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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Via Conference Call
12:03 A.M. EDT
MR. VIETOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining us, especially so late. We wanted to get you on the line quickly with some senior administration officials to talk about the operation today regarding Osama bin Laden. And with that I’ll turn it over to our first senior administration official.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for joining us, everybody, at this late hour. It’s much appreciated. From the outset of the administration, the President has placed the highest priority in protecting the nation from the threat of terrorism. In line with this, we have pursued an intensified, targeted, and global effort to degrade and defeat al Qaeda. Included in this effort has been a relentless set of steps that we’ve taken to locate and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Indeed, in the earliest days of the administration, the President formally instructed the intelligence community and his counterterrorism advisors to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, as the leader of al Qaeda, as a top priority.
In the beginning of September of last year, the CIA began to work with the President on a set of assessments that led it to believe that in fact it was possible that Osama bin Laden may be located at a compound in Pakistan. By mid-February, through a series of intensive meetings at the White House and with the President, we had determined there was a sound intelligence basis for pursuing this in an aggressive way and developing courses of action to pursue Osama bin Laden at this location.
In the middle of March, the President began a series of National Security Council meetings that he chaired to pursue again the intelligence basis and to develop courses of action to bring justice to Osama bin Laden. Indeed, by my count, the President chaired no fewer than five National Security Council meetings on the topic from the middle of March -- March 14th, March 29th, April 12th, April 19th, and April 28th. And the President gave the final order to pursue the operation that he announced to the nation tonight on the morning -- Friday morning of April 29th.
The President mentioned tonight that the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and the defeat of al Qaeda has been a bipartisan exercise in this nation since September 11, 2001, and indeed, this evening before he spoke to the nation, President Obama did speak to President Bush 43 and President Clinton this evening to review with them the events of today and to preview his statement to the nation tonight.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to my colleague to go through some of the details. Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you heard, the President ordered a raid earlier today against an al Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Based on intelligence collection analysis, a small U.S. team found Osama bin Laden living in a large home on a secured compound in an affluent suburb of Islamabad. The raid occurred in the early morning hours in Pakistan and accomplished its objective. Osama bin Laden is now no longer a threat to America.
This remarkable achievement could not have happened without persistent effort and careful planning over many years. Our national security professionals did a superb job. They deserve tremendous credit for serving justice to Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden was a sworn enemy of the United States and a danger to all humanity; a man who called for the murder of any American anywhere on Earth. His death is central to the President’s goal of disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al Qaeda and its violent allies. He was responsible for killing thousands of innocent men and women not only on 9/11, but in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombing, the attack of the USS Cole, and many other acts of brutality.
He was the leader of a violent extremist movement with affiliates across the globe that had taken up arms against the United States and its allies. Bin Laden’s most influential role has been to designate the United States as al Qaeda’s primary target and to maintain organizational focus on that objective. This strategic objective, which was first made in a 1996 declaration of jihad against Americans, was the cornerstone of bin Laden’s message.
Since 9/11, multiple agencies within our intelligence community have worked tirelessly to track down bin Laden, knowing that his removal from al Qaeda would strike a crippling blow to the organization and its militant allies. And last September the President was made aware of a compound in Abbottabad, where a key al Qaeda facilitator appeared to be harboring a high-value target. He received regular intelligence updates, as was just mentioned, on the compound in September, and he directed that action be taken as soon as he concluded that the intelligence case was sufficiently strong. A range of options for achieving the mission were developed, and on Friday he authorized the operation.
Now I’ll turn it to my colleagues to go through the intelligence.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. First I want to point out that today’s success was a team effort. It was a model of really seamless collaboration across our government. Since 9/11, this is what the American people have expected of us, and today, in this critical operation, we were able to finally deliver.
The operation itself was the culmination of years of careful and highly advanced intelligence work. Officers from the CIA, the NGA, the NSA all worked very hard as a team to analyze and pinpoint this compound. Together they applied their very unique expertise and capabilities to America’s most vexing intelligence problem, where to find bin Laden.
When the case had been made that this was a critical target, we began to prepare this mission in conjunction with the U.S. military. In the end, it was the matchless skill and courage of these Americans that secured this triumph for our country and the world. I’m very proud of the entire team that worked on this operation, and am very thankful to the President for the courage that he displayed in making the decision to proceed with this operation.
