American Morning

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August 16th, 2010
05:59 AM ET

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Obama throws support behind controversial Islamic center

President Obama threw his support behind a controversial proposal to build an Islamic center and mosque near New York's ground zero, saying Friday that "Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country."

"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," Obama said at a White House Iftar dinner celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president's remarks drew praise from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his support for the Islamic center last week.

Bloomberg compared Obama's speech to a letter President George Washington wrote in support of a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. "President Obama's words tonight evoked President Washington's own august reminder that 'all possess alike liberty,' " Bloomberg said in a statement.

"I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion tonight," he said.

Critics of the proposed Islamic center quickly denounced Obama's remarks. "President Obama is wrong," said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). "It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness."

"While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque, they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much," King said in a statement. "The right and moral thing for President Obama to have done was to urge Muslim leaders to respect the families of those who died and move their mosque away from Ground Zero."

Obama, who said he was speaking both as a citizen and as president, invoked the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which critics of the Islamic center cite as the main reason for preventing its construction.

"We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan," Obama said, according to his prepared remarks. "The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country."

"The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable," he continued. "So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground."

Sound off: We want to hear from you this morning. Add your comments to the LIVE Blog below and we'll read some of them on the show.

Filed under: American Morning • LIVE Blog
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Ed Hailio

    What's all the fuss? All the churhes,synagogues,cathedrals, mosques etc., regardless of when they have been built are all built on the bones, graves, rape, mass murder, and genocide of the indigenous American First Nations.Quit pandering to the cowardly politicians and hate mongers trying to stop the building of the mosque. You news people sure are suckers for this hate mongering. The reporter who started this hate tirade knew exactly what she was doing and youse gave her the national publicity she sought.Don't you think she could be a closet bigot, racist? Maybe Charles Manson wasn't so crazy after all when he talked of race wars. What do youse think?

    August 18, 2010 at 7:38 am |
  2. Gary

    If you will hold Muslims responsible for 911, you should also hold the Christians church responsible for the American KKK. Which I believe they were Christians and the Christian people at the time supported this group. Not like the Muslim mosques, this denounced terrorism.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  3. Michael Robinson

    I don't understand why the anchors try to stir up additional controversy with the lead-in "Harry Reid breaks with Obama on mosque controversy". As far as I can tell, they said the same thing; Muslims have the right to build the mosque wherever local ordinances permit. Reid just took the step of expressing an opinion on the wisdom of doing so. Obama (wisely) did not.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  4. Chris TMC

    Lorenzo, there is not nor has there ever been a plan to "put a Mosque in the exact location that so many Americans lost thier lives at the hands of extremists." The fact that you believe one of my loved ones lost his life beside an old Burlington Coat Factory is pretty sad.

    As far as what I guess you believe is 'your' idea for a memorial goes, I am 100% certain such a thing WILL exist. Dont let your feelings be too hurt when you are not credited for coming up with it.

    August 16, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  5. Chris TMC

    Lorenzo, there is not nor has there ever been a plan to "put a Mosque in the exact location that so many Americans lost thier lives at the hands of extremists." The fact that you believe one of my loved ones lost his life beside an old Burlington Coat Factory is pretty sad.

    As far as what I guess you believe is your idea for a memorial goes, I am 100% certain such a thing WILL exist.

    August 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  6. Lorenzo

    Putting a Mosque in the exact location that so many Americans lost thier lives at the hands of extremists is not a good idea. An actual memorial to those Americans is more fitting for Ground Zero than a Mosque.

    August 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  7. Ray

    I think people should worry about the Vet's who come home and can't find a job,Also the people who are locked up in jail and have cable tv that we pay for.People should worry about these things instead of the Islamic Center.


    August 16, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  8. Laura Kaleugher

    When you first started talking about the mosque it sounded like it was going to be built at the site of the Twin Towers. Now it seems that the actual site is within a few blocks of ground zero.

    What is the problem with that. I definitely would object to it being within site of the memorial, but a few blocks away, what id all the fuss about.

    August 16, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  9. Don Tyler

    Hospitals Overcharges...Possible Accounting Scam

    If a hospital overcharges you for a toothbrush...say $100.00 and you then talk them down to a more reasonable price...say $5.00. They may then write off $95.00 as a bad debt, thus artificially creating a loss. If they do such things often enough, they will never show a profit and hence avoid taxes.
    If you look at billings from private doctors, they pursue the same strategy. Perhaps they need to do such things to supplement their meager incomes.

