Transcript: The Future of our Fight against Terrorism

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AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you tell us why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed? Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We're addressing that, ma'am.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) -- apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer here at home.

I love my country! I love the rule of law! The drones are making us less safe.

And keeping people in indefinite detention in Guantanamo is making us less safe. Abide by the rule of law -- (inaudible) --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I think that the -- and I'm going off script, as you might expect, here. (Laughter, applause.) The -- the voice of that woman is worth paying attention to. (Applause.) Obviously -- obviously I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she wasn't listening to me in much of what I said.

But these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong. You know, when that judge sentenced Mr. Reid, the shoe bomber, he went on to point to the American flag that flew in the courtroom. "That flag," he said, "will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom."

So, America, we have faced down dangers far greater than al- Qaida. By staying true to the values of our founding, and by using our constitutional compass, we have overcome slavery and Civil War, and fascism, and communism. In just these last few years as president, I have watched the American people bounce back from painful recession, mass shootings, natural disasters like the recent tornados that devastated Oklahoma. These events were heartbreaking; they shook our communities to the core. But because of the resilience of the American people, these events could not come close to breaking us.

I think of Lauren Manning, the 9/11 survivor who had severe burns over 80 percent of her body, who said, "That's my reality. I put a Band-Aid on it, literally, and I move on."

I think of the New Yorkers who filled Times Square the day after an attempted car bomb as if nothing had happened.

I think of the proud Pakistani parents who, after their daughter was invited to the White House, wrote to us, "We have raised an American Muslim daughter to dream big and never give up because it does pay off."

I think of all the wounded warriors rebuilding their lives and helping other vets to find jobs.

I think of the runner planning to do the 2014 Boston Marathon, who said: "Next year you're going to have more people than ever. Determination is not something to be messed with."

That's who the American people are: determined, and not to be messed with.

And now we need a strategy and a politics that reflects this resilient spirit. Our victory against terrorism won't be measured in a surrender ceremony at a battleship or a statue being pulled to the ground. Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school, immigrants coming to our shores, fans taking in a ballgame, a veteran starting a business, a bustling city street, a citizen shouting her concerns at a president. The quiet determination, that strength of character and bond of fellowship, that refutation of fear -- that is both our sword and our shield.

And long after the current messengers of hate have faded from the world's memory, alongside the brutal despots and deranged madmen and ruthless demagogues who litter history, the flag of the United States will still wave from small-town cemeteries, to national monuments, to distant outposts abroad. And that flag will still stand for freedom.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END

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