Dec 18, 2015|
President Obama holds his end of the year news conference.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
This is the CBS news special report a news conference by President Obama. I'm Dan Murphy even in the White House briefing room the president will shortly have an opening statement then take questions kind of and ended year tradition before he flies to Hawaii. Today he'll stop in San Bernardino California to visit with relatives of the terrorism victims there alive to CBS news White House correspondent Pam Coulter San Bernardino as aftermath lens the backdrop to this news conference. Tim the president's appearance before reporters caps off a week of events designed to reassure Americans following that deadly attack in San Bernardino. Which left fourteen people dead and 21 injured. Carried out apparently by a self radicalized couple who were inspired by racist. He started his week at the Pentagon worry said they were hitting ice is harder than ever and squeezing the heart of the terror group. And just yesterday he was at the national counterterrorism. Center for his annual holiday season threat assessment. Only said there was no specific or credible threat right now. He urged all Americans to be vigilant throughout the holiday season. And as you mentioned as has happened in past years the president is expected to make an opening statement but not really make any big news. This event also gives him a chance to look back and what the White House considers a very successful year for his agenda. Including that climate deal in Paris the Iran nuclear agreement the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act. And congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority which led to that TP PE trade deal. It also gives mr. Obama the chance to look ahead to what will be his final year in office and here's the president damn good murder right. Clearly this is not the most important event that's taking place in the White House today there is a screening of Star Wars or. Gold star families and children coming out so. I'll try to be relatively suspect. When we say a few words about the year behind us and your head. And that'll take your questions. As I look back on this here. One thing is there's so much are steady persistent work over the years of paying off for the American people and make tangible ways. Early action to rescue the economy set the stage for the longest streak of private sector job growth. On record with thirteen point seven million new jobs in that time. The unemployment rate has been cut in half. Down the 5%. And most importantly wages grew faster than any time since the recovery began so over the course of this year a lot of the decisions that we made early on. That paid off. Here's a straight implementation of the Affordable Care Act helped to drive the rate of the uninsured in America below 10%. For the first time since records were kept on that. Health care prices have grown at their lowest level in five decades. Seventeen million more Americans being coverage and we now know that six million people have signed up. Through health care dot gov for coverage beginning on January 1 600000. On Tuesday along. New customers are up. 13 over last year. And the Maurer who sign up for stronger system becomes and that's good news for every American in order us to worry about being just one illness or accident. Away from financial hardship. On climate. Early investment in clean energy ignited a clean energy. Industry boom. Our actions help reduce our carbon emissions. Brought China to the table in the last week in Paris nearly 200 nations fortunate to work agreement. That was only possible because of American leadership. Around the world from reaching the deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon to reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. They're concluding it landmark trade agreement that would make sure that American workers American businesses. Are operating on a level playing field and that we rather than China or other countries are setting the rules for global trade. We have shown what is possible when America leads. And after decades of dedicated advocacy. Marriage equality became reality in all fifty states. So I just wanna point out. That it. The beginning of this year the interest and stuff happens in the fourth quarter and we are only halfway through. I do wanna thank congress for ending the year on a high note I got to sign. An education bill that is. Fix some of the challenges that we had would No Child Left Behind and promises to invest more in high quality early childhood education. We side transportation bill that although not as robust as I think he. Still allows states and local governments. Plan and actually. Get moving when people back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges. We got XM bank back to work supporting American exports and today they passed a bipartisan budget deal. I'm not wild about everything and it. I'm sure that's true for everybody but it is a budget that. As I insisted. Invest in our military and our middle class without ideological divisions that would. Weakened Wall Street reform or rules on big polluters. It's part of an agreement. That will permanently extend tax credits to point four million working families. That includes. Some long sought winds like strengthening America's leadership at the IMF. And because it eliminates the possibility that shut down for the first time. Or for the first nine months of next year congress and I have a long runway to get some important things done on behalf of the American people. Now there's still a lot of work to do. For example. There's still a lot more to congress could do to promote job growth and increase wages in this country. I still wanna work with congress both Democrats and Republicans to former criminal justice system. And earlier today I commuted the sentences of 95 men and women who had served their debt to society another. Step forward and upholding our fundamental ideals of justice and fairness. And of course our most important job is to keep Americans say. Had a lot to say about that this week but let me reiterate. The United States continues to lead a global coalition our mission to destroy axle. Pencils or lost about 40% of the populated areas once controlled in Iraq. And it's losing territory in Syria. As we keep up the pressure. Our air campaign will continue to hit iso harder than ever. Taking out their leaders commanders and their forces. Are stepping up our support for partners on the ground as they push myself back. Our men and women in uniform and carrying out their mission when it trademark professionalism courage. And this holiday season all of us are united in our gratitude for their service. And we are thankful to their families as well because they serve alongside. Those war actually deport. Squeezing hustles hard it's four in Syria and Iraq will make it harder. For them to pump their terror propaganda for the rest of the world. The same time as we know from San Bernardino. World visit with the legislative today. We have to remain vigilant here Paul. Our counterterrorism. Intelligence homeland security and law enforcement communities are working 24/7. To protect our homeland and all of us can do our part by staying vigilant. Saying something if we see something that is suspicious. By refusing to be terrorized and by stay united as one American family. In short. Roll very real progress America's made over the past seven years we still have some unfinished business and I plan on doing everything I can win. Every minute of every day that I have left as president to deliver on behalf the American people. At stake in this office I've never been more optimistic. About your head that I am right now and 4060 and I'm gonna leave. All on the field so with that we take some questions we'll start with Roberta are granted a work. President and how. Said earlier this week. It's. Similar Clinton's heart. Hit some lawmakers are saying thank you government should review or show me. Well avert you have to wait wait that. It is very difficult. For us to detect. Long wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife in this case. Because. Despite the incredible vigilance. And professionalism or law enforcement Homeland Security itself. It's not that different from us trying to protect the next match you. You don't always see if they're not always communicated publicly and if you're not. Catching what they say it publicly. Then it becomes challenge. We are continuing to work. At every level. To make sure that. There's no way up between. Information sharing among agencies. We're continuing to strengthen our information sure where foreign countries and because in part of the tragedy in Paris I think you're seeing much greater cooperation. From. Our European partners on these issues. But this is a different kind of challenge than the sort that we had waited. Organization like al-Qaeda. That. Involved. Highly trained operatives who world war as shells or as a network. Here essentially you have Beisel trying to encourage or induce somebody who. Maybe. Operator this kind of propaganda. And it becomes more difficult to to say. It does mean that they're less likely to be able to carry out large complex attacks. As we saw amber do you know obviously you can old. Do enormous damage. The issue of reviewing social media. For those who are obtaining visas I think may have gotten horrible world. Because they're there may be that it's important to distinguish between. Polls that are public social media on FaceBook page. Vs private communications. Through various. Social media or perhaps. And our. Law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly model for. Public polls and that is part he's a review process. That. That people are investigating. What individuals have said publicly. And question about any statements that they may be made. But if you have. A private communications between. Two individuals. That's harder to discern. By definition and one of the things will be doing isn't engaging way. The high tech community to find out how we can in an appropriate way. Do a better job if we have a lead. To be able to. Track of suspected terrorist. But we're gonna have to recognized that. No government is gonna have the capacity to lead every single person's text or emails or. Social media if it could not post it publicly. And they're going to be. Feasibility issues that are. That are probably insurmountable. At some level and raises questions about our values. Mean keep in mind it was only. A couple of years ago where we're having a major debate about whether the government was becoming too much like Big Brother. And overall I think we've struck the right balance in protecting civil liberties and making sure that. US citizens' privacy is preserved that we are. Making sure that there's oversight toward our intelligence agencies do. But. You know we're gonna have to continue to balance our needs for security with. People's legitimate concerns. About privacy and because the Internet is global and communications systems. Our global. You know the values that we. Apply here oftentimes. Or ones that. Folks who were trying to come into the country. Are also. Benefitted from because they're using the same technologies but this is precisely why were working very hard to bring law enforcement intelligence and high tech companies