    August 16, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  10. Charles

    Ofcourse Obama backs a mosque near ground zero. Why would he start supporting what a majority of Americans want now? His whole presidency so far has been him fighting the majority. I can't wait until 2012 when America can have its voice heard!!!

    August 16, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  11. sidney r

    I was in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 10th 2010. I was taken by amubulane to Montclair emergency room.
    Long story short, I dislocted and fratured my shoulder, sparined hip, fractured fibula, and sprianed wrist and elbow!

    I paid my $100 co pay and then 2 weeks ago I get a bill for $228 for an arm sling(retail $25) and a leg splint(retail $40)

    My insurance states it doesn't cover these but I don't feel I should get robbed!

    Thx for the story, it needs to be told!

    August 16, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  12. David

    Elizabeth Cohen's story on medical costs is RIGHT ON!!

    However, there are some other parts to this story.

    1 – try getting an itemized bill. My local monopoly hospital considers an itemized bill to be Pharmacy – $200, etc. You have to demand an itemized bill.

    2 – Talk about insurance companies – I complained to the insurance company that a charge had been added to the bill notice the hospital sent me. The response was so what! We review what the hospital submits. Great!

    3 – I am dealing with a local radiologist. He has billed the insurance company for 3 separate services. His bills to me only show two services but payments spread across three. I have sent several letters requesting clarification and all I receive is NO response.

    4 – I have the high deductible/HSA plan. Yeah, it controls costs (NO!). I really don't know what the charges are. What I have determined is for doctor visits, take the total amount and divide by 2.

    With the high deductible, my favorite insurance adjustment was one charge that was reduced by 90%!!!!!!!!!! That's unbelievable!

    About 6 months ago, I took my daughter to the ER at the local monopoly hospital. The ER Waiting Room puts to shame many Fortune 500 lobbies. In the small ER treatment room, I watched ER personnel write notes on Post-It Notes, napkins, and even on their hands. There is no computer in the treatment room. Banfield Animal Hospitals have computers in every treatment room. Why doesn't my local hospital? (oh – please don't talk about wireless devices in medicine – why should I broadcast my medical information on radio waves that can be captured and decoded?)

    Edward Demming in his 14 principles says that medical benefits/costs are important in being competitive. When are we going to address this?

    August 16, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  13. Sherri Irick

    I have been a patient advocate for 28 years. Hospitals get by with charging, or overcharging, for many items because of the way that they format their billing. The $100 Tylenol is 'hidden' under the category of Med/Surg supplies on the billing form. A patient must request a complete itemization of their bill before these outrageous charges can be spotted. The patient should call the hospital and ask the Medical Records Department for a complete itemization of all of the charges. If the insurance companies would have a staff of specialists to reveal and challenge these types of items the hospital might change their billing methods. The insurers just pass these charges to the consumers by raising their premiums, deductibles and co-insurance payments.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  14. Justin McCrory

    good morning,
    I believe President Barack Obama made a great point about it being the muslim right to practice religion. As they are citizens of America they should have the same basic rights and the government and People of the states shouldnt be depriveing the muslim community of their basic right to religion. Obama wants to keep us like the founding fathers had us as he said in his gulf coast speech

    August 16, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  15. Daniel

    So insurance companies are too busy denying peoples legitimate claims to notice hospitals are charging them $140 for Tylenol? Why wouldn't they address "$1 trillion in medical waste"?!?!? Something doesn't make sense in all this to me. Are the hospital often owned by Insurance companies? I mean I have heard insurance deny claims for ridiculous reasons, denying a $1000 toothbrush would actually make sense!!!

    August 16, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  16. Michael A. Peake

    You folks are being totally irresponsible in creating the story that President Obama is "throwing support behind the Islamic Center" in New York. He is doing his job correctly (something CNN is failing to do) by citing the ultimate law of our land. If you bother to pick up a copy of the Constitution, you can satisfy yourself that this document is Mr. Obama's guide, as it should be for EVERY religious bigot that is making this "story" more than it is. The question should now be addressed that if the bigots get their way in this, which sect or religion should be targeted next? The President is doing exactly what he was elected to do: defending the Constitution. It is a shame that other Government officials can not remember that their oath includes the same duty, and it says nothing at all about paying homage to their political party. Perhaps the media should take on such an oath instead of “manufacturing” news.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  17. RMW

    Just reading what Americans post on this blog is explanation enough to understand what is wrong with America. It also show the educational system of the US is failing miserably.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  18. William

    I would like to know who decided to say come to our country and we will change to fit your needs. instead of saying, come to our country and live by our rules and abide by the laws that govern america.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  19. Sylvia Barnhart

    The media seems to be debiberately distorting the Pres. comments!! have you nothing else to talk about???? Obviously to me, there ARE two isuers; one being the legal right of citizens to build, if they meet the local zoning requirements; two, being as he said "THE WISDOM" of doing so right there., Why aren't you emphasizing this???? That should be the question you are asking these people,
    "Why would you choose to do this when you must, as thinking humans, realize the angst you would create?????" If they had ulterior motives, they could be accomplished with any other mosques in downtown Manhattan which are already there.
    So come on guys, stop creating YOUR news; go with what its!

    August 16, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  20. Stephanie

    No poll results should be thrown around as conclusive if the exact wording of the question is not included as well as the breakdown of the demographics of who responded. I have been trying to find this information on CNN to no avail. Why is that??

    August 16, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  21. chuck

    as it goes we have our news people making the headlines and once again they need brought to task please show me where president obama said he supports the islamic center i think if our news people really want to tell the story they would have supported his statement friday and not made or allowed it to get to the point of this out of control news accounting, you know i cant take a dump what does the president have to say about that and can the news people make that a national issue, get with it cnn and report what the news is not what you want to put in it its what was said and i never heard i support the building of this church, i heard they have the right and thats all i heard maybe cnn needs to add hearing aides as standard equp. along side there lap tops and blackberrys

    August 16, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  22. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    @Tim, where do you think all these non-revelent-controversial-nothing-to-do-with-the-economy-national 'debates' start? Its all a tactic, part of a strategic plan to dominate congress during 2010 election.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  23. Karen

    My question is simple. If they're going to put a Christian church there, would people be so against this. Most Muslims preach peace and until we Americans start understanding this alll the people against the mosque are in their own way spreading hate.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  24. Thad J.

    You people are shameful. While I cannot abide the right wing, "mainstream media" myth, the media in this country (with a few exceptions-public media) have abdicated their watchdog role and core responsibility to provide viewers with context to particular new stories. I have heard the two clips that are continually payed on TV news the least two days and there is unequivocally no inconsistency in the President's statements. One addresses rights and the clip from following day addresses the "wisdom" of the decision to locate the mosque. Many debates over rights deal with these two very different issues. But I guess that's not as sensational a story. Please worry less about sensational news items and profits, and more about your responsibility to your viewers and countrymen.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  25. Chris TMC

    salah abubaker (August 16th, 2010 6:40 am ET)
    The terrorists who did this unfortunately DID do this in the name of your religion... so what they did DOES have to do with Islam. What your religion needs is more people like you who speak out against hateful things like that. As with any religious fundamentalist subgroup, a vocal majority with a reasonable tolerant message is the only way a loud message of hatred will be squelched.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  26. RMW

    Whatever was left of the WTC has been removed – years ago – so that isn't any bodys or body parts there.

    Barry Obama commenting on the mosque is just another nail in the Democrats coffin come November.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  27. Weston Stoler

    Although They have the freedom to build a mosque does that mean you should?
    They should be sensitive to the people of New York.

    August 16, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  28. Julie in the Midwest

    Why are we questioning the President's comments on this and even Prop 8? I totally understand his position. His personal beliefs may not agree with the Mosque at Ground Zero or gay marriage. However, the US is based on all people's rights, not just our personal beliefs. We are one of many; all are supposed to have equal rights in the US. And don't forget that we are to have separation of Church and State. I personally think it speaks highly of the President when he can maintain his personal beliefs, but realize he's the President of the United States of America – all citizens.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  29. robert

    Your American Morning piece on Pres. O's comments about the proposed NYC mosque:

    Why would you do this piece without including the number of KNOWN Muslims who were killed in the 9/11 building collapses? Do you think only Jews and Christians were killed in the tragedy? If so you should do some research on just what are the documented religious beliefs of the people killed.

    On your CNN shows you should rather pose the question: “Why shouldn't every religion who lost believers in the 9/11 tragedy be welcomed to build a place of worship near the ground-zero site?” Dah!!!

    Wake up CNN – this is America where we supposedly have freedom of religion (this while Rev. Roger Christie – and several of his church's members – of Hilo, Hawaii has recently been arrested and is now being held for almost a year without bail against his will and persecuted in a Honolulu US Federal Jail for using his religion's sacrament. His arrest supposedly based on his preaching, teaching and practicing the beliefs of his non-violent religion which promotes tolerance, good citizenship, love and caring.)

    Perhaps you could also report on this Hawaii Constitutional Violation of quite a few citizen's right to practice their religious beliefs without government interference? Must an American be only a Christian or Jew and use only alcohol as their religious sacrament to be left alone by the busybodies in the US Government?

    I think the Hilo case is totally Unconstitutional and deserves frequent CNN coverage as it develops.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  30. Genghis

    Have you people lost your minds? Your coverage of Obama's statements seemed to suggest that the president mincing his words or perhaps softening the stand he took on Friday. on saturday He merely repeated his view (which was more of a fact, based on theconstitution)and clarified what he was not intending to convey in his Friday statement. Scherer stated this is the old Obama, and the prior reporter said its typical Obama. What the hell is wrong with you people? Yes its an emotional issue, but don't people often make poor decisions when acting out of their emotions? How did most Americans deel about the internment of the Japanese at the time it occurrd? Does anyone in their right mind not realize the tens of millions in tax payer dollars that will be paid in a lawsuit over the blocking of this mosque? There is no story here. It may be a local debate, but its certainly a national issue, as it challenges the validity of the constitution.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  31. S Light

    When is this going to stop? The President is correct. It's Private Property.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  32. Autumn Meadows

    @RMW oh really..because from what I understand not all the bodys of the people who died on 9/11 were found?? and not all the body parts of some of the pieces of the dead were found I would call that a grave.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  33. Matt Tennessen

    The "controversy" surrounding an Islamic Center a few blocks from the WTC site is really a non-issue. This isn't up for debate, every individual has a right to practice or not practice their religion. The real controversy should be some media's willingness to exploit the ignorance of the "mosque" detractors. While I respect the responsibility of journalists to "report" rather than "direct" the news, it would be nice to see an effort to remind people that extremists hijacked planes and plowed them into buildings, not modern day Muslims. Legitimizing arguments that are factually incorrect does not equate with objectivity.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  34. Don Straub-Euclid, Ohio

    I found the segment on single child families interesting. I come from a large family-six children. I couldn't imagine what it'd be like to be without my siblings. Sharing life experiences, food, chores and holidays all make life so rich. It is also good to have someone to lean on in harsh financial times.
    Kiran said that she is a lone child. She seems to have done well in life with two children of her own. I would love to hear more about what it was like for her as an only child. Her parents were successful in raising an astute, sharp-witted, beautiful, kindly and good-hearted individual. Kudos to Kiran and her parents.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:36 am |
  35. tpete

    This is a national debate because the political talking heads are manipulating people to advance their agendas. And to make it worse news networks, like CNN, in typical fashion are blowing it up in the name of ratings. It's interesting that just last week CNN did a story about moderate Muslims and why they are not being heard. One thing that was mentioned is that the news services tend to portray only the bad Muslims. So what does CNN do? They turn around and continue fanning the flames. Case in point CNN continues to use "Mosque at ground zero" as their tag line. The Islamic center is NOT at ground zero, it is two blocks away and cannot even be seen from ground zero. But yet, thanks to CNN and others most people think that there is going to me a Mosque right at ground zero. Yep CNN that's fair and balanced reporting. I am no fan of Islam, or any religion for that matter, but we should not let misguided emotions compromise the values that this country were founded on.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  36. Tim

    If the mosque is not suppose to be a slap in the face, why is the grand opening scheduled for 9/11/11. I heard this on one of fox news talk shows and about blew a gasket. Why isn't cnn reporting this?

