- President Obama, as is his nature, has blamed the U.S. intelligence community for ‘failing’ to recognize the growing threat posed by ISIS
- For years, however, the IC has been warning the president that the Islamic militant group was growing in strength and becoming a threat, in a power vacuum left by the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011
- Obama had an opportunity to negotiate for a small U.S. force to remain in Iraq but chose not to
- One U.S. intelligence official says the president either ‘doesn’t read’ his daily threat assessment provided by the IC or he’s ‘bullish***ing’
When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or more succinctly known now as simply the Islamic State, began to make headlines last summer after blitzkrieging its way through much of western Syria and northern Iraq, questions began to circulate among foreign policy, national security and military circles about where the group might have come from and, importantly, how it managed to grow as powerful as it did as quickly as it did. Soon, the mainstream media picked up on the story and, eventually, the Obama administration had no choice but to respond.
How could this be, everyone seemed to be asking? How in the world could such an organization grow so powerful and take so much so quickly? The usual whipping boy – the U.S. intelligence community – was quickly blamed by a president who never takes much responsibility for anything that goes on in his administration.
“Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” President Obama said in an interview with the news program “60 Minutes.” He went onto add that it was “absolutely true” intelligence officials “overestimated” the ability or will of the Iraqi army to fight jihadist groups for control of the nation.
Only, this time the media – and the intelligence community itself – didn’t fully cooperate with the script. During the course of the interview, as the New York Times notes, the President “made no mention of any misjudgment he may have made himself.” Also, the Gray Lady went onto report that customary daily intelligence briefings provided to the president – who barely read them, apparently – provided great detail on the rise of ISIS, in the void left by the complete withdrawal, at the president’s insistence, of all American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011.
The Times further reported, albeit gently:
By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.
But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”
Obama has also made a presidential career of blaming his predecessor for practically everything that has gone wrong with his own policies, and of course, Iraq was no different. As reported by Fox News Insider in August:
President Obama appeared to adjust his narrative on the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq three years ago. On Saturday, he rejected criticism for the pullout, following the rapid advance of ISIS terrorists throughout the country.
“What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision. Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government,” Obama said.
Facts are awful things to someone not accustomed to them.
“If we leave Iraq before the job is done, it will create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East,” said President George W. Bush in a speech in 2006, “a terrorist state much more dangerous than Afghanistan was before we removed the Taliban, a terrorist state with the capacity to fund its activities because of the oil reserves of Iraq.”
Also conveniently forgotten by Obama is a) the fact that getting American troops completely out of Iraq permanently was a major policy issue for him, which he touted during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as noted by Politifact; and b) that he could have convinced Iraqi leaders to allow a residual U.S. force to remain in the country, had he wanted to. National Journal’s Ron Fournier called the president out on this, noting that Obama’s August shoulder shrug was “thin.”
“The United States could have convinced [Prime Minister] Maliki to give us the authority we needed. The president didn’t want to have troops there,” Fournier told Fox News, mentioning Obama’s determination to keep his 2008 campaign promise by getting U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Further, he called it “disingenuous” for the President of the United States to now argue that he could not have pushed through a deal to keep some U.S. forces in Iraq.
“At least be honest with us,” Fournier said. “Don’t be shifting the goal post and don’t say, ‘Hey, it wasn’t my decision and it’s not my fault that we didn’t have the forces there.’ Be honest with us. Explain why it is, Mr. President, you decided not to keep troops there. And more importantly – because that’s water under the bridge – what are you going do to make sure these killers, these jihadists don’t come and hit us here at home? That’s what I want to know. I don’t want to hear blame. I want answers.”
As do most of the American people – the non-35 percent of committed Obamaites who will defend him, no matter what, until they die.
Eli Lake, the national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, also threw the BS flag. He writes that it most definitely was not the fault of the intelligence community for ISIS’ seemingly rapid arrival on the scene. He and the IC lay the blame squarely on Obama, who had little time or enthusiasm to consume intelligence reports regarding a war he wanted to forget about from the outset:
Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.
But in an interview that aired Sunday evening, the president told 60 Minutes that the rise of the group now proclaiming itself a caliphate in territory between Syria and Iraq caught the U.S. intelligence community off guard. Obama specifically blamed James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence…
Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was amazed – and not pleasantly. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official told The DB.
Earlier in 2014 Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in annual threat briefings to House and Senate select intelligence committees that ISIS was blossoming into a threat “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”
Do you think Obama cares a whit about foreign policy, national defense and protecting the country? Or do you think he is hyper-focused on ‘fundamentally transforming’ America into a socialist pit of misery? Do you blame the intelligence community for this ‘failure?’ What do you think the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, should do – resign or stick around? TELL us!