Attacks and Responses

National Security











"President Obama doesn't know how to fight terrorism and his policies have made us less safe."


"Obama took too long to decide to go in and get bin Laden."

  • It's disappointing that members of the media would twist the facts and use a triumph like this as another excuse to attack our commander-in-chief and score political points.
  • It was President Obama's decisive leadership that sealed the deal - he made catching bin Laden a top priority when he took office, and when the time came, he did what he said he would do.



"Obama ignores the advice of seasoned military advisors
on removing troops from Afghanistan."


"Now that we got Bin Laden, Obama should withdraw troops from Afghanistan."

  • The President and our military leaders understand that Americans don't want to stay in Afghanistan forever.
  • Our goal is to protect the people until we can train Afghan security forces to do this job, so that the Afghans turn to their government, and not the Taliban, for safety.
  • Republicans already took their eyes off the ball once when they invaded Iraq and set us back years in Afghanistan. Instead of playing politics with national security, we need to follow the recommendations of our military leaders, who are advising that we exit gradually.


"We can't leave Afghanistan now -- we need to stay the course." 

  • Republicans already took their eyes off the ball once when they pushed to invade Iraq, setting us back years in Afghanistan.
  • President Obama and our national security leaders understand that Americans don't want to stay in Afghanistan forever. Our focus is on building a sustainable government and training Afghan security forces, so that Afghans turn to their government, and not the Taliban, for safety.
  • It's time to start leaving Afghanistan responsibly. National security experts agree, which is why they support a responsible troop drawdown.


"Obama hasn't explained our mission in Afghanistan."

  • Our mission is simple: disrupt, disable, and defeat al-Qaeda. Right now the focus is on training Afghan security forces to protect the people, so that Afghans turn to their government, and not the Taliban, for safety.
  • Politicians who want to keep us bogged down in Afghanistan need to explain why the permanent occupation of a foreign nation is in our national interest.
  • When the U.S. behaves like a conquering empire, it undermines our capacity to tackle threats, our credibility and the democratic values we're trying to promote.




"Enhanced interrogation techniques help us fight terrorism."

  • We've got to defeat, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks with everything we have -- from drone attacks to special operations.
  • General Petraeus has told us that torture isn't effective. You can't be sure you have the right person, and torture makes it less likely that you're getting accurate intelligence. 
  • Torture lowers our standing in the world. Images like Abu Grab and Guantanamo are the best recruiting tools bin Laden has.



"We need to try terrorists using military tribunals - traditional courts aren't tough enough."


"Torture works - that's how we got the information we needed to get bin Laden."

  • Torture is a recruiting tool used by terrorists to tell the world we're bad, not a useful intelligence tool.
  • If the key information needed to get bin Laden came from torture, we would have had him years ago -- skilled intelligence analysts and smart detective work over several years led us to pinpoint his location.
  • Experienced military and intelligence officials tell us that torture doesn't work and yields false intelligence -- there are proven ways to get information that produce more reliable results without torture's cost to our global reputation and our security.




"Obama is cutting military spending and troops' pay."


"President Obama doesn't support the troops."

  • When politicians and talking heads don't condemn people in their party for booing a soldier in the United States Army, they have no business talking about who really supports our troops.
  • The last thing our troops should have to do is to fight for a job when they come home. That's why the President's jobs plan makes it easier for businesses to hire veterans.
  • President Obama has backed up our respect, honor, and gratitude for the brave men and women in the military with real action:  better pay, better health care and a new GI Bill.


"Obama doesn't understand the real threats facing the country."

  • President Obama got bin Laden. Period.
  • Under Obama's strong and decisive leadership, we're focusing on real threats and preventing new threats with tough diplomacy and development.
  • The Cold War is over -- we need to worry about today's security threats, not last century's. Obama gets it, and that's why we've had so many successes under his leadership.


"It's a terrible idea to cut defense."

  • The supercommittee has to find $1.5 trillion in cuts. So the question isn't whether to cut defense - it's what kinds of defense cuts we should make.
  • The choice should be clear: we can keep obsolete nukes built for the last century or we can give our troops the equipment and training they need to fight 21st century threats.


"Cutting nuclear weapons would be unilateral disarmament in the face of nuclear-armed Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea."


"Obama's nuclear non-proliferation policy puts America at risk."

  • Military advisors and scientists believe reducing the number of nuclear weapons around the world is key to enhancing our security -- fewer bombs means it's more difficult for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear material.
  • The START treaty, recently ratified under President Obama's leadership, allows us tokeep watch over Russia's massive stockpile of nuclear weapons -- and keeps American families safer.
  • Republicans who opposed the START treaty put Americans recklessly in danger for political gain -- choosing partisanship over the pleas of our military, faith leaders, and countless national security icons of their own party.


"Defense cuts should not be on the table for deficit reduction."


"Defense cuts mean we're ceding our global superpower status."


"Defense cuts will kill jobs."

  • This is about national security. If they want to talk about jobs, let's talk about how Washington Republicans have tried to kill over 7 million jobs and repeatedly stood in the way of putting Americans back to work.
  • Defense spending actually ranks last as a way to create jobs compared to investing the same amount in health care, clean energy, or education.





"Iran is dangerous - the only way to stop the threat is to attack them."

  • We must take the threat of Iran seriously and that's exactly what we're doing.
  • We have them surrounded and isolated -- now we're tightening the vise with new sanctions forcing them to the table. 
  • Attacking Iran would be reckless and irresponsible. No one wants another war in the Middle East.



"Withdrawal threatens gains we've made in Iraq."

  • Politicians who want to keep our troops in Iraq forever have zero credibility on Iraq. They got us into Iraq by getting the facts wrong and pressuring us to go to war in the first place.
  • Iraq is America's partner in the region, but the Iraqis are capable of governing and defending themselves.
  • Our troops did their job. That's why they're coming home and we're sending our diplomats and military trainers instead to help the Iraqis keep their country and the region safe and stable.


"Obama is leaving Iraq in defeat and leaving Iran stronger."


"Obama's decision to leave Iraq is political."

  • Republican politicians didn't have a problem when President Bush agreed to withdraw our troops from Iraq. But now that President Obama is honoring his word, they're launching partisan attacks.
  • Republican politicians used to say that they took us to war to free the Iraqi people. We've done that -- Iraq is now a free and independent democracy.
  • The bottom line is that Iraq is now a sovereign nation and our partner in the region. The Iraqis are taking charge of their own country. It's time for our troops to come home for good.


"Obama failed - American troops are getting pushed out before the right time to leave."

  • Iraq is now an independent democracy whose people want to take charge of their country. President Obama is keeping his promise to end the war responsibly and bring our troops home.
  • Would the President's political opponents prefer to leave American troops in Iraq indefinitely at the mercy of the Iraqi courts?
  • The U.S. will continue our commitment to democracy in the region. That's why we're continuing to discuss with Iraq their military training needs, as we would with any other country.


"This is a failure to secure an orderly transition that will put our victories there at risk."

  • This criticism is politically motivated - we've been winding down our mission in Iraq for years. It's time for the Iraqis to own their country.
  • Our military presence in Iraq has been among our enemies' best recruiting tools. Now we can finally take that away from them.
  • What is left to be done in Iraq does not require tens of thousands of our troops. Our focus should be on forging a normal relationship as sovereign nations and supporting Iraq as our partner in keeping the region safe and stable.



We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


Posted in - Torture - Iraq - Afghanistan - Foreign Policy - Defense - Iran - National Security - Terrorism - Al Qaeda - Defense Budget - Defense Cuts - Bin Laden - Detention - Military - Nuclear

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