Obama Slams GOP Critics for Ignorant, Panicky Comments About ISIS and Refusal to Admit Syrian Refugees

President Obama lashed out at Republicans on the 2016 campaign trail, in Congress and in governor’s mansions, for their comments about America’s response to ISIS and their refusal to admit more Syrian refugees.

Obama said their rants and raves are panic-based, fearful, uninformed, will feed ISIS recruitment efforts and ultimately are cowardly. Republicans pose as tough guys, but some are afraid of admitting refugees, including widows and children. 

Obama’s remarks came late Tuesday at a press conference with Philippines president Benigno Aquino III. What follows is the White House press pool report, filed by the New York Times’ Michael D. Shear, and distributed via the White House press office.

POTUS [President of the United States] said, “We are not well served when in response to a terrorist attack we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks. The refugee debate is an example of us not being well served by some of the commentary taking place by officials back home and in the media.”

He noted that it takes a long time for refugees to be allowed into the United States.

Under current law, it takes anywhere from on average 18 to 24 months to clear a refugee to come into the United Sates. They are subjected to the most rigorous process conceivable. The intelligence community vets fully who they are.

POTUS noted that there is "an entire apparatus of all our law enforcement agencies" devoted to screening the refugees, including the "center we use for counter-terrorism."

"It is so cumbersome that it's very difficult to show the kind of compassion we need to these folks suffering under the bombings of Assad and the attacks of ISIL. They are victims of this terror. If there are concrete, actual ideas to expand the extraordinary screening process in place, we’re open to hearing actual ideas, but that’s not what’s been going on this debate."

POTUS was particularly critical of people who suggested that certain refugees should not be admitted.

"When candidates say we should not admit 3-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing. When individuals say we should have religious tests, and only Christians, proven Christians, should be allowed, that’s offensive and contrary to American values."

More POTUS comments on this:

"I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there's war between Islam and the West, and when you start seeing individuals in position of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counter-productive, and it needs to stop. And I would add these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talk to Putin or staring down ISIL (will work) ... but they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they're worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.

"They’ve been playing on fear to score political points or to advance their campaigns and it’s irresponsible. It needs to stop because the world is watching. I was proud [that after the bomb] attacks in Boston ... we did not resort to fear and panic. 'Boston Strong.' People went to the ball game that same week, and sang the national anthem. And went back to the stores and went back to the streets. That’s how you defeat ISIL, not by trying to divide the country or suggest our tradition of compassion should start now."

POTUS also referred to the lack of action in Congress on a new AUMF [authorization to use military force] for the ISIL campaign.

“I’ve been waiting a year and a half or more for legislation that would authorized the military activities we’re carrying out in Syria as we speak. Now suddenly they are able to rush in a day or two to solve the threat of widows and orphans and others fleeing war-torn lands and that's their most constructive contribution to effort against ISIL. That doesn’t sound right to me, and I suspect it doesn't sound right to the American people.”


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