Whitehouse Press Articles
WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY, 2013
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
After a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice, every American should be able to enjoy their golden years with dignity and security. But too often, senior citizens are the victims of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Elder abuse is a global public health problem that affects people of every background and culture, and while it often occurs in silence, it takes a devastating toll on millions of older Americans each year. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we reaffirm our commitment to ending this crime in all its forms.
My Administration is a determined advocate for older Americans. Through the Elder Justice Act, which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, we are working to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. States and tribes are investigating risk factors for abuse and neglect and identifying strategies to stop it. We convened the Elder Justice Coordinating Council to better focus prevention efforts across the Federal Government. We are committed to combatting exploitation by empowering seniors to meet financial challenges and helping them avoid scams. And we continue to pursue a rigorous criminal justice response to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation -- one that holds offenders accountable, gives professionals meaningful training, and ensures victims get the help they need.
Older Americans have steered our Nation through times of hardship and war, and ushered in eras of progress and prosperity. Today, let us stand up and speak out on their behalf, and meet our responsibility to show our elders the care and respect they deserve.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 15, 2013, as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day by learning the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and by raising awareness about this growing public health issue.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announces his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
• Liliana Ayalde – Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil, Department of State
• James Costos – Ambassador to Spain, Department of State
• John B. Emerson – Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Department of State
• Rufus Gifford – Ambassador to Denmark, Department of State
• Ken Hackett – Ambassador to the Holy See, Department of State
• Patricia Marie Haslach – Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Department of State
President Obama said, “It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this Administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, Nominee for Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil, Department of State
Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. From 2008 to 2011, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay. Ambassador Ayalde began her career in the Foreign Service at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she served for 24 years. At USAID, she served as Mission Director in Colombia from 2005 to 2008, Mission Director in Bolivia from 1999 to 2005, and as Deputy Mission Director in Nicaragua from 1997 to 1999. Ambassador Ayalde received a B.A. from the School of International Studies at American University and an M.P.H. from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.
James Costos, Nominee for Ambassador to Spain, Department of State
James Costos is Vice President of Global Licensing and Retail for Home Box Office (HBO). Before joining HBO in 2006, he was President and CEO of Eight Cylinders, Inc., an entertainment marketing and licensing agency. Previously, from 2002 to 2004, he was head of Promotions and Consumer Products at Revolution Studios in California. He began his career in New York as a fashion and retail executive. From 2001 to 2002, he was Vice President of Retail for Hermes in New York, and from 1991 to 2001, he was Vice President of Retail Operations for Tod’s in New York. Mr. Costos currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Humane Society of the United States. He received a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.
John B. Emerson, Nominee for Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Department of State
John B. Emerson is President of Private Client Services for the Capital Group Companies, a global investment management firm. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Emerson served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. From 1993 to 1994, he was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Presidential Personnel at the White House. From 1987 to 1992, he was the Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Attorney. He began his career in 1978 as an attorney with Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg, and Tunney in Los Angeles. Mr. Emerson is a Member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, a position he has held since his appointment in 2010. He served as Chairman of the LA Mayor’s Council on the Arts from 2004 to 2005. Mr. Emerson received an A.B. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.
Rufus Gifford, Nominee for Ambassador to Denmark, Department of State
Rufus Gifford most recently served as Finance Chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He served as Finance Director for Obama for America from 2011 to 2012, and as Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011. From 2008 to 2009, he was the California Finance Director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, after working as a political consultant in California from 2004 to 2008. From 1998 to 2004, Mr. Gifford was Creative Executive for Davis Entertainment, an independent film company based in Los Angeles. He is currently a Federal Club Member of the Human Rights Campaign and a Partner in Conservation for the World Wildlife Fund. He received a B.A. from Brown University.
Ken Hackett, Nominee for Ambassador to the Holy See, Department of State
Ken Hackett is a consultant to the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Global Development. In 2012, after 40 years of service, he retired from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), where he was the President and CEO from 1993 to 2012. Prior to serving as President and CEO, Mr. Hackett was East African Regional Director from 1992 to 1993. From 1987 to 1992, he served as the Country Representative in the Philippines. From 1986 to 1987, he was Senior Director of External Affairs, and from 1978 to 1985, he was the African Regional Director. He began his career with CRS in 1972 as a staff member in Sierra Leone. In addition to working at CRS, Mr. Hackett was North American Vice President of Caritas Internationalis from 1996 to 2004. From 1996 to 2011, he served as a member of the Pontifical Commission, Cor Unum, the Vatican body that coordinates the Church’s charitable work. From 2004 to 2009, he served on the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Mr. Hackett served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana from 1968 to 1971. He received a B.S. from Boston College.
Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach, Nominee for Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Department of State
Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Previously, from 2011 to 2012, she was Iraq Transition Coordinator in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources. From 2010 to 2011, she was Deputy Coordinator for Global Hunger and Food Security, and from 2009 to 2010, she was Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Ambassador Haslach’s additional assignments include: United States Senior Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, with the rank of Ambassador, from 2007 to 2009; Ambassador to Laos from 2004 to 2007; Director of the Office for Afghanistan at the Department of State from 2002 to 2004; and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 2000 to 2002. Ambassador Haslach began her career with the federal government in the Foreign Agriculture Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She received a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.I.A. from Columbia University.
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am providing this supplemental consolidated report, prepared by my Administration and consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM OBJECTIVES
In furtherance of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the United States continues to work with partners around the globe, with a particular focus on the U.S. Central Command's and U.S. Africa Command's areas of responsibility. In this context, the United States has deployed U.S. combat-equipped forces to enhance the counterterrorism capabilities and support the counterterrorism operations of our friends and allies, including special operations and other forces for sensitive operations in various locations around the world. Specific information about counterterrorism deployments to select countries is provided below, and a classified annex to this report provides further information.
Military Operations Against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and Associated Forces and in Support of Related U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
Since October 7, 2001, the United States has conducted combat operations in Afghanistan against al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. In support of these and other overseas operations, the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation. Previously, such operations and deployments have been reported, consistent with Public Law 107-40 and the War Powers Resolution, and operations and deployments remain ongoing. These operations, which the United States has carried out with the assistance of numerous international partners, have been successful in seriously degrading al-Qa'ida's capabilities and brought an end to the Taliban's leadership of Afghanistan. The United States is committed to thwarting the efforts of al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces to carry out future acts of international terrorism, and we have continued to work with our counterterrorism partners to disrupt and degrade the capabilities of al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces. As necessary, in response to this terrorist threat, I will direct additional measures to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.
Afghanistan. United States Armed Forces continue to pursue and engage remaining al-Qa'ida and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan while transitioning to an Afghan security lead. The Afghanistan Force Management Level is approximately 62,000 U.S. forces. Approximately 49,000 of these forces are assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Further Presidentially directed force reductions will continue to the 34,000 level by February 12, 2014.
The U.N. Security Council most recently reaffirmed its authorization of ISAF for a 12-month period until October 13, 2013, in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2069 (October 9, 2012). The mission of ISAF, under NATO command and in partnership with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. Fifty nations, including the United States and all 28 NATO members, contribute forces to ISAF. These forces broke Taliban momentum and trained additional Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The ANSF are now increasingly assuming responsibility for security on the timeline committed to at the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, and renewed at the Summit in Chicago, by the United States, our NATO allies, ISAF partners, and the Government of Afghanistan. The nations contributing to ISAF will continue to support Afghanistan on its path towards self-reliance in security, improved governance, and economic and social development. This path will prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world.
On March 25, 2013, the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Afghan government under which the United States transferred all Afghan nationals detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan to the custody and control of the Afghan government. Pursuant to the MOU, any new Afghan detainees are to be transferred to Afghan custody and control within 96 hours after capture. United States forces in Afghanistan continue to detain approximately 66 third-country nationals under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.
Somalia. In Somalia, the U.S. military has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab. As detailed in my report of January 13, 2013, and at my direction, on January 11, 2013, U.S. combat aircraft briefly entered Somali airspace and U.S. forces provided limited technical support to French forces conducting an operation in Somalia in which they attempted to rescue a French citizen being held hostage by al-Shabaab.
Yemen. The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to dismantle operationally and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa'ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in Yemen who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests.
Cuba. Combat-equipped forces, deployed since January 2002 to the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continue to conduct humane and secure detention operations for the approximately 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay under the authority provided by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) as informed by the law of war.
Military Operations in Niger in Support of U.S. Counterterrorism Objectives
As detailed in my report of February 22, 2013, and at my direction, on February 20, 2013, the last elements of a deployment of 40 additional U.S. military personnel entered Niger with the consent of the Government of Niger. This deployment provides support for intelligence collection and facilitates intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Niger is approximately 180.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICA
In October and November 2011, U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda to serve as advisors to regional forces that are working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield, and to protect local populations. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed for this mission, including those providing logistical and support functions, is approximately 100. United States forces are working with select partner nation forces to enhance cooperation, information-sharing and synchronization, operational planning, and overall effectiveness. Elements of these U.S. forces have deployed to forward locations in the LRA-affected areas of the Republic of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic to enhance regional efforts against the LRA. These forces will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense. It is in the U.S. national security interest to help our regional partners in Africa to develop their capability to address threats to regional peace and security, including the threat posed by the LRA. The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to help the governments and people of this region in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and to address the impact of the LRA's atrocities.
MARITIME INTERCEPTION OPERATIONS
As noted in previous reports, the United States remains prepared to conduct maritime interception operations on the high seas in the areas of responsibility of each of the geographic combatant commands. These maritime operations are aimed at stopping the movement, arming, and financing of certain international terrorist groups, and also include operations aimed at stopping proliferation by sea of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. As detailed in my report of January 28, 2013, and at my direction, on January 23, 2013, a U.S. Navy warship with Yemeni Coast Guard personnel aboard entered Yemeni territorial waters, at the invitation of the Government of Yemen, to assist the Government of Yemen in intercepting and inspecting a vessel suspected of smuggling contraband into Yemen. Upon boarding and searching the vessel, a combined U.S. and Yemeni team discovered various conventional weapons and explosives, apparently of Iranian origin, concealed within the vessel. The vessel was escorted to Aden and turned over to the Yemeni Coast Guard on January 30, 2013.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT
Approximately 690 military personnel are assigned to the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force and Observers, which have been present in Egypt since 1981.
U.S./NATO OPERATIONS IN KOSOVO
The U.N. Security Council authorized Member States to establish a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Resolution 1244 on June 10, 1999. The original mission of KFOR was to monitor, verify, and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), while maintaining a safe and secure environment. Today, KFOR deters renewed hostilities in cooperation with local authorities, bilateral partners, and international institutions. The principal military tasks of KFOR forces are to help maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo.
Currently, 23 NATO Allies contribute to KFOR. Seven non-NATO countries also participate. The United States contribution to KFOR is approximately 750 U.S. military personnel out of the total strength of approximately 5,165 personnel.
REGIONAL SECURITY OPERATIONS
As detailed in my report of December 14, 2012, the security forces that deployed to Libya on September 12, 2012, and the security forces deployed to Yemen on September 13, 2012, to support the security of U.S. personnel remain in place and will remain until the security situation no longer requires them. On May 17, 2013, approximately 30 additional U.S. forces deployed to Libya to further support the security of U.S. personnel in Libya.
As detailed in my report of December 29, 2012, due to the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic and the potential threat to U.S. citizens, U.S. embassy personnel and several private U.S. citizens were evacuated on December 27, 2012, from Bangui, Central African Republic. On December 27, 2012, a standby response and evacuation force of approximately 50 U.S. military personnel from U.S. Africa Command deployed to Chad to support the evacuation of U.S. embassy personnel and U.S. citizens from the Central African Republic. The last of those forces departed Chad on December 29, 2012. Additional information about regional security operations is provided in the classified annex.
I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in all of these operations pursuant to my constitutional and statutory authority as Commander in Chief (including the authority to carry out Public Law 107-40 and other statutes) and as Chief Executive, as well as my constitutional and statutory authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States. Officials of my Administration and I communicate regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress with regard to these deployments, and we will continue to do so.
2:50 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the White House. Everybody, please have a seat. Congratulations to the 2012 WNBA Champions, the Indiana Fever. (Applause.) I told them if you're from Indiana, you better have a good basketball team. (Laughter.) They brought Indiana’s other championship team with them –- the Division III Women’s Basketball champions, the 34-0 DePauw Tigers, who are in the audience. Where are you, Tigers? (Applause.) Tigers -- right back here. How about that? That’s pretty cool. Well, we're going to have to get a picture after we do all this, with the Tigers. I don’t know, by the way, if this is a recruiting violation, you guys bringing them here. (Laughter.) She's keeping her eye out for new talent.
This is not Coach Dunn’s first trip to the White House. She came here when she was a Girl Scout -- I won’t say which administration that was. (Laughter.)
COACH DUNN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I also want to recognize the WNBA President, Laurel Richie, and Fever team owner Herb Simon. Where are they? (Applause.) I didn’t know where you went. Now, Herb is also the owner of the Indiana Pacers. (Applause.) I will not comment on that. (Laughter.) Although we do both have something in common, which is, our teams got knocked out by the Heat. (Laughter.) But we will get even next year.
And while our towns have a friendly rivalry going on, I still recognize those Midwestern values when I see them. We saw it in the Indiana Fever, which is, you look out for your teammates. You kept fighting, no matter what gets thrown at you. As Coach Dunn put it: “We're all blue collar. We work hard on defense. We rebound. We're tough.”
And that toughness got this team through a season with more than its fair share of injuries. Nevertheless, whenever one player went down, another stepped up. So in Game 3 against Connecticut in the Eastern Conference Finals, hometown hero Katie Douglas was sidelined for the rest of the season. It looked the team might be in real trouble, and then players like Erin Philips came alive. They stormed back, won the game then the series, earning a spot in the Finals.
That’s when you had your "Hoosiers" moment. To be fair, you have a lot more court time under your belts than the team from Hickory High. But you came into the finals as underdogs. The Minnesota Lynx were the defending champions. They had won the season series 2-0.
They knew that they had to step up their game, and that’s what they did. They rallied behind my good friend -- who I've had the pleasure of being on the court, and she took it easy on me -- Tamika Catchings, MVP, who can now add a WBNA championship to her NCAA championship -- (applause) -- three-time Gold Medalist. And all of you then brought home Indiana’s first professional basketball title since 1973. That’s a long time. (Applause.)
And obviously, the Fever's incredible season inspired your state, inspired your fans. But I was mentioning backstage, the WNBA generally inspires a lot of young people. I occasionally coach Sasha's basketball team, and for her to have wonderful role models like this who work hard, know how to play like a team, are incredibly poised and competitors but also show good sportsmanship -- that’s the kind of models you want for your children.
