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Obama: U.S. Will Strengthen Defenses, Pressure Extremists

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2009 – In addition to strengthening defenses, the United States will seek out those who wish Americans harm “anywhere they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland,” President Barack Obama said in Hawaii today.

The president spoke about the steps the government will take in the wake of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound U.S. commercial aircraft on Christmas Day. Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253.

“The American people should be assured that we will do everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season,” Obama said.

The president directed the national security team “to keep up the pressure on those who would attack our country.”

Information is still coming out about the incident. “Those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will do more than simply strengthen our defenses: We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us,” he said.

The president said as soon as he heard of the attempt he ordered enhanced screening of all flights. He also ordered more federal air marshals on flights entering and leaving the United States.

He also has ordered reviews of the incident. One on the so-called watch list and the other on all screening policies, technologies and procedures related to air travel. “We need to find out how the suspect was able to bring dangerous explosives aboard an aircraft and what additional steps we can take to deter future attacks,” Obama said.

The president called for the American people to remain vigilant. A passenger stopped the suspect from blowing up the plane. “This incident, like several that have preceded it – demonstrate that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist,” he said.

The nation will do all it can to defeat these threats. “As Americans, we will never give in to fear or division,” the president said. “We will be guided by our hopes, our unity and our deeply held values.”

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