Obama pauses vacation for White House meetings on situations in Iraq, Ferguson

Islamic Extremism

US President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder speak on the situation in Ferguson, Mo. prior to a meeting in the Oval Office August 18, 2014. Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb

U.S. President Barack Obama returned Sunday night from his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to attend meetings on two crises he has been managing from afar: attempts to reclaim a critical dam in northern Iraq and quelling the racially tinged riots in Ferguson, Mo. after the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

Obama met with his National Security Team Monday morning, including Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Lisa Monaco, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications and speech-writer Ben Rhodes, and Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration Michael Dempsey. National Security Advisor Susan Rice joined via teleconference.

The meeting comes just as the U.S. military launched 15 airstrikes near the dam in Mosul, Iraq. The dam supplies all the water and electricity for northern Iraq and was been taken by the Islamic militant group, the Islamic State, on August 7th.

Obama sent a letter to the U.S. Congress informing them of his authorization of the airstrikes on Sunday, calling the dam a “critical infrastructure site,” adding that a failure of the dam would affect U.S. personnel and facilities down river, including the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Baghdad.

Obama said the strikes were “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States,” but also assured Congress that the strikes would be “limited in scope and duration.”

Also Monday morning, Islamic State spokesperson and senior leader Abu Mohammed al-Adnani was designated a U.S. State Department’s Specially Designated Global Terrorist, which prevents any American parties from conducting business with him, and freezes all property he has within U.S. borders.

A U.S. State Department statement indicates that al-Adnani will also be added to the United Nations al-Qaeda sanctions list, requiring all member states to implement assets freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo against him.

Photo of President Obama Aug. 18, 2014 by CCTV America's Jessica Stone.

Photo of President Obama Aug. 18, 2014 by CCTV America’s Jessica Stone.

“We will continue to pursue a long term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL,” Obama said later on Monday at a press conference.

“There’s no excuse for excessive force by police,” he said a few minutes later, referring to the situation in Ferguson. “Ours is a nation of laws.”


Obama also met Monday afternoon with the top U.S. attorney, Attorney General Eric Holder, to get an update on the Justice Department’s investigation into the racially-tinged police killing of an African-American teenager.

An independent autopsy shows 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head. Over the weekend, violent protests and looting worsened, causing Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to call in National Guard troops early Monday to help. He has also imposed a midnight to 5 a.m., local time, curfew.


The Justice Department ordered a second autopsy of Michael Brown, Sunday by a federal medical examiner.

Report was compiled with information from The Associated Press.