Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekly Address: The Experience of Judge Sotomayor

The President discusses the breadth and depth of experience held by his nominee for the Supreme Court. In the course of a life that began in a housing project in the South Bronx and brought her to the pinnacle of her profession, Judge Sonia Sotomayor accumulated more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years, touching nearly every aspect of our legal system.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Washington D.C.

This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers.

Judge Sotomayor’s career began when she served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, prosecuting violent crimes in America’s largest city. After leaving the DA’s office, she became a litigator, representing clients in complex international legal disputes. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court, serving six years as a trial judge where she presided over hundreds of cases. And most recently, she has spent eleven years on the U.S. Court of Appeals, our nation’s second highest court, grappling with some of the most difficult constitutional and legal issues we face as a nation. She has more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years. Quite simply, Judge Sotomayor has a deep familiarity with our judicial system from almost every angle.

And her achievements are all the more impressive when you consider what she had to overcome in order to achieve them. Judge Sotomayor grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx; her parents came to New York from Puerto Rico during the Second World War. Her father was a factory worker with a third grade education; when she was just nine years old, he passed away. Her mother worked six days a week as a nurse to provide for her and her brother, buying the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood and sending her children to Catholic school. That’s what made it possible for Judge Sotomayor to attend two of America’s leading universities, graduating at the top of her class at Princeton University, and studying at Yale Law School where she won a prestigious post as an editor of the school’s Law Journal.

These many years later, it was hard not to be moved by Judge Sotomayor’s mother, sitting in the front row at the White House, her eyes welling with tears, as her daughter – who had come so far, for whom she sacrificed so much – was nominated to the highest court in the land.

And this is what makes Judge Sotomayor so extraordinary. Even as she has reached the heights of her profession, she has never forgotten where she began. She has faced down barriers, overcome difficult odds, and lived the American dream. As a Justice of the Supreme Court, she will bring not only the experience acquired over the course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated over the course of an extraordinary journey – a journey defined by hard work, fierce intelligence, and the enduring faith that, in America, all things are possible.

It is her experience in life and her achievements in the legal profession that have earned Judge Sotomayor respect across party lines and ideological divides. She was originally named to the U.S. District Court by the first President Bush, a Republican. She was appointed to the federal Court of Appeals by President Clinton, a Democrat. She twice has been overwhelmingly confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And I am gratified by the support for this nomination voiced by members of the legal community who represent views from across the political spectrum.

There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor’s record. But I am confident that these efforts will fail; because Judge Sotomayor’s seventeen-year record on the bench – hundreds of judicial decisions that every American can read for him or herself – speak far louder than any attack; her record makes clear that she is fair, unbiased, and dedicated to the rule of law. As a fellow judge on her court, appointed by Ronald Reagan, said recently, "I don’t think I’d go as far as to classify her in one camp or another. I think she just deserves the classification of outstanding judge."

Congress returns this week and I hope the confirmation process will begin without delay. No nominee should be seated without rigorous evaluation and hearing; I expect nothing less. But what I hope is that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this process, and Congress, in the past. Judge Sotomayor ought to be on the bench when the Supreme Court decides what cases to hear this year and I’m calling on Democrats and Republicans to be thorough, and timely in dealing with this nomination.

As President, there are few responsibilities more serious or consequential than the naming of a Supreme Court Justice. The members of our highest court are granted life tenure. They are charged with applying principles put to paper more than two centuries ago to some of the most difficult questions of our time. And the impact of their decisions extends beyond an administration, but for generations to come.

This is a decision that I have not taken lightly and it is one that I am proud to have made. I know that Justice Sotomayor will serve this nation with distinction. And when she ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the Supreme Court, bringing a lifetime of experience on and off the bench, America will have taken another important step toward realizing the ideal that is chiseled above its entrance: Equal justice under the law.


Cybersecurity & Securing Our Digital Future

Securing Our Digital Future

Melissa Hathaway, Cybersecurity Chief at the National Security Council, discusses securing our nation's digital future:

The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as cyberspace underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety and national security. The United States is one of the global leaders on embedding technology into our daily lives and this technology adoption has transformed the global economy and connected people in ways never imagined. My boys are 8 and 9 and use the Internet daily to do homework, blog with their friends and teacher, and email their mom; it is second nature to them. My mom and dad can read the newspapers about their daughter on-line and can reach me anywhere in the world from their cell phone to mine. And people all over the world can post and watch videos and read our blogs within minutes of completion. I can’t imagine my world without this connectivity and I would bet that you cannot either. Now consider that the same networks that provide this connectively also increasingly help control our critical infrastructure. These networks deliver power and water to our households and businesses, they enable us to access our bank accounts from almost any city in the world, and they are transforming the way our doctors provide healthcare. For all of these reasons, we need a safe Internet with a strong network infrastructure and we as a nation need to take prompt action to protect cyberspace for what we use it for today and will need in the future.

Protecting cyberspace requires strong vision and leadership and will require changes in policy, technology, education, and perhaps law. The 60-day cyberspace policy review summarizes our conclusions and outlines the beginning of a way forward in building a reliable, resilient, trustworthy digital infrastructure for the future. There are opportunities for everyone—individuals, academia, industry, and governments—to contribute toward this vision. During the review we engaged in more than 40 meetings and received and read more than 100 papers that informed our recommendations. As you will see in our review there is a lot of work for us to do together and an ambitious action plan to accomplish our goals. It must begin with a national dialogue on cybersecurity and we should start with our family, friends, and colleagues.

We are late in addressing this critical national need and our response must be focused, aggressive, and well-resourced. We have garnered great momentum in the last few months, and the vision developed in our review is based on the important input we received from industry, academia, the civil liberties and privacy communities, others in the Executive Branch, State governments, Congress, and our international partners. We now have a strong and common view of what is needed to achieve change. Ensuring that cyberspace is sufficiently resilient and trustworthy to support U.S. goals of economic growth, civil liberties and privacy protections, national security, and the continued advancement of democratic institutions requires making cybersecurity a national priority.


Watch experts from the public and private sectors discuss the Administration's combined arms approach to securing our nation's digital future:

“Most of the Work Takes Place Before a Hurricane Hits”

As we mentioned earlier today, the administration has been working hard on a coordinated effort to prepare for hurricane season. This afternoon, the President met with FEMA at the National Response Coordination Center to discuss hurricane preparedness. The President stated that he had no greater responsibility than the safety of the American people, and emphasized the importance of planning in ensuring that safety:
Our top priority is ensuring the public safety. That means appropriate sheltering in place, or, if necessary, getting as many people as possible out of harm’s way prior to landfall. But most of the work, as you would hear from these individual agencies, most of the work takes place before a hurricane hits. True preparedness means having federal and state and local governments all coordinating effectively, and as you just heard, one of the most important things we can do is make sure the families have prepared appropriately.
The President is briefed on hurricane preparedness
President Barack Obama and Homeland Security adviser John Brennan listen to Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano (back to camera) at the hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA headquarters in
Washington Friday, May 29, 2009. At far left is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate briefed the President on preparedness efforts and the seasonal forecast for the 2009 hurricane season. Fugate echoed the President’s statements about the importance of preparation before a hurricane strikes:
Preparing before a hurricane strikes lays the groundwork for a successful response and recovery, and we urge every American living in a hurricane-prone area to take the steps necessary to keep their families safe. Today’s briefing allowed President Obama to hear firsthand our plans and preparations to support state and local governments during hurricane season.