So Coach Dunn has two years -- was two years into her coaching career when Title IX was passed. Today, we’ve got two women’s basketball championships -- championship teams here in the White House. And that’s a reminder of the incredible progress that we've made, thanks to pioneers like Coach Dunn. And so, we really thank you for that. And we appreciate that. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the entire Indiana Fever for giving back to their communities -- not just being role models, but also taking time out off the court. Tamika has her own foundation, Catch the Stars, and she’s helped the First Lady, Michelle, with the Let’s Move program to encourage kids to eat healthy and exercise. Players on the Fever have received a combined 13 WNBA Community Assist Awards for countless hours they spend volunteering. They visit local school kids as part of the Read to Achieve Program. They’ve teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for folks in Indianapolis. And right after this, they’re going to run a basketball clinic on the South Lawn for young people here in D.C.
So it’s that kind of commitment that makes the Fever not just a winning team, but a special team. So I really want to congratulate them on an incredible 2012 season. We wish them the best of luck in 2013. Everybody give the Indiana Fever a big round of applause. (Applause.)
So, yes! Got my jersey. Here, let's take down the -- Coach, do you want to say something?
COACH DUNN: Yes, I do.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go ahead. (Laughter.)
COACH DUNN: Well, first of all, I'm a little nervous. I haven't been to the White House since the fifth grade. (Laughter.)
But on behalf of our owner, Herb Simon, and the great leadership that we have at Pacers Sports and Entertainment -- Rick Fuson, Jim Morris, Kelly Krauskopf -- and all of our families and friends that are here today. We just want to thank you so much for inviting us here to see the White House, to meet you -- that’s really special too, because I'm a Democrat -- (laughter and applause) -- and to celebrate our championship season, our 2012 championship season.
And I just want you to know that this is an amazing group of women. What they did under just tremendous adversity -- they kept fighting back. Nobody expected us to win the conference. And certainly no one -- none of the reporters -- you know all those people -- (laughter) -- none of them picked us to win, and certainly not to upset the defending WNBA championship. So not only are they great players, great people, but they are tremendous role models. You're proud to meet a great group here. So I just want you to know how special they are.
And, Mr. President, the last thing I want to say is, I want to thank you personally, you and the First Lady, for all you do to empower women. You have no idea. (Applause.) Every day, you both send a strong message that little girls can do anything they want to do, and they can be anything they want to be.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the truth.
COACH DUNN: And so, we thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. Thank you. (Applause.)
COACH DUNN: We've got some gifts for you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Got my ball, got my hat, got my jersey. I'm set. And I just want to say that I might try to recruit Coach Dunn to run for something. (Laughter.)
All right, let's strike the podium and let's get a good picture.
3:00 P.M. EDT
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Expanding America's Leadership in Wireless Innovation
A combination of American entrepreneurship and innovation, private investment, and smart policy has positioned the United States as the global leader in wireless broadband technologies. Expanding the availability of spectrum for innovative and flexible commercial uses, including for broadband services, will further promote our Nation's economic development by providing citizens and businesses with greater speed and availability of coverage, encourage further development of cutting-edge wireless technologies, applications, and services, and help reduce usage charges for households and businesses. We must continue to make additional spectrum available as promptly as possible for the benefit of consumers and businesses. At the same time, we must ensure that Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are able to maintain mission critical capabilities that depend on spectrum today, as well as effectively and efficiently meet future requirements.
In my memorandum of June 28, 2010 (Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution), I directed the Secretary of Commerce, working through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make 500 MHz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum available for wireless broadband use within 10 years. Executive departments and agencies (agencies), including NTIA, have done an excellent job of pursuing the twin goals of advancing their agency missions and promoting innovation and economic growth. Although existing efforts will almost double the amount of spectrum available for wireless broadband, we must make available even more spectrum and create new avenues for wireless innovation. One means of doing so is by allowing and encouraging shared access to spectrum that is currently allocated exclusively for Federal use. Where technically and economically feasible, sharing can and should be used to enhance efficiency among all users and expedite commercial access to additional spectrum bands, subject to adequate interference protection for Federal users, especially users with national security, law enforcement, and safety-of-life responsibilities. In order to meet growing Federal spectrum requirements, we should also seek to eliminate restrictions on commercial carriers' ability to negotiate sharing arrangements with agencies. To further these efforts, while still safeguarding protected incumbent systems that are vital to Federal interests and economic growth, this memorandum directs agencies and offices to take a number of additional actions to accelerate shared access to spectrum.
Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Spectrum Policy Team. (a) The Chief Technology Officer and the Director of the National Economic Council, or their designees, shall co-chair a Spectrum Policy Team that shall include representatives from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the National Security Staff, and the Council of Economic Advisers. The Spectrum Policy Team shall work with NTIA to implement this memorandum. The Spectrum Policy Team may invite the FCC to provide advice and assistance.
(b) The Spectrum Policy Team shall monitor and support advances in spectrum sharing policies and technologies. Within 1 year of the date of this memorandum, the Spectrum Policy Team shall publish a report describing how NTIA and FCC are incorporating spectrum sharing into their spectrum management practices. The report shall include recommendations that enable more productive uses of spectrum throughout our economy and society and protect the current and future mission capabilities of agencies. The Spectrum Policy Team shall also assess national security, law enforcement, safety-of-life, economic, scientific, social, international, and other policy considerations related to licensed and unlicensed spectrum use, including standardization as well as the extent to which the revenue potential of spectrum auctions affects spectrum policy.
Sec. 2. Collaboration on Spectrum Sharing. (a) The Secretary of Commerce, working through NTIA, has been facilitating discussions between agencies and nonfederal entities that have produced an unprecedented level of information-sharing and collaboration to identify opportunities for agencies to relinquish or share spectrum, currently focusing on the 1695-1710 MHz band, the 1755-1850 MHz band, and the 5350-5470 and 5850-5925 MHz bands. The NTIA shall continue to facilitate these discussions and the sharing of data to expedite commercial entry into these bands where possible, provided that the mission capabilities of Federal systems designed to operate in these bands are maintained and protected, including through relocation, either to alternative spectrum or non-spectrum dependent systems, or through acceptable sharing arrangements. These discussions shall also be expanded to encompass more spectrum bands that may be candidates for shared access, specifically those in the range below 6 GHz, subject to the protection of the capabilities of Federal systems designed to operate in those bands.
(b) Within 3 months of the date of this memorandum, the Secretary of Commerce, working through NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and building on the results from the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, shall publish an inventory and description of Federal test facilities available to commercial and other stakeholders engaged in research, development, testing, and evaluation of technologies to enhance spectrum sharing and other spectrum-related efficiencies. To maximize the productive use of these facilities and to facilitate greater collaboration among agencies and nonfederal stakeholders, the Secretary of Commerce, working through NTIA, NIST, and other appropriate agencies, shall, within 6 months of the date of this memorandum, establish a plan for the development and promulgation of standard policies, best practices, and templates governing the following: research, development, testing, and evaluation of spectrum sharing technologies by and among commercial, Government, and academic stakeholders at Federal facilities.
(c) All policies, practices, and templates shall be subject to safeguards reasonably necessary to protect classified, sensitive, and proprietary data. Within 6 months of the date of this memorandum, the Spectrum Policy Team, in consultation with the Department of Justice, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and other appropriate agencies, shall, consistent with applicable law, including 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended by Public Law 107-306 and Public Law 11-175, and Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009 (Classified National Security Information), implement policies for the sharing with authorized nonfederal parties of classified, sensitive, or proprietary data regarding assignments, utilization of spectrum, system configurations, business plans, and other information.
Sec. 3. Agency Usage of Spectrum. (a) The NTIA, in consultation with the Spectrum Policy Team and appropriate agencies, shall include in its Fourth Interim Report required by section 1(d) of my memorandum of June 28, 2010, a plan directing applicable agencies to provide quantitative assessments of the actual usage of spectrum in those spectrum bands that NTIA previously identified and prioritized in its Third Interim Report and such other bands as NTIA and the Spectrum Policy Team determine have the greatest potential to be shared with nonfederal users. Each agency's assessment shall be prepared according to such metrics and other parameters as are reasonably necessary to determine the extent to which spectrum assigned to the agency could potentially be made available for sharing with or release to commercial users, particularly in major metropolitan areas, without adversely affecting agencies' missions, especially those related to national security, law enforcement, and safety of life. Each assessment shall also include a discussion of projected increases in spectrum usage and needs and shall identify where access to nonfederal spectrum could aid in fulfilling agency missions. The plan shall further require each agency to submit its assessments to NTIA and the Spectrum Policy Team within 12 months of the plan's release. In identifying spectrum bands with the greatest potential to be shared, NTIA and the Spectrum Policy Team shall consider the number and nature of Federal and nonfederal systems in a band, the technical suitability of the band for shared use, international implications, any potential for relocating Federal systems to comparable spectrum or otherwise enabling comparable capabilities, and other factors NTIA and the Spectrum Policy Team deem relevant based on consultation with agencies and other stakeholders. A band shall be identified as a candidate for shared access under this subsection only if it has been likewise identified under section 2(a) of this memorandum.
(b) The reporting of information under this section shall be subject to existing safeguards protecting classified, sensitive, and proprietary data. The NTIA shall release a summary of the assessments publicly to the extent consistent with law. The NTIA and the Spectrum Policy Team shall make any appropriate recommendations regarding the possible availability of spectrum in the subject bands for innovative and flexible commercial uses, including broadband, taking into account factors such as the nature of the Federal systems in the bands and the extent to which those systems occupy and use the bands.
(c) The NTIA shall design and conduct a pilot program to monitor spectrum usage in real time in selected communities throughout the country to determine whether a comprehensive monitoring program in major metropolitan areas could disclose opportunities for more efficient spectrum access, including via sharing. The NTIA shall work with agencies to ensure the program will not reveal sensitive or classified information. The NTIA shall consult with each agency to determine the correct technical parameters to monitor usage.
(d) Within 6 months of the date of this memorandum, NTIA shall take such actions as are necessary to require that each agency's regular reviews of its frequency assignments include a quantitative assessment of its actual usage of spectrum under such assignments.
(e) The NTIA shall also take such actions as are necessary to require that an agency requesting a frequency assignment or spectrum certification for systems operating between 400 MHz and 6 GHz verify that it must operate in this critical range, and that it will use the minimum spectrum reasonably necessary to most effectively meet mission requirements. The requesting agency shall also verify that it is not reasonable to satisfy such requirements in some other manner, such as at higher frequencies, via commercial services, or via a system that is not spectrum-dependent, whether due to cost, technology, implementation, performance reasons, international obligations, or other practical or legal constraints. In the case of system certification requests only, the requesting agency shall also present with its request a narrative explaining why its proposed solution will most effectively meet its mission requirements, in light of potential alternative approaches and all practical and legal constraints. Further, requesting agencies shall identify spectrum that will no longer be used by any legacy systems that are replaced. In implementing this subsection, NTIA shall take all steps necessary to protect against disclosure of sensitive and classified information.
Sec. 4. Spectrum Efficiency in Procurements. Agencies shall include spectrum efficiency when considering procurement of spectrum-dependent systems and hardware, as a technical requirement, an evaluation criterion for award, or both. The Director of OMB, in consultation with NTIA, shall develop and incorporate spectrum efficiency guidelines into budget and procurement processes. These guidelines shall facilitate, as appropriate, the design and procurement of systems that increase flexibility through means such as multiple-band tuning capabilities and the use of commercial systems. The guidelines also shall require, to the extent possible, procurements of Federal systems such that emission levels resulting from reasonable use of adjacent spectrum will not impair the functioning of such systems, consistent with any applicable radio receiver performance criteria and international obligations.
Sec. 5. Performance Criteria for Radio Receivers. The FCC is strongly encouraged, in consultation with NTIA, where appropriate, the industry, and other stakeholders, to develop to the fullest extent of its legal authority a program of performance criteria, ratings, and other measures, including standards, to encourage the design, manufacture, and sale of radio receivers such that emission levels resulting from reasonable use of adjacent spectrum will not endanger the functioning of the receiver or seriously degrade, obstruct, or repeatedly interrupt the operations of the receiver. In developing such a program, the FCC is strongly encouraged to give due consideration to existing policies and prudent investments that have been previously made in systems, including receivers. In its consultation with the FCC, NTIA shall provide information regarding Federal receiver standards and agency practices under those standards.
Sec. 6. Incentives for Agencies. The Spectrum Policy Team shall, within 6 months of the date of this memorandum, publish a report making recommendations to the President regarding market-based or other approaches that could give agencies greater incentive to share or relinquish spectrum, while protecting the mission capabilities of existing and future systems that rely on spectrum use. The report shall consider whether the Spectrum Currency and Spectrum Efficiency Fund proposals made by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology would be effective. The report shall also analyze the impact of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act of 2004 (Title II of Public Law 108-494), as modified by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-96).
Sec. 7. Rapid Deployment of Wireless Broadband. The FCC is strongly encouraged, in collaboration with NTIA, where appropriate, to expedite the repurposing of spectrum and otherwise enable innovative and flexible commercial uses of spectrum, including broadband, to be deployed as rapidly as possible by:
(a) identifying spectrum allocated for nonfederal uses that can be made available for licensed and unlicensed wireless broadband services and devices, and other innovative and flexible uses of spectrum, while fairly accommodating the rights and reasonable expectations of incumbent users;
(b) identifying spectrum allocated for nonfederal uses that can be made available to agencies, on a shared or exclusive basis, particularly where necessary to accommodate agencies seeking to relocate systems out of bands that could be made available for licensed services or unlicensed devices;
(c) promulgating and enforcing rules for licensed services to provide strong incentives for licensees to put spectrum to use and avoid spectrum warehousing. Such rules may include build-out requirements or other licensing conditions as appropriate for the particular circumstance;
(d) establishing and maintaining conditions that promote a reliable secondary market for spectrum, including provisions enabling negotiated access by agencies and uses not addressed in subsection (b) of this section;
(e) promulgating and enforcing rules for licensed services and unlicensed devices to share Federal spectrum that accommodate mission changes and technology updates by both Federal and nonfederal users; and
(f) consulting with the Department of State regarding international obligations related to spectrum use.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to any agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to require the disclosure of classified information, law enforcement sensitive information, or other information that must be protected in the interest of national security or public safety.
(c) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(e) Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the requirements of this memorandum.
(f) The Presidential Memorandum of November 30, 2004 (Improving Spectrum Management for the 21st Century), is hereby revoked.
(g) The Secretary of Commerce is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
Fact Sheet: Administration Provides Another Boost to Wireless Broadband and Technological Innovation
The President today announced several new Administration initiatives to bolster American leadership in wireless broadband and technological innovation, leveraging the latest advances in the wireless sector to accelerate job creation. These new initiatives are the latest in a series of actions the Administration has taken over the past four years to ensure American businesses and workers have the infrastructure they need to compete in the 21st century economy. Also, the White House released a report, Four Years of Broadband Growth, showing the vast progress we have made towards expanding broadband access in recent years, thanks, in part, to those actions. The report’s findings include that:
- Since 2009, the percentage of American homes reached by high-speed broadband networks have more than quadrupled (from less than 20% to more than 80%) and average broadband speeds have doubled.
- Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of American households with a home connection to broadband has surged from 4.4% to 67%.
- Annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40% between 2009 and 2012, from $21 billion to $30 billion.
Today’s initiatives include a Presidential Memorandum directing Federal agencies to enhance the efficiency of their use of spectrum and make more capacity available to satisfy the skyrocketing demand of consumer and business broadband users. The Memorandum directs agencies to increase their collaboration and data-sharing with the private sector, so a full range of stakeholders can contribute its collective expertise to maximizing spectrum efficiency, including through greater sharing of spectrum between Government and commercial users. These efforts will provide access to more spectrum for wireless broadband providers and equipment vendors as they respond to increasingly rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices.
The Memorandum also calls upon Federal agencies to increase public-private research and development (R&D) activities, emphasize spectrum efficiency in Government system procurements and spectrum assignments, and improve the accuracy and scope of their reporting on spectrum usage. It empowers a White House-based Spectrum Policy Team to oversee implementation of the Memorandum and make further recommendations. At the same time, the Memorandum requires appropriate safeguards to protect Government systems that rely on spectrum to keep Americans safe.
These actions build on the executive action the President took last week by launching ConnectED, a program that will build high-speed digital connections to America’s schools and libraries, ensuring that 99 percent of American students can benefit from advances in teaching and learning. The Administration will continue to take action and build on our multi-faceted wireless agenda that is helping American innovators and entrepreneurs unleash productivity in all sectors of the economy and society while introducing an avalanche of apps and services for the convenience and benefit of consumers.
Other aspects of today’s announcements include:
Federal investments of $100 million in spectrum sharing and advanced communications: By September, the National Science Foundation will award $23 million in spectrum-sharing research and development (R&D) grants and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will announce the first of an expected $60 million in spectrum-sharing contracts to be awarded over the next five years. In FY ’14, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce will devote another $17.5 million towards spectrum and advanced communications research as well as accelerate public-private collaboration at Federal laboratories.
Technology Day: NTIA and NIST announced plans to co-host a Spectrum Technology Day to showcase advances in spectrum sharing and other innovations aimed at satisfying the Nation’s surging demand for wireless services and applications.
A combination of American entrepreneurship and innovation, private investment, and smart policy has vaulted the United States to a position of global leadership in wireless broadband technologies. Annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40% between 2009 and 2012, to $30 billion from $21 billion, and is projected to rise to $35 billion in 2013. The U.S. wireless broadband industry contributes more than $150 billion in GDP annually; the United States is home to most of the world’s subscribers to cutting-edge 4G wireless service; U.S. companies dominate the market for smartphone operating systems and produce about a quarter of all smartphones; and two U.S. companies are responsible for more than 80% of mobile application downloads. Continuing demand for wireless apps and services creates the opportunity for a virtuous cycle of greater productivity and innovation, but only if we make available sufficient spectrum to fuel that cycle.
Today’s announcements follow on a string of Administration initiatives and commitments to promote American leadership in wireless innovation:
■ In a June 28, 2010 memorandum, Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution, the President directed NTIA to work with the FCC to repurpose 500 MHz of Federal and nonfederal spectrum to wireless broadband use within 10 years. Based on NTIA’s recommendations, the FCC could repurpose up to 335 MHz of federally assigned spectrum in the next couple of years.
■ In his January 2011 State of the Union address, the President committed to making cutting-edge 4G wireless broadband service available to 98% of Americans by 2016, a goal the Administration is on track to meet.
■ In the American Jobs Act, the Administration proposed an array of spectrum-related provisions, the substance of which was enacted as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. That legislation expanded the authority of the FCC to auction particular bands of spectrum to wireless broadband providers, including spectrum voluntarily relinquished by TV broadcasters via a reverse auction. The law also authorized the FCC to allocate more spectrum for innovative unlicensed uses, such as wi-fi, which is absorbing an increasing share of wireless data traffic and thus easing the crunch faced by commercial wireless providers. Further, the law established FirstNet, an independent authority within NTIA empowered to design and deploy—in collaboration with state, local, and tribal authorities—a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for first responders. FirstNet is directed to partner with the private sector to maximize the efficient and shared use of spectrum and infrastructure.
Today’s actions will create opportunities for more efficient and innovative approaches to spectrum policy in line with the recommendations made in a July 2012 report from the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), Realizing the Full Potential of Government-Held Spectrum to Spur Economic Growth and a new report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Economic Council, Four Years of Broadband Growth, released today.
On-the-Record Conference Call by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on Syria
5:16 P.M. EDT
MS. MEEHAN: Good afternoon, everybody. This is Bernadette Meehan at the National Security Council. Thank you for joining this conference call on Syria. This is an on-the-record call without embargo.
We have a senior administration official with us today; that is Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. He will make some introductory comments and then we will open it up for questions. And again, this is on the record, without embargo.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to Ben.
MR. RHODES: Thanks, everybody, for joining the call. You should have in front of you a statement that addresses our latest assessment of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. I’ll just draw your attention to a few elements of that statement.
First of all, you know that this an issue that we have been following very closely. Ever since the assessment made by intelligence community in April, the President has directed our intelligence community to further investigate the use of chemical weapons and to seek credible and corroborative information to build on their April assessment.
This was done in the context of the U.N. investigation being frustrated by the failure of the Assad regime to cooperate and provide the necessary access. As we’ve said to you, we are going to continue with our own investigation, along with friends and allies, even as we continue to believe that that U.N. investigation should go forward.
Today, at the President’s direction, we have pulled together a revision of our intelligence community assessment that we have provided to Congress and we are now updating the public now. I’ll just draw your attention to a few elements of that assessment in our response.
First of all, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence given the multiple independent streams of information associated with their reporting.
The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date. I would note that that casualty data is likely incomplete, but that is what we’ve reviewed through our investigation.
This is clearly a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria that now totals more than 90,000 deaths. But as we’ve consistently said, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses red lines that have existed in the international community for decades.
I’d also note that we believe that the Assad regime maintains control of chemical weapons within Syria, and we have not seen any reliable reporting or corroborated reporting indicating that the opposition has acquired or used chemical weapons.
This information is something that we are sharing with friends and allies. We’ve already briefed some allies on this information, and we’ve also provided it to the United Nations.
We've consistently sought to present information to Dr. Sellstrӧm, who is leading the U.N. mission on this issue. We also intend to provide a letter to the U.N. Secretary General, drawing attention to our updated intelligence assessment, because we believe it's important for the international community to, number one, share the information that different countries have about these attacks. And also, it's important for the U.N. to consider what potential response the international community should make to these attacks.
In terms of the United States, the President, as you've heard him say, has made it clear that the use of chemical weapons or transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups is a red line, given the fact that there's a long-established international norm against the use of chemical weapons. We now have a high-confidence assessment that chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime. And so he has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has.
Since April, as we've reviewed this evidence, we have increased our support and provision of assistance to the opposition. That includes increased support to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, but it also includes the provision of assistance to the Supreme Military Council in Syria. And so we are focused right now on strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC and helping to coordinate the provision of the assistance to the SMC by the United States and other partners and allies.
So the Assad regime should know that its actions have already led us to increase both the scope and scale of the assistance that we're providing to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC, the military option on the ground. And we will continue to increase these efforts going forward.
I'd also note that both the United States and the international community have other legal, financial, diplomatic and military responses available to us. We've prepared for many contingencies within Syria. We are going to make decisions about further action on our own timeline. This is clearly a complex and evolving situation in Syria. And we are going to make decisions that are consistent with our own national interests and that advance our objectives, which is achieving a negotiated political settlement that establishes an authority that can provide stability and administer state institutions in Syria, protecting the rights of all Syrians and securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons within Syria while countering terrorist activities.
We're also going to be consulting in the days ahead with both Congress and the international community. We will be providing this assessment to Congress, and we will also be consulting with them about our assessments on chemical weapons and our policy response.
The President will also be consulting with his G8 partners in the United Kingdom beginning next week, and we'll continue to have discussions both with friends and allies, including those who have joined us and the Friends of the Syrian People and at the United Nations where we are sharing this information.
So with that, I'd be happy to move to questions.
Q Hey, Ben, thanks for doing the call. I just want to clarify, when you talk about how you guys have contingency plans and you'll be looking at other options, does that mean that nothing is imminent in response to this crossing of the red line? And can you talk a little bit more specifically about what among the contingency plans you're looking at most closely, most seriously right now?
MR. RHODES: First of all, we believe that we have already taken action because of our assessed use of chemical weapons. Those actions are represented in both the scale and type of support that we're providing to the Syrian opposition. So we've increased the support we're providing to the opposition and we've also increased the types of support we're providing. That goes to the political opposition of the SOC, but it also includes the military opposition, the SMC, on the ground.
And so the President has taken the decision to provide that type of direct support to the SMC that has military purposes. And we're looking at a wide range of types of support we can provide both to the political opposition and to the SMC on the ground.
I'm not going to be able to detail every single type of support that we are providing, but it's suffice to say it's important to note that it is both the political and the military opposition that will be -- that is and will be receiving U.S. assistance.
We've also been consulting closely with allies, and you've seen the President meet with the Emir of Qatar, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the King of Jordan. He's met with a range of his counterparts in the region, and including, I should, the United Arab Emirates. And so we will be continuing to do that, because part of what we also want to do is coordinate this assistance.
So that is something -- that is a decision that has been taken to increase both the type and scale of the support we're providing, and it's been taken in part because of our assessed use of chemical weapons. Then there are other options that are noted at the end of the statement, and that’s a wide range of options available to us. That could include potential military options. That could include potential international action. We'll be consulting at the G8 and the United Nations about what might be necessary, even as we deal with the humanitarian situation in which the United States is providing $515 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian crisis and seeking to rally others to provide more as well.
So there's a range of options available to us, but we're going to do what we think is most important and effective to deal with the situation. And we also are going to act very deliberately so that we're making decisions based on the U.S. national interest as well as our assessment of what can make a difference on the ground in Syria.
Q Hi, Ben. You spoke about direct assistance to the SMC, but other than the food and medical supplies, we've been told that the other assistance, which was assistance approved some time ago, actually hasn't gotten there yet. At the same time, you have General Idris and the SMC saying very urgently that there are other things that they want. How urgent do you assess the situation right now to be? Do you not agree that there's an urgency to it?
MR. RHODES: Sure. Thanks, Karen. I'd just say a couple of things. There's an urgency to the situation. There has been an urgency to the situation for two years. It's particularly urgent right now in terms of the situation on the ground, in some respect, because we have seen Hezbollah and Iran increase their own involvement in the conflict, and that has caused an influx of additional fighters to the conflict. And so that has added an element of urgency.
In our mind, the high-confidence assessment that chemical weapons has been used also adds an element of urgency as well given the norms that exist against the use of chemical weapons. So we are acting on a number of fronts in that regard.
Now, with respect to the first part of your question, it takes time to establish a pipeline of -- to flow assistance into the country. So in that effort, we had to do a number of things. Number one, we needed to identify the opposition that we could work with. And the SOC we are comfortable working with, and General Idris and the SMC we are comfortable working with. And it's been important to work through them while aiming to isolate some of the more extremist elements of the opposition, such as al Nusra.
We now have those relationships. We now have that pipeline flowing. We've seen material get into Syria, including to the SMC.
In terms of the types of assistance, we are aiming to be responsive to the needs of the Syrian opposition, including the SMC. And so we’ve heard their requests. And, again, our aim is to be responsive and to provide that assistance that has direct military purposes for the SMC on the ground.
And I guess what I’m saying today is I can’t go through an inventory of the type of assistance that we’re going to provide, but suffice it to say it’s going to be substantively different from what we were providing certainly before our initial CW assessment in April. And it’s going to be an increase on both the political and the military side, and we’re going to be working that through with the SMC in the days to come, with friends and allies, particularly those in the region who are also providing assistance, and we’ll be consulting with Congress as well.
Q Hi, I just want to make sure I’m clear: Is this assistance that you’re talking about new assistance that you haven’t already announced? And, second of all, what reaction do you think Russia is going to have? What emphasis is President Obama going to put on this news in his meetings with his Russian counterpart at the G8?
MR. RHODES: Yes, this will be both the increases in assistance we’ve already undertaken since April, but there will be additional assistance on top of that. And, as I said, it will cover a range of different purposes, and it’s aimed at strengthening both the cohesion of the opposition, but also the effectiveness of the SMC on the ground and their efforts to defend themselves against a repressive regime that has shown no boundaries and its willingness to kill civilians.
With respects to the Russians, we have made the case for some time now to Russia that it’s in their interest to help us restore a stable situation in Syria. In our view, you cannot have stability in Syria with a leader in Bashar al-Assad who has demonstrated that he is willing to kill innocent men, women, and children within his own country.
So we’re continuing to work towards a political settlement that ultimately would be the only way to effectively stop the violence in Syria that involves the regime and the opposition coming together. Again, in our view, that process would have to involve Bashar al-Assad stepping down, and the Russians have not yet agreed to it.
I do think -- and I should say that we have briefed this chemical weapons information to the Russians, so we have already provided them with our assessment of the use of chemical weapons. And we believe that Russia and all members of the international community should be concerned about the use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world given the norms that are established against it.
And so we’ll be consulting with Russia at the G8 and at the United Nations going forward, and once again making the case that continuing to provide support to the Assad regime without applying the necessary pressure to help achieve an end to this violence is not in the interest of the international community.
Q Two questions. One, just a small logistical one. Is there going to be a National Security Council meeting this evening, a meeting the President will attend on Syria? And then, a broader question: Does the administration -- I think you got at this in your last question, but I want to be very clear about it -- does the administration still believe that the Geneva process is its primary vehicle for trying to resolve this, given that with today's announcement you've effectively said that the Assad regime is outside the norms of international conduct? I'm wondering in light of that how realistic is it to have them be at the table negotiating a political transition.
MR. RHODES: On your first question, Mark, there's not an NSC meeting tonight on this topic involving the President. I will say that there have been a number of meetings throughout the week at various levels on Syria here at the White House among the different officials responsible for Syria policy. The President is also regularly briefed on Syria on a nearly daily basis as a part of his national security briefings and discussions with his team.
And it's important to note that this, by the way, has been an unfolding process. So after the assessment in April, the intelligence community has essentially been exhaustively reviewing information and seeking to corroborate information about the use of chemical weapons. And that has led them to this high-confidence assessment.
And if I might just give some example of that. We, for instance, have focused on different incidents that we associate with this assessment. So, for instance, a March 19th attack of this year in which we assessed that sarin was used in the Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal; an April 13th attack that was also in the Aleppo area in the neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood; a May 14th attack, also this year, in the town of Qasr Abu Samra, which is north of Homs; a May 23rd attack in the eastern part of Damascus, in Adra.
So these are several of the incidents that are associated with our assessment. And the point is we've been pulling this information together over a period of months, so it didn't just come together in the last couple of days. This has been something that we've been reviewing for weeks and are just now given a high degree of confidence in the assessment and a position to share with Congress and the public. And it also will allow the President to consult with his G8 partners in the coming days.