With that, let me turn to my colleague to give you details on the intelligence background.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had high confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target. The experts who worked this issue for years assessed that there was a strong probability that the terrorist that was hiding there was Osama bin Laden.
What I’d like to do is walk you through the key points in that intelligence trail that led us to that conclusion. From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the CIA gathered leads on individuals in bin Laden’s inner circle, including his personal couriers. Detainees in the post-9/11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan.
One courier in particular had our constant attention. Detainees gave us his nom de guerre or his nickname and identified him as both a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of September 11th, and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the former number three of al Qaeda who was captured in 2005.
Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with and protecting bin Laden. But for years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location.
Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can’t go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. Still we were unable to pinpoint exactly where they lived, due to extensive operational security on their part. The fact that they were being so careful reinforced our belief that we were on the right track.
Then in August 2010, we found their residence, a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad. The area is relatively affluent, with lots of retired military. It’s also insolated from the natural disasters and terrorist attacks that have afflicted other parts of Pakistan. When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw -- an extraordinarily unique compound. The compound sits on a large plot of land in an area that was relatively secluded when it was built. It is roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area.
When the compound was built in 2005, it was on the outskirts of the town center, at the end of a narrow dirt road. In the last six years, some residential homes have been built nearby. The physical security measures of the compound are extraordinary. It has 12- to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire. Internal wall sections -- internal walls sectioned off different portions of the compound to provide extra privacy. Access to the compound is restricted by two security gates, and the residents of the compound burn their trash, unlike their neighbors, who put the trash out for collection.
The main structure, a three-story building, has few windows facing the outside of the compound. A terrace on the third floor has a seven-foot wall privacy -- has a seven-foot privacy wall.
It’s also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it. The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.
Intelligence analysts concluded that this compound was custom built to hide someone of significance. We soon learned that more people were living at the compound than the two brothers and their families. A third family lived there -- one whose size and whose makeup matched the bin Laden family members that we believed most likely to be with Osama bin Laden. Our best assessment, based on a large body of reporting from multiple sources, was that bin Laden was living there with several family members, including his youngest wife.
Everything we saw -- the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior, and the location and the design of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hideout to look like. Keep in mind that two of bin Laden’s gatekeepers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, were arrested in the settled areas of Pakistan.
Our analysts looked at this from every angle, considering carefully who other than bin Laden could be at the compound. We conducted red team exercises and other forms of alternative analysis to check our work. No other candidate fit the bill as well as bin Laden did.
So the final conclusion, from an intelligence standpoint, was twofold. We had high confidence that a high-value target was being harbored by the brothers on the compound, and we assessed that there was a strong probability that that person was Osama bin Laden.
Now let me turn it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Earlier this afternoon, a small U.S. team conducted a helicopter raid on the compound. Considerable planning helped prepare our operators for this very complex mission. Senior officials have been involved in the decision-making and planning for this operation for months, and briefed the President regularly. My colleague has already mentioned the unusual characteristics of this compound. Each of these, including the high walls, security features, suburban location, and proximity to Islamabad made this an especially dangerous operation.
The men who executed this mission accepted this risk, practiced to minimize those risks, and understood the importance of the target to the national security of the United States.
I know you understand that I can’t and won’t get into many details of this mission, but I’ll share what I can. This operation was a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimize collateral damage and to pose as little risk as possible to non-combatants on the compound or to Pakistani civilians in the neighborhood.
Our team was on the compound for under 40 minutes and did not encounter any local authorities while performing the raid. In addition to Osama bin Laden, three adult males were killed in the raid. We believe two were the couriers and the third was bin Laden’s adult son.
There were several women and children at the compound. One woman was killed when she was used as a shield by a male combatant. Two other women were injured.
During the raid, we lost one helicopter due to mechanical failure. The aircraft was destroyed by the crew and the assault force and crew members boarded the remaining aircraft to exit the compound. All non-combatants were moved safely away from the compound before the detonation.
That’s all I have at this time. I’ll turn it back to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We shared our intelligence on this bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan. That was for one reason and one reason alone: We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance.
Shortly after the raid, U.S. officials contacted senior Pakistani leaders to brief them on the intent and the results of the raid. We have also contacted a number of our close allies and partners throughout the world.
