The President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, receives live, in-person Presidential Daily Briefs (PDB) that allow the Commander-in-Chief the chance for critical followup, feedback, questions, and the challenging of flawed intelligence assumptions.
An alarming report by the Governmental Accountability Institute (GAI) says that, in the 2,079 days (1/20/2009 thru’ 9/29/2014) since he became President and Commander-In-Chief, Barack Obama has attended a total of only 875 PDBs for an overall 42.09% attendance rate.
That means he missed 57.91% or 6 out of every 10 of his daily intelligence briefings.
Even worse, his attendance rate has worsened in his second term (41.26% attendance rate) as president than in his first term (42.43% attendance rate).
Wynton Hall reports for Breitbart, Sept. 29, 2014, that the GAI’s alarming findings come on the heels of Obama’s comments on CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, wherein the president laid the blame for the Islamic State’s (ISIS/ISIL) rapid rise squarely at the feet of his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, saying:
“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
But Obama’s scapegoating of Clapper is directly contradicted by an Obama national security staffer who told the Daily Mail, yesterday that the PDBs have contained detailed threat warnings about the Islamic State dating back to before the 2012 presidential election. The unnamed security staffer says, “It’s pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009. He gets them in writing. 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.”
Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reports that other members of the Defense establishment are also “flabbergasted” by Obama’s attempt to shift blame. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” a former senior Pentagon official “who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq” told the Daily Beast.
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.
Clockwise from top left: Amb. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods.
Ultimately, ABC News reported, the White House did not directly dispute the GAI’s numbers but instead said Obama prefers to read his PDB on his iPad instead of receiving the all-important live, in-person briefings.
Now, with ISIS controlling over 35,000 square miles in its widening caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and with Obama pointing fingers at his own Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for the rise of ISIS, the question remains whether a 42% attendance record on daily intelligence briefings is good enough for most Americans.
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UPDATE (Oct. 2, 2014):
On February 12, 2008, during MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac Democratic primary, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had enthused that hearing then-presidential candidate Barack Obama speak, “I felt this thrill going up my leg.” On Hardball on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, Matthews now says Obama is “intellectually lazy” and “listening to the same voices all the time,” singling out close Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and First Lady Michelle Obama. Read more, here.
The day before, on Sept. 30, 2014, Matthews criticized Obama for claiming it was “unlikely” that a case of Ebola would occur in the United States, saying, “The president said it was unlikely two weeks ago. Well, it’s not the unlikely, it has happened. It’s here.”