News / USA

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

Security experts want US to better anticipate terrorist attacks

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid