Speaking from the White House Monday after more than a week of being overseas, Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to reassure reporters that President Obama is taking the threat from ISIS seriously and is gathering as much intelligence on the terror army as he possibly can.
"The intelligence reports that he's received about ISIL and the impact they've had on Syria and Iraq in particular, have been troubling and that is part of what has prompted the kind of aggressive and sustained commitment to degrading and ultimately destroying that organization that you've seen put forward by the president," Earnest said. "He [Obama] has made quite clear to military leaders and to intelligence officials that he's looking for the best, most accurate assessment of what' actually happening, that he can possibly get, because that's only going to improve his ability to make decisions about policy to address the situation on the ground."
Further, Earnest argued Obama will spend the next year with "a clear eyed assessment of his view of what's happening" when it comes to dealing with ISIS.
There are two major problems with these claims and assertions. First, last week investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson revealed that her sources, who have worked in the White House, have told her Obama is flat out rejecting intelligence about Islamic groups he doesn't consider terrorists.
"I have talked to people who have worked in the Obama administration who firmly believe he has made up his mind, I would say closed his mind, they say, to the intelligence they try to bring him about various groups he does not consider terrorists even if they're on the U.S. list of designated terrorists," Attkisson said during an interview with Newsmax. "I don't know the reasoning for it I’ve only been told by those who have allegedly attempted to present him or been in the circle that has attempted to present him with certain intelligence that they said he doesn’t want it, he said he doesn't want it or he won't read it in some instances."
Second, we've been hearing for months about the manipulation and downgrading of ISIS intelligence to make the situation in Iraq and Syria look better before being presented to Obama in the Oval Office. From The Daily Beast:
It’s being called a ‘revolt’ by intelligence pros who are paid to give their honest assessment of the ISIS war—but are instead seeing their reports turned into happy talk.
More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.
The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.
The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative.
Just hours before the ISIS attack on Paris, President Obama said the group had been "contained" while intelligence and military communities were screaming about their expansion, increase in strength and ability to carry out attacks on the West.