Read all posts from May 2011

  • Watch video of the Medal of Honor presentation here.

    The event to award the Medal of Honor to Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and Henry Svehla, two heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War, was long scheduled, but the timing made for a meaningful coincidence on a day when America is beaming with pride over those who serve today.

    The President began his remarks on that note:

    I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.  Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer; it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden. 

    Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans.  And we’ve seen that spirit -— that patriotism -— in the crowds that have gathered, here outside the White House, at Ground Zero in New York, and across the country -- people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the National Anthem -- people proud to live in the United States of America.

    And we’re reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours.  They volunteer.  They train.  They endure separation from their families.  They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe.  They get the job done.  We may not always know their names.  We may not always know their stories.  But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom, and we are truly blessed. 

    The President read a poem on the enduring legacy of those who serve, and welcomed the families of those being honored today:

  • Drum roll please…

    The results of the public rating period are in, and today we’re excited to announce the top three schools in the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge!

    Watch this video from Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes to find out which schools made the top three:

    Watch the video announcing the Commencement Challenge Finalists here.

    Later this week, President Obama will select the winning school from one of the top three. Over the past week, nearly 100,000 people from across the country submitted almost 300,000 ratings.

    We want to thank all of the schools who participated in this year’s Commencement Challenge, especially our six finalists.  These schools represent the very best American public education has to offer. We are so proud of the all the teachers, students, administrators, parents and communities who are working together to help meet President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.

  • On a conference call today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muñoz announced a series of community conversations around the country on the critical role Hispanics play in the President’s vision for America to win the future.

    In his State of the Union address, the President made it clear that the most important contest we face today is not between Democrats and Republicans, but rather America’s contest with competitors across the globe for the jobs and industries of the future. During the call, the Administration officials also introduced the report “Winning the Future: President Obama’s Agenda and the Hispanic Community,” which can be found on the new site

    Luis Miranda is White House Director of Hispanic Media

  • Ed. note: This was cross-posted on the Department of Energy blog.

    Throughout the weekend, 110 regional championship science bowl teams have competed round robin and double elimination matches to determine the top 2 middle school  and top  3 high school teams in the country.

    Start watching the livestream below at 9:30 AM today to see the final championship matches of America's best science students in 2011 National Science Bowl.

    A little after 12:30 PM, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu will speak at the award ceremony.

    UPDATE: This event has now concluded.

    Ginny Simmons is a new media specialist with the Department of Energy.

  • Download Video: mp4 (14MB) | mp3 (1MB)

    Sunday was the start of Public Service Recognition Week. It’s a time to thank professional public servants - the people behind the scenes. Wherever you live, they are the people who pick up the phone when you call 911, and the police and firefighters who come to your door; the teachers in your schools and the people who maintain your local parks. 

    Federal public servants may not always be as visible, but they are in every state as well. They focus on national security and law enforcement tasks like protecting our borders; they pursue criminals who cross state lines and care for our veterans. Others make sure our roads and rails are designed and built safely and that our food and water supply is clean.

    Public servants do a million things you may take for granted every day. Since 1985, we’ve taken this week to learn more about what public servants do and show our appreciation. First Lady Michelle Obama wanted to be the first to thank Federal employees. Click below to hear what she has to say.

  • Tonight, President Obama addressed the Nation to announce that the United States has killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.  Watch his full remarks here or read his full remarks below, and learn more from the transcript of the White House briefing call afterwards.

    Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden
    East Room

    11:35 P.M. EDT

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

    It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

    And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

    On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together.  We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood.  We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.  On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

    We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.  We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda -- an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe.  And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

    Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.  We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.  In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support.  And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

    Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

    And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

    Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.  It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.  I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

    Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.  No Americans were harmed.  They took care to avoid civilian casualties.  After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

    For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.  The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

    Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.

    As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.  I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

    Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.  That is what we’ve done.  But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.  Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

    Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.  They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.  And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

    The American people did not choose this fight.  It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.  After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.  These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

    So Americans understand the costs of war.  Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed.  We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror:  Justice has been done.

    Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

    We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.  And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

    Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

    And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

    The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

    Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are:  one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.
                            END               11:44 P.M. EDT


    The National Security Team Listens to President Obama's Statement on Osama bin Laden

    Seated from left, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, CIA Director Leon Panetta, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden listen as President Barack Obama makes a statement on Osama Bin Laden in the East Room of the White House May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Full video of the President's remarks will be posted soon.

    Last night, President Obama spoke at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. At the annual event, the President joked about the year in politics, but also in the movies -- sharing that there is a sequel to the film the King’s Speech in the works that touches close to home. President Obama offered a sneak peak of the parody:


    Watch the video trailer "The President's Speech" here.

    Closing on a serious note, the President spoke about the devastation in Alabama and the service and contributions of journalists:

    We also need to remember our neighbors in Alabama and across the South that have been devastated by terrible storms from last week.  (Applause.)  Michelle and I were down there yesterday, and we’ve spent a lot of time with some of the folks who have been affected.  The devastation is unimaginable and is heartbreaking and it’s going to be a long road back.  And so we need to keep those Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.  But we also need to stand with them in the hard months and perhaps years to come.