The White House Blog: The President

  • The President Gives an Update on Iraq and the Situation in Ferguson, Missouri

    President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situations in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri, from Edgartown, Massachusetts

    President Barack Obama makes a statement on the situations in Iraq and Ferguson, Missouri, from Edgartown, Massachusetts, August 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This afternoon, President Obama updated the nation on two issues that he's been monitoring closely over the past several days -- America's military operations in Iraq, and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

    Speaking first on Iraq, the President noted the progress the U.S. has made in carrying out "targeted military operations" in the country:

    Last week, I authorized two limited missions:  protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain.

    A week ago, we assessed that many thousands of Yezidi men, women and children had abandoned their possessions to take refuge on Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to avoid slaughter.  We also knew that ISIL terrorists were killing and enslaving Yezidi civilians in their custody, and laying siege to the mountain. Without food or water, they faced a terrible choice -- starve on the mountain, or be slaughtered on the ground.  That’s when America came to help.


  • President Obama Issues a Statement on the Death of Michael Brown

    This afternoon, President Obama issued a statement on the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was fatally shot on Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri:

    The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time.  As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed.  I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding.  We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.  Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.


  • President Obama on the Passing of Robin Williams: "He Was One of a Kind"

    President Obama released a statement this evening, following the passing of legendary stand-up comedian and actor Robin Williams:

    Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind.  He arrived in our lives as an alien -- but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most -- from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.

    Robin Williams in Afghanistan

    Comedian Robin Williams visits with Commanding General of Combined Task Force 101 U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John F. Campbell after the USO Holiday Tour show at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Dec.15, 2010. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Navy, and his wife Deborah are hosting the holiday tour featuring Williams and comedians Lewis Black and Kathleen Madigan, Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and country musicians Kix Brooks and Bob Dipiero touring the Central Command area of responsibility. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy. (Released)


  • President Obama Discusses the Latest Developments in Iraq

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    This afternoon, President Obama gave an update on the most recent developments in Iraq.

    First, the President noted that U.S. forces have "successfully conducted targeted airstrikes to prevent terrorist forces from advancing on the city of Erbil, and to protect American civilians there." He also addressed our ongoing humanitarian efforts to help those who are stranded on Mount Sinjar, adding that we've deployed a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team to help.

    "Some have begun to escape their perch on that mountain," he said, "and we’re working with international partners to develop options to bring them to safety."

    The President reiterated that "the only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government," and highlighted important steps Iraq is taking in that effort:


  • President Obama Signs Bill to Support the Needs of People with Autism

    On Friday, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act, or Autism CARES Act of 2014, into law. Autism CARES, which reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act, continues important investments in research, prevalence monitoring and services for both children and adults on the autism spectrum. 

    Approximately $1.5 billion has been dedicated to autism spectrum disorders research over the past five years through the combined efforts of U.S. government agencies and private organizations. This investment has helped to support progress in key research areas such as identifying risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, and data collection. The Department of Health and Human Services also supports the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, which trains health professionals from a variety of disciplines in evidence-based ASD practice and also supports states in developing and improving the system of health care for autism spectrum disorders, including early identification and coordination of care. 

    The Autism CARES Act will allow us to continue to build on these efforts. It will increase understanding of the barriers that youth and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disability face as they transition from school-based services to those available during adulthood by charging federal agencies with assessing the particular needs of this population.


  • Delivering a Customer-Focused Government Through Smarter IT

    As technology changes, government must change with it to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This Administration has made important strides in modernizing government so that it serves its constituents more effectively and efficiently, but we know there is much more to do.

    Last year, a group of digital and technology experts from the private sector helped us fix HealthCare.gov – a turnaround that enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance. This effort also reminded us why the President’s commitment to bringing more of the nation’s top information technology (IT) talent into government is so critical to delivering the best possible results for our customers – the American people.

    A core part of the President’s Management Agenda is improving the value we deliver to citizens through Federal IT. That’s why, today, the Administration is formally launching the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.

    We are excited that Mikey Dickerson will serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service and Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer. Mikey was part of the team that helped fix HealthCare.gov last fall and will lead the Digital Service team on efforts to apply technology in smarter, more effective ways that improve the delivery of federal services, information, and benefits.


  • Airstrikes in Iraq: What You Need to Know

    President Obama has authorized the U.S. military to execute targeted airstrikes in Iraq.

    The President takes no decision more seriously than the use of military force. So it's worth taking a few minutes to make sure you understand exactly what is happening in Iraq right now, who is involved, and why we are taking action. Here are a few answers to some key questions Americans may be asking:

    1. What exactly did the President do?

    On August 7, 2014, President Obama authorized two operations in the northern region of Iraq. First, he authorized the military to use limited airstrikes to protect American diplomatic and military personnel serving in the city of Erbil. Second, the United States is delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of Yezidis, Iraqi civilians, who have been forced to flee their homes and are now stranded on a mountainside — facing near-certain death without our assistance.

    2. Why are airstrikes needed now?

    Terrorist forces known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have been advancing across Iraq. ISIL had moved toward the city of Erbil, where many American diplomats and military advisors are currently serving. By August 7, ISIL forces had taken positions only minutes from Erbil.

    In order to stop ISIL’s advance from threatening our people and facilities, the President ordered targeted airstrikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward Erbil.


  • The President Gives an Update on the Situation in Iraq

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    This morning, from the South Lawn of the White House, President Obama made a statement on the situation in Iraq, detailing the progress of current American operations in the country:

    Good morning.  Over the past two days, American pilots and crews have served with courage and skill in the skies over Iraq.

    First, American forces have conducted targeted airstrikes against terrorist forces outside the city of Erbil to prevent them from advancing on the city and to protect our American diplomats and military personnel.  So far, these strikes have successfully destroyed arms and equipment that ISIL terrorists could have used against Erbil.  Meanwhile, Kurdish forces on the ground continue to defend the city, and the United States and the Iraqi government have stepped up our military assistance to Kurdish forces as they wage their fight.

    Second, our humanitarian effort continues to help the men, women and children stranded on Mount Sinjar.  American forces have so far conducted two successful airdrops -- delivering thousands of meals and gallons of water to these desperate men, women and children.  And American aircraft are positioned to strike ISIL terrorists around the mountain to help forces in Iraq break the siege and rescue those who are trapped there. 


  • Weekly Address: American Operations in Iraq

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House, Aug. 8, 2014.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room of the White House, Aug. 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    In this week’s address, the President detailed why he authorized two operations in Iraq – targeted military strikes to protect Americans serving in Iraq and humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain by terrorists. The President saluted America’s brave men and women in uniform for protecting our fellow Americans and helping to save the lives of innocent people. The President also made clear that the United States will not be dragged into another war in Iraq – that American combat troops will not return – because there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3


  • Weekly Wrap Up: Iraq, Africa, and 53 Years

    This week, we talked about the imminent dangers climate change poses to our world; the President made a statement on the crisis in Iraq; he hosted the largest event that any U.S. president has ever held with African heads of state and government -- and he celebrated his 53rd birthday.

    Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up.


    The Crisis in Iraq

    Last night, President Obama made a statement from the White House State Dining Room on the current crisis in Iraq. He announced that he had authorized two operations in the country: "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death."

    Watch on YouTube

    The President detailed the actions that the U.S. is taking, and explained why we must act now. He also made clear that "even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq."