From the White House
Weekly Address: Calling for Limited Military Action in Syria
WASHINGTON, DC — In his weekly address, President Obama makes the case for limited and targeted military action to hold the Assad regime accountable for its violation of international norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. The President realizes the American people are weary after a decade of war, which is why U.S. action would not include U.S. boots on the ground. Instead, the President has put forward a proposed authorization that is focused on his clearly stated objectives – preventing and deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons (CW) within, to, or from Syria, degrading the Assad regime's capacity to carry out future CW attacks, and deterring this behavior in others who would otherwise feel emboldened to use such weapons. The President acknowledged it is not a decision he made lightly, but failing to respond to such actions poses a serious threat to our national security.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, September 7, 2013.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
September 7, 2013
Almost three weeks ago in Syria, more than 1,000 innocent people – including hundreds of children – were murdered in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21 st century. And the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible for this horrific attack on its own people.
This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security. There's a reason governments representing 98 percent of the world's people have agreed to ban the use of chemical weapons. Not only because they cause death and destruction in the most indiscriminate and inhumane way possible – but because they can also fall into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.
That's why, last weekend, I announced that, as Commander in Chief, I decided that the United States should take military action against the Syrian regime. This is not a decision I made lightly. Deciding to use military force is the most solemn decision we can make as a nation.
As the leader of the world's oldest Constitutional democracy, I also know that our country will be stronger if we act together, and our actions will be more effective. That's why I asked Members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.
What we're talking about is not an open-ended intervention. This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.
I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That's why we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war.
But we are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of Syria. Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons. All of which would pose a serious threat to our national security.
That's why we can't ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one – even if they happen halfway around the world. And that's why I call on Members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in; the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations.
From the FBI
Transnational Law Enforcement Efforts --
Helping Stem Transnational Crime
Four leaders of the MS-13 gang were convicted in Atlanta recently in connection with a terrorizing violent crime spree. During the course of the investigation, we determined that many of their violent acts were directed by gang leadership in El Salvador and Honduras—a common occurrence uncovered in other investigations as well. This international criminal nexus of violent gangs is the focus of several FBI programs funded by the U.S. State Department through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).
CARSI's overall goal is to confront the dangers of organized crime, violent gangs, and drug trafficking in Central America and the U.S., and several domestic federal agencies participate in various facets of the initiative. The FBI, through its National Gang Task Force (NGTF), specifically supports six programs targeting the transnational threats posed by the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs.
The first three are operationally focused:
Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Unit: This program combines the expertise, resources, and jurisdiction of participating agencies involved in investigating and countering transnational criminal gang activity in the U.S. and Central America. These groups—headed by FBI agents who lead vetted teams of national police and prosecutors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—coordinate with FBI legal attachés assigned to those regions and with the Bureau's International Operations Division.
Central American Fingerprint Exchange (CAFÉ): This NGTF-established program was developed to collect and store criminal biometric data, including fingerprint records, from all Central American countries. The collected prints are added to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division's general database, where they're accessible to local, state, and federal agencies in the U.S.
Criminal History Information Program (CHIP): Through this initiative, the FBI provides the Salvadoran and Honduran National Police with the criminal history, biographical, and background information of non-U.S. citizen gang members and associates who are deported from the U.S. back to their home countries.
The second three CARSI programs are more training-focused:
Central American Law Enforcement Exchange (CALEE): This officer exchange program provides Central American and U.S. police officers with hands-on training that emphasizes operational techniques and current gang trends. CALEE encourages relationship-building and innovative approaches for gang investigations and offers a clearer understanding of the transnational threat posed by violent criminal street gangs. This four-week program takes part in classrooms and in the field.
Central American Intelligence Program (CAIP): CAIP allows representatives from U.S. and Central American law enforcement agencies to take part in an interactive, custom-designed intelligence and exchange program. CAIP was developed to expose participants to best practices in the areas of collection, analysis, and dissemination of transnational gang intelligence.
Central American Community Impact Exchange (CACIE): With its goal of helping Central American nations develop positive community impact programs, CACIE focuses on the importance of community collaboration and strengthening relationships between community leaders and law enforcement. The newest of the CARSI programs, CACIE was developed in partnership with the State Department and the White House National Security Staff.
These six CARSI programs have proven to be a valuable weapon against transnational gangs and have assisted the FBI and our partners in targeting and disrupting many MS-13 and 18th Street gang connections—proof positive that transnational cooperation among law enforcement can trump cross-border collaboration among criminals.