Obama discusses Boston, Guantanamo, Syria in press conference

President Obama spoke to reporters today, the 100th day of his second term. At the press conference, he defended the FBI and other agencies for their scrutiny of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing:

In his first news conference since the Boston attack, Obama also said that law enforcement agencies had performed in “exemplary fashion” in the hunt for the bombers. Dismissing critics on Capitol Hill, Obama rebuked Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) for suggesting last week that the bombings in Boston showed that U.S. security measures were slipping.

“Mr. Graham is not right on this issue, although I’m sure it generated some headlines,” Obama said, adding that he has seen no evidence that agencies overlooked clues that might have disrupted the plot. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties. Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing.” (Read the rest of the article here.)

Obama also said that he wanted to try again to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay:

With reports that about 100 of Guantanamo’s 166 detainees are on hunger strike, Obama said at a news conference at the White House that the existence of the facility is harmful to U.S. interests and he will reach out to lawmakers to try to shut it down.

“I’m going to go back at this,” he said. “I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.”

At the same time, Obama defended the decision to force feed the striking prisoners, saying “I don’t want these individuals to die.” But he made clear he believes the civilian court system is the best way to try suspected terrorists. (Read the rest of the article here.)

Continue reading for analysis of the conference from The Post’s writers.

Scott Wilson | President Obama’s unfinished business

President Obama’s appearance before the media Tuesday highlighted how much his second and final term remains consumed by the unfinished business of his first.

From his policy toward Syria to health care legislation to his inability to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama faced many of the same questions from journalists that have defined his time in office.

He used long, sometimes defensive answers to portray himself as undaunted by the unresolved challenges, yet also limited in his ability to secure the changes he has sought for years because of his continuing confrontation with a divided Congress.

That self-assessment of his political power also is largely consistent with his message to the nation since Democrats lost control of the House in 2010. His domestic agenda has largely ground to a halt since then.

Max Fisher | ‘Red line’ for Syria

President Obama addressed concerns at his news conference Tuesday that Syria may have crossed his administration’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, but he remained assiduously vague on what happens if that line is crossed. . .

The Obama administration has not changed its policy on military intervention generally, where it clearly prefers a multilateral approach, and on Syria in particular, where it’s been skeptical that the United States can do more good than harm by intervening. Obama’s left the door open for some kind of response, but he seems to be pretty careful about not painting himself into any policy corners or pledging any specific response. As before, he’s hinted at the possibility of some kind of United Nations action, but it’s not clear what that would be or necessarily even anything more than requesting a formal investigation.

Jennifer Rubin | Does Obama believe what he’s saying?

The president’s press conference was jammed with half-truths, evasions and out-and-out misrepresentation, some so stunning that even mainstream reporters took to snarking in their tweets. The tone of condescension was striking.

Greg Sargent | The Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power

At today’s press conference, President Obama spent a fair amount of time pushing back on what some of us are calling the “Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power.” This theory — which seems to hold broad sway over many in the press — holds that presidents should be able to bend Congress to their will, and any failure to do so proves their weakness and perhaps even their irrelevance.

Read a complete transcript of the press conference here.

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Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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