I was in Afghanistan last week, to spend Thanksgiving with the troops. While there I encountered a number of Her Majesty's armed forces. The British subjects here should be proud of them all. The British hospital I visited at Camp Bastion was first-rate and amazing. And the very good news on that particular day was, at three separate hospitals, I saw not a single U.S. or UK casualty, except for a U.S. soldier in need of an appendectomy, a British soldier with a bad knee, and many bored and happy trauma teams standing around with nothing to do.
We banned enhanced interrogation techniques, consistent with the calls of many in our country, including our own military, that great nations simply do not treat other human beings that way. These controversial practices have been banned, yet we continue to gather valuable intelligence in a manner consistent with our Army Field Manual, the Detainee Treatment Act, and international law.
We worked with our Congress to enact the Military Commissions Act of 2009, which reformed our system of military commissions to ensure due process and fairness for the accused. Today, our system of military commissions prosecutions of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other alleged organizers of the September 11 attacks is more credible, sustainable and transparent. One of our nations finest military lawyers, and a Rhodes Scholar, Brigadier General Mark Martins, is now the chief prosecutor in that system.
We worked with our Congress to pass the Dont Ask, Dont Tell Repeal Act of 2010, such that gay and lesbian members of the U.S. military can now be open and honest about their sexual orientation without fear of being separated for that reason. In the words of one gay servicemember: you took a knife out of my back; you have no idea what it is like to serve in silence.
And, finally, we have, in a manner consistent with our laws and values, taken the fight directly to the terrorist organization al Qaeda, the result of which is that the core of al Qaeda is today degraded, disorganized and on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead. Many other leaders and terrorist operatives of al Qaeda are dead or captured; those left in al Qaedas core struggle to communicate, issue orders, and recruit.
But, there is still danger and there is still much to do. Al Qaedas core has been degraded, leaving al Qaeda more decentralized, and most terrorist activity now conducted by local franchises, such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (based in Yemen) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (operating in north and west Africa). So, therefore, in places like Yemen, and in partnership with that government, we are taking the fight directly to AQAP, and continually disrupting its plans to conduct terrorist attacks against U.S. and Yemeni interests.
Al Qaeda has sought to attack the UK on a number of occasions. Two years ago, Her Majestys government assessed: We face a real and pressing threat from international terrorism, particularly that inspired by Al Qaeda and its affiliates . . . Al Qaeda remains the most potent terrorist threat to the UK.
Our efforts against al Qaeda have involved multiple instruments of the U.S. government, including the military, civilian law enforcement, and intelligence services, in partnership with the United Kingdom and other nations.