together because we're gonna have to really review what we can do both technically. As well it's consistent with our laws and our values in order to. Try to do or. More rapidly. Some of the potential threats that made via. David Jackson. I guess my question. Congressman pretty clear they're not. Prisoners United States for trial. Some people think you already have these or transfer of those bruising and closed gitmo itself next year. My question is do you believe you have that started arguing. First of all. We've been working systematically another example of systems. In reducing the population. We will review process those were eligible for transfer. We locate in countries that accepted some of these days detainees. They monitor them. And it's been determined that. They. Can be transfer. And my expectations by the early. By early next year we should have reduced that population below on. And we will continue. Continue to steadily chipped away that. The numbers in Guantanamo there's gonna come to a point where we have it here reduce global population people who pose a significant threat. But for various reasons. It's difficult for us to try them in the article record some of those folks are going through military commission process. But. Bit there's there's going to be challenged there now. At that stage I'm presenting a plan to congress about how we can close Guantanamo. I'm not going to. Automatically assume that congress has no. I'm not be imported David I think it's fair to say that there's going to be. Significant resistance from some quarters. Two that but I think we can make a very strong argument that does make sense for us. To be spending. An extra. 102030500. Billion dollars billion dollars. To have a a secure setting for. 506070. People and we will wait until congress. Has. Definitively. Said no to wait well thought out. Plan would numbers attached to it. Before. We. Anything definitive about my executive. Authority. I think it's. Far preferable. If I can get stuff done with congress. David as. And I think you've seen me on on a whole bunch issues like immigration. I'm not gonna. I'm not gonna be forward leaning on what I can do. Without congress before it tested what I can do what got us never wants a while we'll surprise. Patents and then this may be one of those places because I think we can make a really strong argument. Guantanamo. Continues to be one of the key magnets. For Jihad and recruit. The first question earlier about how do they propaganda isn't convinced. Somebody here in the United States who may not have a formal record or history of terrorist activities that start. Shooting. This is part of what they feed. This notion of gross injustice that America is not living up to its professed ideals. We know that we see the Internet traffic receive. How Guantanamo has been used. To create this mythology. America's at war within Islam and you know for us to close it is part of our counterterrorism strategy. That is supported by our military our diplomatic and our intelligence teams. So when you combine that with the fact that it's really expensive. That we are. Actually at this point detaining a handful. Of people. And each person is costing. Several million dollars. Two detained when there more efficient ways of doing it. I think we can make a strong argument I I I'm I'm but I'll take off you know all take your point that. It will be an uphill battle. Every battle we're congress over the last five years has been a film. But we keep on surprising him by actually gets stuck on an immigration sometimes sometimes that may prove necessary but here we try not to get out ahead of ourselves. Julie thanks. And rock. Having gone. And humiliated her and trying to push dictators out. Would you leave my future presidents to call for a third straight week. Syria is playing easier. That's for sure not presidency will outlast York's. You know. There's been a lot of revisionist history sometimes by the same people. Making different arguments depending on the situation. So. Maybe it's useful to us for us to go back over some of these issues. We did not oppose Hosni Mubarak. Millions of egyptians did because of their dissatisfaction. With the corruption and authoritarianism. The versioning we had a working relationship which. We can trigger beer spray. And the notion that somehow the US. Was in a position to pull the strings. A country. That is the largest in the Arab world I think business is mistaken. What is true is that at the point at which the choice becomes. Mowing down millions of people. Or trying to find some transition. We believed I would still argue that it was more sensible for us to find a peaceful transition. To the Egyptian situation. Would respect to Libya. Libya is. Sort of a alternative version. Syria in some ways. Because by the time the coal international coalition. Interceded in Syria. Chaos and our broken out. You are he had. The makings of a civil war you had a dictator who was threatening and was in a position to carry out. The wholesale slaughter. Large numbers of people. And we worked under UN. Mandate. Where they coalition of folks. In order to try to avert. Eight. Big humanitarian catastrophe. That would not have been good for us those who now argue in retrospect we should left Qaddafi and there. Seem to forget that. He had already lost an adjustment in control of this country and we could have instead of what we have Libya and now we could've had another area in Libya map. The problem with Libya was the fact that. There was a failure. On the part of the entire international community and I think that the United States has some accountability for. Not moving swiftly enough and underestimating. The need to