Update on Recovery Act Lobbying Rules: New Limits on Special Interest Influence

Another update from Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, in the spirit of transparency as always:

I am writing with an update on the President’s March 20, 2009 Memorandum on Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds. Section 3 of the Memorandum required all oral communications between federally registered lobbyists and government officials concerning Recovery Act policy to be disclosed on the Internet; barred registered lobbyists from having oral communications with government officials about specific Recovery Act projects or applications and instead required those communications to be in writing; and also required those written communications to be posted on the Internet. That Memorandum instructed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review the initial 60 days of implementation of the stimulus lobbying restrictions, to evaluate the data, and to recommend modifications.

Following OMB’s review, the Administration has decided to make a number of changes to the rules that we think make them even tougher on special interests and more focused on merits-based decision making.

First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.

Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists. If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact.

OMB will be consulting with agencies, outside experts and others about these principles and will publish detailed guidance, but we wanted to update interested parties on the outcome of the initial review. We consulted very broadly both within and outside of government (including as reflected in previous posts on the White House blog) and we are grateful to all those who participated in the process.

President Obama to make first visit to New York; enjoy private time with First Lady Michelle Obama

WASHINGTON - President Obama makes his first trip to New York Saturday to enjoy a date night on Broadway with First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Obamas plan to take in "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Belasco Theater, the Daily News has learned.
The August Wilson drama chronicles the struggles of African-Americans in the early 20th century.
The White House, citing security concerns, declined to comment on the details of the First Couple's "date night" in the Big Apple.
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest would only say, "The President and First Lady will make a personal visit to New York City."
The First Couple will be traveling on one of the smaller planes in the Air Force VIP fleet instead of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
Before heading up to New York today, Obama was hard at work Friday rolling out his cybersecurity strategy in a White House speech.
He revealed that his presidential campaign's computers were hacked by intruders who broke into sensitive files.
"I know how it feels to have privacy violated because it has happened to me and the people around me," Obama said at a White House event announcing the cybersecurity strategy.
The hacking was first reported after the fall election, but Obama had never discussed it openly before.
Obama's Internet communications during the bruising 2008 campaign were legendary for breaking new ground in how he organized supporters and donors nationwide.
"To all of you who donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured, our fund-raising Web site was untouched."
"But between August and October, hackers gained access to e-mails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans," he explained.
The President revealed his campaign "worked closely" with the CIA, FBI and Secret Service to block the hackers. He did not reveal their identities or if any arrests were made. Newsweek said the intruders were believed to be Russian or Chinese.
To keep foreign and domestic computer snoopers at bay, Obama announced he'll appoint a new cybersecurity czar to coordinate the defense of critical U.S. computer systems.

Read more: "President Obama to make first visit to New York; enjoy private time with First Lady Michelle Obama" -

President Obama to make first visit to New York; enjoy private time with First Lady Michelle Obama

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Friday, May 29, 2009

you can see the change starting....

Yes, the US military did humanitarian missions under the Bush administration too. For one thing, an important component of these is military training. You want military doctors and nurses who have seen tropical diseases? Then you send them on missions to the tropics.

If you want to get cynical, you can get into images of the Wehrmacht marching bands on the streets of Paris, with stormtroopers passing out candy to the kids. But that's certainly not the way that Panamanians look at the visit of the US Navy's hospital ship Comfort.

Part of that visit will be the strengthening of close and long-standing ties between the United States and Panama in the field of music. The Comfort's bands will be playing in Panama City this weekend, and one of the events will be hosted by a Panamanian who lives partly here and partly in the USA and who advanced his stellar career by way of a Fulbright Scholarship, one Danilo Pérez.


So what's different? Arguments over trade treaties and this or that irritant notwithstanding, most Panamanians like most Americans and think that the government in Washington is making changes for the better. Barack Obama is very popular here.

During the primary campaign, some dismissed Obama's having spent some of his formative years abroad as irrelevant. But he surely was taught at a young age that not everybody is like Americans, not everybody likes Americans, and that a young American needs to be careful about what he or she does or says lest it lead to some unfortunate international incident.

Barack knows, Barack cares and people around the world appreciate that. It accrues to the benefit of the millions of Americans living abroad, including the men and women of the US Armed Forces stationed overseas.

Reactions to Sotomayor's Nomination: "She is everything one would want in a first-rate judge"

Forty eight hours after the announcement, here are just a few of the initial reactions to President Obama's decision to nominate Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

Former Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and Carter appointee Jon Newman said Sotomayor was “Everything one would want in a first-rate judge.” NPR reported that Judge Newman called Sotomayor a brilliant lawyer and a fair-minded pragmatist. “She is everything one would want in a first-rate judge,” he said. [NPR, 5/27/09]

Lawyer and Supreme Court expert Tom Goldstein praises Sotomayor as “extremely entelligent” with “overwhelming qualifications." On MSNBC, Goldstein said, “Objectively, her qualifications are overwhelming from the perspective of ordinary Americans. She has been a prosecutor, private litigator, trial judge, and appellate judge. No one currently on the Court has that complete package of experience… The objective evidence is that Sotomayor is in fact extremely intelligent. Graduating at the top of the class at Princeton is a signal accomplishment. Her opinions are thorough, well-reasoned, and clearly written. Nothing suggests she isn’t the match of the other Justices.” [SCOTUS Blog, 5/26/2009]

Sen. Olympia Snowe called Sotomayor “well-qualified” and said her selection was “historic.” "Indisputably, this is an historic selection, as Sonia Sotomayor is just the third woman to be nominated to The Court and the first Hispanic American. I commend President Obama for nominating a well-qualified woman, as I urged him to do during a one-on-one meeting on a variety of issues in the Oval Office earlier this month. I also appreciate that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called me personally this morning to inform me of the President's selection.” [Snowe Statement, 5/26/09]

Founding Dean of UC-Irvine Law School said Sotomayor “Is an excellent choice because she is an outstanding judge.” Erwin Chemerinsky wrote, “But most of all, Sotomayor is an excellent choice because she is an outstanding judge. Her opinions are clearly written and invariably well-reasoned. My former students who have clerked for her rave about her as a judge and as a person. She has enormous experience as a lawyer and as a judge, both in the federal district court and the federal court of appeals. The bottom line is that the court will now have its third woman justice in history, its first Latina, and an individual who likely will be an excellent justice for decades to come.” [The New Republic, 5/26/09]

Message from Joe Biden: "A home run"

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden sent out a message to supporters about President Obama nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor:

President Obama hit a home run with his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court -- and not just because she's the "woman who saved baseball" by ending the strike in 1995, nor simply because she would be the first Latina ever to serve on the high court.

It was a home run because in her three-decade career as a prosecutor, judge, private litigator and law professor, she has time and again earned bipartisan praise as one of America's finest legal minds. And it was the right choice because Judge Sotomayor -- herself born and raised in a South Bronx housing project -- has summed up the American dream in her own incredible story and never once forgotten how the law affects our daily lives.

Now her historic nomination goes to the Senate. I know that process well, and I can tell you that the debate of the coming weeks and months will be shaped by the public response in the next few hours and days. It's critical that the Senate and the public clearly see where the American people stand.

Will you add your name to the growing list of Americans who are pledging to "Stand with Sotomayor" today? Your name and comments will become part of a public display of support at this crucial time.

Stand with Sotomayor

I've followed Judge Sotomayor's remarkable journey for years. I voted for her when President George H.W. Bush nominated her for the District Court in 1992, and I was proud to vote for her again when President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.

Born to a Puerto Rican family, Sotomayor grew up in a public housing project in the South Bronx. She was an avid reader from an early age, and was first inspired to pursue a legal career by the Nancy Drew mystery novels. Driven by her mother's belief in the power of education and her own relentless work ethic, she excelled in school. She won a scholarship to Princeton University, graduated summa cum laude, and then went on to attend Yale Law School where she served as an editor of the prestigious Yale Law Journal.

Like President Obama, Sotomayor passed up many more lucrative opportunities after law school to put her degree to work for the public good. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, tackling some of the hardest cases facing the city, including robberies, assaults, murders, police brutality, and child pornography. Her growing reputation for fearlessness and legal brilliance prompted her first nomination to the federal bench, and she's only continued to soar.

If confirmed, she would start with more federal judicial experience than any Justice in a century, more overall judicial experience than any Justice in 70 years, and replace David Souter as the only Justice with firsthand experience as a trial judge. She has participated in over 3,000 panel decisions and authored roughly 400 opinions, expertly handling difficult issues of constitutional law, complicated procedural matters, and lawsuits involving complex business organizations.

In her years on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has earned acclaim from legal scholars and experts from both sides of the aisle for her intellectual toughness, her probing oral questioning, and her ability to issue decisions that hold both factual details and legal doctrines in equal measure. And she's never failed to apply a steady, common-sense analysis of how the law touches our daily lives.

Her story is incredible. Her qualifications are undeniable. And her judgment will serve us all well on the highest court in the land.

Please join me in becoming a part of this historic moment for the Court and our country. Add your name now to publicly show that you, too, "Stand with Sotomayor." In these crucial early hours, let us leave no doubt about the people's support for this extraordinary nominee.

Thank you,

Vice President Joe Biden

NBC News Presents: 'Inside the Obama White House' - The Daily Nightly -

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 4:31 PM by Sam Go

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2 & 3 at 9 – 10 PM ET, Williams to take viewers Behind-the-Scenes for an Insider's Look at a Day in the Life in the Obama White House

Broadcast to include a One-on-One Interview with Williams of Obama on the Eve of the President's Trip to the Middle East and Europe

NEW YORK - May 26, 2009 – On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2 & 3, 9-10 PM ET, NBC News Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams will take viewers "Inside the Obama White House," for an exclusive, wide-ranging look at what happens throughout the White House and the West Wing during a day in the life of the Obama administration. There will be more than a dozen crews and cameras strategically placed throughout the White House, capturing nearly ever aspect of the day. This unique documentation will consist of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as interviews with key administration players and those who make the West Wing work.

For more than forty years, NBC News has made it a tradition to offer viewers a unique vantage point into a new president's White House with a day-in-the-life program. This seventh installment will be taped on Friday, May 29. On Tuesday, the eve of President Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe, Williams will tape a one-on-one interview with the President that will air as part of the broadcast. "Inside the Obama White House" will be shot and broadcast in high definition

"This is one of the greatest traditions in all of broadcast television," said Williams. "We will show aspects of life in the White House -- the Obama White House -- that no one on the outside has ever seen before."

"It is an honor for our news division each and every time we produce a broadcast of this caliber," said Steve Capus, President, NBC News. "These richly detailed portrayals of the West Wing at work are only possible because seven presidents have placed their faith in the men and women of NBC News to document these important moments in time."

Information about the special, video blogs, extended interviews, and Web exclusive videos will be available on . will also have special slideshows and an interactive of the White House that allows users to take a closer look at the complex and explore some of the historic rooms.

NBC News Presents: 'Inside the Obama White House' - The Daily Nightly -

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dick Cheney Publicly Apologizes to Colin Powell |

Dick Cheney Publicly Apologizes to Colin Powell
Submitted by jmeasley on Wed, 05/27/2009 - 22:36. Dick Cheney Jason Easley Politics & TV Recent News
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On CNBC tonight, former vice president Dick Cheney backed off of his claim that Colin Powell is no longer in the Republican Party. Even more shocking is the fact that Cheney apologized to Powell and said that he wasn't trying to,“rearrange his political identity.”

Here is the video from Media Matters:

Cheney said, “Well, we’re happy to have Gen. Powell in the Republican Party. I was asked a question about a dispute he was having I think with Rush Limbaugh. I was expressing the consent, the notion I had that he already left since he endorsed Barack Obama for president, but I meant no offense to my former colleague. I wasn’t seeking to rearrange his political identity.” Cheney also said that the GOP should not abandon their core principles.

Oh that zany Dick Cheney, of course he was trying to push Colin Powell out of the Republican Party. This was the point of his agreement with Rush Limbaugh, who makes no bones about his desire to get Powell out of the GOP. I do believe that this might be the first time that Dick Cheney has ever apologized to anyone in public, at least since he became vice president.

It took a man of Colin Powell’s stature to get an apology out of Cheney. I don’t think Cheney apologized publicly to his friend that he shot in the face. The moderates who are fighting for their political lives in the GOP have found their leader. I think Colin Powell might be the only moderate with enough clout to successfully tangle with Limbaugh and Cheney.

Dick Cheney Publicly Apologizes to Colin Powell |

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Facebook Supporter: Oliver Kronshage

Name: : Oliver Kronshage
Issue: : President Messages

Very Important Messages for Mr President

Hello my Brother Barack

Please hold your Words!

And close General Motors no more Money for old Technolgies!

We need Free ENERGY Technoligys from NICOLA TESLAR the Name of this new FREE Energy Maschine is called Neutrinus.

Please let this Patents NEUTRINUS free!!

And the Patents Free Energy Engine from Tom Bearden!

We dont need Engines with Oel or Petrol, we need Engines is going with Free Energie all the Patents are frozen in Ice please let this Patents free !!!!

Light and Love for you and all Peoples in the World

Oliver Kronshage
Presidentmanager and Live Coach
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Facebook Supporter: Oliver Kronshage

Name: : Oliver Kronshage
Issue: :
Thoughts: : Hello my Brother Barack OBAMA
We all together must change the old ENERGY! ( DICK CHANY is old ENERGY!!!!!!) in NEW FREE ENERGY all over the WORLD.
Iam meen Dick Chaney must go into the Hell.!! He is not good for all of us!
Love and light for all peoples in the World
Visitor Ip:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekly Address: Sacrifice

On this Memorial Day weekend, President Obama calls on the American people to join him in paying tribute to America’s veterans, servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice - and their families.

A New Era for Credit Cards

It can be difficult to think of an issue that touches more people, or can get a rise out of more people, than credit card fine print, fees, and staggering interest rate hikes. For some it is an irritation, for others who may have already hit a rough patch, it can become a brutal weight.
But as the legislation the President signed today goes into effect, those problems will phase out as normal parts of life for our friends, our neighbors, our families or ourselves. It is a sweeping bill -- as you read through the White House fact sheet on the details, you are sure to be reminded of a dozen angry or frustrated stories you have heard over the years. Just for starters, it bans unfair rate increases, prevents unfair fee traps, requires plain language in plain sight for disclosures, increases accountability all around, and institutes protections for students and young people.
Having recounted a few stories of hard-working people who took real hits, and a litany of ways credit card companies can find to take advantage, the President described the new rules:


THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Please, have a seat -- I'm sorry. It is a great pleasure to have all of you here at the White House on this gorgeous, sunny day. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Change is in the air. (Laughter.)

This has been a historic week; a week in which we've cast aside some old divisions and put in place new reforms that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, prevent fraud against homeowners, and save taxpayers money by preventing wasteful government contracts; a week that marks significant progress in the difficult work of changing our policies and transforming our politics.

But the real test of change ultimately is whether it makes a difference in the lives of the American people. That's what matters to me. That's what matters to my administration. That's what matters to the extraordinary collection of members of Congress that are standing with me here, but also who are in the audience. And we're here today because of a bill that will make a big difference: the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act.

I want to thank all the members of Congress who were involved in this historic legislation, but I want to give a special shout-out to Chris Dodd, who has been a relentless fighter to get this done. (Applause.) Chris wouldn't give up until he got this legislation passed. He's spent an entire career fighting against special interests and fighting for ordinary people, and this is just the latest example.

I want to thank his partner in crime, Senator Richard Shelby. (Applause.) On the House side, Representatives Barney Frank, Carolyn Maloney, and Luis Gutierrez, for their outstanding work. (Applause.) And I want to also thank all the consumer advocates who are here today who fought long and hard for these kinds of reforms.

You know, most Americans use credit cards all the time. In the majority of cases, this is a convenience or a temporary, occasional crutch: a means to make life a little easier; to make the rare, large, or unexpected purchase that's paid off as quickly as possible.

We've also seen credit cards become, for a minority of customers, part of an uneasy, unstable dependence. Some end up in trouble because of reckless spending or wishful thinking. Some get in over their heads by not using their heads. And I want to be clear: We do not excuse or condone folks who've acted irresponsibly. We don't excuse irresponsibility.

But the reason this legislation is so important is because there are many others -- many who have written me letters, or grabbed my arm along rope lines, or shared their stories while choking back tears -- who relied on credit cards not because they were avoiding responsibilities, but precisely because they wanted to meet their responsibilities -- and got trapped.

These are hardworking people whose hours were cut, or the factory closed, who turned to a credit card to get through a rough month -- which turned into two, or three, or six months without a job. These are parents who found, to their surprise, that their health insurance didn't cover a child's expensive procedure and had to pay the hospital bill; families who saw their mortgage payments jump and used the credit card more often to make up the difference.

These are borrowers who discovered that credit card debt is all too easily a one-way street: It's easy to get in, but almost impossible to get out. It's also, by the way, a lot of small business owners who have helped to finance their dream through credit cards and suddenly, in this economic downturn, find themselves getting hammered.

Part of this is the broader economy, but part of it is the practices of credit card companies. Contracts are drafted not to inform, but to confuse. Mysterious fees appear on statements. Payment deadlines shift. Terms change. Interest rates rise. And suddenly, a credit card becomes less of a lifeline and more of an anchor.

That's what happened to Janet Hard of Freeland, Michigan, who's here today. Where's Janet? Right here. Janet is a nurse. Her husband is a pipefitter. They've got two boys. Janet and her husband have tried to be responsible; she's made her payments on time. But despite this, Janet's interest rate was increased to 24 percent. And that 24 percent applied not just for new purchases, but retroactively to her entire balance. And so, despite making steady payments totaling $2,400 one year, her debt went down only by $350 that year.

And Janet's family is not alone. Over the past decade, credit card debt has increased by 25 percent in our country. Nearly half of all Americans carry a balance on their cards. Those who do, carry an average balance of more than $7,000. And as our economic situation worsened -- and many defaulted on their debt as a result of a lost job, for example -- a vicious cycle ensued. Borrowers couldn't pay their bills, and so lenders raised rates. As rates went up, more borrowers couldn't pay.

Millions of cardholders have seen their interest rates jump in just the past six months. One in five Americans carry a balance that has been charged interest rates above 20 percent. One in five.

I also want to emphasize, these are costs that often hit responsible credit card users. Interest can be charged even if you pay your bill on time. Rates can be increased on outstanding balances even if you aren't late with a payment. And if you sit -- if you start to pay down your balance, which is the right thing to do, a company can require you to pay down the debt with the lowest interest rate first -- instead of the highest -- which makes it much harder to ever get out of the red.

So we're here to put a change to all that. With this bill, we're putting in place some common-sense reforms designed to protect consumers like Janet. I want to be clear about this: Credit card companies provide a valuable service; we don't begrudge them turning a profit. We just want to make sure that they do so while upholding basic standards of fairness, transparency, and accountability. Just as we demand credit card users to act responsibly, we demand that credit card companies act responsibly, too. And that's not too much to ask.

And that's why, because of this new law, statements will be required to tell credit card holders how long it will take to pay off a balance and what it will cost in interest if they only make the minimum monthly payments. We also put a stop to retroactive rate hikes that appear on a bill suddenly with no rhyme or reason.

Every card company will have to post its credit card agreements online, and we'll monitor those agreements to see if new protections are needed. Consumers will have more time to understand their statements as well: Companies will have to mail them 21 days before payment is due, not 14. And this law ends the practice of shifting payment dates. This always used to bug me -- when you'd get like -- suddenly it was due on the 19th when it had been the 31st.

Lastly, among many other provisions, there will be no more sudden charges -- changes to terms and conditions. We require at least 45 days notice if the credit card company is going to change terms and conditions.

So we're not going to give people a free pass; we expect consumers to live within their means and pay what they owe. But we also expect financial institutions to act with the same sense of responsibility that the American people aspire to in their own lives.

And this is a difficult time for our country, born in many ways of our collective failure to live up to our obligations -- to ourselves and to one another. And the fact is, it took a long time to dig ourselves into this economic hole; it's going to take some time to dig ourselves out.

But I'm heartened by what I'm seeing: by the willingness of old adversaries to seek out new partnerships; by the progress we've made these past months to address many of our toughest challenges. And I'm confident that as a nation we will learn the lessons of our recent past and that we will elevate again those values at the heart of our success as a people: hard work over the easy buck, responsibility over recklessness, and, yes, moderation over extravagance.

This work has already begun, and now it continues. I thank the members of Congress for putting their shoulder to the wheel in a bipartisan fashion and getting this piece of legislation done. Congratulations to all of you. The least I can do for you is to sign the thing. (Laughter and applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

All right, everybody. Thank you. Have a great weekend. (Applause.)


This morning the President spoke at the US Naval Academy Commencement in Annapolis, Maryland, and reminded us that our military is made up of hundreds of thousands of individual stories, each guided by a common set of values:

The President at the commencement in Annapolis
President Barack Obama fistbumps a graduating Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremony
in Annapolis, Md., Friday, May 22, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The President at the commencement in Annapolis
President Barack Obama shakes hands with a graduating Midshipman as another graduate reacts to
receiving her diploma at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation in Annapolis, Maryland, May 22, 2009.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The President at the commencement in Annapolis
Graduates toss their hats into the air at the end of the graduation ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in
Annapolis, Md., Friday, May 22, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Please, be seated. Governor O'Malley, thank you for your generous introduction and for your leadership here in Maryland. Vice Admiral Fowler and faculty, distinguished guests, parents, family and friends, the Brigade of Midshipmen -- (applause) -- and most importantly, the graduates of the Class of 2009. (Applause.) Seven hundred and fifty-six Navy and, I am told, the largest number of Marines in Naval Academy history. (Applause.)

Now, I know it's customary at graduation for guests to bring a gift. And I have. All midshipmen on restriction for minor conduct offenses are hereby officially absolved. (Applause.) I did say "minor." (Laughter.)

Midshipmen, I'm told that the extra ribbon on your chest is for the honor you earned, for only the second time in the storied history of the Naval Academy -- the Navy's Meritorious Unit Commendation Award. So I've consulted with Admiral Fowler, and I can make this announcement: For all you midshipmen returning next fall, I hereby grant you something extra -- an extra weekend. (Applause.) I should stop now. (Laughter.)

I am extraordinarily honored to be with you today. Because of all the privileges of serving as President, I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.

Every day I count on Naval Academy graduates like Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the CNO, Admiral Gary Roughead; and my Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair. I'll also be counting on Ray Mabus, a former surface warfare officer, as our new Secretary of the Navy.

Every day I rely on former sailors and Marines on my staff, young men who served as intelligence officers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps, Supreme Allied Commander and now my National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones.

I've admired your prowess on the football field. (Applause.) At the White House last month, I was proud to present the team and Coach Ken with the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, which you won for the sixth straight time. (Applause.) And I know you beat Army seven straight times. (Laughter.)

But most of all, most of all I've admired the spirit of your service, because it's not the strength of our arms or the power of our technology that gives the United States our military dominance -- it's our people. It's our sailors and Marines, soldiers and airmen and Coast Guardsmen who perform brilliantly in every mission we give them.

And Class of 2009, today is your day. It's your day to reflect on all you've achieved -- or should I say, all that you endured: the madness of "I Day" that began your transformation from civilians to sailors and Marines; that endless Plebe Summer when you were pushed to new levels, new heights, physically, mentally, morally. And speaking of new heights, I'm told that one of your proudest achievements still stands -- one of the fastest times for the Herndon climb. Congratulations on that. (Applause.)

And families, today is your day, too. It's the latest in a line of proud firsts: the first time you saw your son or daughter with that Navy haircut, that first time you saw them in their summer whites, and today the first time you'll see them as officers.

So to all of you moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, and all the local sponsor families who opened your homes to these midshipmen -— thank you for your support and for your patriotism. We are grateful. (Applause.)

This class is about to become the latest link in a long, unbroken chain of heroism and victory -- a chain forged in battles whose names are etched in the stone of this stadium: from Coral Sea to Midway to Guadalcanal; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from the Mekong Delta to Desert Storm. For some among us, these are not just places on a map. They're the stories of their lives. And we honor all of our veterans here today. (Applause.)

This chain of service calls to mind words that were spoken here in Annapolis on another spring day a century ago. The crowds assembled, the bands played, the cannons roared. As John Paul Jones' body was carried to the Yard, President Teddy Roosevelt spoke to the midshipmen gathered there that day.

"Remember," he said, "our words of admiration are but as sounding brass and tinkling symbols if we do not... prepare to emulate their deeds."

Emulate their deeds. That is what you are called upon to do. And in doing so these past four years, you've not only given meaning to your own lives, you serve as a reminder and a challenge to your fellow Americans to fulfill the true meaning of citizenship.

America, look at these young men and women. Look at these sailors and Marines. Here are the values that we cherish. Here are the ideals that endure. In an era when too few citizens answer the call to service, to community or to country, these Americans choose to serve. They did so in a time of war, knowing they might be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Indeed, as we near Memorial Day, we pay tribute to all those who have given their lives so that we might live free, including those aboard that Navy helicopter who were lost this week in the waters off California. We send our prayers to their families and to all who loved them.

In a culture where so many chase the outward markers of success that can so often lead us astray -- the titles and status, the materialism and money, the fame and popularity -- these Americans have embraced the virtues that we need most right now: self-discipline over self-interest; work over comfort; and character over celebrity.

After an era when so many institutions and individuals acted with such greed and recklessness, it's no wonder that our military remains the most trusted institution in our nation. (Applause.) And in a world when so many forces and voices seek to divide us, it inspires us that this class came together and succeeded together, from every state and every corner of the world. By building an institution that's more diverse than ever -- more women, more Hispanics, more African Americans -- the Naval Academy has reaffirmed a fundamental American truth: that out of many, we are one. (Applause.)

We see these values in every one of these sailors and Marines, including those who have already served their country -- the dozens among you with prior enlisted service.

It's the perseverance of Elvin Vasquez, a Marine supply chief in Iraq -- (applause) -- who finally got into the Naval Academy on his third try -- (applause) -- who never gave up trying because he says, "there's just something about being a Marine."

It's the example of Carlos Carbello -- (applause) -- who left the tough streets of L.A. to serve on a destroyer in the Pacific and who has used his time here to mentor others, because he's the oldest midshipman -- the old man -- at the age of 26. (Applause.)

It's the patriotism of Sade Holder -- (applause) -- who came to America as a child from Trinidad, enlisted in the Navy and then earned the titles she values most: "U.S. citizen" and "Navy Midshipman" and today, "Ensign." (Applause.)

And it's the reverence for tradition shown by James P. Heg -- (applause) -- a communications -- a communications maintenance Marine in Iraq who today is joined by the man who first urged him to sign up, his grandfather, returning six decades after he was a midshipman, a submariner from World War II, 89-year-old Captain James E. Heg. (Applause.)

Honor. Courage. Commitment. These are the values that have defined your years in the Yard and that you'll need in the years ahead as you join the fleet, and as you join and lead the Marines, as you confront the ever-changing threats of an ever-changing world.

For history teaches us that the nations that grow comfortable with the old ways and complacent in the face of new threats, those nations do not long endure. And in the 21st century, we do not have the luxury of deciding which challenges to prepare for and which to ignore. We must overcome the full spectrum of threats -- the conventional and the unconventional; the nation-state and the terrorist network; the spread of deadly technologies and the spread of hateful ideologies; 18th century-style piracy and 21st century cyber threats.

So SEALs and special operations forces, we need you for those short-notice missions in the dark of night. But we'll also need you for the long-term training of foreign militaries so they can take responsibility for their own security.

Marines, we need you to defeat the insurgent and the extremist. But we also need you to work with the tribal sheikh and local leaders from Anbar to Kandahar who want to build a better future for their people.

Naval aviators and flight officers, we need you to dominate the airspace in times of conflict, but also to deliver food and medicine in times of humanitarian crisis.

And surface warfare officers and submariners, we need you to project American power across the vast oceans, but also to protect American principles and values when you pull into that foreign port, because for so many people around the world, you are the face of America.

These great opportunities come with great responsibilities. Indeed, midshipmen and Presidents swear a similar oath, not only to protect and defend the American people, but the Constitution of the United States.

Yesterday I visited the National Archives and the halls that holds our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our Bill of Rights. I went there because, as our national debate on how to deal with the security challenge that we face proceeds, we must remember this enduring truth: The values and ideals in those documents are not simply words written into aging parchment, they are the bedrock of our liberty and our security. We uphold our fundamental principles and values not just because we choose to, but because we swear to; not because they feel good, but because they help keep us safe and keep us true to who we are.

