Obama addresses Syria crisis, Boston bombing investigation - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Obama addresses Syria crisis, Boston bombing investigation

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Speaking at his third news conference of the year, President Barack Obama answered reporter questions about the crisis in Syria, Guantanamo Bay, Homeland Security and even the NBA's Jason Collins.

On Syria, Obama says the United States doesn't know how or when chemical weapons were used in Syria or who used them. The president said he's got to make sure he has the facts before deciding how to respond to evidence that chemical weapons were used.

Obama has said there is "some evidence" that President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons against his people. But he said that's a preliminary assessment based on intelligence information.

Obama repeated his statement that the use of chemical weapons would be a "game changer" in the region. But he said the international community has to be completely confident in the assessment.

Meantime, for the second day in a row, there's been fear and chaos in a busy commercial district of Syria's capital, Damascus. A powerful bomb rocked the area today, and Syrian TV says 13 people were killed. Seventy others were hurt. Monday, a few miles away, Syria's prime minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after a car bomb struck near his convoy.

Homeland Security

President Barack Obama says a national security review following the Boston Marathon bombings will look at whether there is more the government can do to stop people within the United States who might become radicalized and plan terror attacks.

One of the dangers the U.S. faces now, Obama said, is people who might decide to attack because of "whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have."

Obama said that based on what he's seen so far, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security did what they were supposed to before the attack.

But he said the review was needed to find out whether more can be done to prevent this type of attack by people within the United States who may become radicalized.

"This is hard stuff," he said.

Guantanamo Bay

The president also said he's going to try again to close down the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama says he's asked a team of officials to review the issue and will take it back to Congress again. The president said he's not surprised there are problems at the facility, where 100 of the 166 inmates are on a hunger strike.

Obama ordered the detention center closed upon taking office, but Congress thwarted him and made it harder to move prisoners elsewhere. Releases and transfers have since become rare, giving detainees little hope of ever being released.

Jason Collins

The president was turning to leave when a reporter asked him what he thought about NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay Monday. The president came back to the podium to take the question.

Obama says he spoke to Collins on Monday and "he seems like a terrific young man." I told him I couldn't be prouder. "One of the extraordinary measures of progress that we've seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality, not just partial equality. Not just tolerance but a recognition that they're fully a part of the American family. Given the important of sports in our society for an individual who's excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports saying 'this is who I am, I'm proud of it, I'm still a great competitor. I'm still seven foot tall and can bang with Shaq and deliver a hard foul.'"

"For a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that who's unafraid, it's a great thing. I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. Everybody's part of the family and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance and not their sexual orientation," said Obama.

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