rebuild. Government there quickly. And as a consequence you now have a very bad situation. And as far as Syria goes. I think it is entirely right and proper for the United States of America to speak out on behalf of his values. And when you have. An authoritarian leader that is. Killing. Hundreds of thousands of his own people. The notion that we would just stand by and say nothing. Is contrary to who we are and that does not serve our troops because at that point. Us being in collusion with the kind of governments. Would make us even more of a target for. Terrorist activity would. Right now. The reason that that I thought has been a problem in Syria. Is because. That is a majority. Sunni country. And he had lost. The basis that he had early on to execute an inclusive transition peaceful transition he chose instead. To slaughter people and once that happened. The idea that a minority population there could somehow. Crush. Tens of millions of people. Who oppose. Is. Not feasible it's not plausible. Even if you were. Being. Cold item hard hearted about. Human told there it just wouldn't happen. And as a consequence. Our view has been that you cannot bring. Peace to Syria you cannot get an end to the civil war. Unless you have a government that as it is recognized as legitimate by a majority of that country. It will not happen and this is the argument that I have had. Repeatedly would mr. proved. Dating five years ago. At which time. His suggestion as I gather some Republicans are now suggesting. Was it also it's not so bad let him just he has brutal repressive as he can but at least two people were. There's about the problem is. That. The history of trying to keep order when. These. Large majority of the country has turned against you is not good. And it five years later. I was right. So we now have an opportunity for. And John Kerry is meeting as we speak with Syria and Turkey on and the gulf countries and other parties were interest. We now have an opportunity. Not to turn back the clock it's going to be very difficult to completely. Overcome the devastation that's happened here are ready. But to find a political transition. That. Maintains the Syrian state. That recognizes. Their. A bunch of stakeholders are servicer. And hopefully. Took. Initiate. Cease fire that won't be perfect but allows all the parties turn on what should be our number one focus that is destroying. Dash. And its allies. In the region. And that is going to be a difficult process it's going to be a painstaking process but there is no shortcut to. And that's not based on. Some idealism on my part that is are hard headed calculation about what's been your report. To get the job done. Or eight power. Here. I think that Assad. Is going to have to. Leave in order for the country. To stop the bloodletting and four. All the parties involved to be able to. Move forward. And nonsectarian way I've. He has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country now is there a way of a constructive. Bridge. Creating a political transition. That. Allow us those were alive with a right. Allows the Russians was real audience to a insure that they are equities are respected. Minorities. Like the Al whites I'm not. Crushed. Or retribution is not the order of the day I think that's going to be very important as well and and that's what makes this so difficult. Sadly. Had a sob made the vision earlier that he was not more important. Personally that his entire country. I kind of political transition would've been much easier it's a lot harder now. But John Kerry's been doing some excellent work and moving that process forward and I do think. That you seem from the Russians. A recognition that after a couple of months. They're not really moving the needle that much in despite. Sizable performance here. And of course that's what. I just it would. Because. There's only so much bombing you can do. Why am I an entire country is outraged. And believes that. It's really doesn't represent. Sure bowl. Paul Ryan. He's been dynamic. We. No. It can't you be more auditions next year. Well first of all. It's important give credit where credit this group John Boehner. Did a favor. To. All of us including now speaker writer by working with us to agree on top line budget for him. That was the basis for subsequent negotiations. He was able to do that because he was going out the door and was then given I think a little more. Room to maneuver. Then he previously had. Having said that. I also wanna give speaker right credit called both him and management policy rules and as a Pelosi and Harry Reid for. The orderly way in which they actually negotiated a budget. The way congress is. Historically typically supposed to work and then we've gotten kind of used. Last minute crises and shut down threats and so forth and does this news a messy process that doesn't satisfy their body completely but it's more typical of American democracy. And I think that speaker line deserves a roll about I will say that in his interactions with me. He has been professional he has reached out. To tell me what he can do what he. Cannot do. I think it's. Good working relationship we recognize that we disagree on a whole bunch of other stuff and I have fundamentally different visions for where we want to move the country by. Perhaps because even before he was elected he would worked on Capitol Hill I think he is respectful of the process. And respectful of how. Legislation works so. Kudos to him as what was all the leaders and appropriators were involved in this process. Just. Want a repeat because sometimes we take for granted. What's happened. I said. Early on in this process that I wasn't gonna sign. A budget that. That did not relieve