tv Today in Washington CSPAN December 2, 2009 6:00am-7:00am EST
became a conspiracy to get a number, rather than the truthful number. and this outrage both of the parties. there does not seem to be enough of this and you had a group with 1.4 million registered voters, when they had very little regard for whether or not they were legitimately registered. let me ask one more question about which you are an expert. acorn, i was on this with bertha lewis. she talked about the members of acorn. how do you get to be a member of acorn. i do not want to leave you, excessively, but if you come here for support, you will become a member? >> that is correct. when you do the counseling session, they would have an option where you could be part
of the credit report or you could be a member of the acorn. this is about $110 per year. they were losing out on that but many people chose to sign up. they also have the provisional members. you could sign the card if you wanted to be contacted and they would contact you and you could become a full member. . n drive. they actually had an acorn membership card attached to the voter registration cards and they would use them to drive up their membership. >> so let's run back through. this the government and foundations and other groups contribute money to various acorn affiliates to do community work, to help the poor, to help the disadvantaged. and in the process of giving these briefings and so on on loan restructuring and other advice that they were paid by grants to give, they basically signed people up either then or immediately following to a immediately following to a $10 -- 8
membership so they not only got a pretty good amount of money when you aggregate it to 400,000 but they got to claim that they had membership of 400,000. is that basically true? >> yes. >> how sophisticated were these people? were they aware that -- my understanding is it's done by automatic debit. that the way you get to be a member is they get your bank account and then your bank account gets hit every month for the same amount. is that right? >> yes. >> so were these people sophisticated enough to understand that once they turned that over, they were essentially automatic members for as long as they had that bank account? >> i don't think so. i saw numerous times when i would go to the fax machine and there would be angry letters from people saying, please stop debiting my account. you're overdrawing my account. and acorn had a problem with actually going in and taking these people out of the system. sometimes they would have to request two to three times to stop the direct deb its. >> well, i'm fog to allow the other members to ask a second
round. but thanks to the work of people who when the attorney general gave the san diego office plenty of notice that they would be coming down to look for information, it all went in the dumpster. thanks to those who harvested it, our committee does have a number of those angry letters. this pattern of being put on when you didn't even know that it was going to essentially cost a poor person money for a long time being put on as a member in perpetuity. so we do have some of that evidence. and it's of particular concern to us. because again, this is an organization touted to care about the poor rather than make the poor poorer. mr. king, would you have another round? >> i would. thank you, mr. chairman. i would just comment first that a person with zero knowledge of acorn could walk in or could have walked in here off the street today and listened to this testimony and walked out of here wondering how a nation with
all of the machinery that's here to provide justice in this country, cannot at the federal level have a full court press investigation on acorn and all of its affiliates. i mean, this says there's a blind eye turned, there's a deaf ear turned, there's a frustration that's an undercurrent in the discussion here in this testimony that comes from people who are probably i look across essentially nonpart people that care about our constitution and justice. i was thinking here that attorney general caldwell, you testified that your i'll call it the raid on acorn headquarters was november 6, that was a friday, not that long ago. and four business days later, anita dunn, the white house communications personnel, stepped down unexpectedly. it wasn't predicted. she stepped down. and right then i thought, there must be some connection here because of the affiliations that she has. and then it was only three days after that on the 13th of
november that bob bauer was named to become white house counsel. now, so i make that point, the chronol sunny of this seemed to be too coincidental for me at the time. and i issued press releases that said so. this isn't monday morning quarterbacking this is real-time calling the plays. as i listened to the testimony of mr. von spakovsky, can you think of an individual in america that would be better positioned to defend the white house from the lines of investigation that could lead to tie acorn into president obama and this white house as well as the obama campaign? but that transition from election to elected office? can you think of an individual better positioned than bob bauer? mr. von spakovsky? >> well, no. and in particular because of one very specific fact. and that is that if you look at
the testimony again that anita moncrief gave about receiving this list of maxed out donors from the obama campaign and then using that at project vote and acorn to do basically further work for the campaign, you have potentially not only an evasion of federal campaign donation limits, you have potentially illegal coordination going on between the obama campaign and acorn. those are violations of the federal campaign law that the f.e.c. could engage in civil penalty against the campaign, and it's something that if it was done knowingly and intentionally would be a criminal violation of the federal election campaign act which would be normally investigated and prosecuted by the public integrity section at the department of justice. the leading campaign finance lawyer on the democratic side in this city is in fact bob bauer.
