A new report from the Government Accountability Institute found that President Obama has skipped nearly 60% of his daily intelligence briefings from the beginning of his presidency through September 29, 2014. Using data from the presidential calendar, GAI found that Obama has only attended 42.1% of his presidential daily briefings (PDBs), a pattern consistent with that established in his first term, when he attended just over 41%.
As Breitbart’s Wynton Hall notes, the findings are particularly relevant in the context of recent foreign intelligence breakdowns, particularly in regard to the rise of ISIS. In a 60 Minutes interview Sunday, President Obama attempted to pass the buck for the intelligence failure, deliberately throwing his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper under the bus, saying, “I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
But as Hall points out, recent articles by the Daily Beast's Eli Lake tell a different story, citing members of the Defense establishment who were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s clear attempt to pass the buck, a report echoed by the Daily Mail:
“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” a former senior Pentagon official “who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq” told the Daily Beast.
On Monday, others in the intelligence community similarly blasted Obama and said he’s shown longstanding disinterest in receiving live, in-person PDBs that allow the Commander-in-Chief the chance for critical followup, feedback, questions, and the challenging of flawed intelligence assumptions.
“It's pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail on Monday. “He gets them in writing.”
When GAI initially exposed the pattern during Obama’s first term, former White House Spokesman Jay Carney laughed off the findings, insisting that the president did, in fact, get his briefings, but preferred the written briefing summaries on his iPad rather than participating in the in-person briefings with intelligence staff, which allow for give and take and more detailed information. After the Benghazi attack, the presidential calendar revealed that Obama had not attended his intelligence briefings for five consecutive days leading up to the attack.
Read the full GAI report here.