As Western Journalism reported, Barack Obama’s comments during a recent 60 Minutes interview have led many critics to conclude that he is blaming others for his failure to identify the Islamic State as a serious threat. The terrorist organization, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has grown in scope and influence over the past several months, a fact Obama claimed the intelligence community failed to adequately predict.
“Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he told interviewer Steve Kroft.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tackled the issue Monday in an apparent attempt to attenuate the damage Obama’s remarks had caused.
ABC reporter Jonathon Karl, however, shot back with evidence that Obama was – or should have been – notified of numerous reports of the growing danger associated with the group before infamously calling it a “JV team” compared to Al-Qaeda.
Karl pointed to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bret McGurk’s testimony last year as one clear indicator that the intelligence community was aware of the Islamic State threat.
“He described almost exactly what the threat was on the side of the Iraqis not being able to confront it,” McGurk said, adding the November testimony affirmed “that we have seen upwards of 40 suicide bombers per month targeting playgrounds, mosques, [and] markets.”
If such a high-ranking official was aware of the burgeoning danger then, Karl wondered why Obama was not similarly briefed.
“This is one of your key people in Iraq who was raising this alarm in November of last year,” he said. “Did this message get to the president? Did he believe it? Did he not hear it?”
Earnest responded that he would not discuss the details of Obama’s conversations with intelligence officials, going on to echo the talking points discussed during the 60 Minutes interview.
“What was not predicted was how quickly and how successfully ISIL would be able to make this significant advance across Iraq in a way that has allowed them to hold so much territory.”
Although the administration has demonstrably tried to pin blame on faulty intelligence in recent days, Earnest concluded by insisting Obama “has complete confidence in the intelligence community to deal with these very dynamic but significant threats to our broader national interest … [and] their ability to gather the information that will be required to allow us to meet and mitigate that threat.”
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