>> thank you very much. and i would turn to ms. moncrief. this is courageous testimony on your part. and on the part of everyone. but you're the one that i'm worried about your support network. and i hopefully it's formed and it's getting stronger. two things stand out in my mind as i listen to this testimony. this thing that echos as i read back through the narratives on the community reinvestment act and the shakedown of lenders and a lot of that that took place in chicago and that's been documented i think pretty well in the media, there's an expression used "get in their face." and we read articles about how acorn and their operatives bragged about going in and shoving a lender's desk off to the side and surrounding him and getting in his face. i remember during the campaign when president obama said about three weeks before the election to his supporters "get in their face." now, that echoed in my ear as something that maybe was lifted right out of the handbook of acorn. and there's another phrase that happens to come back and echo in
my ear, and that is i left it out of the fox news report -- i lifted out done by megan kelly on acorn, a special that was done a month or so ago when she was interviewing wayne rafke and she asked him about the script of the mission statement of acorn. and in that mission statement it said "share the wealth." share the wealth. exactly the language that president obama used when he was confronted by joe the plumber. so i bring you back to those two things that echo, get in their face and share the wealth. i'm going to say those are lifted out of the culture of acorn and put right into the public record by now president of the united states. and then the question, though, that i had for ms. moncrief, you said at one point in your testimony that poverty is big business with acorn. can you explain to this panel how that functions? how poverty becomes big business? and what their motivation then is? and i don't think i understand
the flow of money. >> acorn receives money from like community block grants or neighborhood revitalization grants. that money goes into the national acorn coffers. if they were to actually go out and fix the things they said they were going to fix that money would eventually dry up. but they've been able to draw this out for 30 years by saying that the people need a voice, the people need power. but they've taken all the power and consolidated it at the top of acorn. and that's also where all the money sits. so they're not really helping. they may have a housing counseling session. but it's usually run by a poorly-trained worker whose main goal is to get -- increase acorn membership. they're not really doing anything with the money that they're getting besides using it to fund the political machine. what little that they do use for actual programs is still not -- doesn't justify what they've gotten from the government and from private foundations over the years. and as long as they keep people poor, they will continue to get that money to fix the same
problems in the neighborhoods. >> so it's essentially a perpetual motion machine that swallows up taxpayer dollars and dollars from charitable donations through foundations that empowers and strengthens acorn and their affiliates for political purposes and that strengthens democratic candidates in the places where there are swing districts in particular across america. would that be a fair analysis? >> yes, it would. >> thank you, ms. moncrief. i very much appreciate all your testimony. i yield back. >> the gentleman from end. >> i'm just going to make a real short statement. that is i was chairman of the government oversight committee for six years. and i watched as the justice department was manipulated in many cases by the attorney general for political purposes. and now we have a justice department that's not looking into these things. and it really, really concerns me. not just about acorn but about justice and the freedom that is
we enjoy. liberty and freedom. if our justice department doesn't investigate corrupt activities on a scale like this, then what in the world do we need a justice department for? it's extremely important that the laws be enforced and people who break the laws be brought to justice. and i see right now here a huge hole that's being created during this administration that jeopardizes the liberties and freedoms that we enjoy. i'm not being dramatic right now. i really mean this. you know, our forefathers fought for, i don't know, what, eight years to defeat the british because they didn't want taxation without representation? and here we are right now seeing all these things just being frittered away, taken away because we're not enforcing the law. i just think it's -- it's criminal quote unquote to not really do what we should be doing or the justice department
doing what it should be doing by investigating all these things that are obviously illegal. and the president appointed the attorney general, and the attorney general's not going to do anything without the president's approval. and there we sit. and i think it's really unfortunate. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. one last question before closing. as we've gone through the thousands and thousands of pages we recently got from san diego, we're picking up new information and perhaps a new pattern. and ms. moncrief, you perhaps could shed light. this document i have in front of me is only from this year from a san diego resident. but it appears as though -- and if you can't answer i'd understand -- but it appears as though information comes from banks to acorn saying, please reach out and help these people. and as they're reaching out, they're turning into members. is this happened during your watch with other banks?
