Obama seeks Congress’ authorization of war on ISIS

U.S. President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Tuesday he is committed to working with them on a text to authorize the use of military force against ISIS militants, the White House said.

Obama met with top congressional leaders at the White House earlier in the day.

“The president also underscored the importance of our diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, reiterating his strong opposition to additional sanctions legislation that could derail the negotiations and isolate the United States from our international coalition,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

Obama also urged lawmakers to fund the Department of Homeland Security without delay and to pass legislation to combat cybersecurity threats, it said.

Obama says recent cyberthreats to Sony and the military’s U.S. Central Command are reminders of the serious threats facing the U.S.

Obama unveiled a proposal for cybersecurity legislation at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center just outside Washington, calling the threats “an enormous challenge.”

Obama says cybercriminals are doing as much damage – or more – than traditional criminals.

He says the U.S. is making progress, but attackers are also getting more sophisticated

Obama says the U.S. must be “upping our game.” The legislation would increase information-sharing between companies and the government about cyberthreats.

Separately, the administration also tempered its views on caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, refusing to criticize a satirical French magazine for publishing such images less than a week after a deadly attack on its headquarters.

Previously, the United States has criticized depictions of the Prophet while defending free speech rights.

In 2006, the Bush administration described such cartoons in a Danish newspaper as “offensive,” likening them to anti-Semitic and anti-Christian imagery.

In 2012, the Obama administration questioned the judgment of Charlie Hebdo for similar depictions and said they could be “inflammatory.”

But the State Department refused to criticize new Charlie Hebdo cartoons released this week or say if the U.S. considered them anti-Muslim. The White House was similarly restrained Monday.

“Regardless of what anyone’s personal opinion is, and I know there are very heated personal opinions about this, we absolutely support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish things like this,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. “That’s what happens in a democracy. Period.”

Asked if the U.S. wanted publishers to take such sentiments of Muslims vis-à-vis such cartoons into account, Harf said only that the U.S. “would call broadly on news organizations to take into account the factors they think are important.”

“There are a variety of factors that go into decisions to publish, whether it’s journalistic freedom, whether it’s sensitivity, religious sensitivity,” she said.

“We certainly understand that people, particularly Muslims, have very strong personal feelings about these kinds of depictions,” she added. “Nothing justifies violence, nothing justifies hatred and nothing should stand in the way of freedom of expression.”