Speaking at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., Obama referred to several recent high-profile arrests of alleged terrorist plotters in Denver, New York, Illinois and Texas, saying the arrests have made the United States safer.
“The record of your service is written in the attacks that never occur because you thwarted them, and in the countless Americans who are alive today because you saved them,” he said. “For that, America is in your debt.”
Obama credited counterterrorism operators’ vigilance, attention to warning signs and cooperation across organizations with leading to the arrests of terror suspects in recent weeks, noting that such efforts often occur away from the spotlight.
“Few Americans know about the work that you do, and this is how it should be,” he said. “Your assignments require it, and obviously, you didn’t go into this line of work for the fame and glory or the glare of the spotlight. You’re in it to serve and protect.
“So I say to every American, ‘You see the headlines, but here are some of the people who help write them, who keep you safe,’” he added. “And I say to all of you, ‘You are setting the standard. You’re showing us what focused and integrated counterterrorism really looks like.’”
The U.S. intelligence community comprises 16 organizations, numerous federal, state, local and international partners. These collective efforts are coordinated at the National Counterterrorism Center, where Obama delivered his message of thanks to those who contribute to ensuring Americans’ safety.
“To think about the profound impact that all of you are having on the day-to-day life of this nation I think is extraordinary,” he said. “Your professionalism is essential to protecting this country.”
Obama acknowledged that eight years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there is still no guarantee there won’t be another attack inside the United States.
“We’re facing determined adversaries who are resourceful, who are resilient, and who are still plotting,” he said. “And no one can ever promise that there won’t be another attack on American soil.
“But I can promise you this: I pledge to do everything in my power as president to keep America safe,” he continued. “And I pledge to give all of you the tools and support you need to get the job done around the world and here at home. And I pledge to stay focused on that mission, just as you stay focused on your mission.”
Underscoring the global nature of terrorist threats, Obama cited threats emanating not only from the Middle East, but also from East Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe. He said the international reach of the intelligence network is making strides in the country’s primary objective.
“Because of you and all the organizations you represent, we’re making real progress in our core mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida and other extremist networks around the world,” he said.
“We must never lose sight of that goal. That’s the principal threat to the American people. That is the threat that led to the creation of this center. And that must be the focus of our efforts to defend the homeland and our allies, and defeat extremists abroad,” Obama added.