sequester this artificial. Austerity that was making it difficult for us to invest in things like education and our military. And I that I would not accept a lot of ideological riders that were. Attached to a big budget deal. And we've met our goals and because. Some terrific negotiations by. The Democrats up on Capitol Hill and I think some pretty good work by a legislator assess here we're going to be able to fund. Environmental protection. We're going to be able to make sure that. We're investing in things like early childhood education and making college more affordable. We're going to be able to implement we keep it clean power plant rule. We're gonna be able to continue to invest in clean energy. That spurs on innovation. We're gonna be able to make sure that our military. Gets the equipment and the training. That it needs in order to be effective in fighting. A slew of other threats around the world so. It was. It was a good point and there are some things in their that I don't like but. That's the nature of legislation and and compromise and I think the system worked bad. It gives me. It's some optimism. That next year on the narrow set of issues. We can get some more work now as David said it's an election and obviously a lot of the legislative process is going to be skewed by people looking over the shoulders worrying about primary. Trying to position themselves. Relative to the presidential candidates. So that makes it harder. But I think they're going to be a handful of areas where we can make real progress one of them your dimension. Trans Pacific partnership. Which now has been out congress has had a chance to view. And it meets the bar that I sent. It is can sister was what I promise which is the most pro labor. Pro environment progressive. Trade deal in history. Eliminates. I just about every terror on American manufacturing goods in countries that up until this point have charged that tax essentially on. Anything that American workers American businesses selling these errors that brings those taxes down to zero. On basically all American. Manufacture products a huge win for agriculture because now. You know the people of Japan are going to be in a better position to enjoy American beef. American port which up until this point. Even though we're much more efficient producers as. Been tagged with a tax that makes. It you know our products uncompetitive in Japanese market so there's a big deal I think speaker arrived. What would like to try to get it done. And they're both proponents and opponents of this in both democratic and Republican. Parties and so it's going to be an interesting. Situation where we're gonna have to stitch together the same kind of bipartisan effort in order for us to get it up. A second area that I think it is possible it is. Criminal justice. There has been sincere. Serious negotiations and efforts by Democrats and Republicans. To create. A criminal just a system that is more fair. More evenhanded more proportionate. And is smarter about how we reduce crime. And I've really been impressed by the dedication. Or group. Democrats and Republicans some of them the most Liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans coming together. Saying this is the right thing to do we've got a good bill in the senate. That. Passed with bipartisan support out of committee my hope is that that gets to the floor. And that we compare it up with a good bill out of the house and then this is an area where you potentially it can see. Save money. Reduce recidivism. You make sure that people who make a mistake on nonviolent crimes. Have to pay the price have to serve time but. Are released in in a reasonable fashion that they have more support so that the less likely to go back into the criminal system. Subsequently. And that's an area where I think we may be able to make big difference so those are just two examples. We'll keep on looking for a number examples like Brad. And and wherever there's an opportune them and take. Oprah. Oprah. Is one thing already. These tires that it was. Potentially a turning point for the world this book that deal that was that is not a legally binding documents kind bunch of congress pretty much completely. Are you worried at this point that's a Republican president you might take over front in the White House could stop the deal in its tracks and finally. And considering that possibility. You or interest in campaigning full. Democratic nominee. And I think. I think Astros going to be campaign for democratic nominee. Even without that game. And I am very confident that. We're gonna have. But terrific democratic nominee. And was photos guys kimono. Somebody you recognize your rent don't be embarrassed just turned. Very go. OK but I still here. It they're soft enough. I think we will have a strong democratic nominee I think that democratic nominee will win I think I will have a double. Critics successful and how campaigned very hard to make that have control variety reasons because. Their farm more likely to share my fundamental vision about where America should go. But having said that what I think. People should also feel good about. Is that. The agreement struck in Paris. Although not legally binding when it comes to. The targets that have been said. Does. Create this architecture. In which all around the world. Countries are saying this is where we're all. We're going to be chasing after this clean energy future. This is how we're gonna meet our goals we're gonna. Double down on solar power we're gonna double down on when power we're gonna. Invest. More heavily and and and biofuels we're gonna figure out battery technologies. And what you saw on this budget. Which. I think was really significant was an extension. The solar. Tax credits and when tax credits that we have. Helped really boost early on in my administration and that resulted in. When power increasing threefold. Solar power increasing by twenty fold. Those tax credits are now going to be extended. 