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GAI: Obama Skipped Over Half His Daily Intel Briefs
by Drew MacKenzie
In the fallout over President Barack Obama blaming the intelligence community for the rise of the Islamic State, a new report has surfaced showing that he attended less than half of his daily intel briefings.
The Government Accountability Institute, an investigative research organization, said the president went to only 42.1 percent of his intelligence meetings, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, in the 2,079 days of his presidency through Monday, according to Breitbart.
The GAI report also revealed during his first term he attended 42.4 percent of the briefings, while Obama has even reduced that number in his second term, with just a 41.3 percent attendance record.
During an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the president claimed that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had failed to warn the Obama administration that the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, was gaining a strong foothold in Iraq and Syria.
“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.
The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake alleged on Monday that as long as eight months ago Obama’s senior intelligence officials had alerted the White House that ISIS was growing in power while attempting to create a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
“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,” wrote Lake, adding that members of the Defense department were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s statement.
“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s (lying),” a former senior Pentagon official who knew of the threat posed by Sunni extremists told the Beast.
Breitbart noted that following his controversial TV comments Obama has been accused by people in the intelligence community of lacking interest in “live” PDBs, which allow the president to ask follow-up questions, demand further information and challenge intel suppositions.
Meanwhile, an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail that the PDBs have included threat assessment on ISIS since 2012.
“It's pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” the staffer said. “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 (ISIS) have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the election.”
The White House said that the president prefers to read his intelligence briefings on his iPad instead of having in-person briefings, according to reports.
But Breitbart said, “The question remains whether a 42 percent attendance record on daily intelligence briefings is good enough for most Americans.”
Obama faces backlash after blaming intel community for missing ISIS
One wouldn't be surprised if President Obama's Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, woke up Monday morning checking for tire tracks after his boss effectively threw him under the bus for having "underestimated" the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group.
But Obama's remarks in a "60 Minutes" interview drew immediate objections from lawmakers and the intelligence community.
In the interview, Obama was asked how the Islamic State was able to gain so much territory. "Our head of the intelligence community Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," the president said.
Clapper previously had admitted that U.S. analysts both underestimated the Islamic State, or ISIS, and "overestimated" the ability of the Iraqi army to fight them.
But sources say Obama nevertheless was looped in on the rise of ISIS for a while.
A military intelligence official told Fox News that the Obama administration had options on the table to target senior leadership of ISIS -- as well as the Al Qaeda-aligned Khorasan Group -- in the 18 months leading up to the strikes in Syria which began last week.
The official, who is familiar with the data collection, said the threat from ISIS and Khorasan was well-documented in the president's daily brief for over a year, but the White House failed to act.
The official said the intelligence community "pushed hard" to identify the leadership of both groups for targeting purposes and these options were presented to the president's team -- and "every option was denied."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., also questioned the president's comments on Monday. Speaking on MSNBC, he said he himself became aware of the threat in the summer of 2013. King said Obama "dropped the ball" and is trying to blame others.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaking on CNN, also said he's "puzzled" by some of the president's statements.
"The intelligence comments -- intelligence people are pushing back hard," McCain said. "We predicted this and watched it. It was like watching a train wreck and warning every step of the way that this was happening ... It is a direct result of our failure to leave a residual force behind."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest fielded a string of questions at Monday's briefing about the interview. Asked if Obama intended to blame the intelligence community, Earnest said: "He did not."
He acknowledged Obama "is the one that is ultimately responsible for protecting the national security interests of the United States of America." He added: "There's no question that he relies on important advice from the leaders in our military, from leaders in our diplomatic corps, and from leaders in our intelligence [community]."
In discussing Iraq, Obama told "60 Minutes" that the U.S. left the country after the war with "a democracy that was intact, a military that was well-equipped and the ability then (for Iraqis) to chart their own course."
However, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "squandered" that opportunity over roughly five years because he was "much more interested in consolidating his Shia base and very suspicious of the Sunnis and the Kurds, who make up the other two thirds of the country," the president said.
