Guy Benson

Fox News national security correspondent Catherine Herridge probes her sources and reports that President Obama received "specific intelligence" about the rise of ISIS in his daily briefings for "at least a year:"

A former Pentagon official confirms to Fox News that detailed and specific intelligence about the rise of ISIS was included in the PDB, or the President’s Daily Brief, for at least a year before the group took large swaths of territory beginning in June. The official, who asked not to be identified because the PDB is considered the most authoritative, classified intelligence community product providing the President with analysis of sensitive international events, said the data was strong, and “granular” in detail, adding a policy maker “…could not come away with any other impression: This is getting bad.” The official who has close knowledge of the process said the President, who reads the PDB unlike his predecessors who traditionally had the document briefed to them, was not known to come back to the intelligence community with further questions or “taskings.” Asked to describe the frequency, the former Pentagon official said “not generally.” After suggestions that the administration may have been blindsided by the rise of ISIS, and that poor intelligence was to blame, the former Pentagon official said some of the intelligence was so good it was described as “exquisite” ... On whether the administration delayed acting on the Foley rescue, as first reported by the Sunday Times of London to be 30 days, the former Pentagon official confirmed there was significant delay, describing a White House that was racked with “hesitancy” and continually asking for “the intelligence to build up more.”

These allegations should be objectively shocking, but is anyone genuinely surprised by any of this?  Obama's hesitancy and vacillation on the Foley rescue mission have been widely reported, so that's old news. But Herridge's reporting includes a number of details that flesh out a portrait of a disengaged president.  First of all, just because the "granular" ISIS warnings were included in Obama's so-called PDB doesn't mean that he ever digested that intel.  Obama routinely skips his in-person briefings, including -- infamously -- on the day immediately following the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.  His aides insist that the president prefers to read his daily briefing book, but this Pentagon source says Obama rarely responds to the intelligence updates with follow-up questions and directives.  If he's scouring these documents on a daily basis, he's not letting on that he's actively responsive to the intelligence they contain. This, remember, is a man supporters hail as one of the most intellectually curious human beings on earth.  Fox isn't the only outlet citing sources and evidence spelling out the revelation that Obama has been fielding incoming information about the advancement of ISIS for some time. McClatchy confirmed in July that US officials had been tracking the terror group's progress since 2012:


A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn’t surprised at all. In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey. The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it.

The current crisis didn't drop from the sky unannounced; it's been building for years -- a fact that puts the lie to some of the excuses we highlighted yesterday.  Our government has been watching developments closely throughout this cascading nightmare, and alarming intelligence has been laid before the president since at least 2013.  That's what makes Obama's dismissive comparison of ISIS to a "jayvee" basketball team in January so galling.  He knew, or should have known, better.  And it's what renders his "no strategy" admission last week flat-out indefensible.  The media -- including Townhall -- began reporting in earnest on the hellish scenes playing out across Iraq in early June.  That was three months ago.  It would be egregious enough if the Commander-in-Chief still hadn't actively and urgently crafted a strategy to deal with ISIS over those weeks alone.  In fact, his inaction on this front dates back more than a year.  ISIS only became a quasi-priority when it started generating politically-problematic headlines, and even then, the president's priorities often seem to lie elsewhere.  If you ask Obama, none of this is his fault.  He's disclaimed the decision to pull all troops out of Iraq, even though it's well established that his administration didn't aggressively pursue an important status of forces agreement, and therefore did not secure one.  I'll leave you with former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling the president's "no strategy" gaffe a wince-inducing comment:



Incidentally, the Brits say they're fully behind anti-ISIS US airstrikes in Iraq (though they're reticent to join in) and are sending lethal aid to the Kurds, as are the Germans.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography