Kerry: clarifying drone policy, closing Gitmo 'vital' to building trust in America

Today President Obama laid out a clear vision to help ensure that we are meeting the ever-evolving threats to our national security at home and abroad. The struggle against extremism has evolved enormously in the nearly 12 years since 9/11 and so too must our defenses, but the danger is not new.

We fly our flag high because we are a symbol of hope to people everywhere, but that too has been a target for those who know only hate. The memorial wall in the lobby of the State Department is a sober, solemn, and daily reminder of our duty to protect the people who have taken up the mantle of promoting peace in sometimes-dangerous lands. On my first day as Secretary, a suicide bomber attacked our embassy in Ankara killing a local guard, and of course, last September we lost Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans who were forcing light in the darkness. But still, for our mission to succeed, we cannot retreat behind higher walls.

Diplomacy and security are not at cross purposes. Our flag must continue to fly because we show up in the places where others won’t go. We will not back down in the face of violent extremism – because perseverance is in our diplomatic DNA. Building people to people relationships is in our national interest because it means we can solve problems before they turn into ‘boots on the ground’ crises. As we build trust, it will be necessary to make clear our criteria for deploying drones overseas and to finish the work of closing the Guantanamo detention center. These are vital objectives in showing the world that we are who we say we are.

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