With respect to Geneva, I think the bottom line is a political settlement is still the preferable outcome. The reason why is, in the absence of a political settlement, you're going to have a conflict within Syria -- for all intents and purposes, a civil war within Syria that has foreign involvement from groups like Hezbollah and Iran -- you're going to have that conflict continue until somebody prevails in that conflict. And by definition, that's going to mean more loss of life, more suffering, more refugees in the region. So we have an obligation, despite the difficult odds involved, to pursue a political negotiation, and the Geneva process continues to provide a template for that to take place.
That would have to involve credible representation from both the opposition and the Assad regime, and it would have to involve support from the international community. We have no illusions that that's going to be easy to put together in the coming days and weeks given both this assessment and given, for instance, the involvement by Hezbollah and Iran in some of the recent fighting. But it is something we're going to continue to pursue because we just think it's the preferable outcome.
But even as that process continues, we're going to move forward with our own efforts to strengthen the opposition. And so we're essentially moving on those two tracks -- an effort that is focused on coalescing and strengthening the effectiveness of the political and military opposition, but also seeking to pursue a political settlement.
I would note that we do believe that this further adds to the illegitimacy of the Assad regime, as you suggested in your question. That's why we believe Bashar al-Assad can’t be a part of the future of Syria.
At the same time, ideally a political settlement would not have to necessitate the dissolution of all the institutions of the state, because ultimately the goal here is an end to the conflict, but also some type of administration that respects the rights of the Syrian people but can also deliver the basic services upon which a state depends.
So there is a future for those in the Assad regime who are willing to accept the end of Bashar al Assad's reign but willing to work for a better future for Syria. I should add that those members of the Assad regime should not want to associate themselves with something like the use of chemical weapons, given the fact that there are accountability measures in the international community for those who give or carry out orders to use weapons of mass destruction like chemical agents.
With that, we'll take another question.
Q Ben, it's Major here and I'll take it for Mark. You said "additional assistance will be provided," and there's some confusion already in the Senate on this. John McCain said even before this conference call started that the President decided to arm the Syrian rebels, and he congratulated the President on that. And then about six minutes later on the Senate floor, he said, oh, I'm not sure, maybe the President hasn't so decided. And then he talked to reporters afterwards and said that he had heard from very reliable sources and people in the know that the President had already made this decision. So there is some great expectation, at least within some quarters of the Senate, that this will happen or the President has already decided. Does the additional assistance you're talking about envision arming the rebels? Is that a decision that’s eminent, or should we anticipate that in some weeks ahead? And can you in any way, shape or form account for this confusion?
MR. RHODES: Yes, Major. Thanks for the question. Let me put it this way -- the President has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition. That will involve providing direct support to the SMC. That includes military support. I cannot detail for you all of the types of that support for a variety of reasons, but suffice it to say this is going to be different in both scope and scale in terms of what we are providing to the SMC than what we have provided before.
So the President has made a decision in part because of the assessed use of chemical weapons to provide additional types of support to the SMC, which I cannot inventory for you, but which will be aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SNC on the ground. And so that is something we have decided to move forward with. And we are going to do so in consultation with and cooperation with other countries in the region. For instance, we have been working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and we've also, again -- going to be consulting with allies like the United Kingdom and France and others about the best way to support the Syrian opposition.
Q Hi, thanks again for doing the call. I'm sorry to be a broken record but I'm going to try again. Has the President decided in his own mind whether he's willing to arm the rebels, but he just doesn’t want to announce a decision until he has some multilateral and congressional consensus? And same on the subject of no-fly zones -- is that something that he is -- wants to pursue, doesn’t want to pursue, is closer to pursuing? And are you waiting for the G8 to announce this? It's just on these two issues -- both on arming and on the no-fly zone -- that I think we all need a little more clarity if you can. Thanks.
MR. RHODES: On the first one, the President has made his decision. And there's not a delay in any type of announcement associated with the types of reasons that you laid out, Margaret.
I'm not going to be able to inventory the types of support that we're going to provide to the SMC, but I'd point to my previous answers -- suffice it to say that decision has been made about providing additional direct support to the SMC to strengthen their effectiveness. This is more a situation where we're just not going to be able to lay out an inventory of what exactly falls under the scope of that assistance other than to communicate that we have made that decision. And the decision is focused on how do we -- how to be responsive to their needs, how do we increase their effectiveness, and how do we work with other countries who are also providing assistance so that we're maximizing our efforts.
On the second question, that is a separate question, and we have not made any decision to pursue a military operation such as a no-fly zone. And we have a range of contingency plans that we’ve drawn up.
But to speak to this issue for a moment, we still believe that the best thing that we can do in terms of effecting the situation on the ground is strengthening the opposition; that a no-fly zone, while there is a contingency plan for many different things, would carry with it great and open-ended costs for the United States and the international community. It’s far more complex to undertake the type of effort, for instance, in Syria than it was in Libya.
But furthermore, there’s not even a clear guarantee that it would dramatically improve the situation on the ground where you have regime forces and irregular regime-associated forces essentially comingled with opposition forces in a civilian population. That is a very hard challenge to get at from the air. That doesn’t mean that we’ve ruled anything out other than the provision of U.S. boots on the ground -- which nobody has suggested -- but it does mean that I think people need to understand that not only are there huge costs associated with the no-fly zone, not only would it be difficult to implement, but the notion that you can solve the very deeply rooted challenges on the ground in Syria from the air are not immediately apparent.
So we’ll continue to consult with the opposition and with other countries about the best way forward, but we’re going to make decisions in a deliberate manner that are consistent with U.S. national interests and that have the best potential to have a positive impact on the ground and to achieve the objectives that we’ve laid out both in terms of dealing with the humanitarian crisis, but also in trying to accelerate a political transition.
Q Hi, Ben. Thanks for doing the call. I think you’ve answered the question about the military support to the Syrian opposition, but you mentioned something about wanting to improve the effectiveness of the opposition. What do you mean by that? What needs to be improved?
MR. RHODES: Well, look, there are a number of challenges that we want to help the opposition to address. One of those challenges is their effectiveness as a fighting force, and that is something that we are going to be focused on with friends and allies in the region in particular.
Another is their cohesion and the ability, for instance, for people in different parts of Syria to be in communication with one another. That’s why the non-lethal assistance that we provided into the country I think is directly relevant to their effectiveness, because when you talk about communications equipment, you talk about transport -- these are things that allow them to cohere as a unit that can challenge the regime and associated forces.
It also means providing the types of medical equipment that are necessary to help them deal with significant challenges -- with casualties, civilian in particular, within Syria. It also means providing a significant amount of humanitarian assistance into the country to help address the significant challenges that people are facing within Syria. And that’s why we have over $500 million in humanitarian assistance we're providing.
All of these types of things will make the opposition more cohesive as a military counsel, but also as a body that is connected to the political opposition. Because essentially what you need is you need to have cohesion between the Syrian Opposition Coalition -- which is the political entity for the opposition -- and the SMC, which is a military entity. And the more that those two bodies are synched up with one another and the more that they are effective both not just as a fighting force but as an authority that can help meet some of the needs of the Syrian people and be in contact with the international community, the greater legitimacy they will gain both within Syria and within the world.
So that’s in large part what this assistance is all about. Because ultimately, when you step back from the day to day, we need something that can both bring about an end to the Assad regime and can also transition to a stronger governing authority within Syria that provides for the rights and needs of the Syrian people. And so, this assistance that we provided and that other countries are providing is all directly relevant to building and sustaining that type of opposition -- doing so, by the way, in the context of Iran and Hezbollah having dramatically increased their involvement in this conflict over time.
And again, I'll just conclude by saying that this is something that the President will be addressing at the G8 with his counterparts in the coming days, and that we'll be also addressing through the United Nations as we provide our intelligence assessment to the investigation that’s underway, and to the Secretary General, given our grave concerns about the situation in Syria but also any use of chemical weapons.
So with that, thank you all for joining the call on relatively short notice here. I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities to discuss these issues in the days to come. And tragically, I'm sure we'll be dealing with Syria in the days and weeks to come as well.
5:48 P.M. EDT
5:21 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: All right, I will not beat that act. (Laughter.) We could not be prouder of Zea and Luna for the introduction. And welcome, all of you, to the White House for Pride Month. (Applause.)
Zea and Luna are here with their moms, and also I think with Grandma and Grandpa -- correct? And so feel free to congratulate them afterwards for their outstanding introduction.
There are a few other folks who don't have the same star wattage that I want to acknowledge -- first of all, my Vice President, Joe Biden. (Applause.) We’ve got some outstanding members of Congress here, including a record number from the Congressional Equality Caucus. (Applause.) Eric Fanning, the Under Secretary of the Air Force, is here. (Applause.) Major General Patricia Rose and her wife, Retired Lieutenant Julie Roth, are here. (Applause.) We’ve got Fred Hochberg and Elaine Kaplan, two outstanding members of my team, who are here. (Applause.) And John Berry is here -- John is a former member of my team. You may not recognize him because he looks so well rested now that he’s left the administration. (Laughter.)
And even though she couldn’t be here today, because she’s getting ready to finally take her seat on the bench and get to work, I want to congratulate Nitza Quinones Alejandro, who, just a few hours ago, was confirmed by the Senate, making her the first openly gay Hispanic federal judge in our country’s history. (Applause.)
And what I'm especially excited about, in addition to Zea and Luna, we've got citizens from all across the country who wrote me letters over the last several years. And in a letter from Kathleen, a young woman from Massachusetts, I saw someone who had experienced too much discrimination and hatred at such a young age, at the age of 24. But I also read about someone who dreams of becoming a doctor so that she can help others, and who is determined to make a difference because, as she put it, she is “hopeful of a world filled with love.”
Love is what I saw in Valerie and Diane’s letter from North Dakota, who’ve been together for 37 years. Their son, Madison, is here, 14. They told me that when Madison was little -- he’s not little now, by the way. (Laughter.) He used to say that someday, he was going to become president and make it legal for his moms to get married. And now, they added, “I don’t think we’re going to have to wait that long.” (Applause.)
Madison, I agree with you that it’s time. I agree that you should run for president. (Laughter.) And I agree that we’re not going to have to wait that long -- because from Minnesota to Maryland, from the United States Senate to the NBA, it’s clear we’re reaching a turning point. (Applause.) We’ve become not just more accepting; we've become more loving, as a country, and as a people. Hearts and minds change with time. Laws do, too. Change like that isn’t something that starts here in Washington, but it’s something that has the power that Washington has a great deal of difficulty resisting over time.
It’s something that comes from the courage of those who stood up, and sat in, and came out. It’s something that comes from the compassion of family and friends and coworkers and teammates who show their love and support. (Baby cries.) Yes, it’s true. (Laughter.)
And it’s something that can be traced back to our Declaration of Independence -- the fundamental principle that all of us are created equal. And as I said in my Inaugural Address, if we truly are created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.)
That’s the principle that’s guided my administration over the past four and a half years. We passed a hate crimes bill in Matthew Shepard’s name. (Applause.) We lifted the HIV entry ban, released the first national HIV/AIDS strategy. We strengthened the Violence Against Women Act to protect LGBT victims. (Applause.) We told hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid that they have to treat LGBT patients just like everybody else. (Applause.) Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act will ban insurance companies from denying someone from coverage just for being LGBT. We put in place new policies that treat transgender Americans with dignity and respect. (Applause.) And because no one should have to hide who they love to serve the country that they love, we ended "don't ask, don't tell" once and for all. (Applause.)
But part of the reason we're here is because we know we’re not done yet. When Zea and Luna wrote me last December, they told me they would have voted for me if they could have -- thanks, guys. (Laughter.) They also laid out quite an agenda. I hope Congress is listening to them.
But I want them and all of you to know that I’m not giving up the fight to keep our kids safe from gun violence. (Applause.) I’m not giving up the fight for smarter and better schools. I’ll continue to support marriage equality and states’ attempts to legalize it, including in my home state of Illinois. We're not giving up on that. (Applause.)
And as we saw earlier this year with the gun safety debate, sometimes this stuff takes time, and it’s frustrating. You take two steps forward and sometimes there’s a step back. But I deeply believe in something that Martin Luther King, Jr. said often, and that is that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Eventually, America gets it right.
That doesn’t mean we can be patient. We know from our own history that change happens because people push to make it happen. We've got to do the hard work of educating others, showing empathy to others, changing hearts and minds. And when we do that, then change occurs. It doesn’t come always as quickly as we like, but progress comes.
We’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to make access to health care more available and affordable for folks living with HIV. We’ve got to implement the protections in the Affordable Care Act. We’ve got to keep making our classrooms and our neighborhoods safe for all of our young people.
And I agree with Susan, a PFLAG mom from Ohio -- we’ve got to end LGBT discrimination in the places where we work. Susan wrote me and said, “If I have a concern it is that there are so many LGBT men and women who contribute to the wealth and growth of our nation … but they still are not protected from harassment in the workplace.”
And I share that concern. In 34 states, you can be fired just because of who you are or who you love. That’s wrong. We’ve got to change it. There’s a bipartisan bill moving forward in the Senate that would ban discrimination against all LGBT Americans in the workplace, now and forever. We need to get that passed. (Applause.) I want to sign that bill. We need to get it done now. (Applause.)
And I think we can make that happen -- because after the last four and a half years, you can't tell me things can’t happen. Look around. We’ve got gay and lesbian soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines who are here today. We’ve got married couples from places like New York and Washington State. (Applause.) You’ve got a couple of guys here on stage who I don't think anybody in their high schools thought would be the President and the Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) So don't tell me that things can't happen when we put our minds to them. (Laughter.)
The genius of America is that America can change. And people who love this country can change it. That’s what we’re called to do. And I hope that when we gather here next year, and the year after that, we’ll be able to say, with pride and confidence, that together we’ve made our fellow citizens a little more free. We’ve made this country a little more equal. We’ve made our world a little more full of love.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.) Enjoy the party. (Applause.)
5:33 P.M. EDT
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:21 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Thank you all for being here this afternoon. And let me just say a couple things before we start. First of all, for the reason aforementioned, I need to make a hard stop of 1:00 p.m.-1:05 p.m.
Secondly, today the President and Vice President will meet with family members of victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We commend the families’ courage and perseverance in continuing to press for common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence, and we want them to know that as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget, and we will continue to fight alongside them.
Second announcement: This afternoon, the President will meet with Senators Leahy, Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Bennet here at the White House for an update on the Senate’s efforts to pass common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.
Third and final announcement is that today is Clark’s last day as assistant press secretary, and he is heading over to the Department of Homeland Security -- heading back, rather -- where he will be the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Fancy title. But I hope all feel the same way that we do, that he has been an essential element of this office and has helped you as he has helped us in his time here. So we'll miss him.
And with that, I'll take your questions.
Q The United Nations says that 93,000 people have been confirmed killed in Syria. The actual number is likely to be far greater than that. We've all heard from the White House that you condemn the violence, that you want Assad to go, that the U.S. has provided nonlethal assistance to the rebels. None of that has quelled the violence there. In fact, the situation has only deteriorated. Can you tell us a little bit about whether there’s some frustration by the President and the White House that you haven't been able to do more, and what the President is actually considering? What’s not just on the table as a broad array of options, but what he’d actually consider as his next steps?
MR. CARNEY: The President and every member of his national security team are greatly concerned by the terrible situation in Syria and the worsening situation in Syria. As you know, the United States has made itself the number-one contributor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. We provide direct assistance to the Syrian opposition -- to the Syrian opposition and the Supreme Military Council.
We are working with the Russians and our allies and partners, as well as the opposition, to bring about a conference under the Geneva Communiqué for the transition that we and the Syrian people seek. And the President is reviewing and considering what other options are available to him and to the United States, as well as our allies and partners, for further and additional steps in Syria. And that process continues.
Every option that he considers, he evaluates, and his team evaluates, based on the long-term view of whether or not implementation of a new policy option will actually help bring about the desired result, as opposed to seeming like a good thing to do but not actually changing the situation or improving the situation and perhaps worsening it instead.
That has been the process that the President has insisted he and his team undertake as they evaluate these options, because as terrible as the situation is in Syria, he has to make decisions when it comes to policy towards Syria that are in the best interests of the United States, first and foremost -- in our security interests -- and then to look at it also through regional interests as well as the interests of our allies and partners, and the Syrian people. These are all difficult decisions because of the tyrannical behavior by Bashar al-Assad, his wanton willingness to murder his own people simply to cling on to power.
And the President and every member of his team understand the gravity of the situation and are making decisions and evaluating options accordingly.
Q Does he feel any particular sense of urgency, given the deteriorating situation, the growing influence of Hezbollah in Syria right now?
MR. CARNEY: As I've said, we have noted and condemned, and are concerned by the involvement of outside actors in trying to prop up Assad. It only increases the potential for greater regional instability, for the conflict in Syria spilling over potentially into other parts of the region. And that is a concern.
The death and destruction remains, of course, the primary concern. And the potential consequences for continued chaos in Syria remain a great concern. And I've been asked recently about are you now meeting on Syria, and I have said what has always been the case, that in this building and in the Defense Department, in the State Department and elsewhere, in the IC, people are meeting on this subject and discussing this subject and reviewing options and assessing the facts that we have constantly. And that's true here and it's true with regards to all the principals involved in the policymaking process.
Q Is there any plan for the U.S., France and Britain during the G8 Summit next week to sort of go in with a coordinated message to the Russians on Syria?
MR. CARNEY: As I said yesterday on Air Force One, we fully expect Syria to be a topic of discussion at the G8. There will be other topics, but there is no question that Syria will be one of them -- in particular, because of the interest of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, as well as other participants.
I don't have any announcements to make about policy-related matters in the run-up to the G8. We'll try to brief you -- not necessarily about Syria, I don't want to be confusing here -- but we'll preview that trip for you tomorrow. But with regards to Syria, I can simply say that we fully expect it to be a topic of conversation and discussion.
Q Jay, President Clinton made some critical or fairly critical remarks about President Obama's policy towards Syria yesterday. Does the White House have a response to that? And does it add any pressure -- does the President feel any pressure from comments like that to act?
MR. CARNEY: The President, Jeff, as you know, views these significant challenges in the international arena through the prism of U.S. national interests, and he makes decisions based on what he considers the essential longer view about what options we may undertake with our allies or, unilaterally, with the opposition, and assessing whether or not they will help bring about achievement of the ultimate goal, which is a transition in Syria to an authority there that respects the rights of all Syrians, that ceases the violence, that protects both conventional and unconventional weapons.
The President is very serious about the need to evaluate the options available to him based on the assessment that he makes and that his team makes of what’s in our national security interests and what policy options will be most effective.
And obviously, a lot of people who have expertise in the matter, both outside of government and in Congress and inside of government, have perspective to add and opinions to contribute and analysis to provide, and the President welcomes all of that. In the end, of course, he and his team have to make the decisions that they believe are in the best interest of the United States and the American people.
Q So would you say he welcomes President Clinton’s comments?
MR. CARNEY: He welcomes, again, the input of every individual out there who has perspective on a situation like this, absolutely.
Q And as he and the rest of the team are studying the option of arming Syrian rebels, is the concern about those weapons ending up in the more militant or Islamic militant part of the rebels’ community, is that one of the things that may be holding up the decision?
MR. CARNEY: There are a number of factors that come into an assessment about that particular policy option. That is one of them, and we’ve been explicit about it for some time now. But it is also true that the opposition has strengthened and has become more sophisticated. And we have, over time, worked more directly with them and developed stronger relationships with leaders within the opposition. And that was a process that we talked about and I think then-Secretary Clinton talked about in the past.
So this is not a static picture. What was true about the state of the opposition and the nature of the opposition six months ago or a year ago is not necessarily true today. So we evaluate that as well. But obviously, the concern that you mentioned is one of the concerns that we have been very forthright about as we’ve made these assessments.
Q And lastly, on immigration, you mentioned this meeting this afternoon. Can you tell us a little bit about what they’ll be talking about?
MR. CARNEY: They’ll talk about the progress being made in the Senate on the comprehensive immigration reform bill that emerged with bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee --
Q Amendments or anything?
MR. CARNEY: I'm sure that the senators who are participating will update the President on the process and the debate and the amendments, but I don't have any specific amendments to note that they’ll discuss. There are obviously a lot of amendments that will be considered.
The President’s interest, as you heard him say just the other day, is in the Senate recognizing that we have a unique opportunity that has been a long time coming -- and isn't likely to come again anytime soon if we do not seize it -- to pass comprehensive immigration reform with bipartisan support, which is the only way to do it.
And we have been encouraged by the progress in the Senate.
We've been encouraged from the start by the seriousness of purpose of the Gang of Eight, by the leaders in the Senate and other participants in this process, and we continue to be heartened by the progress we've seen, even as we make clear that there is much road to travel and there are obstacles along the way and we expect that those who oppose immigration reform will attempt to derail it.
And we urge every senator, as he or she considers this legislation, to understand that no one can get exactly what they want out of this process. That is the nature of compromise. The President strongly supports the existing Senate bill. It is the product of a bipartisan compromise. It is not exactly word for word as he would write it, but it does reflect the principles he laid out. And I think the same statement can be said by every coauthor of that legislation and every senator who will eventually support it. It won't be exactly what they want word for word, but it will be -- it is already a significant bipartisan accomplishment. And we hope to keep this train moving.
Q Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Pelosi just got into a heated exchange with a reporter over the late-term abortion bill presented by Representative Franks, saying that this bill “would make it a federal law that there be no abortion in the country. You're taking an extreme case, this is an extreme case. What I'm saying to you is what happened in Philadelphia is reprehensible and you have an agenda” et cetera. Does the President and this White House believe that this bill is an important bill, or does he agree with Minority Leader Pelosi?
MR. CARNEY: Well, since you’ve just notified me of those statements by the Minority Leader, I obviously haven't spoken to the President about them, don't know if he’s aware of them.
You know the President’s position on women’s health and on women’s right to choose. And he has been absolutely clear about where he stands. And with regards to the bill in question, I believe that's one that got a little attention yesterday in a way that I'm sure Republicans wish the public would forget, because it reflects an alarming misunderstanding of what is a crime and what that means, and an alarming disregard for women in many ways. And we obviously -- as we did last year when similar comments were voiced -- take great issue with them.
Q On a second matter, on Syria, there’s been some planning for a conference later this year in Geneva, but since the violence has escalated, is planning for that conference now on hold?
MR. CARNEY: No, it continues. As I've said of late, we are working to convene the conference and do the work necessary to have the preparations in order that would bring all the parties together and move towards a political solution. But that process is not, and cannot, occur in a vacuum. And the fact is there are developments on the ground that make -- that play into that process. And the bloodshed has worsened. The loss of innocent life has escalated.
And this goes to the questions I was answering in my conversation with Julie. We are very aware of how serious the situation is in Syria, and we are evaluating our options. Even as we pursue this diplomatic channel solution with the Russians and others, we are aware of the need to continue to explore what we can do to support the opposition on the ground.
Q And then finally, on the NSA, Representative Peter King has said that he believes that Glenn Greenwald should be prosecuted for his leaks. Does the President share that view, first of all? And secondly, Speaker Boehner today said that he is surprised the White House has not spoken out more forcefully in defense of the program and explaining more forcefully why it’s necessary. Would you just react to that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think you heard the President speak about his views on the program and the necessity -- the programs in question here -- and the necessity to have such programs in place in order to protect our national security. And I think you heard the President make clear that he believes that, in the tradeoffs that we have to make to pursue our security and protect our privacy, we have found through the system we have the right balance. But he understands that others may have a different opinion and that the debate about that is an important one.
On the issue itself of the necessity of these programs, the President agrees with General Alexander, the head of the NSA, who spoke yesterday on Capitol Hill about the programs under Sections 215 and 705, and how they have helped thwart dozens of attacks. And he used two examples that have been declassified. And I think it’s important -- you heard Director Clapper mention them as well. There was a plot to attack the New York City subways in early September of 2009, and while monitoring the activities of al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, the NSA noted contact from an individual in the U.S. that the FBI subsequently identified as Colorado-based Najibullah Zazi.
The U.S. intelligence community, including the FBI and NSA, worked in concert to determine his relationship with al Qaeda, as well as identify any foreign or domestic terrorist links. The FBI tracked Zazi as he traveled to New York to meet up with co-conspirators where they were planning to conduct a terrorist attack. Zazi and his co-conspirators were subsequently arrested, and Zazi, upon indictment, pled guilty to conspiring to bomb the New York City subway system.
This plot at the time was characterized as “the most serious terrorist threat on U.S. soil since 9/11.” And we were able to -- the government and the NSA and the FBI and all of the agencies working together were able to thwart that attack because of the tools available to them, authorized by Congress, overseen by federal judges and by Congress, as well as internally by the executive branch.
A second plot in Chicago in October of 2009: David Coleman Headley, a Chicago business man and dual U.S.-Pakistani citizen, was arrested by the FBI as he tried to depart from Chicago O’Hare Airport on a trip to Europe. Headley was charged with support of terrorism based on his involvement in the planning and reconnaissance of the hotel attack in Mumbai of 2008. And at the time of his arrest, Headley and his colleagues were planning to attack the Danish newspaper that published the unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed at the behest of al Qaeda.
Compelled collection authorized under FISA Section 702 against foreign terrorists and metadata analysis authorized under the business records provision of FISA were --
Q I think his criticism was that the President wasn’t doing it enough. And I get the --
MR. CARNEY: Jessica, let me get to that. I appreciate it, but I did want to spell this out, because people often ask -- because these are, by necessity, classified programs -- can we demonstrate that they’re effective? Are they really in our national security interests. And so there was an effort undertaken to declassify these instances to demonstrate to you and the American people that there are concrete results from these programs.
And let me just say that again, under Section 702, as well as the business records provision of FISA, the FBI and other authorities were able to investigate Headley's overseas associates and their involvement in Headley's activities.
So these were two specific instances where these programs, authorized by Congress, overseen by Congress and federal judges, overseen with internal check and balances within the executive branch, were found to be directly effective in thwarting terrorist attacks. And I cite General Alexander and his note yesterday that these programs have over time contributed to the thwarting of dozens of attacks.
So the President spoke about this on Friday. I am sure he will speak about it again. He made very clear his views both on the need to debate this issue, but on the fact that we have a system in place that contrasts with the system that existed prior to Congress taking action in I think 2006, 2007, 2008, to ensure that there was the proper oversight by Congress and by the federal judiciary.
Q Jay, you started this briefing off by saying that the President is meeting with five --
MR. CARNEY: That I have a wedding to get to.
Q After that, you started by saying that the President is meeting with five senators to talk about immigration. All five are Democrats. I'm just curious why no Republicans?
MR. CARNEY: The President has in recent days been in contact with a number of Republicans about the progress being made on comprehensive immigration reform. So he is reaching out to members of both parties in the Senate. And the White House in general is engaging with members of both parties in the Senate, as well as the House, as this very important legislation moves forward.
Q On Edward Snowden, how concerned is the administration that he could cooperate with the Chinese or even defect to China?
MR. CARNEY: The individual who is under investigation in the matter of unauthorized leaks of classified information is not a subject that I can discuss because of that investigation. And I wouldn't want to characterize his status or express concerns about, or observations about, what he may or may not do, or what may or may not happen as a result of this investigation.
The leaks themselves -- as General Alexander said, Director Clapper has said, as the President has said, and others have said -- were very serious. And they go right to the heart of our efforts to combat terrorism, to combat efforts by extremists who desire to attack the United States and the American people. They are programs that are authorized, that are overseen by all three branches of government, and that are part of a process where assessments and evaluations of the programs are constantly undertaken to ensure that they are implemented in a way that is consistent with the law and with our values.
Q Jay, I appreciate your --
MR. CARNEY: I just can't talk about the individual.
Q -- about the investigation. I'm not talking about an investigation here. I'm talking about a potential future problem here. How concerned is the White House, is the President, that whoever was responsible for the leaks that happened has more to leak and could cooperate with a foreign government?
MR. CARNEY: As a general matter, the President is concerned about any leaks of highly sensitive, classified information. And he believes we need to take steps to prevent classified information from being leaked because it can do such great damage to our national security and it can endanger people. It can risk the lives of Americans and those who assist the United States in our efforts to protect the American people.
But with regards to this specific individual, I just don't have an observation to make.
Q And then, one clarification on the program itself. Does the NSA collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?
MR. CARNEY: I think we have been very clear in recent days about how that provision, Section 215, works and the metadata, as they describe it, that is collected. And I would point you to statements by Director Clapper and others for more specifics about the program.
Q But is that a yes that the NSA collects any type of data?
MR. CARNEY: Jon, I appreciate the “gotcha,” but I think I've addressed this and Director Clapper has addressed this. These were classified programs, portions of which have been declassified in order to discuss them publicly in the wake of these revelations. They are programs that were authorized by Congress, that are implemented with the full oversight of Congress. There are briefings of members of Congress regularly on the implementation of these programs. The one that you're referring to is authorized only on a 90-day basis by the FISA Court. And it is very important in the President’s view that that oversight regime exist.
Q Authorized and now declassified -- your answer is, yes, the United States does collect data on millions, hundreds of millions of Americans.
MR. CARNEY: I think he’s been very clear what Director Clapper has said and what others have said about the collection of --
Q Well, he’s saying no to that.
MR. CARNEY: Look, the program collects phone numbers and duration of phone calls. Any action taken on that data requiring further investigation or inquiry requires court approval.
Q You said the President welcomes President Clinton’s remarks. He doesn’t agree with them, though, does he?
