Archive for September 2014
On Sunday night, President Obama told 60 Minutes that “….U.S. intelligence agencies underestimated the threat from Islamic State militants in the Middle East and overestimated the ability and will of Iraq’s army to fight such extremists.”
On Monday afternoon, Pres. Obama’s press secretary and Jonathan Karl of ABC went back and forth on the president’s comments:
JON KARL, ABC NEWS: Did the intelligence community underestimate ISIL or did the president underestimate ISIL?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: The way I would describe it is that everybody did. That everybody was surprised to see the rapid advance that ISIL was able to make across from Syria across the Iraqi border and to take over such large swaths of territory in Iraq did come as a surprise. And it’s something the president has said many times and it’s something that even senior members of the intelligence community have acknowledged as well.
A lot of that was predicated on the underestimation of the will of the Iraqi security forces to fight for their country.
KARL: But, Josh, on that question you don’t even need to go back to February, you can go back to November of last year, Brett McGurk, who is Assistant Secretary of State and one of the key point people for the administration on Iraq, he described almost exactly what the threat was, both on the side of the Iraqis not being able to confront it, the fact that they were benefiting from a sanctuary across a porous border in Syria.
I mean, his description back in November was: “we have seen upwards of 40 suicide bombers per month, targeting play grounds, mosques, and markets, in addition to government sites from Basra to Baghdad to Erbil. ISIS has benefited from a permissive operating environment due to inherent weaknesses of Iraqi security forces.”
This is one of your key people on Iraq who was raising this alarm in November of last year. Did this message get to the president? Did he believe it? Did he not hear it? What happened?
EARNEST: Jon, this is something that the president has discussed on a number of occasions. That principally what we’re talking about here is the rapid advance that ISIL was able to make across the Iraqi desert and the success that they have had after that advance. That is not to say that there wasn’t an acknowledgment of the risk that this organization posed —
KARL: Let me stop you for a second because two months after Brett McGurk says this, the president calls ISIL the “JV team” in The New Yorker.
EARNEST: We’ve been through this and that’s not what the president referred to.
KARL: He is clearly talking about ISIL. That question was about —
EARNEST: That’s not true.
KARL: The question was specifically about what happened after ISIL took over Fallujah.
EARNEST: That’s not what it was about.
KARL: The question was directly about —
EARNEST: We can look at the transcript after the briefing. That’s not what the — the president also discussed this on 60 Minutes yesterday, so we’ve sort of, we’ve been through this argument.
KARL: Here you have a top person, and he’s not alone, you mentioned coming across and taking over vast areas of Iraq, in February of this year the head of the DIA, Michael Flynn, Gen Flynn, warned of exactly this, he warned ISIL will attempt to gain territory in Iraq and Syria to display its strength, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah. And the groups ability to concurrently maintain multiple safehavens in Syria. This is exactly what happened, how can the president maintain this was an intelligence failure?
JOSH EARNEST: Well, John, I’ll read you some comments from [DNI] Director Clapper himself who said–
KARL: There are many intelligence agencies, this is the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Are you saying the president didn’t hear this? This was testimony to Congress.
EARNEST: I’m talking about the person who is in charge of the greater intelligence community, what he said was “what we didn’t do was predict the will to fight, that’s always the problem.” …
KARL: So these warnings that came, to the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, to Iraq, he made similar warnings on the news, DHS officials, did the president hear this, did he know? You mentioned Clapper, so we know he listened to Clapper, the head of the DNI. Did he know what these other top officials in his own administration were saying about the threat from ISIL, did he hear what I just read to you?
EARNEST: I assume what you read to me was Congressional testimony, there are a lot of public statements about this, I’m not going to get into what sort of private conversations the president had with his, with the intelligence community.
KARL: If these warnings got to the president, maybe they didn’t, maybe there’s a problem at DNI, that needs to be looked at.
EARNEST: What I’m saying is the president has complete confidence in the intelligence community to deal with these very dynamic but significant threats to our broader national interest. He has complete confidence in their ability to gather the information require to help us meet and mitigate that threat.”
Frankly, I’m surprised that the White House press corps didn’t stand up and give Mr. Karl a standing ovation. Mr. Karl deserved it!
We are down to two explanations on this matter:
1) President Obama does not read intel reports or questions the people presenting the information. We’ve all seen a boss like this before. You put a memo on his desk, and he never gets to it! Of course, in the real world, those bosses get fired for incompetence. They don’t have “yes we can” screamers making excuses for them.
2) President Obama chose not to pay attention because these reports challenged the talking points about “ending wars.”
Again, we have either an incompetent president who does not read memos or one who is reckless by putting politics over our national security.
There is no other explanation. He is “in over his head,” or he has engaged in a massive cover-up that will get some Americans killed. What else could it be?
Pres. Obama’s numbers are down to 52% with Hispanics, according to Gallup:
The president’s approval among Hispanics is still 10 points higher than among the population as a whole, which stands at 42 percent.
But that gap has closed since Obama’s reelection in 2012, when Hispanic approval was 22 points higher.
The numbers among Hispanics hit a peak of 72 percent in June 2012 when, in the midst of Obama’s reelection battle, he announced a program to defer deportations for some people brought to the country illegally as children.
Other polls have also shown a drop in Hispanic approval. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this month showed the rating at 47 percent, down from 62 percent in April 2013.
Like the rest of the population, Hispanics are coming to terms with the reality that he was a great candidate but is a lousy president.
Let me add this:
First, who are these 52% who approve of President Obama’s performance? What do they see that so many don’t?
Second, how significant will this be in the midterms? My guess is that turnout will be very depressed, and especially in areas where Democrat incumbents are under fire.
Third, what about 2016? It’s still a bit premature, but the GOP should not assume that Hispanics just want to hear about immigration reform. I would like to hear an economic growth message and calls for school choice. The GOP may find that there are lots of Hispanics willing to hear that message.
And finally, Hispanics don’t like to see their country look weak and impotent, either.
There are lots of patriotic Hispanics with sons and daughters in our armed forces.
They have been a significant force in the Catholic faith for a long time, or 1540:
“The Jesuit movement was founded by Ignatius de Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, in August 1534.
The first Jesuits–Ignatius and six of his students–took vows of poverty and chastity and made plans to work for the conversion of Muslims.
If travel to the Holy Land was not possible, they vowed to offer themselves to the pope for apostolic work.
Unable to travel to Jerusalem because of the Turkish wars, they went to Rome instead to meet with the pope and request permission to form a new religious order.
In September 1540, Pope Paul III approved Ignatius’ outline of the Society of Jesus, and the Jesuit order was born.”
Like any group, they are not perfect and there is always room to criticize. At the same time, their contributions to mass education must be celebrated.
Happy # 474 to the Jesuits!