Yes, I'm going to continue hammering on this issue because the Commander-in-Chief cannot be allowed to skate by with baseless deflections of blame as a means of papering over his own grave errors in judgment. The president accuses a detached "they" of misjudging the frightening rise of ISIS, which was a direct result of America's premature and total withdrawal from Iraq. The chief White House spokesman insists that if the president underestimated the threat, it was because "everybody" had done the same. But that's not true. The Washington Free Beacon has produced a montage of relevant public warnings and assessments from high-ranking officials, spanning two administrations and seven years:
Again, that's just what was said in public -- and the clip doesn't include additional quotes from sources like former DIA director Michael Flynn or the State Department's Brett McGurk . It's simply inconceivable that Obama wasn't privy to frank private assessments. Indeed, CBS News' Norah O'Donnell describes intelligence officials "bristling" at the president's assessment of blame, pointing to a "paper trail" of threat assessments:
While he was certainly aware of big-picture risks, the question of whether President Obama was up-to-date on all available intelligence regarding ISIS and Iraq remains open. Katie linked to a new report that reveals that Obama has skipped more than half of his 2014 in-person Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs). When similar figures were released in 2012, his aides assured reporters that the president pores over the written PDB's every day, but that brings us back to the comment from an ex-intelligence official in the Daily Beast: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.” The New York Times offers a deep-dive into the administration's failures and lengthy periods of paralysis on ISIS, painting a picture of a distracted and diffident White House -- which is par for the course regarding Obama and Iraq):
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.” ... In interviews in recent weeks, administration officials privately agreed that they had not focused enough on the Islamic State’s territorial ambitions but said they were hamstrung in responding by an Iraqi government that was fanning the sectarian divide that helped give rise to the Sunni extremists in the first place...The Islamic State was born out of the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was crippled by the time Mr. Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011.
Victory squandered; gains reversed. And then some. The UK Daily Mail quotes unnamed national security officials within the administration pushing back against Obama's blamestorming, noting that the intel trail on ISIS dates back to pre-election 2012. McClatchy published a similar report in July.