Marc Thiessen in the Washington Post writes that Obama had not attended a Security Intelligence briefing since September 5th, and didn’t have one scheduled until September 12th, the day after yet more September 11 attacks on Americans. The briefings are the machinery that delivers the most critical intelligence threats to the United States. The UK Independent says our State Department and Obama had a 48-hour warning that trouble was on its way. According to Fathi Baja, a political Science professor and a member of the Libyan opposition who had breakfast with Ambassador Stevens the morning of September 11th, inside the Consulate there were only four guards – all Libyan. Baja said he cautioned Stevens that the Libyans were untrained and that he must “bring Americans here.” There are stories around that the guards did not have ammo, but I see hefty opposition to that scenario, although I really don’t know. To be unarmed in Libya is unthinkable, and if true, unforgivable. I’ll doubt it until there is confirmation. And then the part you already know, Obama has attended more fundraisers than intelligence briefings.
Thiessen was told by National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor that the President “gets” his PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) every day by email. Behind the story is a perceived pride in Obama “reading” the PDB, and not being briefed by a live person (as in someone you can discuss the intel with, who might know as much or more than the you, who prefers to read).
Most of us, if we subscribed to a daily report on, say, astrophysics, would probably need some help interpreting it. But when it comes to intelligence, Obama is apparently so brilliant he can absorb the most complicated topics by himself in his study. He does not need to sit down for up to an hour a day with top intelligence officials, or hold more than 100 “deep dives” in which he invites CIA analysts into the Oval Office and gives them direct access to the commander in chief to discuss their areas of expertise. Such meetings are crutches this president does not need. Written briefings, questions and comments are enough. Obama has more important things to do — such as attend Las Vegas fundraisers.
But the hubris of a president who believes he does not need to meet regularly with them is astounding. When President John F. Kennedy gathered every living American Nobel laureate for dinner at the White House in 1962, he declared it “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Apparently, in this administration’s view, Kennedy had it wrong — the most extraordinary collection of talent and knowledge ever gathered in the White House is when Barack Obama reads his daily intelligence brief alone. Marc Thiessen
According to the 2011 and 2012 digests of Obama’s public schedule from the U.S. Government Printing Office, he attended 198 of his daily intelligence briefings between April 14, 2011 (the day he hosted the first fundraiser of his reelection campaign) and August 24, 2012 (the last day included in the latest GPO digest). By August 14, 2012, Obama had already reached 203 fundraising events since launching his reelection campaign, slightly more than the number of intelligence briefings he had attended during that time period.
Thiessen says George W. Bush “almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.” Photo Credit: Politico
Thanks to HillarynMe for linking!
Related and Background: