Go to the Original or Primary Sources: or the Importance of Checking for Oneself.

January 29, 2010

I had originally planned on writing about President Obama's State of the Union Address but a severe toothache, tooth extraction, and a week of anti-biotics and Vicodin ES have all conspired to delay me. In my rush to catch up on a lost week, I almost made a basic methodological error. Instead of going to the original source, that is the full transcript of the President's Address, I turned to, and almost used, some secondary sources, that is various Web pundits and their analyses. One of the latter claimed that President Obama said," [n]othing about the spate of terrorist attacks that have gripped our country since the fall, from the Fort Hood shooting to the Christmas bombing attempt. Simply, not a word about the war on terror." Leaving aside the hyperbole of "a spate of terrorist attacks", let us see for ourselves, here is an excerpt from Obama's SOTU, "That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We have made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence. We have prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed - far more than in 2008." Not a word on terror?