Because when America strays from our values, it not only undermines the rule of law, it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries, and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops. So as Americans, we reject the false choice between our security and our ideals. We can and we must and we will protect both. (Applause.) And that is just what you will pledge to do in a few moments when you raise your right hand and take your oath.

But that simple act -- by that simple act, you will accept a life of great sacrifice: long deployments, separation from loved ones, tests and trials that most Americans can't imagine. But that is the oath you take, the life you choose, the promise you make to America.

And today, this is the promise I make to you. It's a promise that as long as I am your Commander-in-Chief, I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary, and with the strategy and the well-defined goals, the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done. (Applause.) This includes the job of bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end and pursuing a new comprehensive strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Applause.)

And to get you the support you need, we're enlisting all elements of our national power -- our diplomacy and development, our economic might and our moral suasion -- so that you and the rest of our military do not bear the burden of our security alone.

We'll also ensure you can meet the missions of today, which is why we've halted reductions in Navy personnel and increased the size of the Marine Corps. And we will ensure you can meet the missions of tomorrow, which is why we're investing in the capabilities and technologies of tomorrow -- the littoral combat ships, the most advanced submarines and fighter aircraft -- so that you have what you need to succeed. In short, we will maintain America's military dominance and keep you the finest fighting force the world has ever seen. (Applause.)

Now, as you advance through the ranks and start families of your own, know that we will be with you every step of the way, increasing your pay, increasing child care, and helping families deal with the stress and separation of war -- because as my wife Michelle has come to see in her visits with military families across the country, when a loved one is deployed, the whole family goes to war.

And, finally, whether you're 26 years old or 89, if you've worn the uniform and taken care of America, then America will take care of you -- (applause) -- with a modern VA that keeps faith with our veterans and wounded warriors, with a 21st century GI Bill that gives our veterans and their families the chance to live out their dreams.

This is America's covenant with you -- a solemn commitment to all those who serve. And while our nation has not always fulfilled its duties to its armed forces, let there be no doubt: America's men and women in uniform have always fulfilled theirs.

And that's exactly what America's Navy did just last month in the seas off Somalia. (Applause.) I will not recount the full story of those five days in April; much of it is already known. Some of it will never be known, and that's how it should be. But here, on this day, at this institution, it must be said: The extraordinary precision and professionalism displayed that day was made possible, in no small measure, by the training, the discipline and the leadership skills that so many of those officers learned at the United States Naval Academy. (Applause.)

And after that operation, after Captain Phillips was freed, I spoke to one of the Navy SEALs who was there and with the skipper of the USS Bainbridge, Commander Frank Castellano, Naval Academy Class of 1990. And I can tell you, as they would, that the success of that day belongs not only to a single commander or a small team of SEALs. It belongs to the many.

It belongs to all the sailors -- officers and enlisted, not on one ship, but several -- who diligently stood their watch. It belongs to the pilots and airmen who gave cover overhead, to the intelligence specialists and negotiators and translators, to all the people who worked, day after night on the scene and in command centers half a world away to save one man they knew only as a fellow American.

And we recall that in those moments of danger and decision, these Americans did what they were trained to do. They remembered their skills. They did their duty. They performed their job. They stood their watch. They took their time and then they took their shot. And they brought that Captain home. (Applause.)

And as Commander Castellano said later of his sailors: "Every citizen in the country should be happy and thankful that they're there." And I told him that we are.

So, Class of 2009, months or years or decades from now, should you find yourself in a moment of danger, a moment of decision, and should you wonder, "What is expected of me? "What should I do?" Just look at that ring on your finger. Remember your days on the bank of the Severn. Remember all you achieved here and all that you learned here: "Devotion to Honor, Strength from Courage."

Live these values. Live these virtues. Emulate the deeds of those who have gone before you. Do this and you will not only distinguish yourselves as sailors and Marines -- you will be in the lead as we write the next proud chapter in the story of this country that we love.

Congratulations, Class of 2009. God bless the Navy. God bless the Marine Corps. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Facebook Supporter: Lynne Chenault

Name: : Lynne Chenault
Issue: : Don\\\'t Ask Don\\\'t Tell
Thoughts: : Please, Mr. President, keep your campaign promise and end this ridiculous policy. We are losing too many good men and women who capably serve, and want to continue their service to their country. Please. The armed services needs \"a few good men\".
Visitor Ip:

Security & Values

Yesterday morning the President spoke at length on the values that guide his foreign policy decisions, including the closing of Guantanamo. He began by speaking of the importance of robust national security efforts and upholding American’s core identity and Constitutional principles, explaining how each can enforce the other:

The President summarized what he believes happened in recent years:
And during this season of fear, too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent.
In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach -- one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
He recounted and explained the decisions he has made as President to date in that context, discussing his banning of torture, his closing of Guantanamo, and the ordering of a comprehensive review of all cases there. He detailed the rationale of closing the detention facility, noting how deeply it has tarnished America in the war for hearts and minds, and noting that as a result "the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained." He went into detail about the five categories these cases were likely to fall into, closing on what he described as by far the most difficult: "detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people," including those for whom evidence may have been tainted. He explained that every avenue to prosecute them would be exhausted, and only then would questions of further detainment would have to be addressed with the most thorough Congressional and Judicial oversight. The President went on to directly address the politics that are so often played on these matters:
Now, as our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These are issues that are fodder for 30-second commercials. You can almost picture the direct mail pieces that emerge from any vote on this issue -- designed to frighten the population. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.
I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution -- so did each and every member of Congress. And together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future Presidents to keep this country safe.
The President spent the latter half of his speech discussing matters of government secrecy, recalling that "whether it was the run-up to the Iraq War or the revelation of secret programs, Americans often felt like part of the story had been unnecessarily withheld from them. That caused suspicion to build up. That leads to a thirst for accountability." Acknowledging that often in such decisions there is not a singular clear cut principle to guide decisions, and almost always there are competing concerns, he made clear that this need not prevent an honest relationship between the American people and their government:
I will never hide the truth because it's uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don't know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why. (Applause.)

The President speaks on national security
President Barack Obama, standing before the U.S. Constitution, delivers an address on national security,
Thursday, May 21, 2009 at the National Archives. Official White House photo by Pete Souza


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Please be seated. Thank you all for being here. Let me just acknowledge the presence of some of my outstanding Cabinet members and advisors. We've got our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. We have our CIA Director Leon Panetta. We have our Secretary of Defense William Gates; Secretary Napolitano of Department of Homeland Security; Attorney General Eric Holder; my National Security Advisor Jim Jones. And I want to especially thank our Acting Archivist of the United States, Adrienne Thomas.

I also want to acknowledge several members of the House who have great interest in intelligence matters. I want to thank Congressman Reyes, Congressman Hoekstra, Congressman King, as well as Congressman Thompson, for being here today. Thank you so much.

These are extraordinary times for our country. We're confronting a historic economic crisis. We're fighting two wars. We face a range of challenges that will define the way that Americans will live in the 21st century. So there's no shortage of work to be done, or responsibilities to bear.

And we've begun to make progress. Just this week, we've taken steps to protect American consumers and homeowners, and to reform our system of government contracting so that we better protect our people while spending our money more wisely. (Applause.) The -- it's a good bill. (Laughter.) The engines of our economy are slowly beginning to turn, and we're working towards historic reform on health care and on energy. I want to say to the members of Congress, I welcome all the extraordinary work that has been done over these last four months on these and other issues.

