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Obama to pay respects in San Bernardino before Hawaiian vacation

  • President Barack Obama arrived to speak at a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives in Washington on Tuesday. The White House said Obama plans to meet with families of victims of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. on Friday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON » Continuing a grim ritual of his time in office, President Barack Obama plans to meet with families of victims of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the White House said today.

The meeting in Southern California is set for Friday. It was added to Obama’s long-scheduled trip to Hawaii for Christmas vacation.

“While he is en route to Honolulu, the president will stop in San Bernardino, California, to visit privately with the families of the victims of the terror attack in San Bernardino that occurred earlier this month,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Fourteen people were killed and 21 others were injured at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 by a gun-wielding husband-and-wife team. Federal authorities say the pair had become self-radicalized in the years before Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire on Farook’s co-workers. The couple was killed during a subsequent shootout with police.

During a televised address in the anxious days after the shootings, Obama said authorities had found no evidence that the American-born Farook and his Pakistani wife had carried out instructions from an overseas-based terrorist organization or that they were part of a broader conspiracy based in the U.S.

“But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.”

The shootings closely followed the Nov. 13 attack on Paris that left 130 people dead and for which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

Both attacks have heightened public fears about future attacks on U.S. soil, concerns that Obama has tried to allay with the rare Oval Office address on administration efforts to counter the threat from the Islamic State group, as well as a series of public appearances by the president this week.

Obama met with his national security team at the Pentagon on Monday, instead of their usual location in the White House Situation Room. He followed the meeting with a public update on the effort to counter IS, saying the U.S. and its partners were going after the group “harder than ever.” Obama also plans to visit to the National Counterterrorism Center in suburban Virginia on Thursday for an annual, pre-holiday briefing that in past years has been held at the White House.

The pair of attacks has also led to calls for tighter visa screenings for people entering the U.S. and for the immigrant brides-to-be of American citizens. Malik came to the U.S. in 2014 on a K-1, or fiancee visa. Obama has also called on Congress to pass legislation to block firearm sales to people whose names are on the federal no-fly list for air travel.

Obama has vowed to call for new gun-control measures after every mass shooting. The White House is considering acting to expand gun background checks without congressional approval.

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said last week that the president has asked his team for a proposal soon. She said the recommendations will include measures to expand background checks.

Friday’s stop will be the latest in a grim ritual Obama has performed since taking office seven years ago: visiting communities stricken by deadly mass shootings to offer solace to grieving relatives, beginning with the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas near the end of his first year.

Most recently, in October, Obama met privately with families of the victims after a student gunman killed eight students and a teacher at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., before turning the gun on himself.

During a previously scheduled trip to Paris last month to attend an international climate conference, Obama laid a rose at a memorial outside a concert hall where many of the victims in that attack were killed.

The first family is scheduled to arrive late Friday or early Saturday for their annual two-week vacation in Hawaii over the holidays.

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  • Wonder if O feels guilty about prohibiting his DHS from checking Social Media on the woman jihadist killer..if he allowed the common sense vetting this would never have happened…14 people would still be alive and no injuries to talk about.

    • It’s all about PR with Barry. He probably heard people asking why he could plan a vacation yet didn’t go to San Bernardino to offer his condolences. Valerie J. probably told him it’s something he needed to do before arriving to play with Bobby.

    • The comment is based on a bogus Fox News version of the San Bernadino terrorists’ use of social media, the FBI said on Wednesday that suspected San Bernardino, Calif., shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik did not express their support for jihad publicly on social media, potentially undercutting efforts to ramp up surveillance of foreign travelers’ online presences.

      FBI Director James Comey told reporters that there was “no evidence of a posting on social media by either of them” to reflect that they had been radicalized. The communications instead were “direct, private messages,” the FBI head said during a news conference in New York.

      “I’ve seen some reporting on that and that’s a garble.”

    • No hon..this was corrected by the national media today. The Jihadists did not communicate on social media but on private email accounts. O is in no way to blame and he does not feel guilty. He is paying homage to those killed and wounded.

    • After repeated criticism about visiting the Black families shooting sites immediately after the incidents and not visiting San Bernardino immediatly, on advise from his chief counsel Valerie Jarett, will visit the 14 families to express the Nation’s condolences on Friday on his way to Hawaii for his annual X-mas vacation. What the article is intimating is that without the prodding he may have opted not visit them?? Strange.

      • Valerie J. is more than a senior advisor to the President and the First Lady. She’s closer than family and always has his ear. The one person he will always make time for and listen to. So, if that’s what it took to get him there, good for her.

  • I’m guessing the Ted Cruz, who has boasted about winning the endorsement of someone who has called for abortion providers to be executed, won’t be there. Nor will Carly Fiorina be there to apologize for her role in spreading the baby parts lie.

  • The first family is scheduled to arrive late Friday or early Saturday for their annual two-week vacation in Hawaii over the holidays. The question is: Will they travel on the same aircraft or in separate planes as they have done so many times? After all, we do not want to inconvenience Michelle and her entourage by a stop in California, do we?

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