President Obama gave a nod to his newly articulated drone policy as he addressed the graduating class of the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday.
“We still face threats from al Qaeda affiliates and individuals caught up in its ideology,” Obama said, addressing the academy’s graduation ceremony in Annapolis, Md. “Will still need to conduct targeted strikes against terrorists before they kill our citizens.”
Obama laid out his drone policies in a speech yesterday seeking to explain why, how, and when the U.S. will decide to kill Americans living abroad. Obama raised the issue on Friday as he addressed the graduates on new security challenges.
He also made what could be construed as a mention of the IRS scandal that has dogged his administration over the past two weeks. A major theme in his speech was failing public trust in government institutions, and the president mentioned “civil servants” and “misconduct.” It’s unclear whether that’s what Obama meant.
“Every day our civil servants do their jobs with professionalism, protecting our national security and delivering the services that so many Americans expect. But as we’ve seen again in recent days, it only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people’s trust in their government. And that’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you,” Obama said.
“And against this backdrop, what I said here four years ago remains true today. Our military remains the most trusted institution in America. When others have shirked their responsibilities, our armed forces have met every mission we’ve given them. When others have been distracted by petty arguments, our men and women in uniform come together as one American team,” Obama said.
The president condemned sexual assaults in the military, a major topic of discussion on Capitol Hill after a Pentagon study earlier this month found reported incidents on the rise.
“Those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that makes our military strong,” Obama said. “That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on earth.”
He blasted the “ foolish across-the-board budgets cuts known as the sequester, which is threatening our readiness” and pledged to fight for military funding.
The president shook hands and congratulated each of the 1,047 graduates–764 Navy ensigns, 264 Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants, and three Air Force 2nd lieutenants; 841 men and 206 women. He then donned an overcoat after his speech as rain drizzled over the crowd.