45. To seven years. And as a consequence. That combination market signals means that the private sector is gonna start investing much more heavily they know this is common. And is not just coming here it's coming around the world. We now have a global marketplace. For clean energy that is. Stable and accelerating. Over the course the next decade. That then creates. Different dynamic. That is independent. What congress does but also helped shape what congress does because the more people that are now getting jobs in solar. Installation and production the more that. You have. Companies. Who are. Seeing how American innovation can sell products. In clean energy all across Asia Pacific. In Europe Africa. Suddenly there's a big monetary incentive to getting this right. That and that's been the history. Of environmental progress in this country and now we've exported around the world every time we've made a decision. You know what we're gonna have cleaner. The predictions were everything would fall apart. And lo and behold. It turns up the. American integration makes getting clean air a lot less expensive than people expected that happens a lot faster expert. When we made a decision. That we were going double fuel efficiency standards on cars. For myself has gone wrong the American auto industry of America officers involved. In the last couple years. Acid rain. When George H. W. Bush instituted. A system to a charge for. The emissions to work causing acid rain or mercy what you can do that that's gonna ruin business and it turned out it was smoother faster quicker. Better. An acid rain. Folks who were born. Some are you reporters are getting younger and or I'm getting older may not remember but that was a big deal about it most folks very remembered anymore. Because it got salt. And there's no reason why the same won't happen here now do I think that there's going to be a lot of noise and campaigning. Next year about how we're gonna. Stop. If Paris in its tracks. They're prior view a lot of noise like that do I actually think that. Two years from now three years from now. Even Republican. Members of congress and look at and say that's the Smart thing to do. I don't think they will keep in mind that right now. The American Republican Party is the only major party. That I can think of India. Advanced world. That. Effectively denies climate change permits and outlaws. That. Many of the key. Signatories. To this deal. Architects of this deal come from Centre right government's. Even the far right parties and many of these countries. That they may not like immigrants for example what great. Admit besides he tells us we get your son mark partridge. So I might sensors is that. You know this is something that. Made. Be an advantage in terms of short term politics and Republican primary it's not something. Is going to be a winner. For Republicans want to. Leadership is an embarrassing to use us the other party. Denies climate change just because first of all. For as long remember that part of second of all it didn't stop us from. Being the key leader in getting this done. I mean this is something I've been working on now 456. Years. Went when I went to cope and if. It essentially engaged in 24 hours of diplomacy to salvage from a pretty chaotic. Process. The basic principle that all countries have to purchase Vick we could have a rigid division between developed countries and developing countries when it came to solving this problem. That was the initial foundation. For us then. Working with the other countries culminating in. The joint announcement with China bringing in India bringing in Brazil and the other big emerging countries. Working with the Europeans and getting this done this would not have happened without. American leadership. And by the way the same is true for. The Iran nuclear deal the same is true for the trans Pacific partnership. The same is true for stamping out a bowl. Something you guys may recall from last year. Which was. The potential into the world. Yell at each juncture. What we've said is is that. American strength and American. Exceptional. Is not just a matter for us bombing somebody. More often it's a matter of us convening. Setting the agenda. Pointing. Other nations in that direction that's good for everybody. And good for US interests. Engaging in painstaking diplomacy leading by example. And sometimes the results don't come. Overnight they'll come. The following day. But. They come and and this year what you really saw was that steady. Persistent leadership. Tunnel on many initiatives that I began. When I first. Came in office. All right I've got to. Right. This is it also. Your administration. I think this 5%. What legislation and supporting this mythic. That's meant incarceration. Country and it won't. Issues that are thought. Well. Were gonna defeat ices. And we're gonna do so by systematically. Squeezing them. Cutting off their supply lines cutting off their financing. Taking out their leadership taking out their forces. Taking out their infrastructure. We're gonna do so in partnership with forces on the ground that sometimes are spotty. Sometimes need capacity building need our assistance need our training. But we're seeing steadily progress. In many of these areas. And so they're going to be on the run now they are gonna continue to be dangerous so so let me just be very clear. Because. Whenever I say bet we have made progress in and squeezing. The