Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday, on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, to share the highlights of his strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, the militant group that recently executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria and has terrorized civilians in Syria and Iraq.

“We continue to face a terrorist threat,” President Obama said from the White House. “We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain.”

Obama told the nation on Wednesday night that he plans to deploy 475 additional troops to Iraq.

“As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment,” he said. “We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.”

On Wednesday, as he did in a speech urging action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad one year ago, Obama aimed to reassure Americans that the actions taken to degrade a threat to the U.S. would not lead to a ground war similar to those the U.S. got involved in in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities,” Obama said. “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States.”

Although the president said he has the authority to directly address the threat posed by the terrorist group, he emphasized, “I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

Here’s what you need to know about the president’s plan:

AMPING UP AIRSTRIKES

- The president vowed to expand the air campaign beyond its original two missions: protecting Americans and providing humanitarian aid. Instead, airstrikes will be used a part of a broader effort to roll back ISIS in Iraq.

- The military will not be constrained by the Syrian border, Obama said.

- “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said, warning terrorists, “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

- The administration will work with the Department of Defense to develop and advance whatever options are necessary to take targeted action wherever ISIS is – whether in Iraq or Syria.

STRENGHTENING TROOPS

- The president plans to send an additional 475 U.S. service members to Iraq to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces there. Troops will build on the work of assessment teams already in place in Baghdad and Erbil, teams embedded with Iraqi security forces, and existing surveillance assets, but will not be introduced into combat.

- He will call for Congress to authorize and resource a train-and-equip mission for Syrian opposition. We have support from key countries in this effort. The president spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on this subject Wednesday.

PREVENTING TERROR

- The U.S. will draw on a range of counter-terrorism tactics to prevent attacks on the homeland.

- It will also take steps to counter ISIS’ “warped” ideology, Obama vowed.

- President Obama aimed to make clear that ISIS is neither “Islamic” nor a “state.” He pointed out that ISIS began as an al Qaeda affiliate, and that “it is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

- The U.S. will work to stem the flow of fighters traveling to and from the region.

PROTECTING CIVILIANS

- In the interest of protecting ancient communities, such as Iraqi Christians, the United States’ humanitarian efforts will continue, Obama said.

“It will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” the president admitted on Wednesday. “Any time we take military action there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.”

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to address the nation Wednesday night in a major speech laying out his most detailed plan yet to confront the vexing problem of ISIS, the militant group that executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria and terrorized civilians in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

“Tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama will tell the American people, according to advanced excepts of his remarks provided by the White House.

The speech comes exactly one year after another pivotal presidential speech urging targeted military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly used chemical weapons against his own people.

As he did one year ago, Obama will also seek to allay the concerns of war-weary Americans that this will not be a long-term commitment of troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” the president will say.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Ahead of his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Obama met with his national security team in the Situation Room.

Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, among others.

No other details were provided on the meeting, which was closed to the press.

Obama will outline his strategy for dealing with ISIS, the militant group that has executed two American journalists and terrorized civilians in Iraq and nearby Syria, in a major address to the American people Wednesday at 9 p.m.

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Allison Joyce/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., sent a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday asking the NFL to answer questions about its handling of the Ray Rice case, including questions about the video showing the running back punching his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel elevator.

“After viewing both the shocking video and your interview on broadcast television, I am extremely concerned given the resources of the NFL that not one person within your organization knew anything about the existence of the elevator video before it surfaced on September 8th. The security of the NFL is first rate and your qualified security professionals hold those positions due in part to their ability to obtain facts quickly and accurately through their expansive network,” Heller wrote in the letter.

“I fear the failure of the NFL to understand the scope and severity of this act of domestic violence has already led to significant damage for vulnerable members of society. Moreover, I am highly disappointed the NFL’s reaction was only heightened once the public witnessed the elevator video. By waiting to act until it was made public you effectively condoned the action of the perpetrator himself. I cannot and will not tolerate that position by anybody let alone the National Football League,” he continued.

Heller goes on to ask Goodell to respond to the following questions:

  1. “Please provide me a detailed explanation regarding your actions in response to the acts of domestic violence conducted by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
  2. Please provide all information regarding whether anyone in the NFL knew about the elevator video, if so, when did they know, who did they tell and why did it not get to you.
  3. Please provide your process for determining whether a player has violated NFL rules and is subject to suspension when arrested for domestic violence.
  4. Please outline your plans to address the harm your league has inflicted on survivors of domestic violence going forward.”

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A letter sent by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday urged Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to, “use [his] authority to protect undocumented individuals and families as soon as possible.”

The USCCB specifically asked Johnson to authorize deferred action for select groups of immigrants, including those with strong community ties in the U.S. who have lived in the country for 10 years or longer, those who are parents of U.S. citizens, parents of recipients of deferred action for childhood arrivals, and individuals residing in the U.S. with approved family and employment petitions.

“With immigration reform stalled in Congress,” the USCCB wrote, “our nation can no longer wait to end the suffering of family separation caused by our broken immigration system.”

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama plans to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution requiring a crackdown on foreign fighters joining terror groups like ISIS.

A National Security Council official told ABC News on Tuesday that Obama hopes the U.N. Security Council could require countries to clamp down on foreign fighters’ travel through means including seizing passports. Additionally, he would like those foreign nations to share information with Interpol.

The National Security Council official says that any violation of such a resolution could then be enforceable under chapter seven of the U.N. Charter, entitled “Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of Peace and Acts of Aggression.”

Obama will chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sept. 24 in New York, the first time a U.S. President will do so since 2009. He is expected to seek the resolution during that meeting.

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the Pentagon’s Congressionally-mandated program providing local police departments with access to surplus military gear, an issue that arose after the tense standoffs between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri last month.

Since 1990, when Congress allowed the transfers as a means of helping police forces thwart drug dealers, $5.1 billion in property has been provided to local police departments. Among the equipment given to local police over the life of the program are 44,000 night vision devices, 5,200 Humvees, 617 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles and 92,000 small arms.

During the course of the hearing, many Congressional leaders questioned whether the program was doing more harm than good. “Those lawful, peaceful protesters on that Wednesday afternoon in Ferguson, Missouri, did not deserve to be treated like enemy combatants,” Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-S.C. argued that the program had “gotten out of control,” while noting that bayonets are available under the program.

A Pentagon acquisition official responded to Paul, confirming that bayonets are available under the program, but said he was unable to explain why local police forces would need bayonets. “I can give you an answer,” Paul responded: “None.”

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for Senate as a Republican in Louisiana, owes him a “big time” apology, after Cassidy accused him of running the Senate “like a plantation.”

“With all the things going on in America today, that’s fairly insensitive. That’s really insensitive, very insensitive and if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?”

Cassidy, the Republican front-runner challenging Democratic three-term incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in this year’s midterm election, was quoted comparing Reid to a plantation owner in an article published Tuesday morning by Environment & Energy News.

“So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,’” Cassidy said of Reid.

Though Cassidy is hardly the first Republican to speak critically of the majority leader, who has become a lightning rod for Republican discontent with the Democratic-controlled Senate, the racial implications behind Cassidy’s comment escalated the rhetoric to a new level.

But Cassidy stood by his accusation against Reid, saying that offense should instead be taken from Reid’s leadership of the Senate.

“I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse,” Cassidy told ABC News in a statement. “Any other interpretation of my remarks is a false controversy designed to distract attention from policies which are demonstrably crushing jobs and taking our country in the wrong direction.”

Tea Party candidate Rob Maness, also running against Landrieu and Cassidy in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” this November, called on Cassidy to apologize and called Cassidy’s comment “ignorant.”

“Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize,” Maness said in a statement emailed to reporters. “It’s this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party. We need to be better than that.”

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