MR. CARNEY: What I said -- first of all, I haven't seen the full context of President Clinton’s remarks --
Q There were several points, one that it’s possible the President is afraid of polling data suggesting -- being overly cautious because of that, is one point he raised. And he also said, “Because Hezbollah and Iran are into the fight now, it’s time now and possibly past time to give rebels real lethal weapon support so they can get back in the game and fight against the advance that Hezbollah, Iran and the Syria regime are making.” Those are two points. I just want to see -- obviously you welcome them. You don't necessarily agree with them, do you?
MR. CARNEY: We're assessing options all the time, including, as we've discussed, providing weapons to the opposition. The first point -- again, I'm taking your word for it that that’s what was said, and the context I will have to investigate myself -- but the fact of the matter is the President makes a decision about the implementation of national security options based on our national security interests, not on what might satisfy critics at any given moment about a policy. And we've discussed over the months here, there are very serious implications to the kinds of policy options that have been discussed, including providing weapons, including questions I've had about a no-fly zone and other things that have been discussed. And that's why you have to assess them so clearly and so --
Q Public opinion would not factor into that?
MR. CARNEY: Of course not. What does factor in is what’s in the national security interests of the United States and what has the best chance of working -- not satisfying an urge to do something today, but beyond today and next week and the following week -- what actually has the potential to help bring us closer to the achievement of the goal.
Q -- those things that are now being called for would in fact meet that standard.
MR. CARNEY: The President is -- don’t get me wrong. The President, as I’ve said clearly now over the past half hour, is very closely evaluating options available to him. And we’re fully aware about the worsening situation in Syria and are assessing options in light of that.
Q Is it fair to say the meeting with the Gang of Eight Democrats on immigration is about whether or not you can get 60 votes, and this rather -- this important tactical decision about securing 60 or possibly making concessions on the Senate floor to get you -- get more Republicans, to get you maybe over 65 to 70, to build more momentum for the House? It seems to me to be a very important tactical decision and it seems like it needs to be made very soon, based on what I’ve been told --
MR. CARNEY: I think there will be a number of topics discussed around this important legislation, both tactical and strategic, as well as substantive.
Q Do you disagree with anything I’ve just described?
MR. CARNEY: I didn’t follow all of it. (Laughter.) But the fact is the President wants a strong --
Q -- 60 to 65. It’s pretty simple.
MR. CARNEY: -- and believes there should be a strong bipartisan vote in support of comprehensive immigration reform that is in keeping with the principles that the Gang of Eight set forth, that the President has set forth, that is widely supported by the American people that will do right by the middle class and do right by our businesses and strengthen our economy.
Q Is there anxiety currently you don’t even have 60 votes yet and that you need to push --
MR. CARNEY: I think that we’ve seen in a variety of ways the Senate demonstrate that there is broad support for comprehensive immigration reform for members of both parties. We have work to do. We have a process that’s underway, a debate that’s been joined, and amendments that are being considered.
And what our goal is, the President’s goal is, is that the Senate keep its eye on the ball and not allow those who clearly have no interest in passing comprehensive immigration reform -- with all its benefits to the economy and the middle class and our business -- not allow them to derail this process but instead to keep focused on a bill that will achieve the principles that the President and the Gang of Eight have laid out.
Q The Mayor of West, Texas is objecting to FEMA’s decision not to provide public assistance and a major disaster declaration for that city or provide individual assistance. Is the President comfortable with FEMA’s decision?
MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, I haven’t spoken to the President about it. I would refer you to FEMA for any specific questions on assistance.
As you know, shortly after the incident in West, Texas, President Obama declared an emergency for the explosion in West, providing immediate financial assistance to the state as it responded to the explosion. That emergency declaration has been amended twice to ensure that additional assistance could be provided both to the impacted individuals and to support state and local recovery efforts, including coverage providing 75 percent cost-share for eligible cost associated with the recovery.
Since the initial emergency declaration, 775 individuals have registered with FEMA for assistance, and FEMA and the SBA has provided more than $7 million in direct federal disaster assistance grants and low-interest disaster loans for eligible individuals and families.
And this is just the beginning of the extensive assistance that FEMA will continue to provide under the existing declaration. FEMA’s public assistance personnel at the joint field office in West, Texas, and in the field, are actively working with state and local officials to prepare project worksheets for reimbursement of costs related to debris removal and emergency protective measures.
In other words, there is, under the existing declarations and the amendments to them there is assistance that has already been provided and more assistance that will continue to be provided. As for the assessments that are made using standard formulas, I would refer you to FEMA.
Q How long did the President stay up last night watching the Blackhawks game?
MR. CARNEY: It was still going on when we got -- as you know, we landed on the South Lawn and it was on the screen as we were flying back. I know he’s pleased by the result. I’m not sure -- I haven’t asked him if he stayed up to watch it to the end.
Q Jay, back on Syria. Part of the context of what former President Clinton was saying, as I understand, is that he was asked a question about his own experience with Bosnia and Kosovo. As you said a moment ago, the Commander-in-Chief wants to make the right decision, doesn’t want to be rushed into a decision. But part of what former President Clinton was saying was that he had regrets about not dealing with Bosnia and Kosovo sooner. How much does something like that weigh on President Obama? He’s talked publicly about the slaughter and how it has continued. These are not easy decisions. But how much does that kind of pressure weigh on him?
MR. CARNEY: I think that the President -- it’s a great question -- and the President is very aware of past precedent in these kinds of situations and with regards to the kinds of decisions that a President has to make constantly on matters of national security, and seeks the insight and advice of experts both within the administration and outside of it. And I think that -- again, having not seen the full extent of President Clinton’s remarks, I think that those are all valid points. Having said that, President Obama assesses this specific situation, which can be analogous but not perfectly so to the past, and judges what’s in the best interest of the United States today and what policy options present the best opportunity for achieving our ultimate goal.
Q And to your point, are you aware of any phone conversations or meetings between the two Presidents where this has been a primary topic of conversation, Syria?
MR. CARNEY: I am not. As you know, they saw each other at the Bush library event in Dallas. But I don't know whether they have spoken.
Q Last thing. Someone who we do know he takes advice from is Susan Rice. When does she start? And I ask the question because as National Security Advisor -- it hasn't been clear on what day -- she is someone who has very publicly talked about her own wrenching experiences in waiting too long to get involved in conflicts. And I wonder how her advice may weigh on the President as she takes on a bigger role?
MR. CARNEY: Well, she already is a member of the President's national security team, senior team.
Q But right here with him in the White House.
MR. CARNEY: Right. She starts I think July 1st. Is that right? I believe it's in July, something around that. I forget. I think we said at the time when she was going to start and when Tom was leaving.
But one of the reasons why it will be such a smooth transition is that she has been from the very beginning and even before the President took office a senior advisor to the President on national security matters. And certainly, her experience both in this administration through the unbelievable events and consequential decisions that we've seen over the last four and a half years in the world and from the United States, and in her prior experience in the Clinton administration and obviously in between, she brings a lot to the table. And that's why the President has always relied on her advice.
Peter, and then -- I'm sorry, I know you guys, we're taking up a lot of time here.
Q I'll make it brief. Does the President believe that the prosecution of military sexual assaults should remain within the military chain of command or should be outside the military chain of command?
MR. CARNEY: I have to take the question. I think that what the President wants and what the President has made clear is that sexual assault is unacceptable and it is particularly objectionable when it occurs within our United States military, and that those, as he said, who wear the uniform of the United States dishonor it if they engage in sexual assault, and those who wear the uniform who are the victims of sexual assault should know that their Commander-in-Chief has their back and he has zero tolerance for this. And he has insisted to the leadership at the Pentagon and the Defense Department that we need to take direct action to deal with it.
Q And if you could take that question, only because of the debate that took place between sort of the old guard and the new guard, with many of the female senators in particular saying they disagreed with the decision ultimately that was made.
Very quickly, given the conversation that's going to take place between the President and the Vice President with some of the families of the Newtown tragedy six months ago, there was a new ad put out by the NRA targeting specifically Joe Manchin, which appears in the eyes of some observers to be darkening or shading the face of the President that some people suggest has some sort of sinister tone to it. Does the White House or the President have any opinion of that ad, or has he seen it?
MR. CARNEY: I just heard about it for the first time, so no opinion.
Q Then only final question is with the Pride reception that's taking place tonight, is the President going to sign an executive order either now or in the near future in terms of ending LGBT workplace discrimination by federal contractors? Is there any plan to do that?
MR. CARNEY: I've answered this question a few times. And we have said that we are supporting a legislative effort, the so-called ENDA legislation. And that's the approach that we've taken. So I would not expect any executive order to be signed at the reception.
Q -- several messages for Turkish government saying that the U.S. supports freedom of expression, including the right of people to peaceful protest, because that is fundamental to any democracy. But when you look at the recent events in Turkey and Prime Minister’s approach to them, obviously things are not going exactly as hoped. What does the U.S. think right now about Turkey? Has the President called the Prime Minister yet, or will he?
MR. CARNEY: I have no calls from the President to read out. There have been communications -- Secretary of State Kerry has spoken with his counterpart, the Foreign Minister, and I'm sure there have been other communications at different levels.
I can simply say that we continue to follow the events in Turkey with concern, and we welcome efforts to resolve this situation through Democratic means. And we remain concerned by any attempts to punish individuals for exercising their right to free speech as well as attempts by any party to provoke violence. We urge calm on all sides.
As we have said, we believe that Turkey's long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and a free and independent media. Turkey is a close friend and ally of the United States and we expect the Turkish authorities to uphold these fundamental freedoms.
Q Also, Iranian elections are going to be held tomorrow. Millions of Iranians will choose a new leader, their new leader. Is the Obama administration prepared to rethink its Iranian policy if there is a new leadership?
MR. CARNEY: When it comes to policy -- and especially on the issues that are a source of great disagreement between Iran on the one hand, and the rest of the world, virtually, on the other -- ultimate authority in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader. And we remain hopeful that Iranian authorities will be ready to engage in serious negotiations with the P5-plus-1 regardless of the outcome of the elections. The P5-plus-1 is ready to meet with Iran when Iran is ready to respond substantively to the balanced proposal put forward by the P5-plus-1 in Almaty.
Q Jay, you said that the President makes decisions on Syria based on national security and not public opinion polls. Is the President familiar with what public opinion polls say about security? Has he looked at any of that data?
MR. CARNEY: Again, he reads the newspaper from time to time, but I think he's pretty clearly focused in the decisions that he makes that involve our national security interests and decisions that can come at great cost and great risk through the lens of deciding what's in the best interest of the United States, of protecting the American people, and what can work, what can be effective.
Q Jay, can I just clarify two quick questions? On Syria, among the options that the President is weighing in terms of what would be in the U.S. interests and the goals of the Syrian people, I just want to clarify, one of those options is to do no more, is that right? To do no more assistance?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, all options are on the table. I supposed that would be an option. It's not one that we're giving a great deal of consideration to. We have ramped up our assistance to the Syrian people and the Syrian opposition over recent weeks and months. And I think that reflects a process that has -- that those decisions reflect the seriousness with which we take this problem and our recognition that on the ground, the violence is escalating and the plight of the Syrian people is worsening. And that’s why we have made the decisions we've made thus far, and it's what we consider as we look at other options.
Q And just one clarification also on immigration. Can you say how optimistic the President is right now that the House will hold a vote on immigration reform this year?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we certainly hope and expect that the House will take action on immigration reform. Immigration reform is something that we have seen in the Senate and out in the country has broad support. It is the right thing to do for our economy. It is the right thing to do for the middle class. It is the right thing to do for security.
This bill that has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee would be the largest order enforcement security bill in history. And that and the provisions contained therein and the resources provided by it would build on the strengthening of our border security that has taken place over the past four and a half years -- a strengthening that has been recognized by members of both parties as well as experts in the field.
We need to continue to take action to secure our border. We need to make sure that our businesses -- that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, because that’s good for our businesses. It's not -- for businesses who play by one set of rules, play by the rules, and then others who don’t, those who play by the rules get hurt. Everybody needs to play by the same set of rules when it comes to hiring. That’s an important provision of comprehensive immigration reform.
And it's important to ensure that immigration reform contains within it a clear path to citizenship -- a long path with many, many requirements along the way, but a clear path for those 11 million living here illegally.
Margaret. This is going to have to be the last one. I've got to catch a train.
Q I'm going to do a great job then. (Laughter.) On a variety of foreign policy issues, not just Syria. The President has often stressed that a multilateral approach is better than a unilateral approach. So I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if he felt that the time had come for various reasons to arm the Syrian rebels, is that a decision that he would consult with Congress, announce to the American people, et cetera, as a U.S. decision? Or is that a decision that, once he had made up his mind about what this country should do, he would seek to announce only in a multilateral context?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I have no announcements to make or predictions to make about how any announcement might unfold. I think that the kinds of aspects of a decision like that, or in options being considered like that take into account all of those issues.
And, absolutely, we believe it is often the case that implementation of policy in this region and elsewhere can be made more effective when we are working with our allies and partners. We have done that in Syria. We have done that elsewhere in the region. We have done that elsewhere around the world and will continue to do that. But it's not a one or the other proposition. He looks at all of these options, and will do so with regards to this option.
Yes, last one. But I can't -- my sister will kill me if I miss her daughter's wedding.
Q Just given the various timetables on the trade, TTIP trade talks both in the U.S. and in the EC. Do you expect that the G8 is going to be where the President and these leaders are able to announce the launch of these negotiations? Or do you think it will have to wait until Germany? It's just an easy question to round out the --
MR. CARNEY: You think? (Laughter.) Well, I have no predictions to make about what might be announced at the G8 or in Germany, but I invite you to try to pry more information from those who will brief you on the G8 tomorrow.
Thanks very much.
1:08 P.M. EDT
Statement by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use
At the President’s direction, the United States Government has been closely monitoring the potential use of chemical weapons within Syria. Following the assessment made by our intelligence community in April, the President directed the intelligence community to seek credible and corroborated information to build on that assessment and establish the facts with some degree of certainty. Today, we are providing an updated version of our assessment to Congress and to the public.
The Syrian government’s refusal to grant access to the United Nations to investigate any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use has prevented a comprehensive investigation as called for by the international community. The Assad regime could prove that its request for an investigation was not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN fact finding mission immediate and unfettered access to conduct on-site investigations to help reveal the truth about chemical weapons use in Syria. While pushing for a UN investigation, the United States has also been working urgently with our partners and allies as well as individuals inside Syria, including the Syrian opposition, to procure, share, and evaluate information associated with reports of chemical weapons use so that we can establish the facts and determine what took place.
Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
The body of information used to make this intelligence assessment includes reporting regarding Syrian officials planning and executing regime chemical weapons attacks; reporting that includes descriptions of the time, location, and means of attack; and descriptions of physiological symptoms that are consistent with exposure to a chemical weapons agent. Some open source reports from social media outlets from Syrian opposition groups and other media sources are consistent with the information we have obtained regarding chemical weapons use and exposure. The assessment is further supported by laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. Each positive result indicates that an individual was exposed to sarin, but it does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed or who was responsible for the dissemination.
