The president's decision to speak directly to Americans comes as his administration has come under fire for failing to curb the threat posed by the Islamic State, which carried out last month's series of strikes in Paris that killed 130 people and is now connected to last week's mass shooting in San Bernadino, Calif. While the group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, has not claimed direct responsibility for the attack that killed 14 Americans and wounded even more, one of the two perpetrators had declared her allegiance to the Islamic State before carrying it out.
"The president will provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the tragic attack in San Bernardino," the statement added. "The president will also discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it. He will reiterate his firm conviction that ISIL will be destroyed and that the United States must draw upon our values — our unwavering commitment to justice, equality and freedom — to prevail over terrorist groups that use violence to advance a destructive ideology."
This will be just the third time that Obama has given an address from the Oval Office. In 2010, in his first Oval Office speech, the president announced a plan for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and in his second prime-time address, also in 2010, he announced the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.
The decision to deliver an evening address has upended the president’s Sunday plans, which were initially supposed to include his attendance at the annual Kennedy Center Honors. While both the Obamas will host a reception for the Kennedy Center honorees in the East Room early in the evening, the president will remain at the White House to deliver his televised address rather that accompany the honorees to the performance.