Sine 9/11, the United States has made it clear to Pakistan that we would pursue bin Laden wherever he might be. Pakistan has long understood that we are at war with al Qaeda. The United States had a legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had.
And let me emphasize that great care was taken to ensure operational success, minimize the possibility of non-combatant casualties, and to adhere to American and international law in carrying out the mission.
I should note that in the wake of this operation, there may be a heightened threat to the homeland and to U.S. citizens and facilities abroad. Al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers may try to respond violently to avenge bin Laden’s death, and other terrorist leaders may try to accelerate their efforts to strike the United States. But the United States is taking every possible precaution to protect Americans here at home and overseas. The State Department has sent guidance to embassies worldwide and a travel advisory has been issued for Pakistan.
And without a doubt, the United States will continue to face terrorist threats. The United States will continue to fight those threats. We have always understood that this fight would be a marathon and not a sprint.
There’s also no doubt that the death of Osama bin Laden marks the single greatest victory in the U.S.-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. It is a major and essential step in bringing about al Qaeda’s eventual destruction.
Bin Laden was al Qaeda’s only (inaudible) commander in its 22-year history, and was largely responsible for the organization’s mystique, its attraction among violent jihadists, and its focus on America as a terrorist target. As the only al Qaeda leader whose authority was universally respected, he also maintained his cohesion, and his likely successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is far less charismatic and not as well respected within the organization, according to comments from several captured al Qaeda leaders. He probably will have difficulty maintaining the loyalty of bin Laden’s largely Gulf Arab followers.
Although al Qaeda may not fragment immediately, the loss of bin Laden puts the group on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.
And finally, it’s important to note that it is most fitting that bin Laden’s death comes at a time of great movement towards freedom and democracy that is sweeping the Arab world. He stood in direct opposition to what the greatest men and women throughout the Middle East and North Africa are risking their lives for: individual rights and human dignity.
MR. VIETOR: With that we’re ready to take a couple questions.
Q One question. You said “a small U.S. team.” Were these military personnel, can you say, or non-military?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can’t go into further details at this time; just a small U.S. team.
Q Good morning. Can you tell us specifically what contact there was with bin Laden at the compound? You referred to someone using a woman as a shield that was not bin Laden. But how was he killed? Where? What occurred at the compound?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As the President said this evening, bin Laden was killed in a firefight as our operators came onto the compound.
Q Thank you. Just to go back to what you were talking about with the attacks in response to this operation, are you hearing any specific threats against specific targets?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. But any type of event like this, it is very prudent for us to take measures so that we can ensure that the security measures that we need to institute here and throughout the world are in place. This is just something that we normally would do. We don’t have any specific threats at this time related to this. But we are ensuring that every possible precaution is taken in advance.
Q Yes, hey, how are you doing? My question would be, what was the type of the helicopter that failed? And what was the nature of that mechanical failure?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can’t go into details at this time.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We didn’t say it was mechanical.
Q Was bin Laden involved in firing himself or defending himself? And then any chronology of the raid itself?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight.
Q Thank you. Thank you for taking this call. Can you give me a comment on the very fact that Osama bin Laden was just in Islamabad -- and has long been (inaudible) Afghanistan (inaudible) also from India, that Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere near Islamabad? What does it signify, that? Does it signify any cooperation or any kind of link that he had with establishments in Pakistan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As the President said, Pakistani cooperation had assisted in this lead, as we pursued it. So we’re continuing to work this issue right now. We are very concerned about -- that he was inside of Pakistan, but this is something that we’re going to continue to work with the Pakistani government on.
Q But the very fact you didn’t inform the Pakistani authorities -- did you have any suspicion that if you informed them, the information might lead somewhere?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: An operation like this that is conducted has the utmost operational security attached to it. I said that we had shared this information with no other country, and that a very, very small group of individuals within the United States government was aware of this. That is for operational security purposes.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would also just add to that that President Obama, over a period of several years now, has repeatedly made it clear that if we had actionable intelligence about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, we would act. So President Obama has been very clear in delivering that message publicly over a period of years. And that’s what led President Obama to order this operation. When he determined that the intelligence was actionable and the intelligence case was sufficient, he gave us high confidence that bin Laden indeed was at the compound.