We are working with allies to present a credible, evidentiary case to share with the international community and the public. Since the creation of the UN fact finding mission, we have provided two briefings to Dr. Åke Sellström, the head of the mission. We will also be providing a letter to UN Secretary General Ban, calling the UN’s attention to our updated intelligence assessment and specific incidents of alleged chemical weapons use. We request that the UN mission include these incidents in its ongoing investigation and report, as appropriate, on its findings. We will present additional information and continue to update Dr. Sellström as new developments emerge.
The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons – or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups – is a red line for the United States, as there has long been an established norm within the international community against the use of chemical weapons. Our intelligence community now has a high confidence assessment that chemical weapons have been used on a small scale by the Assad regime in Syria. The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has. Our decision making has already been guided by the April intelligence assessment and by the regime’s escalation of horrific violence against its citizens. Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks. This effort is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC, and helping to coordinate the provision of assistance by the United States and other partners and allies. Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.
The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available. We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline. Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity.
NOMINATIONS SENT TO THE SENATE:
John Gerson Levi, of Illinois, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation for a term expiring July 13, 2014. (Reappointment)
Mark Thomas Nethery, of Kentucky, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation for a term expiring October 6, 2018, vice Eric D. Eberhard, term expired.
Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.
Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.
Charles P. Rose, of Illinois, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation for a term expiring May 26, 2019, vice Robert Boldrey, term expired.
Stephanie Sanders Sullivan, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Congo.
Joseph Y. Yun, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Malaysia.
WITHDRAWAL SENT TO THE SENATE:
Avril D. Haines, of New York, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State, vice Harold Hongju Koh, resigned, which was sent to the Senate on April 18, 2013.
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine Belarus's democratic processes or institutions that was declared in Executive Order 13405 of June 16, 2006, is to continue in effect beyond June 16, 2013.
In 2012, the Government of Belarus continued its crackdown against political opposition, civil society, and independent media. The September 23 elections failed to meet international standards. The government arbitrarily arrested, detained, and imprisoned citizens for criticizing officials or for participating in demonstrations; imprisoned at least one human rights activist on manufactured charges; and prevented independent media from disseminating information and materials. These actions show that the Government of Belarus has not taken steps forward in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights.
The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine Belarus's democratic processes or institutions, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, and to engage in public corruption continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13405 with respect to Belarus.
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO THE ACTIONS AND POLICIES OF CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF BELARUS AND OTHER PERSONS TO UNDERMINE BELARUS'S DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES OR INSTITUTIONS
On June 16, 2006, by Executive Order 13405, the President declared a national emergency pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine Belarus's democratic processes or institutions, manifested in the fundamentally undemocratic March 2006 elections, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, including detentions and disappearances, and to engage in public corruption, including by diverting or misusing Belarusian public assets or by misusing public authority.
In 2012, the Government of Belarus continued its crackdown against political opposition, civil society, and independent media. The September 23 elections failed to meet international standards. The government arbitrarily arrested, detained, and imprisoned citizens for criticizing officials or for participating in demonstrations; imprisoned at least one human rights activist on manufactured charges; and prevented independent media from disseminating information and materials. These actions show that the Government of Belarus has not taken steps forward in the development of democratic governance and respect for human rights.
The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on June 16, 2006, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond June 16, 2013. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13405.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
On Thursday, June 13, 2013, the President signed into law:
S. 622, the "Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2013”, which reauthorizes the collection and spending of user fees by the Food and Drug Administration for brand-name and generic animal drugs.
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Vermont and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding during the period of May 22-26, 2013.
Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in the counties of Chittenden, Essex, and Lamoille.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Mark H. Landry as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT: FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV
The President spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today to discuss regional security and economic issues. They pledged to continue to work together closely toward the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The leaders discussed the President’s recent meetings with President Xi Jinping of China, and agreed on the importance of ensuring stability and pursuing dialogue as it relates to the East China Sea. The President stressed that the United States looks forward to being able to welcome Japan to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as early as possible once current TPP members complete their domestic requirements. Finally, the two leaders expressed the shared desire to work together closely at the up-coming G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.
Miami Beach, Florida
8:26 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: (Applause.) Hello, everybody!
THE PRESIDENT: It is good to be back in Miami. (Applause.) Don’t worry, I still think it’s going to be a seven-game series. (Applause.) I’m just saying. (Laughter.) I know everybody in Miami is feeling a little stressed right now, but -- (laughter) -- you’ve got two great teams playing.
I want to, first of all, just say thank you to Joe for hosting us. Opening up your house is a big deal on any occasion. When you’ve got Secret Service and everybody else running around, moving furniture, potentially bumping into that painting that’s probably worth a lot of money -- (laughter) -- that makes you more stressed. So can you all please move away from the painting? (Laughter.) Just wanted to make that point. You’re welcome, Joe. All right.
A couple of other people that I want to mention. We’ve got Debbie Wasserman Schultz here, the great Congresswoman and head of our DNC. (Applause.) We’ve got our DNC Finance Chair, Henry Muñoz, who’s here. (Applause.) And we have the Florida Democratic Party Chair, Allison Tant is here. (Applause.) And I am here. (Applause.) And you are here. (Applause.) So we’ve got a good party going on here tonight.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, we do!
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) Happy birthday. (Laughter.)
It’s wonderful to be out of Washington and have a chance to see folks who are doing all kinds of great work in their communities. As I was taking pictures with some people, I talked to doctors, I talked to folks who are active in the community, people who are working on behalf of immigration reform, people who are working on behalf of low-income families, teachers. And so we’ve got a pretty good group here of folks who, aside from politics, are making a difference every single day. And that’s what America is about, is neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, communities figuring out how can we continually make ourselves a better place for our kids and for our grandkids.
And after having gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, America, all across the country in communities north, south, east and west, are starting to slowly see recovery. We’ve now created jobs for 39 consecutive months -- close to 7 million jobs. (Applause.) We have seen housing begin to come back. The stock market has recovered. The economy is growing. We’re producing more energy than we have in years. We’re importing less than we have in decades. We’ve doubled our production of clean energy. We’ve doubles the fuel-efficiency standards on cars.
Across the board, people are feeling like, all right, America is moving and it’s moving in the right direction. But what we also know --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good job, Mr. President. Good job. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: What we also know is, is that we’ve got a lot more work to do. Because all across the country, we still have people who are looking for work and can’t find it. We still have young people in schools that aren’t learning what they need to compete in the 21st century. We still have young people who are burdened by massive college costs. We still have infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got research projects that could help to revolutionize our economy, but are not being adequately funded. We have folks whose homes are still underwater and they’re still struggling. And people are concerned about the possibilities of retiring with dignity and respect.
So we’ve got a lot more work to do. And the reason I’m here today is to ask for your help. I’m very proud of the record that we’ve been able to put together over the last four and half years, making sure that every American in this country gets health care, and we are implementing health care reform so that every single American -- (applause) -- is able to get health care and won’t go bankrupt when they get sick.
We’re very proud of the work we’ve done on financial reform, setting up, for example, a consumer finance agency that for the first time will be protecting consumers from unscrupulous mortgage lenders or financial institutions. I couldn't be prouder of us repealing "don't ask, don't tell,” -- (applause) -- and being at the forefront of making sure that in this country, it doesn't matter who you love; it matters whether you want to serve the country that you love. (Applause.)
We’re making progress on reforming education. We’ve put billions of dollars that were previously going to banks into helping young people go to college. We’re making progress. But with all the stuff that remains to be done, I can’t do it by myself. Our system of government was designed to separate powers, and so you’ve got three co-equal branches. And I can propose a whole bunch of good stuff, things that I know will make a difference in the lives of middle-class families and everybody who’s working to get into the middle class. But if don't have the kind of cooperation from Congress that I need, then all too often those are just plans on the shelf.
Now, I’ve run my last campaign -- and Michelle is very happy about that. (Laughter.) And so what that means is I think you can have confidence that all I care about right now is governing. All I care about right now is making sure that the country is stronger, more prosperous three years from now, four years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now than it was before I took office. And I will work with everybody who’s got that same attitude.
So the good news is, for example, right now Congress is working on a serious effort to reform our broken immigration system. And I actually am pretty confident that before the summer is over, I can sign into law comprehensive immigration reform that will strengthen our borders, fix our legal immigration system, and make sure that those who are here and are undocumented can earn their way -- in an arduous process, but earn their way -- to be full-fledged members of our country.
And that’s an example of what we can accomplish when we work on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, all too often, Republicans aren’t interested in the compromise that’s required to get things done. They’ve got a different philosophical view on a whole lot of issues. I don't think the vision that they have is one that would make the country stronger and more prosperous, but I understand they’re entitled to their opinion.
And no party has a monopoly on wisdom, but when you get to the point where the other party will not compromise at all; when you get to the point where you’ve got another party that is more interested in trying to roll back health care for 30 million Americans than provide health care for 30 million Americans; when you have a party that is trying to roll back Wall Street reform and trying to -- instead of trying to implement it so that we don't have another batch of Wall Street bailouts; when you have a situation where folks are trying to make sure that women don't have the capacity to choose health care for themselves and make their own health care decisions, and, in some cases, are on the wrong side of the issue when it comes to equality for the LGBT community -- when folks aren’t interested in compromising, then I want to make sure that I’ve got people there who are ready to do some work.
I want members of Congress who are looking out for you, not looking out for special interests, not looking out for folks who, frankly, are doing just fine. But I want to make sure that we’ve got people who are looking out for those who need help, and those who are committed to growing this economy in a broad-based way for everybody so that every child in America -- doesn't matter what they look like, where they come from, what their last name is -- that they can succeed. (Applause.) That's our goal. That's the kind of Congress I want.
And in order for that to happen, I'm going to need all of you to be just as engaged as you were in 2012 and 2008. Sometimes, the presidential campaigns are the ones that get a lot of notice and a lot of fanfare. And what happens, particularly among Democrats, is when it's not a presidential year our turnout drops off. That's what happened in 2010. You had this big gap between the number of people who vote on a presidential year and those who vote on a non-presidential year. We can't think in those terms. It's like if -- those of you who are basketball fans, you can't take off -- (laughter) -- you can't just play in the fourth quarter, you've got to play all the quarters. (Laughter.) You've got to play hard the whole time, not just part of the time. Well, the same is true when it comes to being engaged in the political process.
And so I'm spending a lot of time traveling around the country. I was over in North Carolina looking at a school district that had transformed itself -- gotten rid of textbooks, bought every child in the school district a laptop, and are now performing higher than every school district except one in North Carolina even though they're spending less money than almost every school district.
I was in Austin, Texas and seeing an incubator where young entrepreneurs are inventing new products and new systems, in part because of the research dollars that are flowing from the federal government and are creating new businesses and jobs that will keep America at the cutting edge.
I have the honor of serving as Commander-in-Chief and meeting young men and women all across the country and all around the world who are putting their lives on the line every single day to protect us.
And I meet young people everywhere who are so inspiring because they have this innate optimism about what's possible in this country. They're not willing to settle for environmental degradation. They're not willing to settle for inequality. They're not willing to settle for people being treated differently because -- or being bullied because of their sexual orientation.
And these young people, when you talk to them, it reminds you -- just like it reminds you when you talk to our men and women in uniform, just like it reminds you when you talk to some of our small business owners -- America has got all the cards we need to succeed as long as everybody is involved. As long as everybody is engaged. As long as the vision that has driven this country all these years expresses itself not only in our neighborhoods, not only in our workplaces, not only in our churches or synagogues or mosques, not only in our day-to-day lives, but also expresses itself in Washington -- expresses itself in Congress. That's what we're fighting for.
So I want to make sure everybody here understands our work is not done and I'm not going to be able to do it by myself. We're going to need great members of Congress who are passionate and motivated and thinking about how we build a thriving, growing middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. And in order for me to have those members of Congress, I'm going to need all of you active. (Applause.) So let's get to work. I hope you're still fired up.
I love you, Miami. (Applause.) Good luck in Game Four. (Applause.)
8:41 P.M. EDT
6:08 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Everybody, have a seat. Have a seat. Well, Tom, thank you so much for that introduction and the great support that you’ve given me, and the incredible innovation that you and your company represents.
There are a couple of other people I want to thank. In addition to Shasta and Azza, who’s back there and is growing like a weed -- (laughter) -- we’ve got our outstanding DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz -- Florida’s own. (Applause.) Where’s Debbie? She was here. I don’t know where she is now.
Our DNC Finance Chair -- don’t blame him for the fact that he’s from San Antonio -- Henry Muñoz is here. (Applause.) Our Florida Finance Chair, J.P. Austin, is here. (Applause.) And our Florida Democratic Party Chair, Allison Tant, is here. (Applause.)
So the story that Tom describes is the story of America. Somebody starts off selling lumber on the back of a pickup truck and they end up in Florida with some really nice artwork. (Laughter.) But in so many ways, Tom has lived out the American Dream, but there are two elements that Tom describes that go to the heart of why I think most of you are here today.
Number one: the idea that anybody can make it if they’ve got a good idea. That’s what America is about. That you don’t have to be born into fame and fortune in order to succeed. If you work hard, we have the most open, most innovative, most entrepreneurial society on Earth.
Number two: that we bet on technology. That’s what’s always driven progress in this country -- that we believe in the idea that we can do something better. That we may have figured out how to mass-produce automobiles, but we also can figure out how to mass-produce better automobiles. That we can invent communications systems that ultimately bring the entire world together. And that’s always been part of who we are -- at the cutting edge.
And then there’s a third thing that Tom represents, and that is a belief that there’s no contradiction between doing well and doing good. The idea that those of us who have been blessed in this society -- we work hard, we succeed -- we’ve got to give thing back. And that there are broader issues about how we make sure that we’re passing on to the next generation the same opportunities that were given to us.
Now, those are all American values. But part of the reason we’re here is because we believe that the Democratic Party best represents those values right now. I always say this: that hasn’t always been the case. I come from Illinois, and we had a pretty good Republican President named Lincoln.
But right now I think that when you look at who’s pushing to make sure that we’re investing in research and technology; who’s serious about discovering the new sources of energy -- energy of the future and not just energy of the past; who’s serious about making sure that every young person has educational opportunities, so that if they work hard they can succeed -- that’s us. That’s what the Democratic Party is all about.
And most of all, who believes that every single person in this country -- not just some of us -- but everybody should have a chance at success. No matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name, no matter who you love -- if you work hard, if you take responsibility, you can succeed. That’s what we stand for.
That’s why I ran in 2008. That’s why I ran for reelection in 2012. And obviously, we’ve made enormous progress over the last four and a half years, with the help of folks like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, making sure that every single person in America can get affordable, accessible health care we’re implementing right now; making sure that we double fuel efficiency standards on cars and double the production of clean energy.
Hey, Azza. You want to come up and say something? (Laughter.) Daddy is right over here. Yes, she’s right over there. (Laughter.) You can’t beat daughters. I mean, sons are okay, but -- (applause).
