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Fighting Terrorism with American Values

Today the Administration released a report showing how we’ve applied the rule of law to and increased transparency to keep Americans safe.

In our roles as White House Counsel and Deputy National Security Advisor, we have seen firsthand the seriousness with which national security lawyers in the Executive Branch have approached their work and the degree to which their careful analysis informs deliberations at the highest levels of government.  We have also seen how the world's evolving threats can pose difficult questions for the President and his national security team that compel examination of the laws, values, and traditions that remain the source of our nation's greatest strength.


Today, the Administration put out a report that reflects eight years of sustained work by the Administration to answer these questions in a way that ensures that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within legal and policy frameworks that are lawful, effective, and consistent with our national interests and values.  The report puts in one place a description of some of the legal and policy frameworks that have previously been conveyed across numerous speeches, public statements, reports, and other materials, including those that apply to overseas uses of military force, as well as to the capture, detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.


In addition to serving as a repository for articulating these frameworks, the report is a reflection of the President's steadfast commitment to being as transparent as possible with the American people about how their government is using military force on their behalf.  In a Foreword, the President underscores a message he delivers regularly to all of us on his team: Even as it can be challenging at times to talk openly about these types of national security activities, doing so where possible is ultimately critical "to reinforcing the process of democratic decision-making, to demonstrating the legitimacy of our actions, and to reinforcing our relationships with our allies and partners."


The threats in the world will continue to change, and the U.S. response to them will continue to adapt.  It is our hope that the report being issued today informs the American public about how these critical issues are being addressed by their government.  That is why the White House is releasing a Presidential Memorandum that not only calls for the creation of today's report but also envisions that the National Security Council staff will coordinate an update of it for public release at least annually.


Neil Eggleston is Counsel to the President.

Avril Haines is Deputy National Security Advisor.