As Americans hit the road, the airports and the train stations for Thanksgiving travel, President Obama emerged in the Roosevelt Room to encourage people not to fear a “horrific and heinous” terror attack like Paris.
Obama met yesterday with the National Security Council, where the White House said he “was briefed that there is currently no specific, credible threat to the homeland from ISIL.”
“The president was also briefed on ways we can enhance our existing security and intelligence cooperation with partners,” the administration said in a readout of that meeting.
This morning, the president met with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, FBI Director Jim Comey, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch “for a regular update on our security posture post-Paris and going into the holiday season,” Obama told reporters.
“Given the shocking images, I know that Americans have been asking each other where — whether it’s safe here, whether it’s safe to fly or gather. I know that families have discussed their fears about the threat of terrorism around the dinner table, many for the first time since September 11th,” he said.
“And it’s understandable that people worry something similar could happen here. Watching the events in Paris made the threat feel closer to home. So as we go into Thanksgiving weekend, I want the American people to know is that we are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe.”
Obama said he’d speak more about his ISIS strategy “in the coming weeks,” adding that “we’re stepping up the pressure on ISIL where it lives. And we will not let up, adjusting our tactics where necessary, until they are beaten. That’s our first goal.”
At home, he said, “anytime there is an event, we learn something from it.”
“Right now, we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland, and that is based on the latest information I just received in the situation room. It is similar to the information — the briefing that I received on Saturday before I left on my trip last week,” Obama said.
“So as Americans travel this weekend to be with their loved ones, I want them to know that our counter terrorism, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement professionals at every level are working over time. They are continually monitoring threats at home and abroad. Continually evaluating our security posture…. So the bottom line is this, I want the American people to know entering the holidays that the combined resources of our military, our intelligence, and our homeland security agencies are on the case. They’re vigilant, relentless and effective.”
If there is “a specific, credible threat,” Obama added, “the public will be informed.”
“We do think it’s useful for people as they’re going about their business to be vigilant. If you see something suspicious, say something. That’s always helpful. But otherwise, Americans should go about their usual Thanksgiving weekend activities. Spending time with family and friends, and celebrating our blessings,” he said. “And while the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks, and we are resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.”
After Obama’s statement, DHS secretary Johnson spoke at Union Station in Washington, reiterating they know of no specific threat and stressing that security officials are “working overtime to protect the homeland.”
“’If you see something say something,’ has to be more than just a slogan,” Johnson said.