Six Newsiest Sound Bites From Obama's Press Conference

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The plan to close GTMO was a failure, but it was still the right thing to do.

Well, the -- you know, we have succeeded on delivering a lot of campaign promises that we made. One where we've fallen short is closing Guantanamo. I wanted to close it sooner. We have missed that deadline. It's not for lack of trying. It's because the politics of it are difficult.

Now, I am absolutely convinced that the American justice system is strong enough that we should be able to convict people who murdered innocent Americans, who carried out terrorist attacks against us. We should be able to lock them up and make sure that they don't see light of day We should -- we -- we can do that. We've done it before. We've got people who engaged in terrorist attacks who are in our prisons -- maximum security prisons all across the country.

So, you know, I've also said that there are going to be circumstances where a military tribunal may be appropriate. And the reason for that is -- and I'll just give a specific example. There may be situations in which somebody was capture in-theater, is now in Guantanamo.

It's very hard to piece together a chain of evidence that would meet some of the evidentiary standards that would be required in an Article III court. But we know that this person is guilty. There is sufficient evidence to bring about a conviction.

So what I have said is, you know, the military commission system that we set up, where appropriate for certain individuals, that would make it -- it would be difficult to try in Article III courts, for a range of reasons, we can reform that system so that it meets the highest standards of due process and prosecute them there.

And so I'm prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans, and we, over the course of the last year, have been in constant conversations with them about setting up a sensible system in which we are prosecuting where appropriate those in Article III courts. We are prosecuting others, where appropriate, through a military tribunal. And in either case, let's put them in prisons where our track record is they've never escaped

It doesn't sound like Elizabeth Warren is a shoo-in to be the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And, you know, I think what's fair to say is, is that I have had conversations with Elizabeth over the course of these -- over these last couple of months, but I'm not going to make an official announcement until -- until it's ready.

Obama cites President Bush's example of tolerance.

One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was, after 9/11, him being crystal clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam. We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts.


Maybe "bending the cost curve" wasn't the best argument for health care.

But -- you know, if -- if you -- if what the reports are true, what they're saying is, is that as a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that's going to increase our costs, we knew that. We didn't think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free. But that the long-term trend in terms of how much the average family is going to be paying for health insurance is going to be improved as a consequence of health care.


Obama was disappointed by reports that the CIA was paying allegedly corrupt members of the Afghanistan government.

So one of the things that I've said to my national security team is, "Let's be consistent in terms of how we operate across agencies. Let's make sure that our efforts there are not seen as somehow giving a wink and a nod to corruption. If we are saying publicly that that's important, then our actions have to match up across the board

The President believes that terrorism is a persistent, though not an existential, threat.

You know, I am constantly impressed with the dedication that our teams apply to this problem.

They are chasing down every thread, not just from Al Qaida, but any other actor out there that might be engaging in terrorism. They are making sure that even a -- what might appear to be a lone individual who has very little organizational capacity, if they make a threat, they follow up.

But one of the things that I want to make sure we do as long as I'm president and beyond my presidency is to understand America's strength in part comes from its resilience. And that we don't start losing who we are or overreacting if, in fact, there is -- there is the threat of terrorism out there.

We go about our business. We are tougher than them. Our families and our businesses and our churches and mosques and synagogues and our Constitution and our values -- that's what gives us strength.

And we are going to have this problem out there for a long time to come, but it doesn't have to completely distort us and it doesn't have to dominate our foreign policy. What we can do is to constantly fight against it.

And I think, ultimately, we are going to be able to stamp it out. But it -- it's going to take some time.

And we are going to have this problem out there for a long time to come, but it doesn't have to completely distort us and it doesn't have to dominate our foreign policy. What we can do is to constantly fight against it.

And I think, ultimately, we are going to be able to stamp it out. But it -- it's going to take some time.


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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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