Obama says the U.S. 'will overcome terrorism'

President Obama.
(Image credit: Pool/Getty Images)

During an address Sunday night in the Oval Office, President Obama sought to reassure Americans following the mass shooting in San Bernardino last week, saying the threat from terrorists is "real," but the United States will "prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power."

Obama said the shooting was an "act of terrorism," and the U.S. military will "continue to hunt down" plotters around the world. The U.S. will also continue to provide training and equipment to "tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting [the Islamic State] on the ground to take away safe havens and "deploy special operation forces to accelerate that offensive"; work with allies to stop ISIS operations, disrupt plots, and cut off finances; and establish a timeline to "pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian War" in order to then focus on destroying ISIS.

Obama said he has also asked the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State to "review the visa waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country." [Update: After the speech, the White House clarified that Tashfeen Malik came into the U.S. on a fiancée visa, not the visa waiver program.] The president also asked Congress to act so it's harder for people to buy "powerful assault weapons like the ones used in San Bernardino" and make it illegal for people on no-fly lists to purchase guns. "What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?" he asked. "This is a matter of national security." Also, he added, "If Congress believes as I do we are at war with [ISIS] it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military forces against these terrorists."

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What the U.S should not do, he said, is "be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq and Syria." Obama continued:

That's what groups like [ISIS] want. They know they can't defeat us on the battlefield. [ISIS] fighters are part of the insurgency we faced in Iraq. They also know if we occupy foreign lands they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops and draining our resources and using our presence to gain new recruits." Obama said he is "confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded on a belief in human dignity that no matter who you are or where you come from or what yo 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 make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional, let's not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear. [Obama]

Catherine Garcia

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