Remarks by President Barack Obama on the Administration’s Approach to Counterterrorism, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida, December 6, 2016:
Let my final words to you as your Commander-in-Chief be a reminder of what it is that you’re fighting for, what it is that we are fighting for…
The United States of America is not a place where some citizens have to withstand greater scrutiny, or carry a special ID card, or prove that they’re not an enemy from within. We’re a country that has bled and struggled and sacrificed against that kind of discrimination and arbitrary rule, here in our own country and around the world.
We’re a nation that believes freedom can never be taken for granted and that each of us has a responsibility to sustain it…. We are a nation that stands for the rule of law.
That sounds great in theory. But in practice?
- Some citizens do have to withstand greater scrutiny. That’s the whole point of the pre-crime profiling that the Obama Administration has called “risk-based security” and that President-Elect Trump has called “extreme vetting”.
- Under the REAL-ID Act and the TSA’s latest proposal, some citizens — those who want to exercise our right to freedom of movement and to air travel by common carrier — will have to carry a special “REAL-ID Act compliant” ID card and have our personal information added to a national ID database maintained by a private contractor that isn’t subject to government rules for transparency or accountability.
- The DHS has held itself above the law, arguing that its actions should not be subject to judicial review and that it needs to be allowed to act secretly and unpredictably (i.e arbitrarily) in order not to reveal “rules” that would help terrorists “game” the system — as if asserting one’s legal rights was tantamount to terrorism.
We’ll be watching closely to see whether the gap between the rhetoric and reality of profiling, discrimination, rights, and rule of law widens or narrows under President-Elect Trump and his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly.
In the meantime, we’ll keep doing our part, as we encourage our readers to do theirs, to act on the President’s statement that “freedom can never be taken for granted and that each of us has a responsibility to sustain it.”