We were able to restore growth to an economy that was crashing: Thirty-nine consecutive months of job growth. The stock market exceeding where it was before the financial crisis. Housing beginning to bounce back. So we’ve made progress. But what we also know is that we’ve still got an awful lot of work to do. And the only way we’re going to get that done is if I stay focused, as President, on those issues that got people to send me to Washington -- making sure that we’re focused on bringing manufacturing back; making sure that we’re focused on making college more affordable; making sure that we’re reforming our K-12 system so that our kids get what they need; making sure that we’re investing in clean energy; dealing with climate change. But I can’t do it by myself. I’ve got to have partners.
Now, in some cases, we’re seeing Republicans willing to work with us and compromise. I’m pleased to see that we got a good vote this week so far on immigration. That immigration bill is on the floor, and I think we have an enormous opportunity to get a bipartisan immigration bill done. And that will be not just an enormous political achievement, but an important economic foundation for us to continue to attract the best and the brightest from all around the world.
But, sadly, all too often, we’re not getting much cooperation from the other side. They seem more interested in winning the next election than helping the next generation. And so I will spend the next three and a half years doing everything I can to work with anybody -- Democrat, Republican or independent -- to advance the cause of middle-class families and everybody who’s willing to work hard to get into the middle class. (Applause.) I will be doing that. But I tell you what, it would be a lot easier if I had a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate to do it. (Applause.)
So to all of you who have invested in me and invested in our vision for the future, I want to say thank you. But I also want to tell you that we’ve got a lot more work to do, and it’s going to be absolutely critical that everybody here feels the same urgency and intensity over the next year and a half leading up to the midterm elections, as you did in 2008 and 2012.
If you do, then we can take back the House; we can keep the Senate in Democratic hands. That will allow me to appoint outstanding judges to the federal bench. That will allow us to make sure that we are advancing issues like climate change that are critically important for the next generation. And it can be done -- but it can only be done with you.
And for all that you’ve done, but also for all that you’re going to be doing, I want to just say how much I appreciate it, and I’m looking forward to us partnering together for several more years so that we can get that whole agenda in place and make sure that Azza and all her peers can look back and say, you know what, our parents and our grandparents, they took care of business.
So thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
6:18 P.M. EDT
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
• Stephanie Sanders Sullivan – Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, Department of State
• Joseph Y. Yun – Ambassador to Malaysia, Department of State
The President also announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:
• Avril D. Haines – Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
• Michael J. Morell – Member, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
President Obama said, “I am proud that such experienced and committed individuals have agreed to serve the American people in these important roles. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
Stephanie Sanders Sullivan, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, Department of State
Stephanie Sanders Sullivan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is Chief of Staff for the Office of the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. Previously, from 2010 to 2011, she was Managing Director of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation in the Office of Management Policy. From 2008 to 2010, she was Director of the Department of State Executive Secretariat Operations Center, where she served as Deputy Director from 2003 to 2005. Ms. Sullivan’s additional assignments in Washington have included: Senior Watch Officer in the Executive Secretariat Operations Center from 2002 to 2003, Post Management Officer in the Executive Office of the Bureau of African Affairs from 2001 to 2002, and Desk Officer for Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in the Bureau of African Affairs from 1991 to 1993. Since joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Sullivan has served overseas in Ghana and Cameroon. Ms. Sullivan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1980 to 1983 and later worked as Chief of Operations for the Africa Region at the Peace Corps from 1994 to 1996. She received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.S. from the National War College.
Joseph Y. Yun, Nominee for Ambassador to Malaysia, Department of State
Joseph Y. Yun, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Prior to this, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2010 to 2011. From 2009 to 2010, he was Director of the Office of Maritime Southeast Asia. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1985, Mr. Yun has served overseas in Korea, Thailand, France, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Before joining the Foreign Service, he was an economist for Data Resources, Inc. in Massachusetts. Mr. Yun received a B.S. from the Cardiff University and an M.S. and M.Phil from the London School of Economics.
President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:
Avril D. Haines, Appointee for Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Avril D. Haines is Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs at the White House. Prior to joining the White House Counsel’s office in 2010, she was Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs at the Department of State. She previously worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State from 2003 to 2006, first in the Office of Treaty Affairs and then in the Office of Political Military Affairs. From 2007 to 2008, she worked on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Majority. Ms. Haines clerked for Judge Danny Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 2002 to 2003. From 2001 to 2002, she was a Legal Officer at The Hague Conference on Private International Law. She received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Michael J. Morell, Appointee for Member, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
Michael J. Morell is Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Prior to this, he led the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence. From 2006 to 2008, he was Associate Deputy Director of the CIA, before which he served briefly as a Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Mr. Morell began his career with the CIA in 1980 as an analyst covering international energy issues. He later worked on East Asia issues for 14 years, until he became Director of the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis in 1999. Mr. Morell’s additional roles in the CIA include intelligence briefer to the President in 2001 and Executive Assistant to the Director of the CIA from 1998 to 1999. He received a B.A. from the University of Akron and an M.A. from Georgetown University.
Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center
Roxbury Crossing, Massachusetts
1:27 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Boston! (Applause.) It is great to be back in Boston. (Applause.) Good to be back in Massachusetts. (Applause.) And, most of all, it is great to be here with the next senator from Massachusetts -- Ed Markey. (Applause.)
First of all, I want to thank Ed for that great introduction. (Applause.) Because I am here with my great friends from Boston, because I'm here to campaign on behalf of somebody who will be an outstanding member of the United States Senate, I am not going to talk trash about the hockey game. (Laughter.) I'm not going to say anything about the outstanding qualities of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE: Boooo --
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to do it. (Laughter.) Because I don't want to make you all feel bad. (Laughter.) I want you to feel good.
Part of the reason you should feel good is not only do you have an outstanding congressional delegation, you also have a great Governor -- my good friend, Deval Patrick. (Applause.) You’ve got one of the finest mayors in the United States of America -- we love Tom Menino. (Applause.) I was just backstage talking to Tom, and he doesn’t just inspire Boston and make it a better place, he inspires the country. And we’re grateful for his lifetime of service.
The last time I saw Tom, the last time I saw a lot of you was for the memorial service honoring the victims of the Marathon bombing. So this morning, before I came here, I wanted to spend some time with some Bostonians, so we stopped by Charlie’s Sandwich Shop -- (applause) -- and I got a burger and fries. And we were saying hi to everybody and hugging folks, and Ed was with me. And one of the people I met in the shop just by happenstance was a young man whose family had been injured by the bombing. And he was with a nurse who had been at Mass General the day those folks got brought in. And she was on her day off. But I gave her a big hug and I reminded her of how much what she did had meant to so many people all throughout the city and she was an example of the spirit of Boston during a very difficult time.
And I asked people, how is the city doing? And they said, you know, we're bouncing back. Boylston Street may be open again. Life may be back to normal in a lot of ways. But we know there's still too many middle-class families that aren't seeing their hard work rewarded, too many young people who are looking for work and can't find it, too many Americans who feel like the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart. And that’s why Ed and I are focused on building the true engine of long-term economic growth -- and that is a rising, thriving middle class. (Applause.)
And every day I wake up, I ask three questions: How do I make America a magnet for good jobs? How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need for those jobs? How do we make sure those jobs are paying a decent living? And the answer to that is, government can't do it by itself. Obviously, the private sector is the driver of our economy. It's the engine of our growth.
But when people say the whole problem is government, they don't understand government can help by establishing smart priorities, by making smart choices, by investing in American manufacturing so we're bringing more of our jobs back from overseas -- (applause) -- investing in our roads and our bridges and our ports to make sure that we are staying competitive all around the world; educating our children from the earliest years, keeping them safe from gun violence; rethinking our high schools, making college more affordable -- (applause) -- making sure we stay at the cutting edge in science and technology; securing our energy future; addressing climate change. There are some things that government can do that will help middle-class families, and that's what Ed Markey is committed to doing. (Applause.)
We can do all this. We have all the plans. We have all the policies. We have solutions to our challenges. We have all the ingredients for success. This is not only the greatest nation on Earth in the past, this is going to be the greatest nation on Earth for the foreseeable future. There's no country on Earth that would not gladly trade places with the United States. But what’s holding us back right now is inaction in Washington, gridlock in Washington -- too many folks in Washington who are putting the next election ahead of the next generation. (Applause.)
Now, Boston, I want you to know I've run my last campaign. Michelle is very happy about that. (Laughter.) So my only concern is making sure that we advance the interests of the broadest number of Americans and we leave our children a stronger, safer, more prosperous country than the one we inherited. That’s all I care about. (Applause.) And that means I’m willing to work with anybody -- I’ll work with Republicans, Democrats, independents -- anybody who wants to make progress. I’m ready to get going. I want to work with them. (Applause.)
So, for example, right now on immigration, we’ve got a good bipartisan bill moving through the Senate that strengthens our borders and reforms the system so that everybody is playing by the same rules -- reform that will allow us to continue to attract talent from all around the world, the best and the brightest. And whenever Republicans are ready to work with me, I’m ready to work with them. (Applause.) I want to govern not just politic. (Applause.)
And I notice on gun violence, there are a lot of Republicans out there who recognize that we need some common-sense gun safety measures. Some Republicans may be rethinking the stances that they took in the past. That’s the good news. We want to encourage that. But the fact of the matter is that a whole bunch of Republicans out there are not interested in getting things done. They think compromise is a dirty word. They think the problem we’ve got is just working people who join unions -- that that’s what holding us back. They think environmental regulations are what’s holding us back. They think that we’re spending, I guess, too much money on science and research and technology.
And because of those attitudes, we’ve got to have some Democrats like Ed Markey, who will stand up and do the right thing. That’s what we need. (Applause.)
Ed mentioned that the idea of being a Democrat -- look, I don’t believe that any single party has a monopoly on wisdom. My favorite President is a guy from Illinois who founded the Republican Party, effectively -- Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican President. (Applause.) But what does make me a Democrat is the basic idea that in this country, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, you should be able to get ahead if you’re willing to work hard and act responsibly. (Applause.)
You should be able to buy a home and send your kids to college, and save a little bit for retirement, make sure your kids get a good education, not go bankrupt when you get sick. Most Americans aren’t asking for a lot. They know they’ve got to take care of themselves. They just want to make sure that if they're working hard, they can get ahead. That's the essence of what it means to be a Democrat.
And that's why we’ve got to have folks like Ed Markey, who are going to help keep weapons of war off the streets and out of our schools; make it harder for criminals to get a gun in their hands.
That's why we’ve got to have a Democrat who is going to make sure that we implement the Affordable Care Act -- because in a nation this wealthy, nobody should have to go without affordable, accessible health care. They don't have to do it in Massachusetts. They shouldn’t have to do it anywhere else. (Applause.) It’s the right thing to do, and we need Ed Markey to make sure that it gets implemented. (Applause.)
We’re fighting to make sure that when it comes to women’s health, no employer or insurance company or politician gets to decide your health care. Women should make decisions about their health care, not some politician in Washington. (Applause.)
We need somebody who is going to be supportive of the Consumer Financial Protection Board that Elizabeth Warren and I started talking about even before I was elected President and that we’ve now implemented to make sure you’re not getting cheated by unscrupulous financial practices. We need somebody who is going to support that robustly. That's what Ed is going to do.
We don't need politicians who are going to roll back these rights. We need somebody like Ed Markey who is going to fight to secure them, no matter how many times the Republicans in Washington want to refight the old battles.
Do you know that the House Republicans have held nearly 40 votes to repeal Obamacare? They did another one just two weeks ago because they figured that they were a couple new representatives that hadn’t had a chance to vote against Obamacare. That's not a productive thing to do, people.
This law is going to mean big things for the economic security of middle-class families. We should be spending time figuring out how to spread the word that if you don't have health insurance, you can now get it.
We need a senator from Massachusetts who will help me, work with me, to deal with climate change in an honest, realistic way. (Applause.) Ed has been fighting this battle for decades. If we want our children and our grandchildren to live in the same beautiful planet, the same abundance and natural glory that we have enjoyed in our lives, we’ve got to double down on our investment in science and basic research. We can't just develop the energy sources of the past. We’ve got to develop the energy sources of the future.
We’ve got the tools and the capabilities to make huge strides. We’ve already doubled the production of clean energy. We’ve already doubled fuel-efficiency standards on cars. We've got to keep on going forward, not backwards. And that's what Ed Markey is going to help us do. (Applause.)
We've ended a war in Iraq; we're winding down the war in Afghanistan responsibly. Now we're going to have to take care of our veterans and keep Americans safe. And I will keep working with the other side of the aisle on these issues. But I want somebody like Ed Markey who every single day is going to be fighting on behalf of our veterans, going to be fighting on behalf of our first responders.
These budget battles we have in Washington, they have implications for whether or not we're helping cities and states fund their firefighters, fund their police officers. And everybody here in Boston knows how much those first responders mean to us when a crisis has hit. (Applause.) And we've got to make sure we're there for them. (Applause.)
So, look, here’s the bottom line. We've gone through some tough times over these last few years and so many of you put your faith in me in 2008 and 2012 -- (applause) -- the folks here in Massachusetts were very kind to me back in 2004, when nobody could pronounce my name. (Laughter.)
And every single day, I think about all of you. I look out on the faces in this crowd -- some of you I know, some of you have knocked on doors for me, some of you poured your heart and soul into our efforts.
But here’s the thing that I think all of us understand -- the job of rebuilding America, the job of making sure our kids have a great education, the job of making sure everybody has health care, the job of making sure that financial institutions treat everybody fairly, the job of making sure our veterans have the care that they need, the job of making sure we have a bright energy future, the job of preserving our environment, the job of making sure we stay on the cutting-edge when it comes to innovation -- that job is not mine alone. I can't do it by myself. I've got to have folks with me who care as passionately about these things as I do. (Applause.) I've got to have folks in the United States Senate who are willing to stand up for working people just like I have. I need folks in the United States Senate who, every day, are waking up thinking about the people who sent them there, and trying to figure out how do I make sure that they are getting a brighter future.
That's who Ed Markey is. I need Ed Markey in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
So this election is going to come down to turnout. We've got a whole lot of Democrats in this state and a whole lot of Obama voters, but you can't just turnout during a presidential election. You've got to turn out in this election. You can't think, oh, I did my work in 2012. You've got some work to do right now in 2013. (Applause.) You can't just pat your back and say, well, I knocked on some doors back in November. I need you knocking on some doors right now in June. (Applause.)
And if you work with the same focus and the same passion -- if you are knocking on some doors and making some phone calls, if you're talking to your friends and you're talking to your neighbors -- if you're talking to cousin Jimmy who doesn't always vote unless you give him a phone call -- if you are making sure that people know Ed Markey's remarkable record in Congress, then I guarantee you he will be the next United States senator from Massachusetts. (Applause.) He'll join Elizabeth Warren. He'll carry on the legacy of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. He will be my partner, and we will continue the march forward on behalf of not just this generation, but future generations.
Thank you. Let's get to work. God bless you.
1:51 P.M. EDT