Q Thank you. What is going to happen next? And what is the U.S. going to do with bin Laden’s body?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner.
MR. VIETOR: Great, thanks. Just to remind everyone, this call is on background, as senior administration officials. We have time for one more question, and we’re going to go to bed.
Q Do you have a sense of the vintage of the compound and how long bin Laden had been there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The compound has been in existence for roughly five years, but we don’t know how long bin Laden lived there. We assess that the compound was built for the purpose of harboring him. But again, don’t know how long he’s been there.
MR. VIETOR: Great, thank you all. We’ll talk more tomorrow.
END 12:24 A.M. EDT
By Susan: Back in 1975, Seventeen headed to my high school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. They did a profile of the school, where 2,900 students of widely varying ethnic backgrounds were a barometer of prevailing student temperament at that time. They concentrated on the senior class. And since I was only a junior at the time, my fellow classmates and I had to watch from the sidelines as this remarkable profile of our school was created.
The article also covered clothing trends of the time. (After all, it is a fashion magazine.) In these pages, you'll see some Farrah Fawcett hairdos, platform shoes, bell bottoms and more. They even shot a couple of spreads of makeovers --- for guys, too! And every model in every photo was a senior at my school.
In the spring of 1975, these young, fresh-faced seniors walked out the front doors and across the courtyard of Cleveland Heights High for their final time, ready to make their mark on the world. I do hope they have all led happy, healthy and productive lives.Susan
Ishmael Reed is a novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, publisher, editor, composer, and teacher who taught at the University of California, Berkeley for 35 years. The recipient of numerous fellowships and wards, in 1998 he was given a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award.
Reed, a founder of the Before Columbus Foundation , which annually gives out the American Book Award, is a longtime champion of the work of other writers and has edited over a dozen anthologies. He is a regular contributor to CounterPunch.org, in which a number of these essays first appeared, and also edits and publishes the online zine, Konch. The father of two daughters, also writers, he lives in Oakland, Ca. with his wife, writer, choreographer and director Carla Blank.
Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers is Reed’s fourth book of media criticism. We talked to Reed while he was on the East Coast on a brief tour to promote a book whose publication and scathing critique of racist, corporate controlled media has largely and not surprisingly been ignored by those whom Reed labels the “Jim Crow Media.”
A: Edward Covey was a member of a profession whose job was to tame unruly slaves. Frederick Douglass was one of those men who was sent to him, a Nigger Breaker, to be disciplined. Douglass turned the tables on him and thrashed him. I argue that this is the aim of the media, and other institutions that are opposed to Obama. Moreover, with the firing and buyouts of hundreds of minority journalists, black institutions, blacks in general, black celebrities and even the president are being judged by a mostly white media and a handful of acceptable right-wing blacks, a few of whom are farther to the right than the white right.
A: This is attributable to the state of black letters. Serious fiction and non-fiction by blacks are becoming extinct, except for those which uphold the current line coming from the media owners and the corporations: that all of the problems of Africans and African Americans are due to their behavior. Terry McMillan, interviewed in the latest issue of Konch (IshmaelReedpub.com) says that black fiction that is selling is urban fiction that shows blacks at their worst. This is not to say that black criminals don’t exist. But that’s all we get from the mainstream media, television and movies. This is true not only for literature but for theater, film, art galleries and opinion columns as well.
At one time, blacks could respond through writing. James Baldwin served as a diamond megaphone for black aspirations and could debate critics of black people one on one. But with the disappearance of serious black fiction and non-fiction, this is no longer the case. Now this book, which my agent said no American publisher would publish, was published in Quebec. Between April 14 and 20, I did national media in Canada with front page stories in the major dailies and weeklies, a front page story in The Montreal Review of Books and was greeted by crowds in Montreal and Toronto. In Montreal, they had to turn people away. This must have been what it was like when the fugitive slaves traveled abroad and lectured. My advice to young writers is that they seek audiences elsewhere. It’s a big world.
A: The segregated American media with its alliance with the right wing and racist forces like the tea party movement—which was created, organized, and amplified by the segregated Jim Crow media—are the most powerful opponents to black and Hispanic progress. It’s not surprising that they have, using the late Carl Rowan’s expression, “outpropagandized” blacks and white democrats and progressives as well. That’s because they have billions at their disposal.
The insurance companies put $350 million out to defeat health care reform and bank-rolled this faux grassroots movement, which is white men, among the most privileged groups in world history. The media have overblown the strength of this movement because racism is big business for them. The coverage of a gun rally that was held near Washington, D.C., on April 19 was typical. CNN didn’t do aerial shots because that would have revealed the small turnout. The media are the mob leaders. And they cater to a niche of people who are addicted to the need to believe in black pathology.
A: Most of the responses I received from whites and black men and women were 85 percent positive. This propaganda movie had to be challenged because powerful critics were saying that this family was the typical black family living in poverty. I never denied that child abuse occurs in American communities. What the supporters of this movie were suggesting is that incest is “prevalent” in African-American communities! And the media line was that only a few black angry men were opposed to the movie. I pointed out that a number of black women and even white women intellectuals spoke out against the film. In fact, the latest issue of my zine Konch publishes two articles written by white women who are vociferous in their opposition to the movie. Thirty years from now, Precious will seem like an odd throwback to the days when blacks were shown running away from the farmer’s shotgun with chickens in both hands.
A: I read three newspapers each day, where the typical portrait of a black man has him in an orange jumpsuit. I watch cable and monitor the opinion pages whose post-race line is usually challenged by reports and studies printed in the same newspapers. I do not come to criticism of the media empty-handed.
A: I have an online magazine. I get useful information each day from those who write on Facebook, Counterpunch.com, Media Matters, FAIR. And Richard Prince’s “Journalisms” are essential.
A: Yes, that’s why they’re trying control it.
A: I have some problems with some of Obama’s policies, but as long as these people are threatening to kill him and his family, and calling his mother, a distinguished Irish-American anthropologist, “white trash” and even worse, I’m on his side. All of the stored-up bile of white supremacy has exploded like airborne E-Coli as a result of Obama’s election. One Republican site just put up a photo depicting Obama and Michelle as characters in Sanford and Son. He’s not only the nation’s President but he’s also its chief exorcist, like a St.Patrick stoking the nation’s lizard brain.
The progressives are uncomfortable with Obama because they’ve been opposed to black leadership, historically. The progressive media is just as segregated as the corporate media which they are always criticizing from their glass houses. Richard Prince printed a photo of a Huffington Post Xmas party. One black staffer!! The opposition to Obama from people of color comes from the fringes. He has a 90 percent approval rating from blacks, over 60 percent from Hispanics and he carried the Asian-American vote. Yet these arrogant white progressives say they are his base and that he is obligated to them. (CLICK for rest of article)
B4B NOTE: Although I oppose the use of the 'N' word in the books title, this is absolutely THE BEST assessment of the current nature of the media ever written. We all see the daily, strategic media manipulation designed to tear-down/demean The President but other than a few like myself…there has been silence. This article should go viral and Professor Reed’s book should be on EVERY coffee table. p.s. The FORCES are already working hard to ‘re-write’ the history of this Presidency in hopes of labeling it as a failure….despite the FACT that THIS President has already accomplished more in 2 years than most in 2 full terms. And for those unaware…here’s the article I posted back in September entitled: " The 244 Accomplishments of President Barack Obama ". Thank You Professor and thank you Ms. Nelson. Of course, we have to share this article and encourage all to do as well.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 13, 2010
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
1:50 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Before we get to what we’re here to talk about -– which is education -– I just want to say a quick word about what so far appears to be a successful rescue of the trapped Chilean miners.
This is obviously something that's captivated the world’s attention and this rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government, but also the unity and resolve of the Chilean people who have inspired the world. And I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground will be returned home safely as soon as possible.
Let me also commend so many people of goodwill, not only in Chile, but also from the United States and around the world, who are lending a hand in this rescue effort -– from the NASA team that helped design the escape vehicle, to American companies that manufactured and delivered parts of the rescue drill, to the American engineer who flew in from Afghanistan to operate the drill.
Last night, the whole world watched the scene at Camp Esperanza as the first miner was lifted out from under more than 2,000 feet of rock and then embraced by his young son and family. And the tears they shed -– after so much time apart -– expressed not only their own relief, not only their own joy, but the joy of people everywhere. So it was a thrilling moment and we're hopeful that those celebrations duplicate themselves throughout the rest of today.
