With President Obama blaming his intelligence functionaries for his failure to anticipate the swift advances of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the intelligence community has responded in stories such as the Peter Baker/Eric Schmitt round-up yesterday in the New York Times (discussed by Paul here).
I think the fault for the ongoing catastrophes in Syria and Iraq lie with Obama’s worldview and his related action (and inaction). Nevertheless, in the context of Obama’s buck-passing, the Government Accountability Institute’s tracking of Obama’s attendance at his Presidential Daily Briefs takes on a heightened interest. The GAI has provided a timely update of Obama’s attendance to date during his first and second terms (through September 29, 2014). First term: 42.43 percent attendance rate. Second term: 41.26 attendance rate.
The administration’s line is that Obama takes the PDB in writing via iPad. The PDBs have reportedly warned of the rise of ISIS since 2012, when Obama was touting the “decimation” (sic) of al Qaeda during the presidential campaign. House Intelligence Committee member Michele Bachmann made this point in her presentation to the Minnesota chapter of the RJC a week before Obama’s 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft. Breitbart’s Wynton Hall cites an administration national security staffer quoted to the same effect in the Daily Mail on Monday:
The Obama security staffer said the president’s PDBs have contained detailed threat warnings about the Islamic State dating back to before the 2012 presidential election.
“Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate predictions about ISIL have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the 2012 election,” the Obama security staffer told the Daily Mail.
Hall also recalls previous iterations of this issue:
This is not the first time questions have been raised about Obama’s lack of engagement and interest in receiving in-person daily intelligence briefings. On September 10, 2012, the GAI released a similar report showing that Obama had attended less than half (43.8%) of his daily intelligence briefings up to that point. When Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen mentioned the GAI’s findings in his column, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dubbed the findings “hilarious.” The very next day, U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff members were murdered in Benghazi. As Breitbart News reported at the time, the White House’s very own presidential calendar revealed Obama had not received his daily intel briefing in the five consecutive days leading up to the Benghazi attacks.
As I say, I don’t think the problem is Obama’s inattentiveness. It’s not the demands of his golf game. It’s not his incessant fundraising. It’s his worldview. But his passing the buck to the intelligence community is galling in light of his treatment of the Presidential Daily Briefs documented by the GAI.