In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe. It's the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It's the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.

And this responsibility is only magnified in an era when an extremist ideology threatens our people, and technology gives a handful of terrorists the potential to do us great harm. We are less than eight years removed from the deadliest attack on American soil in our history. We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again. We know that this threat will be with us for a long time, and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it.

Already, we've taken several steps to achieve that goal. For the first time since 2002, we're providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We're investing in the 21st century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. We have re-energized a global non-proliferation regime to deny the world's most dangerous people access to the world's deadliest weapons. And we've launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. We're better protecting our border, and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster. We're building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world.

These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights -- these are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality, and dignity around the world.

I stand here today as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to these shores in search of the promise that they offered. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn their truths when I lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words -- "to form a more perfect union." I've studied the Constitution as a student, I've taught it as a teacher, I've been bound by it as a lawyer and a legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never, ever, turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset -- in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.

Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.

It's the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they'd receive better treatment from America's Armed Forces than from their own government.

It's the reason why America has benefitted from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp, moral contrast with our adversaries.

It's the reason why we've been able to overpower the iron fist of fascism and outlast the iron curtain of communism, and enlist free nations and free peoples everywhere in the common cause and common effort of liberty.

From Europe to the Pacific, we've been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and our institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.

After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era -- that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.

Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent.

In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach -- one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable -- a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass. And that's why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people.

First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. (Applause.)

I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. (Applause.) What's more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts -- they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all. (Applause.)

Now, I should add, the arguments against these techniques did not originate from my administration. As Senator McCain once said, torture "serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us." And even under President Bush, there was recognition among members of his own administration -- including a Secretary of State, other senior officials, and many in the military and intelligence community -- that those who argued for these tactics were on the wrong side of the debate, and the wrong side of history. That's why we must leave these methods where they belong -- in the past. They are not who we are, and they are not America.

The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. (Applause.)

For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system of military commissions that were in place at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that: three convictions in over seven years. Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setback after setback, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system. Meanwhile, over 525 detainees were released from Guantanamo under not my administration, under the previous administration. Let me repeat that: Two-thirds of the detainees were released before I took office and ordered the closure of Guantanamo.

There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law -- a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That's why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign, and that is why I ordered it closed within one year.

The third decision that I made was to order a review of all pending cases at Guantanamo. I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we don't have the luxury of starting from scratch. We're cleaning up something that is, quite simply, a mess -- a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my administration is forced to deal with on a constant, almost daily basis, and it consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.

Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks here in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release 17 Uighurs -- 17 Uighur detainees took place last fall, when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents -- not wild-eyed liberals. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place. (Applause.)

Now let me be blunt. There are no neat or easy answers here. I wish there were. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. I refuse to pass it on to somebody else. It is my responsibility to solve the problem. Our security interests will not permit us to delay. Our courts won't allow it. And neither should our conscience.

Now, over the last several weeks, we've seen a return of the politicization of these issues that have characterized the last several years. I'm an elected official; I understand these problems arouse passions and concerns. They should. We're confronting some of the most complicated questions that a democracy can face. But I have no interest in spending all of our time relitigating the policies of the last eight years. I'll leave that to others. I want to solve these problems, and I want to solve them together as Americans.

And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I've heard words that, frankly, are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country. So I want to take this opportunity to lay out what we are doing, and how we intend to resolve these outstanding issues. I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build a framework that protects both the American people and the values that we hold most dear. And I'll focus on two broad areas: first, issues relating to Guantanamo and our detention policy; but, second, I also want to discuss issues relating to security and transparency.

Now, let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people. Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders -- namely, highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety.

As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following face: Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Republican Lindsey Graham said, the idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.

We are currently in the process of reviewing each of the detainee cases at Guantanamo to determine the appropriate policy for dealing with them. And as we do so, we are acutely aware that under the last administration, detainees were released and, in some cases, returned to the battlefield. That's why we are doing away with the poorly planned, haphazard approach that let those detainees go in the past. Instead we are treating these cases with the care and attention that the law requires and that our security demands.

Now, going forward, these cases will fall into five distinct categories.

First, whenever feasible, we will try those who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts -- courts provided for by the United States Constitution. Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and our juries, our citizens, are tough enough to convict terrorists. The record makes that clear. Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center. He was convicted in our courts and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prisons. Zacarias Moussaoui has been identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker. He was convicted in our courts, and he too is serving a life sentence in prison. If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo.

Recently, we prosecuted and received a guilty plea from a detainee, al-Marri, in federal court after years of legal confusion. We're preparing to transfer another detainee to the Southern District Court of New York, where he will face trial on charges related to the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania -- bombings that killed over 200 people. Preventing this detainee from coming to our shores would prevent his trial and conviction. And after over a decade, it is time to finally see that justice is served, and that is what we intend to do. (Applause.)

The second category of cases involves detainees who violate the laws of war and are therefore best tried through military commissions. Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; they allow for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot always be effectively presented in federal courts.

Now, some have suggested that this represents a reversal on my part. They should look at the record. In 2006, I did strongly oppose legislation proposed by the Bush administration and passed by the Congress because it failed to establish a legitimate legal framework, with the kind of meaningful due process rights for the accused that could stand up on appeal.

I said at that time, however, that I supported the use of military commissions to try detainees, provided there were several reforms, and in fact there were some bipartisan efforts to achieve those reforms. Those are the reforms that we are now making. Instead of using the flawed commissions of the last seven years, my administration is bringing our commissions in line with the rule of law. We will no longer permit the use of evidence -- as evidence statements that have been obtained using cruel, inhuman, or degrading interrogation methods. We will no longer place the burden to prove that hearsay is unreliable on the opponent of the hearsay. And we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel, and more protections if they refuse to testify. These reforms, among others, will make our military commissions a more credible and effective means of administering justice, and I will work with Congress and members of both parties, as well as legal authorities across the political spectrum, on legislation to ensure that these commissions are fair, legitimate, and effective.

The third category of detainees includes those who have been ordered released by the courts. Now, let me repeat what I said earlier: This has nothing to do with my decision to close Guantanamo. It has to do with the rule of law. The courts have spoken. They have found that there's no legitimate reason to hold 21 of the people currently held at Guantanamo. Nineteen of these findings took place before I was sworn into office. I cannot ignore these rulings because as President, I too am bound by the law. The United States is a nation of laws and so we must abide by these rulings.

The fourth category of cases involves detainees who we have determined can be transferred safely to another country. So far, our review team has approved 50 detainees for transfer. And my administration is in ongoing discussions with a number of other countries about the transfer of detainees to their soil for detention and rehabilitation.

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here -- this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture -- like other prisoners of war -- must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That's why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don't make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. And other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.

Now, as our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These are issues that are fodder for 30-second commercials. You can almost picture the direct mail pieces that emerge from any vote on this issue -- designed to frighten the population. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.

I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution -- so did each and every member of Congress. And together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future Presidents to keep this country safe.

Now, let me touch on a second set of issues that relate to security and transparency.

National security requires a delicate balance. One the one hand, our democracy depends on transparency. On the other hand, some information must be protected from public disclosure for the sake of our security -- for instance, the movement of our troops, our intelligence-gathering, or the information we have about a terrorist organization and its affiliates. In these and other cases, lives are at stake.