Behind me I've got the Mohan family -- Edward, Kathleen and Sarah -- raise your hands. There we go. (Laughter.) I've got the O’Mealia family -- Mary Ellen with her sons, Sean and Tom, and her daughters, Kelly and Leigh Anne. And we've got the Maynard family -- Philip and Joanne with son, Gregory, and daughters Katherine and Elizabeth.
We just had a wonderful visit. And the reason we're here today, all of us, is that one of the most important things that's going to determine our long-term success is education. Over the past 21 months, as we’ve climbed our way out of this recession, I’ve often said that if we want Americans –- and America itself –- to succeed in the 21st century, we need to offer all of our young people the best education the world has to offer.
At a time when the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone to college is almost double what it is for those who have gone to college, when most of the new jobs being created will require some higher education, when countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, offering our children a world-class education isn’t just a moral obligation, it’s an economic imperative.
And that’s why, from the start of my administration, we’ve been doing everything we can to make that kind of education possible, from the cradle to the classroom, from college through a career. We’re reforming and challenging weak programs to compete for funds -– because if you’re receiving tax dollars you should be delivering results for our kids. We’re launching a Race to the Top in our states, which is raising standards and promoting excellence in teaching –- so our students, all of them, can graduate ready for college and a career.
We’re upgrading our undervalued so we can link students looking for work with businesses that are looking to hire. We’re eliminating tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for banks to profit as middlemen administering student loans, and we're using that money to make college more affordable for millions of additional students.
And we’re offering middle-class families what’s called an American Opportunity Tax Credit -– a college tuition tax credit worth up to $2,500 a year. I am calling on Congress to make this tax credit permanent so it’s worth up to $10,000 for four years of college –- because we’ve got to make sure that in good times or bad, our families can invest in their children’s future and in the future of our country.
Today, the Treasury Department is putting out a report showing what a difference these college tuition tax credits are making. Over our first year in office, we’ve increased tax cuts for higher education by over 90 percent, and we're helping the dream of a college degree -- putting that dream within reach of more than 12 million students from working families.
And I’m so pleased that the families standing behind me could join me here today. Mary Ellen O’Mealia is a single mom who’s been working hard to put each of her four kids -– Sean, Kelly, Leigh Anne, and Tom –- through college. And it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a little easier thanks to what we’ve done. Like Mary Ellen, Joanne and Philip Maynard, are able to put their son, Gregory, and daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, through UMass Amherst, in part because of this American Opportunity Tax Credit. And this tax credit is making possible Kathleen and Edward Mohan to give their daughter Sarah the education she needs to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
So all these families have benefited directly from this tax credit and they represent families all across the country from every state. What we need to do is to make it possible for America’s working families to do what the O’Mealias, the Maynards, and the Mohans have been able to do, and that’s to send their kids to college.
Now, if the Republicans in Congress had their way that would be more difficult. They’ve proposed cutting back on education by 20 percent. That means reducing financial aid for eight million students and leaving our community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our students for the jobs of the future.
Nothing would be more shortsighted. There’s an educational arms race taking place around the world right now –- from China to Germany, to India to South Korea. Cutting back on education would amount to unilateral disarmament. We can’t afford to do that. The nation that educates its children the best will be the nation that leads the global economy in the 21st century.
Now, ultimately, this is not just about making our economy more competitive. It’s not just about preparing our kids for the jobs of the future –- though all those things are absolutely essential. It’s also about who we are as a people. It’s about building a brighter future where every child in this country has a chance to rise above any barriers of race or faith or station, and they can fulfill their God-given potential; where the American Dream is a living reality. By opening the doors of college to anyone who wants to go, that’s a future we can help build together.
These three families represent those core values, represent those beliefs. The parents who are standing here have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure that their children have opportunities. And we need to reward that sense of responsibility, that sense of commitment to the next generation, by making sure they’re not having to do it alone.
So thank you all for being here. Thank you very much, everybody.
END 1:58 P.M. EDT
Welcome to the new segment of Greg Jones' Blacks4Barack.org. Here you'll find more news you may find interesting. Be Inspired...Be INFORMED... Be Involved !!! And always remember....People Power WORKS !