News / USA

President Obama Praised for Sticking to American Values on Counter-Terrorism

Security experts want US to better anticipate terrorist attacks

As President Obama completes his first year in office, security experts give him high marks for sticking to American values and trying to win the hearts of Muslims while taking steps to avert terrorist attacks. But they also say the U.S. must not wait to fix a weakness until after it is exposed by an attack.

"While passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands, we are at war," President Obama said.

And that war is against the kind of terrorism that authorities say a Nigerian man attempted when he allegedly tried to bomb a US airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day [December 25]. President Obama promised to use "every element of national power" to keep Americans safe.

Some security experts say that President Obama avoids comparing the war on terrorism to conventional war between nations, but he has taken several steps to contain the threat.

Clark Irwin is with the Aspen Institute:

"People don't realize that President Obama has really intensified the effort to go after al-Qaida central in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drone strikes have really intensified under his tenure. He famously, after much deliberation, is increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan," Irwin said.

President Obama is doing something that his predecessor did not do, says Irwin.

"The struggle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim community here in the U.S. and around the world," Irwin said.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accuses Mr. Obama of pretending not to be at war with terrorist organizations. But Jacob Shapiro at Princeton University says the use of the word "war" actually helps the terror groups.

"It plays into the narrative that they are trying to construct for the population they are appealing to of this ragged band of brave individuals fighting the mighty power that is oppressing their society. And it also helps their efforts to create fear and anxiety in our population," Shapiro said.

Paul Pillar at Georgetown University says if it is not war, then the Obama administration needs to spell out the exact nature of the struggle. The former CIA veteran says there should be an open debate about what price Americans are willing to pay for security against terrorism.

"It might be privacy, it might be personal liberty, it might be the convenience of the traveling public. It might be monetary cost, it might be cost in blood and treasure for military operations overseas, as in Afghanistan," Pillar said.

Michael German of the American Civil Liberities Union says the American public does not fully understand what is at stake in the war against terrorism.

"I think that is something that this administration needs to address immediately, and it is already a year behind," German said.

But he says the Obama administration should get credit for not giving up on American values while fighting against terrorists.

"Our policies and procedures do express American values - tolerance, transparency, respect for rule of law and due process. Those things will ultimately keep us stronger and protect us better than any sort of effort to stomp out who we perceive as the bad guys," German said.

Clark Irwin at the Aspen Institute agrees. But he says the recent failed airplane bomb attack makes clear Mr. Obama's administration must do more to combat terrorism.  Security officials have to anticipate the next attack.

"One of the things we need to start doing is to get ahead of the curve by trying to anticipate additional methods that can be used against us and closing the gaps before those gaps are exploited," Irwin said.

Security experts agree that given the number of targets and the infinite ways they can be exploited, security can never be 100 percent.  But they say that does not mean the Obama administration can lower its guard and stop working toward achieving that.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs