To hear President Obama Sunday Night on “60 Minutes” talking about the rise of ISIS, you’d think the radical group of Islamists pretty much came out of nowhere — that its formidable emergence onto the terror scene was a real surprise.
In fact, in the “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Kroft, Obama threw his intelligence experts under the bus, saying they were seriously caught off guard by the sudden threat posed by the Islamic State.
However, Obama’s characterization of the ISIS threat simply isn’t true, according to a report on one of the leading liberal websites — a site that regularly and reliably supports and defends Obama — The Daily Beast.
On “60 Minutes,” the president faulted his spies for failing to predict the rise of ISIS. There’s one problem with that statement: The intelligence analysts did warn about the group.
Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.
To back up its charge that Obama’s claim that U.S. intelligence failed to recognize the ISIS threat, The Daily Beast report quoted an intelligence source whose reaction could be described as “colorful.”
Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said.
Considering how The Daily Beast is so often and so firmly in the liberal camp, it’s rather remarkable to see the detail with which its report lays out the case that Obama was either not paying attention to intelligence reports on ISIS or is now being untruthful.
Still, other senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”
In an extensive opinion piece on foxnews.com earlier this month, author Richard Grenell also observed that Obama has either downplayed the threat of Islamic terrorism or expressed surprise and dismay when it rears its ugly head.
From the moments Obama took office, he has downplayed the threats from radical Islamists. In order to get re-elected, Obama told us Al Qaeda was on the run and all but defeated. But how did he manage to downplay the threat posed by ISIS, even as a broad, bipartisan consensus formed against the group as the biggest threat to American interests since 9/11?
Barely having mentioned the group throughout 2011-13, Obama finally broke his silence in January 2014 to David Remnick of the New Yorker by referring to ISIS as a Bush league joke of a non-threat: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
Obama critics have long argued that the president is much more concerned with golf outings and fundraising than he is with national security. Obama’s “60 Minutes” charade would seem to support that concern. And might well also lead to concern by Democrats already worried that the president is perceived by voters as grossly out of touch.
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Image Credit: CBS “60 Minutes”