territory that they control or. You know made real inroads against them. What people will say as well if something happens around the world then obviously that must not be true. But in any battle in any fight. Even as you make progress. They're still dangerous and evil and I souls capacity. Both to infiltrate. Western countries. Wit people who travel to Syria or traveled to Iraq. And having us of their social media of their ability to. Recruit. Does affected individuals. Who may be. French war. British or even US citizens will continue to make them dangerous for quite some time but but but but we wolf systematically go after them now. In order for us. To stamp them out thorough. We have to eliminate. Lawless areas. In which they cannot still won't. So we can we can disable them weakened. Dismantle. Much of their infrastructure. Greatly reduce the threat they pose to. The United States are allies and our neighbors. But in the same way that al-Qaeda. Is pinned down and has much more difficult to carry out. Any significant attacks because of how we've systematically. Dismantled them they still poses threat there's still. Operatives who were interested in carrying out terrorist attacks. Because they still operate in areas. Between fact artists on Afghanistan or. More prominently right now in Yemen that are hard to reach. Our our long term goal has to be able to stabilize these areas so that they don't have any safe. And in order for us to do that in Syria. There has to be in into the oval. In there has to be an actual government. That has a police capacity in the structure and these areas that currently. Our government. And it is my firm belief and the belief. Experts in this administration that so long as Assad is there. We cannot achieve that kind of stability. In our series. And. I think the history over the last. Several years. Indicates as much. So that's gonna continue to be. A top priority for us moving aggressively on the military truck and not letting us we'll take a breath. And and and pounding away at them. When our special forces and our air strikes and training and advising workers who can go after them. But. We also keep very aggressive on this diplomatic for a day in order for us to bring countries together right. Everybody. All pro just before my I answer the question I'm hopeful. I woke up or. And therefore what I said was that I strongly support the senate legislation that sort of been put forward I'm hopeful that the house. Can come up with legislation. That follows the same principles which is to make sure that were doing. Sentencing reform. But we're also doing a better job in terms. You know reducing recidivism and providing support for ex offenders. If we can get those two bills together in a conference and I'm. Somewhat optimistic there were mailed to make a difference now keep in mind. April when you used the term mass incarceration. Statistically. The overwhelming majority of people who were incarcerated. Are in straight. Prisons and state facilities for straight crimes. We can only focus on federal law and federal crimes and so there are still going to be. A large. Population. Individuals were incarcerated even for nonviolent drug crimes because. This is a trend that started in. The late eighty's and ninety's and accelerated. The state levels but. If we can and show. That the federal. There we can be Smart on crime more cost effective. More just more proportionate. Then we can sort of trend for other states. To follow as well and that's our hope this is not going to be sorry that's reversed overnight. So just to go back to my general principle it what it took. Twenty years. For us to get to the point we are now. And Obi. Twenty years probably before we burst we reverse some of these major troops. Okay error but I gotta get to stop. The orders indicate they still have questions. But the president walks away from the lecture. He waved to them in effect happy holidays Merry Christmas waves again he will be leaving the briefing room. Campus smile and a wave live coverage from CBS news. Let's turn to our White House correspondent Pam Coulter the president spent nearly an hour an opening statement then some. Some questions that he was answering a lot of this had to do with terrorism. Not a whole lot of news but. But a few nuggets Pam. Idea and really big news but he did say that officials are already monitoring social media and reviewing these applications. That of course is significant because. The woman terrorist in the San Bernardino attack got in on a K one or fiance visa. He did say the hard part RB is the apps that terrorists used to hide communications. And he would work with the tech industry to see what can be done about it. He said he still plans to close the Guantanamo prison and he will try to work with congress on that. Annie announced a more commutations. 95 the most ever and a day mostly for nonviolent. Drug offenses and that's part of a push he's gonna happen next year for criminal justice reform. Did he said he's he's basically rejecting the lame duck status still saying that in 2016 he would leave it all out on the field. Meaning he feels he has a lot to do CBS news White House correspondent Pam Coulter you'll be hearing a lot more from her. In our news at the top of the hour on your local radio stations also on the free app for your Smartphone. CBS radio news one other out the president said he does plan to do everything he can. To make sure that a Democrat. Is elected president in 2016. Indicating he intends to campaign. He did not name who the democratic candidate might be this has been a CBS news special report the end of year news conference by President Obama. With Pam Coulter at the White House I'm Dan ruby.