Now, several weeks ago, as part of an ongoing court case, I released memos issued by the previous administration's Office of Legal Counsel. I did not do this because I disagreed with the enhanced interrogation techniques that those memos authorized, and I didn't release the documents because I rejected their legal rationales -- although I do on both counts. I released the memos because the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known, the Bush administration had acknowledged its existence, and I had already banned those methods. The argument that somehow by releasing those memos we are providing terrorists with information about how they will be interrogated makes no sense. We will not be interrogating terrorists using that approach. That approach is now prohibited.

In short, I released these memos because there was no overriding reason to protect them. And the ensuing debate has helped the American people better understand how these interrogation methods came to be authorized and used.

On the other hand, I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated and they have been held accountable. There was and is no debate as to whether what is reflected in those photos is wrong. Nothing has been concealed to absolve perpetrators of crimes. However, it was my judgment -- informed by my national security team -- that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning, and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of war.

In short, there is a clear and compelling reason to not release these particular photos. There are nearly 200,000 Americans who are serving in harm's way, and I have a solemn responsibility for their safety as Commander-in-Chief. Nothing would be gained by the release of these photos that matters more than the lives of our young men and women serving in harm's way.

Now, in the press's mind and in some of the public's mind, these two cases are contradictory. They are not to me. In each of these cases, I had to strike the right balance between transparency and national security. And this balance brings with it a precious responsibility. There's no doubt that the American people have seen this balance tested over the last several years. In the images from Abu Ghraib and the brutal interrogation techniques made public long before I was President, the American people learned of actions taken in their name that bear no resemblance to the ideals that generations of Americans have fought for. And whether it was the run-up to the Iraq war or the revelation of secret programs, Americans often felt like part of the story had been unnecessarily withheld from them. And that caused suspicion to build up. And that leads to a thirst for accountability.

I understand that. I ran for President promising transparency, and I meant what I said. And that's why, whenever possible, my administration will make all information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. But I have never argued -- and I never will -- that our most sensitive national security matters should simply be an open book. I will never abandon -- and will vigorously defend -- the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war, to protect sources and methods, and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. Here's the difference though: Whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions -- by Congress or by the courts.

We're currently launching a review of current policies by all those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible, and to assure that the other branches of government will be in a position to review executive branch decisions on these matters. Because in our system of checks and balances, someone must always watch over the watchers -- especially when it comes to sensitive administration -- information.

Now, along these same lines, my administration is also confronting challenges to what is known as the "state secrets" privilege. This is a doctrine that allows the government to challenge legal cases involving secret programs. It's been used by many past Presidents -- Republican and Democrat -- for many decades. And while this principle is absolutely necessary in some circumstances to protect national security, I am concerned that it has been over-used. It is also currently the subject of a wide range of lawsuits. So let me lay out some principles here. We must not protect information merely because it reveals the violation of a law or embarrassment to the government. And that's why my administration is nearing completion of a thorough review of this practice.

And we plan to embrace several principles for reform. We will apply a stricter legal test to material that can be protected under the state secrets privilege. We will not assert the privilege in court without first following our own formal process, including review by a Justice Department committee and the personal approval of the Attorney General. And each year we will voluntarily report to Congress when we have invoked the privilege and why because, as I said before, there must be proper oversight over our actions.

On all these matters related to the disclosure of sensitive information, I wish I could say that there was some simple formula out there to be had. There is not. These often involve tough calls, involve competing concerns, and they require a surgical approach. But the common thread that runs through all of my decisions is simple: We will safeguard what we must to protect the American people, but we will also ensure the accountability and oversight that is the hallmark of our constitutional system. I will never hide the truth because it's uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don't know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why. (Applause.)

Now, in all the areas that I've discussed today, the policies that I've proposed represent a new direction from the last eight years. To protect the American people and our values, we've banned enhanced interrogation techniques. We are closing the prison at Guantanamo. We are reforming military commissions, and we will pursue a new legal regime to detain terrorists. We are declassifying more information and embracing more oversight of our actions, and we're narrowing our use of the state secrets privilege. These are dramatic changes that will put our approach to national security on a surer, safer, and more sustainable footing. Their implementation will take time, but they will get done.

There's a core principle that we will apply to all of our actions. Even as we clean up the mess at Guantanamo, we will constantly reevaluate our approach, subject our decisions to review from other branches of government, as well as the public. We seek the strongest and most sustainable legal framework for addressing these issues in the long term -- not to serve immediate politics, but to do what's right over the long term. By doing that we can leave behind a legacy that outlasts my administration, my presidency, that endures for the next President and the President after that -- a legacy that protects the American people and enjoys a broad legitimacy at home and abroad.

Now, this is what I mean when I say that we need to focus on the future. I recognize that many still have a strong desire to focus on the past. When it comes to actions of the last eight years, passions are high. Some Americans are angry; others want to re-fight debates that have been settled, in some cases debates that they have lost. I know that these debates lead directly, in some cases, to a call for a fuller accounting, perhaps through an independent commission.

I've opposed the creation of such a commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws or miscarriages of justice.

It's no secret there is a tendency in Washington to spend our time pointing fingers at one another. And it's no secret that our media culture feeds the impulse that lead to a good fight and good copy. But nothing will contribute more than that than a extended relitigation of the last eight years. Already, we've seen how that kind of effort only leads those in Washington to different sides to laying blame. It can distract us from focusing our time, our efforts, and our politics on the challenges of the future.

We see that, above all, in the recent debate -- how the recent debate has obscured the truth and sends people into opposite and absolutist ends. On the one side of the spectrum, there are those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism, and would almost never put national security over transparency. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who embrace a view that can be summarized in two words: "Anything goes." Their arguments suggest that the ends of fighting terrorism can be used to justify any means, and that the President should have blanket authority to do whatever he wants -- provided it is a President with whom they agree.

Both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right. The American people are not absolutist, and they don't elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems. They know that we need not sacrifice our security for our values, nor sacrifice our values for our security, so long as we approach difficult questions with honesty and care and a dose of common sense. That, after all, is the unique genius of America. That's the challenge laid down by our Constitution. That has been the source of our strength through the ages. That's what makes the United States of America different as a nation.

I can stand here today, as President of the United States, and say without exception or equivocation that we do not torture, and that we will vigorously protect our people while forging a strong and durable framework that allows us to fight terrorism while abiding by the rule of law. Make no mistake: If we fail to turn the page on the approach that was taken over the past several years, then I will not be able to say that as President. And if we cannot stand for our core values, then we are not keeping faith with the documents that are enshrined in this hall. (Applause.)

The Framers who drafted the Constitution could not have foreseen the challenges that have unfolded over the last 222 years. But our Constitution has endured through secession and civil rights, through World War and Cold War, because it provides a foundation of principles that can be applied pragmatically; it provides a compass that can help us find our way. It hasn't always been easy. We are an imperfect people. Every now and then, there are those who think that America's safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. And we hear such voices today. But over the long haul the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we've made our share of mistakes, required some course corrections, ultimately we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength and a beacon to the world.

Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can't count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and -- in all probability -- 10 years from now. Neither I nor anyone can stand here today and say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. But I can say with certainty that my administration -- along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security -- will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are, if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. This must be our common purpose.

I ran for President because I believe that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together. We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America -- it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. We've done so before in times that were more perilous than ours. We will do so once again.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
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