He also said ISIS regrouped under the cover of the Syrian civil war.
"During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said.
He also said it was "absolutely true" that the U.S. overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army.
However, Obama also acknowledged that the U.S. is dealing with a conundrum in Syria, as the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State is helping Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the U.N. has accused of war crimes.
"I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance," Obama said. "We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad," whose government has committed "terrible atrocities."
However, Obama called the threat from the Islamic State and other terror groups a more "immediate concern that has to be dealt with."
The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has taken control of large sections of Iraq and Syria. The Khorasan Group is a cell of militants that the U.S. says is plotting attacks against the West in cooperation with the Nusra front, Syria's Al Qaeda affiliate.
Both groups have been targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent days; together they constitute the most significant military opposition to Assad.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Obama Acknowledges: ISIS Seeks to Kill Those Who ‘Worship a Different God’
Heather Clark - Christian News
WASHINGTON – In an interview with CBS on Sunday, while repeating his assertion that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent the Islamic religion, Barack Obama acknowledged that the group seeks to kill those who “worship a different God” than Allah.
Obama was interviewed by correspondent Steve Croft for the “60 Minutes” broadcast in a discussion that largely centered on American efforts to combat terrorism abroad. During the discussion, Croft cited that Obama had spoken of Al Qaeda being “decimated” two years ago, but that affiliates of the terror organization continue their insurgency in Iraq and Syria, and others have taken control of Libya.
“If you’ll recall, Steve, you had an international network in al Qaeda between Afghanistan and Pakistan, headed by Bin Laden. And that structure we have rendered ineffective,” Obama replied. “But what I also said, and this was two years ago and a year ago, is that you have regional groups with regional ambitions and territorial ambitions. And what also has not changed is the kind of violent, ideologically driven extremism that has taken root in too much of the Muslim world.”
He reiterated his contention that while the United States is fighting ISIS, it is not warring against the Islamic religion.
“[T]his week, in my speech to the United Nations General Assembly, I made very clear we are not at war against Islam,” Obama said. “Islam is a religion that preaches peace and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful.”
However, he acknowledged that ISIS and other Islamic groups seek to murder those who do not worship Allah.
“But in the Muslim world right now, there is a cancer that has grown for too long that suggests that it is acceptable to kill innocent people who worship a different God,” he said. “And that kind of extremism, unfortunately, means that we’re going to see for some time the possibility that in a whole bunch of different countries, radical groups may spring up, particularly in countries that are still relatively fragile, where you had sectarian tensions, where you don’t have a strong state security apparatus.”
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Internationally, it has been widely recognized that ISIS has sought to kill Christians and Catholics in Iraq and Syria, threatening those who do not convert to Islam with death. Other groups such as Africa’s Boko Haram have done likewise.
As previously reported, Nigerian teen Deborah Peters spoke in Washington, D.C. this past May about how her father, a pastor, was murdered by Islamists because of his Christian faith.
“In November , they burned his church, but still, he didn’t give up and built the church again,” she outlined. “So they said okay, they’re gonna kill him.”
On December 22, 2011, members of Boko Haram came to Peters’ home with the intent to murder her father.
“Three men knocked on our door, and then my brother opened the door for them,” she recalled. “And they asked him, ‘Where is your dad?’ And he told them, ‘My dad is in the bathroom taking a shower.’”
The men then dragged Peters’ father out of the shower and demanded that he deny his Christian faith.
“He told them that he should rather die than go to hellfire,” she said. “So, he then told them that [Jesus] said anyone that denied Him, He’s gonna deny them in the presence of His Dad in heaven. So my dad refused to deny his faith and they [shot] him three times in his chest.”
In 2006, during an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, then-President George W. Bush was asked, “Do we all worship the same God, Christians and Muslims?” Bush replied, “I think we do. I think we have different routes of getting to the Almighty.”
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