National Review Online Newsletters . . .
September 14, 2012
Mr. President, You May Want to Clear Your Schedule . . .
For a while, I had thought Obama's disinterest in in-person intelligence briefings was a non-issue or minor issue at most. Some folks prefer to take in information through written word, others prefer to hear it from a person's voice. And besides, if a president sees something in a President's Daily Brief that he doesn't understand or that he wants to know more about, the top folks in the intelligence community are just a phone call away.
(By the way, before we started this morning newsletter, I lobbied NR's Powers That Be to call it the "Personal Daily Briefing.")
But there are certain days you figure a president would want as much information as possible, where he would want to get everything, ask a few follow-ups, get the assessment of his most trusted advisers on national security. You would think that September 12, the day after one of our ambassadors was killed along with other U.S. personnel, would be one of those days.
You would be wrong. Marc Thiessen writes:
How long had it been since President Obama attended his daily intelligence meeting in the lead-up to the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya? After all, our adversaries are known to use the anniversary of 9/11 to target the United States.
According to the public schedule of the president, the last time the Obama attended his daily intelligence meeting was Sept. 5 -- a week before Islamist radicals stormed our embassy in Cairo and terrorists killed our ambassador to Tripoli. The president was scheduled to hold the intelligence meeting at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, the day after the attacks, but it was canceled so that he could comfort grieving employees at the State Department -- as well he should. But instead of rescheduling the intelligence briefing for later in the day, Obama apparently chose to skip it altogether and attend a Las Vegas fundraiser for his re-election campaign. One day after a terrorist attack.
Over at AEI, Thiessen adds:
The White House takes pride in the fact that Obama's PDB is "not briefed to him"-- because, they say, he is "among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet." That hubris brings to mind this revealing quote from a September 2008 New York Times profile of Obama:
"I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters," Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm going to think I'm a better political director than my political director."
So it should come as no surprise that apparently Barack Obama thinks he's a better intelligence briefer than his intelligence briefers.
I'm reminded of one of the more egregious comments from the First Lady in recent years, spoken at a Democrat party fundraiser in California in June 2011: "He reads every word, every memo, so he is better prepared than the people briefing him," she said. "This man doesn't take a day off."
It's a good thing that the Central Intelligence Agency is full of classy, dignified, professional people; otherwise, tomorrow's President's Daily Brief might consist of, "Well, since you're so well prepared, figure it out yourself, smarty-pants."
The news leaves Bryan Preston fuming:
What did you expect, that he would cram doing his job in between a photo op and a Vegas fundraiser? The man has a campaign to run, he doesn't have time to figure out what's what and who's who over there on the Arab street. Cut the man some slack.
We now know that the attack in Egypt was a planned gambit to get the mastermind of the 1993 WTC attack released. That's a certainty, as Ray Ibrahim posted here at the Tatler on Monday. We also know that the consulate in Libya was unprotected. No Marine guard, because it was deemed an "interim" facility even though Benghazi is a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.
Had Obama been on task on the job he's working so hard to keep, but not actually perform, he might have put things together and beefed up security at embassies and consulates throughout the region.
But he didn't. Vegas just couldn't wait.
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