>> you mentioned bank of america. citibank, and the of the major banks to any similar things in your time? >> i know that they had a subprime package through citibank. i am not really sure what they were doing with it. they said they would use the city backed subprime package and that was back in 2006 around the time they said that they saw the first cracks in the housing bubble and acorn said they wanted to be there when it burst. >> never pass up somebody else's tragedy to your advantage, i guess. i want to close by thanking all of you for the work you're doing as a whistleblower and in your individual states. i want to make sure we make the record complete as much as we can. attorney-general are welcome to work with our committee, all 50 states, anyone doing investigation, as long as there
is an ability to protect the sensitive nature of some of the information we have been given that was thrown out in many cases. social security numbers, personal information that should not be shared with the public could lead to identity theft, and so on. we will make those documents available. i want to go on record explaining the tens of thousands of pages that we took from california, we made sure that a full and complete copy was given to the attorney general's office and that the zero regionals are here in washington and available to anyone else who wants to go through them. we will make these available as long as we have the protective capability of it. we want to make sure we are sharing information leading to full understanding and an end to
this practice in every state. at the same time, both to the judiciary committee and the government oversight committee are not law enforcement. we understand that once we shed light, it is really for the various states in the u.s. attorney's office to do what is right path. . we will hopefully get additional whistle blowers to help us understand the scope and see that this practice ends. on behalf of the government oversight committee, we are the committee of whistle-blowers, not just when it appears to be an organization doing something partisan. our job is to look at waste, fraud, and abuse in government, misuse of government agenciey's funds and when we look at the private sector, we look at it in relation to the government. our whistle blower lines are
available all the time. we would hope that our committee does far more far reaching activities related to the growth of government and the ways -- in the waste of taxpayers' money. the amount of money that acorn receive from the government was relatively small part held a leveraged it with private sector money, we are only beginning to hopefully an oversight -- oversight with both republicans and democrats on committee level, we will begin to see more of that. with that, if no one has any final [captioning performed by national captioning institute] cable satellite corp. 2009] >> coming up on c-span, president obama announces plans to send more troops to
afghanistan. then, two days "washington journal" and live coverage of the house. >> federal reserve chairman ben bernanke has been nominated for a second four-year term. on thursday, his nomination comes before the senate banking committee. you can watch the hearing live on c-span 3 and seic-span.org. >> the senate has started debate on the health care bill. harry reid has warned senators to expect weekend and evening sessions. ceo all live on our companion network, c-span 2, the only network commercial freight. -- commercial-free. >> last night, president obama went the u.s. military academy at west point, n.y., to announce
plans to send 30,000 more troops to afghanistan early next year. the president also discussed his support for neighboring pakistan. this is 40 minutes. ou, please be seated. good evening. to the united states corps of cadets, to the men and women of our armed services and to my fellow americans, i want to speak to you tonight about our effort in afghanistan. the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and a strategy that my administration will pursue to bring the war to a successful conclusion. it is an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at west point where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security and to represent what is finest about our country. to address these important issues it is important to recall why america and our allies were compelled to fight a war in afghanistan in the first place.
we did not ask for this fight. on september 11, 200119 men hijacked for airplanes and use them to murder -- on september 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. if it's not -- if not for the wrote actions of passengers on board one of these flights, they could also have struck at one of the great symbols of our country here in washington and killed many more. as we know, these men belonged to al qaeda, a group of extremists who have distorted anislam, one of the world's gret religions. al qaeda's base was in
afghanistan where they were murdered by the taliban. this after it was ravaged by years of soviet occupation and civil war and after the attention of america and our friends had turned elsewhere. just days after 9/11, congress authorized the use of force against al qaeda and those who harbored them. an authorization that continues to this day. the vote in the senate was 98 to nothing. the vote in the house was 420 to one. for the first time in its history, the north atlantic treaty organization invoked article 5, the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. the united nations security council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks.
america, our allies and the rest of the world were acting as one to protect our common interests as one. and only after the taliban refused to turn over osama bin laden we sent our troops into afghanistan. within a matter of months, al qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. the taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. a place that had known decades of fear now have reason to hope. at a conference convened by the u.n., a provisional government was established under president hamid karzai and an international security assistance force was established to help bring lasting peace to a war-torn country. then in early 2003, the decision was made to wait a second war in iraq. the wrenching debate over the iraq war is well known and need
not be repeated here. it is enough to say that for the next six years, the iraq war true the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy and international attention and that the decision to go into iraq crossed central substantial risks between much of america and the rest of the world. today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing in the iraq war to run it -- to a responsible and. will remove our combat brigades from iraq by the end of next summer and all of our trips by the end of 2011. and we are doing so as a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. [laughter] [applause] [laughter] [applause] thanks to their courage and perseverance we have given
iraqis a chance to shape their future and we are successfully leaving iraq to with people. but while we have achieved hard- earned milestones in iraq, the situation in iraq -- in afghanistan has deteriorated. after escaping across the border to pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al qaeda's leadership established a safe haven. although a legitimate government was elected by the afghan people, it has been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, and underdeveloped economy and insufficient security forces. over the last several years, the taliban has maintained a common cause with outright as they both seek an overthrow of the afghan government. -- with al qaeda as they both seek an overthrow of the afghan government. gradually, they have begun to control additional portions of afghanistan while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the afghanistan people. -- against the afghani people.
the troop levels there remain a fraction of what they were in iraq. when i took office, we have just over 32,000 americans serving in afghanistan compared to 160,000 in iraq at the peak of the war. commanders in afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. that is why shortly after taking office i approved the longstanding request for more troops. after consultations with our allies i have -- i then announced a strategy announcing the fundamental connection between our war effort in afghanistan and the extremist savings in pakistan. i set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al qaeda and its extremist allies and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts. since then, we have made progress on some important
objectives. hite winky al qaeda and taliban leaders have been killed -- high-ranking al qaeda and taliban leaders have been killed. in pakistan, the nation's army have got caught -- has gone on its largest offensive in years. in afghanistan, we have prevented the taliban from stopping our presidential election and although it was marred by a fall, that election produced a government that is consistent with afghanistan's laws and constitution. yet the huge challenges, remain. afghanistan is not lost. but for several years it has moved backwards. there is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the taliban has gained momentum. al qaeda has not reemerged in afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe haven along the border. and our forces lacked the full
support they need to effectively train and partner with afghan security forces and better secure the population. our new commander in afghanistan, general mcchrystal, has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. in short, the status quo is not sustainable. as cadets you have volunteered for service during this time of danger. some of you fought in afghanistan. some of you will deploy their. as your commander in chief, iou emission that is clearly defined -- i owe you a mission that is clearly defined and with your service. that is why after the afghan review was completed, i insist on a tour review of our strategy. let me be clear, there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010. there has been no delay or
denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review time. instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in afghanistan, and are key partners. given the stakes involved, i owed the american people and our troops no less. this review is now complete. and as commander-in-chief, i have determined that it is in our vital natural -- and the vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 u.s. troops to afghanistan. after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. these are the resources that we need to seize the initiative while building the afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of afghanistan. i do not make this decision
lightly. i opposed the war in iraq precisely because i believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. we have been at war now for eight years at enormous cost in lives and resources. terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. and having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the great depression, the american people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home. most of all, i know that this decision asks even more of you. most of all, this decision asks more of you. this has borne the heaviest of all burdens for you and your families.
as president, had signed a letter of condolence to the family of each american who gives their life in these wars. i have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. i visited our courageous or wounded warriors at walter reed. i have travelled to dover, to meet the flag-draped caskets of those returning home to their final resting place. i see firsthand the terrible wages of war. if i did not think that the security of the united states and the safety of the american people were at stake in afghanistan, i would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow. so, no, i don't make this decision lightly. i make this decision because i am convinced that our security is at stake in afghanistan and pakistan. this is the epicenter of violent extremism practice by al qaeda. it is from your that we were attacked on 9/11 and it is from
here that new attacks are being plotted as i speak. this is no idle danger. this is no hypothetical threat. in the last few months alone, we have apprehended extra is within our borders who were sent here from the border region of afghanistan and pakistan to commit new acts of terror of her. . this will grow if the region slides backward and al qaeda can operate with impunity. we must keep the pressure on al qaeda and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.region burden is not ours alone to bear. this is not just america's war. since 9/11, al qaeda as safe haven have been the source of attacks against london and iman and bali. the people of the government's of both afghanistan and pakistan are in danger. and the stakes are even higher with a nuclear arms pakistan
because when al qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons and we have every reason to believe that they would use them. these facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. our overarching goal remains the same, to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat outcry in afghanistan and pakistan and to prevent its capacity -- al qaeda in afghanistan and pakistan and to prevent its capacity in the future. to meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within afghanistan. we must deny al qaeda a safe haven. we must reverse the taliban's momentum and denied the ability -- to deny them the ability to overthrow the of government. and we must strengthen the afghan security forces and government so that they can take the lead and responsibility for afghanistan's future. we will meet these objectives in three ways. first, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the taliban's momentum and increase afghanistans capacity over the
next 18 months. the 30,000 additional troops that i am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010. the fastest possible pace. so that they can target the insurgency and secure key part -- key population centers. they will increase our ability to train competent afghan security forces and to partner with them so that more afghans can get into the fight. they will help can -- create the conditions for the united states to transfer the responsibility to the afghans. because this is an international effort i have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. some have already provided additional troops and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in afghanistan. now we must come together to end this war successfully. what is at stake is not simply a test of nato's credibility, but
the security of our allies and the security of the world. taken together, these additional american and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of afghanistan in july of 2011. just as we have done in iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. we will continue to advise and assist afghanistan's security forces to be sure that they can succeed over the long haul. but it will be clear to the afghan government and, more and portly, to the afghan people -- more importantly to the afghan people, that they will be responsible for their own country. second, we will work with our partners, the united nations, and the afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian
strategy so that the government can take advantage of improved security. this effort must be based on performance. the days of providing a blank check are over. president karzai's inauguration speech sent a message about moving in a new direction and going forward, we will be clear about what we risk -- what we expect from those who receive our assistance. we will support the ministries and governors and local leaders that combat corruption for the local people. we expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. we will also focus our assistance in areas such as agriculture that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the afghan people. but the people of afghanistan have endured of violence for decades. they have been confronted with occupation by the soviet union and then by foreign al qaeda fighters that used afghan land for their own purposes.
tonight, i want the afghan people to understand america seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. we have no interest in occupying your country. we will support efforts by the afghan government to open the door to those taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. and we will seek a partnership with afghanistan grounded in mutual respect. to isolate those who destroy, to strengthen those who build, to hasten the day when our troops will leave and to forge a lasting friendship in which america is your partner and never york patron. -- and never your patron. third, we will act with the full recognition that its success in afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with pakistan. if we are in afghanistan to prevent the cancer from, once again, spreading through the country.
but this same cancer has taken root in the border region of pakistan. that is why we need a strategy that worked on both sides of the border. in the past, there have been those in pakistan that have argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight and that pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. but in recent years, as innocents have been killed across the country, it has become clear that it is the pakistani people who are most endangered by extremism. public opinion has turned. the pakistani army has waged an offensive in swapped and south waziristan and there is no doubt that the u.s. anh pakistan share a common enemy -- enemy. in the past, we have often -- we have too often definedlt>5 our relationship with pakistan nearly. those days are over.
we're moving forward with a partnership with pakistan that is built on mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. we will strengthen pakistan's capacity to target groups that threaten our countries and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. america is also providing substantial resources to support pakistan's democracy and development. we are the largest international supporter for those pakistanis this place by the fighting. and going forward, the pakistani people must know america will remain a strong supporter for security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed. these are the three core elements of our strategy. a military effort to create the conditions for a transition, a civilian surge that reinforces
positive action, and if -- and an effective partnership with pakistan. i recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. let me a break -- let me briefly address a few of the arguments that i've heard, and which i take very seriously. first, there are those that suggest that afghanistan is another vietnam. they argue that it cannot be stabilized and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. i believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. unlike vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognize the legitimacy of our actions. unlike vietnam, we are not facing a broad based popular insurgency. and most importantly unlike vietnam, the american people were viciously attacked from afghanistan and remain a target for those the same extremist
were plodding along its border. to abandon this area now and to rely only on efforts against al qaeda from a distance would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al qaeda and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies. second, there are those with knowledge that we cannot leave afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the trips that we already have. this would simply maintain the status quo in which we muddle through and permit the slow deterioration of conditions there. it would ultimately prove more costly and prolonged our stay in afghanistan because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train the afghan security forces and give them the space to take over. finally, there are those who oppose identifying a timeframe
for a transition to afghan responsibility. indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort, one that would commit us to in nation building project of up to a decade. i reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. furthermore, the absence of a time frame -- timeframe for transition would deny us and a sense of efficiency in working with the afghan government -- any sense of urgency in working with the afghan government. it must be clear that america has no interest in fighting an endless war in afghanistan. as president, i refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. and i must weigh all the challenges that our nation
faces. i do not have the luxury of committing to just one. indeed, i am mindful of the words of president eisenhower, who in discussing our at -- our national security said kamal "each proposal must be weighed in the light of [no audio] to many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. to many americans are out of work and worry about the future of their children. in the meanwhile, the economy globally has become more fierce. we cannot simply ignore the price of these wars. all told, by the time i took office, the cost of the wars in iraq and afghanistan approached
$1 trillion. going forward, i am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. our new approach in afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year. i will work closely with congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit. but as we end the war in iraq in transition to afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. it pays for our military. it underwrites our diplomacy. it taxes the potential of our people and it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. that is why our troop commitment in afghanistan cannot be open- ended. because the nation i am most interested in building is our own.
let me be clear, none of this will be easy. the struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly and extends well beyond afghanistan and pakistan. it will be an enduring test of our free society and our leadership in the world. and unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that define the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies. as a result, america will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict, not just how we wage wars. we will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. where al qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold, whether in somalia or yemen or elsewhere, they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
and we cannot count on military might alone. might alone. we have to invest we cannot count on military might alone. we cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. we have to better corporate our intelligence so we stayed one step ahead of chad we networks. we will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. that is why i have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and pursue the goal of a world without them. every nation must understand that that's true security will not come from a race for ever more destructive weapons. true security will come for those who reject them. we will have to use diplomacy because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone i have spent this year renewing our alliances and
forging new partnerships. we have forged a new beginning between america and the moslem world. one that recognizes our mutual nd promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity. finally, we must draw on the strength of our values for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. that is why we must promote our values by leaving them at home, which is why i have prohibited torture and will close the prison at guantanamo bay. we must make it clear to every man, woman, and child on the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that america will speak out on behalf of their human rights and tender for the light of freedom and justice and dignity of all people.
that is who we are. that is the source, the morrill source of america's authority. -- the moral source of america's authority. since the days of franklin roosevelt and our grandparents and great grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. we have this bill american blood in many countries on multiple continents. -- we have spilled american blood in many countries on multiple continent. we spent our money to develop other countries. we have joined in the architecture of institutions from the united nations to nato to the world bank that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings. we have not always been thanked for these efforts. and we have, at times, made mistakes. but more than any other nation, the united states of america has underwritten global security for
over six decades, a time that for all its problems has seen walls come down and markets open and billions lifted from property, unparalleled of scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty. for unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. our union was founded in resistance to oppression. we do not seek to occupy other nations. we will not claim another nation's resources. or target other people because their faith or a net -- or ethnicity is different from ours. what we have fought for, what we continue to fight for is a better future for our children and grandchildren and we believe that their lives will be better if other people's children and grandchildren can live in freedom. and access opportunity. [applause]
as a country, we are not as young, and perhaps not as innocent, as we were when roosevelt was president. yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. now, we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age. in the end of our security and leadership does not come solar -- solely from the strength of office. it derives from our people, from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy, from the entrepreneurs and researchers will pioneer new industries, from the teachers who will educate our children and the service of those who
work in our communities at home, from the diplomats and peace corps volunteers to spread hold abroad, and from the men and in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people in reality on this earth. -- a reality on this earth. [applause] this vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue, nor should we, but i also know that we as a country cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate this momentous challenges of our times if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rank and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our
leader -- leadership. it is easy to forget that when this war began we were united, bound together by a fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. i refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. [applause] i believe with every fiber of my being that we, as americans, can still come together behind a common purpose. for our values are not simply words written into apartments -- into parchment. they're a creed that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people. america, we are passing to a time of great trial and the
message we send in the midst of these storms must be clear, that our cause is just come our resolve unwavering. we will go forward with the confidence that right makes might end with the commitment to forge an america that is safer, a world that is more secure, a future that represents not the deepest of fears, but the highest of hopes. thank you, god bless you. and god bless the united states of america. [applause] thank you very much. [applause] ♪
♪horay f/the red, white and blue ♪ [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> secretary of state clinton, robert gates, and mike mullen testified about afghanistan in two congressional hearings. at 9:00 a.m. eastern, the senate armed services committee and it 1:30 p.m., the house foreign affairs committee. you can watch both hearings live on c-span 3 and c- span.org. >> the 2010 studentcam contest
is here. $30,000 in prizes with the top prize, $5,000. create a video on one of our country's greatest strengths or challenges the country is facing. it must incorporate cspan programming and the deadline is january 20. credit camera and get started go to studentscam.org. next on c-span, it is "washington journal," live with your phone calls which is followed by live coverage in the u.s. house. .