Barack Obama

First Press Statement on the Attempted Christmas Day Terrorist Bombing Attack in Detroit

delivered 28 December 2009, Kailua, Hawaii

Audio mp3 of Address

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Good morning, everybody. I want to take just a few minutes to update the American people on the attempted terrorist attack that occurred on Christmas Day and the steps we're taking to ensure the safety and security of the country.

The investigation's ongoing. And I spoke again this morning with Attorney General Eric Holder, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, and my counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan. I asked them to keep -- continue monitoring the situation to keep the American people and members of Congress informed.

Now, here's what we know so far: On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire. Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. And a full investigation has been launched into this attempted act of terrorism, and we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.

Now, this was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face and the nature of those who threaten our homeland. Had the suspect succeeded in bringing down that plane, it could have killed nearly 300 passengers and crew, innocent civilians preparing to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends. The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season.

Since I was first notified of this incident, I've ordered the following actions to be taken to protect the American people and to secure air travel.

First, I directed that we take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the traveling public. We made sure that all flights still in the air were secure and could land safely. We immediately enhanced screening and security procedures for all flights, domestic and international. We added federal air marshals to flights entering and leaving the United States. And we're working closely in this country, federal, state and local law enforcement, with our international partners.

Second, I've ordered two important reviews1,2, because it's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism.

The first review involves our watch list system, which our government has had in place for many years to identify known and suspected terrorists so that we can prevent their entry into the United States. Apparently the suspect in the Christmas incident was in this system, but not on a watch list, such as the so-called no-fly list. So I have ordered a thorough review, not only of how information related to the subject was handled, but of the overall watch list system and how it can be strengthened.

The second review will examine all screening policies, technologies, and procedures related to air travel. We need to determine just how the suspect was able to bring dangerous explosives aboard an aircraft and what additional steps we can take to thwart future attacks.

Third, I've directed my national security team to keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country. We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women, and children must know that the United States will more -- do more than simply strengthen our defenses. We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle, and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.

Finally, the American people should remain vigilant, but also be confident. Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans. This incident, like several that have preceded it, demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist.

As a nation, we will do everything in our power to protect our country. As Americans, we will never give in to fear or division. We will be guided by our hopes, our unity, and our deeply held values.

That's who we are as Americans.

That's what our brave men and women in uniform are standing up for as they spend the holidays in harm's way.

And we will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond.

Before I leave, let me also briefly address the events that have taken place over the last few days in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death.

For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days. And each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.

What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.

As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations [of] their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.

We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran.

We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

Thank you very much, everybody. And happy New Year.

Persian Translation of Remarks on Iran:

رئیس جمهوری در ارتباط با خشونت درایران سخن می گوید
سرکوب خشونت بار معترضان به وسیلۀ دولت ایران در پایان این هفته، بر اساس گزارشها، به چندین مورد مرگ و بازداشت صدها تن از تظاهر کنندگان، از جمله چندین نفر از چهره های سیاسی و فعالان حقوق بشر انجامیده است. اقدامات پیگیر سرکوبگرانه از جانب دولت بعد از انتخابات اختلاف انگیز ریاست جهوری ماه ژوئن، به انتقادات تند در سطح بین المللی دامن زده است. ایالات متحده همواره برای کسانی که درایران، و درسراسر جهان خوستار به کاربستن حقوق جهانی بشر خود هستند نقش گواه را ایفا می کند و در کنارشان ایستاده است.  
به آخرین سخنان رئیس جمهوری در زیر رجوع کنید:
پیش از این که اینجا را ترک کنم من اجازه دهید به اختصار به رویدادهایی که ظرف چند روز گذشته در جمهوری اسلامی ایران رخ داده است نیز بپردازم. ایالات متحده برای محکوم ساختن هرچه شدید تر سرکوب خشونت آمیز و غیرعادلانۀ شهروندان بی گناه ایرانی که ظاهرا به موارد متعددی از بازداشتها و جراحات و حتی مرگ منجر شده است، به جامعۀ بین المللی می پیوندد. 
طی چندین ماه مردم ایران خواستار چیزی بیشتر از برخوردرای از حقوق جهانی خود نبوده اند. هر بار که آنها چنین کرده اند، حتی در موقعیت های خطیر و روزهای مقدس، با مشت آهنین خشونت روبرو شده اند. و هر بار که این اتفاق افتاده، جهان با احساس عمیق ستایش برای شجاعت و عزم راسخ مردم ایران که بخشی از تمدن بزرگ و برجای ماندنی ایران اند، به نظاره نشسته است. 
آنچه که در داخل ایران در حال روی دادن است با ایالات متحده یا هیچ کشور دیگری ارتباط ندارد بلکه مربوط به مردم ایران و آرمانهای عدالتخواهی آنها و یک زندگی بهتر برای خودشان است. و تصمیم رهبران ایران برای حکومت از طریق توسل به ترس و ستمکاری، به از میان بردن آن آرمان ها توفیق نخواهد یافت.  و همانگونه که من در اسلو اعلام داشتم، این روش هنگامی بروز می کند که دولتها از آرمانهای مردم خود بیش از قدرت هر کشور دیگری وحشت دارند.
ایالات متحده همراه با دیگر کشورهای آزاد در کنار کسانی که خواستار حقوق جهانی خود هستند ایستاده است. ما از دولت ایران می خواهیم تا الزامات بین المللی ای را که نسبت به رعایت حقوق مردم خود دارد محترم شمارد. ما آزادی بی درنگ کسانی را که به طرز غیرعادلانه ای در داخل ایران بازداشت شده اند خواستاریم. ما به نقش خود به عنوان  گواه رویدادهای خارق العاده ای که در ایران در حال رخ دادن است ادامه می دهیم. و من اطمینان دارم که تاریخ در کنار جستجو کنندگان عدالت قرار خواهد داشت.

Arabic Translation of Remarks on Iran:

الرئيس يجاهر برأيه حول العنف في إيران
شنت الحكومة الإيرانية حملة عنيفة على المحتجين خلال هذه العطلة الأسبوعية، وذكر أن ذلك أسفر عن العديد من الوفيات، وكذلك عن اعتقال مئات من المتظاهرين، بمن فيهم عدد من الشخصيات السياسية والناشطين في مجال حقوق الإنسان. وقد أثار استمرار تلك الحكومة في عمليات القمع منذ الانتخابات الرئاسية المتنازع عليها في شهر حزيران/يونيو، انتقادات دولية حادة. وسوف تظل الولايات المتحدة على الدوام شاهدة ومناصرة لأولئك في إيران وحول العالم الذين يسعون إلى ممارسة حقوقهم الإنسانية وفق الأعراف الدولية.
فيما يلي أحدث تصريح للرئيس حول الموضوع:

 قبل أن أغادر، دعوني أتطرق أيضا بإيجاز إلى الأحداث التي جرت خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية في جمهورية إيران الإسلامية.
إن الولايات المتحدة تنضم إلى الأسرة الدولية في التنديد بشدة بالقمع العنيف والظالم للمواطنين الإيرانيين الأبرياء الذي أسفر على ما يبدو عن اعتقالات واحتجازات وإصابات، وحتى إلى الموت.
فطيلة أشهر، لم يسع الشعب الإيراني إلى شيء أكثر من ممارسة حقوقه وفق الأعراف الدولية. وفي كل مرة فعلوا ذلك كانوا يجابهون بقبضة الوحشية الحديدية، حتى في المناسبات الجليلة والأيام المقدسة. وفي كل مرة حدث ذلك، كان العالم يراقب بكل إعجاب شجاعة وإيمان الشعب الإيراني الذي هو جزء من حضارة إيران العظيمة والباقية على الدوام.
إن ما يحدث داخل إيران لا يتعلق بالولايات المتحدة أو بأي دولة أخرى- إنه يتعلق بالشعب الإيراني وتطلعاته إلى العدالة والحياة الأفضل لهم. ولن يفلح قرار الزعماء الإيرانيين بأن يحكموا عن طريق التخويف والطغيان في تبديد هذه التطلعات. وكما قلت في أوسلو، إنه لشيء معبر حينما تخشى الحكومات تطلعات شعوبها أكثر مما تخشى قوة أي دولة أخرى.
والولايات المتحدة، ومعها جميع الأمم الحرة، تقف مع أولئك الذين يسعون إلى نيل حقوقهم وفق الأعراف الدولية. ونحن نهيب بالحكومة الإيرانية أن تمتثل للالتزامات الدولية الواجبة عليها وأن تحترم حقوق شعبها. وإننا ننادي بالإفراج فورا عن جميع الذين احتجزوا داخل إيران عن غير وجه حق. وسوف  نظل شهودا على الأحداث الاستثنائية الجارية هناك. وإنني على ثقة بأن التاريخ سينتصر لأولئك الذين يسعون لتحقيق العدالة.

1 Summary of White House Review of the December 25, 2009 Attempted Terrorist Attack

2 Presidential Memorandum Regarding 12-25-09 Attempted Terrorist Attack

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