Barack Obama photo

Interview with Jake Tapper on ABC's "Good Morning America"

November 10, 2009

MR. TAPPER:  You're about to make a final decision about the new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mm hmm.  (In acknowledgement.)

MR. TAPPER:  What variables play into your decisionmaking that would cause you to not just take General McChrystal's recommendation and implement it?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, keep in mind that I've been asking not only General McChrystal but all of our commanders who are familiar with the situation, as well as our civilian folks on the ground, a lot of questions that, until they're answered, may -- may create a situation in which we resource something based on faulty premises.

And I want to make sure that we have tested all the assumptions that we're making before we send young men and women into harm's way.

(Audio of Dover ceremony plays in background.)

MR. TAPPER:  You have gone to Dover.


MR. TAPPER:  You have gone to Walter Reed.  Other than underlining the gravity of the decision, does it have an impact on you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It absolutely has an impact, because it reminds me of the costs involved.

As commander in chief, my job is not to just think in terms of one individual or short-term costs, but also what's required to prevent another 9/11, what's required to make sure that we're not seeing another USS Cole.

But I think I would be making poor decisions if I didn't have to look into the eyes of a family member who had lost a loved one and tell them how grateful we are as a nation.

That -- that moment, I think, ensures that I'm making the best possible decisions going forward.

MR. TAPPER:  You're about to go to Fort Hood.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mm-hmm.  (In acknowledgement.)

MR. TAPPER:  Philosophically, what separates an act of violence from an act of terrorism?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  In a country of 300 million people, there are going to be acts of violence that are inexplicable.  Even within the extraordinary military that we have, there are going to be instances in which an individual cracks.

I think the questions that we're asking now, and we don't have yet complete answers to, is -- is this an individual who's acting in this way, or is it some larger set of actors?  You know, what are the motivations?

Barack Obama, Interview with Jake Tapper on ABC's "Good Morning America" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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