Saying U.S. counter-terrorism officials haven’t uncovered any credible threat of pending attacks, President Obama urged Americans Wednesday to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Right now, we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland,” Mr. Obama said after meeting in the White House situation room with FBI Director James B. Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and others. “We continue to do everything possible to prevent attacks at home and abroad.”
Mr. Obama said it’s “understandable” for Americans to worry about terrorist attacks following the Nov. 13 killing spree in Paris by extremists of the Islamic State. And he said it’s useful for people to be “vigilant.”
“If you see something suspicious, say something,” the president said. “But otherwise, Americans should go about their usual Thanksgiving weekend activities, spending time with family and friends and celebrating our blessings.”
The president said U.S. military, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies “are on the case.”
“In the event of a specific, credible threat, the public will be informed,” Mr. Obama said. “While the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks and we are resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.”
The Paris attacks have shifted the political landscape in the U.S., lowering the already weak level of public confidence in Mr. Obama’s ability to handle terrorism, and contributing to a national-security-based reshuffling of the top Republican presidential candidates in polls.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Democrats are “simply not up to the task” of defeating the terrorist network, pointing to Mr. Obama’s recent comment that the Islamic State was “contained” and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remark in a debate that the war on the extremist group “cannot be an American fight.”
“From day one, President Obama and Hillary Clinton underestimated the threat of ISIS,” Mr. Priebus said, using an acronym for the jihadi militants. “We need new leadership, and we need it now.”
The president in the past week has repeatedly urged the public not to “succumb” to fear, while he lobbies for his unpopular plan to accept 10,000 refugees from Syria. A majority of governors oppose the plan, and a strong bipartisan majority in the House has voted to delay the program.
Mr. Obama also met Tuesday with French President Francois Hollande, with both leaders agreeing to increase the number of airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Given the “horrific and heinous” attacks in Paris, the president said he wanted to reassure Americans that he’s doing everything possible to defeat the Islamic State, also know by the acronym ISIL.
“We’re stepping up the pressure on ISIL where it lives, and we will not let up, adjusting our tactics where necessary, until they are beaten,” Mr. Obama said. “We continue to do everything possible to prevent attacks at home and abroad, and to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from entering the United States or other nations.”