Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times destroy President Obama’s attempt to shift blame to the intelligence community for his lack of focus on ISIS:
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.”
What “crises” were diverting the White House’s attention late last year from the rise of terrorist force more dangerous than al Qaeda? The botched Obamacare roll-out?
It may be true that the intelligence community failed to predict the precise speed of ISIS’s blitz through Iraq. But, as Baker and Schmitt affirm, the picture it painted for Obama was an “ominous” one. Certainly, that picture was inconsistent with Obama’s claim that ISIS is al Qaeda’s “jayvee.”
Obama offered this criminally glib characterization in response to a question by David Remnick that specifically mentioned ISIS’s taking of Fallujah. Obama was not concerned about ISIS’s success in Fallujah, writing it off as the product of that city’s traditional sectarianism.
But that’s not what our intelligence services were telling him:
On New Year’s Day, convoys of up to 100 trucks flying the black flag of Al Qaeda and armed with mounted heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns stormed into Falluja and Ramadi as they sought to establish an Islamic caliphate stretching across national borders. Their victories sent a chill through the American military, which had fought some of its bloodiest battles in that part of Iraq. . . .
And yet American officials said there was no serious talk of intervening directly at the time. Since Falluja and Ramadi had long been hotbeds of Sunni extremist sentiment, American officials assumed the Islamic State could be checked there and eventually rolled back.
Intelligence agencies warned against such an assumption.
The facts, then, are clear. Our intelligence agencies warned Obama not to assume that ISIS could be halted in Fallujah and Ramadi. Obama not only ignored the warning; he ridiculed it, as his remarks to Remnick make clear.
And now, he is blaming his failure to act on false claims that he wasn’t sufficiently warned.
America has had its share of dishonest presidents. But I don’t think we’ve ever had one as shameless as Obama.