    August 16, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  37. Angel Lopez

    Is this really a debate? Of course the Muslims can build their temple of worship. The country was build upon the ideals of freedom of religion. You can not go back on the fundamentals of this country. The American people need to stop being side track and get back to paying attention to the war. We have service men and women thousands of miles from home that deserve our undivied attention as a untied country with a united goal. We fight for freedom, not for the stripping of human rights.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:31 am |
  38. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    Let's see, 1 out of 5 mortgages are underwater, foreclosures still on the rise, millions more people homeless, competition for jobs is still increasing, medical expences still on the rise and education costs are still on the rise... It sure is constructive talking about racial slurs, religion issues, gay issues, abortion issues, viagra...none of which create jobs, pay the bills, and put food on the table. Yep, we sure are on the right track here in the good ol' USofA.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:28 am |
  39. RMW

    There are no graves at Ground Zero.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  40. Rod Payton

    You are making a story out of nothing. Having the legal right to do something does not mean it is a Wise thing to do. Take wearing a sidearm in public. Obama merely stated the obvious, they have the right to build a Mosque if they meet all the legal requirements, but it is not a Wise thing for them to do. Please.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  41. Bob in Florida

    The President may question the wisdom of building Mosque there, but he is not questioning their right to do so. It may be "popular" to condemn or revile certain Religions or Races, but that is not what this Country stands for.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  42. Donna

    The older i get the more dissapointed with this world i become.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  43. sharon

    You brag about being journalists but you are just pundits expressing opinions. It's shameful how you are twisting what the president said and how you are making it totally political when in fact he has only expressed his support of the Constitution and freedom of religion. Bravo to President Obama for strongly standing up for the rights of all Americans.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:07 am |
  44. Chris TMC

    The fact that legally we CAN do something and whether we SHOULD do something are indeed two different things! I find it very disappointing that CNN would make it out as if this is the President "contradicting" himself.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:05 am |
  45. Joe Cook

    FYI, the reason they were called Pop Tarts is because you could pop them in the toaster not because of the popularity of pop art at the time.

    August 16, 2010 at 7:01 am |
  46. Barbara

    What happened to freedom to practice one's religiion and equality of all under the law?

    August 16, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  47. Autumn Meadows

    I was a swing voter and last night he lost my vote. During Everybody Draw Mohammad Day Obama said the drawings were disrespectful and insulting but NEVER EVER mentioned that it was our first amendment right...but now when this 13 story mega mosques is being built over shadowing the graves of those who died that day insulting and disrespecting 2,300 family members who lost their loved ones in the name of religion...all he says it that it is their "right" to build it due to freedom of religion but speaks not one word on how disrespectful and insulting it is to 70 percent of this nation. That is unacceptable to me and it is obvious that he is more worried about offending Islam than his own people and so he loses my vote! If voting for him means to be tolerant of the intolerant...than he is NOT getting it!

    August 16, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  48. salah abubaker

    yes I want to emphasis that islam has nothing to do with sept the 11th it is terror act and we as muslims completely condemn this act and our religion don't call for such act , so dont punish all muslims for thing they arent responsible for in other word if a christian or jewish has done bad terror act we dont have to blame you as whole for this.

    August 16, 2010 at 6:40 am |
  49. Gary LeDrew

    Nevermind the tea party or the Mosque or Immigration the most interesting Poll of Americans says that 30% of Americans would rather be Canadians. That gives a real idea how completlely screwed up and hopless the United States really is.

    August 16, 2010 at 6:37 am |
  50. RKL

    I dont understand why this has been escalated to a national debate. Like it or not, we live in a free society which allows for anyone to build anything virtually anywhere as long as it is done in accordance with applicable laws and codes. The opinions of those who would try to stop this project from going forward are in actuality, and by law, not relevant. If we are ever to get through the difficulties that we currently face with the militant end of islam, we must set the example of how decent, civilized, respectful society should be tolerant and accepting of all beliefs and ideas without predjudice or bias. Once again, in the opinion of the majority of the world, America is not practicing what its preaching and is losing even more of the respect and admiration we once enjoyed. I am ashamed of us.

    August 16, 2010 at 6:19 am |
  51. Stephanie

    You are totally misrepresenting what the President said and I wonder if either of you or your writers have watched or read his speech. The President's job is to defend the constitution and he did in stating that Muslims have the right to build the community center. What he stated on Saturday was he would not weigh in on whether they should.

    He is addressing the age old moral dilemmas we all face: balancing the fact that legally we CAN do something but whether we morally SHOULD is another.

    CNN is now stating that elected officials including the President should only do what is POLITICALLY right rather than what is right for the country. The spread of Islamophobia is spreading throughout the country in protest after protest against the building of mosques. This is what the President was addressing in reminding Americans of the Constitution and the history of religious freedom. THAT IS HIS JOB!!

    A sad statement on where America is if politics should trump country.

    August 16, 2010 at 6:14 am |