U.S. President Barack Obama gave a press conference from the White House on the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, to assure the American people that there is currently no specific intelligence indicating there is any plot on the homeland, going into this holiday season.
Obama gave the press conference following a briefing in the situation room from his national security advisers, FBI Director James B. Comey, Director of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.
The message the president gave was intended to assure Americans who are nervous about traveling or gathering in large crowds during this holiday season, especially in light of the horrific attacks carried out by ISIS against ordinary civilians on Friday, Nov. 13. The death toll from those attacks reached 130, with hundreds more injured.
Obama said that he knows Americans are wondering whether what happened in Paris could happen here in America. “They are asking, maybe for the first time since 9/11, whether it is safe to fly or to gather together.”
Before stating that his advisers have assured him there is no intelligence regarding a current plot against the American homeland, the President reminded Americans of the ways in which the U.S. and its coalition partners – more than 60 countries strong – are working to defeat ISIS.
He said that, first, the coalition is “going after ISIL everywhere they hide.” There have been “more than 800 airstrikes” targeting the strongholds and equipment of ISIS.” The coalition has “taken out leaders and territory” from ISIS, and is working to “choke off their financing and supply lines,” in addition to “countering their messages.”
Second, Obama said, American homeland security, counterterrorism forces, the military and law enforcement are all working tirelessly to prevent terrorists from committing acts in the U.S. They are engaging in information sharing, and they are learning from every single security incident, those that are foiled and those that are not.
The president also called on all Americans to pay attention and to report suspicious activity, “if you see something, say something,” he said.
Finally, he said that having all of our security forces being ever-vigilant, continually preventing attacks and saving lives, “is something we can all be thankful for.”
Obama was flanked by his national security advisers during his press conference.
No questions were permitted.
The press conference was only announced shortly before it was scheduled to take place. Perhaps it was in response to polling which shows that Americans are indeed frightened and more reluctant to travel this holiday season.
In a poll of 1000 Americans taken within the last three days, more than half said they will be more watchful for possible terrorist attacks over the holiday weekend. The poll also revealed that a lot fewer Americans intend to travel this holiday than in previous years. A poll using the same methodology taken earlier this month, even before the attacks in Paris, revealed that Americans are less confident in their safety in the U.S. than they have ever been.