tools to prevent terror. Most of these changes were sound. Some caused inconvenience. But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance that we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy. And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values — by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.
Live from the Brady Press Briefing Room.
Live from the White House South Lawn.