ABC News’ Yunji de Nies reports:
Breaking his silence on the attempted attack on Flight 253, President Barack Obama struck a tone of reassurance and vigilance , vowing that his administration “will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.”
“The American people should be assured that we are doing everything in our power to keep you and your family safe and secure during this busy holiday season,” the president said .
Mr. Obama, who is on vacation in his home state of Hawaii, has been criticized for waiting several days before addressing the public on the alleged attempted terrorist attack. The White House says the president has been receiving regular updates as new information comes in and holding secure conference calls regularly on the matter. Mr. Obama said just today he spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, John Brennan.
He laid out the actions he has taken so far : immediately calling for increased security for air travelers, and ordering reviews of both watch-listing and airport screening policies. The president said he also has instructed his national security teams to keep pressure on those who would attack the United States.
“We do not yet have all the answers about this latest attempt, but those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know that the United States will more -- do more than simply strengthen our defenses,” the president said. “We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.”
The president also praised the “quick and heroic actions” of the passengers and crew, who subdued the suspect, 23-year old Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab.
Toward the end of his short statement, Mr. Obama condemned the recent violence and protests in Iran, saying that the United States stands with those seeking universal rights, and calling for the immediate release of political prisoners.
“What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away,” he said. “As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.”