Background: On the day before our Benghazi consulate was sacked and our embassy in Cairo invaded, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen wrote a column headlined “Why is Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings?” In this column he asked a very valid question that no one else at the Washington Post seemed interested in asking:
President Obama is touting his foreign policy experience on the campaign trail, but startling new statistics suggest that national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be. It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting…During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent.
Why, it seems reasonable to ask, does the president have a better attendance record at his golf games than he does at his daily intelligence briefing? A question that would be prescient in view of the happenings on the next day.
Two days after the attacks of 9/11/2012, Thiessen again hit the subject: Obama alone: This president does not need intel briefers.
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
Briefings are called briefings for a reason. Briefings are not white papers or dissertations, they are not designed to stand on their own unless the person receiving the paper is a subject matter expert. I think all people of good faith could stipulate at this point that Obama is a an expert at nothing other than inducing failure and evading responsibility. As the subcommittee chair of the Senate Foreign Committee overseeing Afghanistan he managed to not hold a single hearing during a two year period. Charitably, on foreign policy and intelligence the man is a bozo.
When Thiessen queried the National Security Council on this, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor responded to the effect that Obama was so brilliant that there was nothing the briefers could tell him.
Vietor’s reply is quite revealing. It is apparently a point of pride in the White House that Obama’s PDB is “not briefed to him.” In the eyes of this administration, it is a virtue that the president does not meet every day with senior intelligence officials. This president, you see, does not need briefers. He can forgo his daily intelligence meeting because he is, in Vietor’s words, “among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.”
At some point in the aftermath of lies and dead “bumps in the road” and burned facilities and compromised intelligence this line of questioning began to sting. So the every malleable Glenn Kessler was called to the regime’s defense.
In a replay of his infamous “true but false” finding against the Romney campaign, Kessler doesn’t bother to even address Thiessen’s claim but incredibly awards “three Pinocchios” to Thiessen because some other presidents did not receive the daily briefing. This is nonsense on stilts. A claim is either true or not true. It can’t be factually true but earn an untrue rating because of the rater’s personal politics.
And as Thiessen points out, since the column appeared Obama has received daily briefings:
Perhaps Obama does not feel he needs such daily interaction. But the fact that he has not been having it is indisputable. (Though, interestingly, since my columns appeared, Obama attended his PDB meeting seven days in a row for the first time in seven months. If live briefings are no better than paper briefings, why has Obama suddenly begun receiving briefings in-person?)
It is a fact that for eight years before Obama took office, there was a daily meeting to discuss the PDB. And it is a fact that, on taking office, Obama stopped holding the daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis. Kessler may not think that is important, and he is entitled to his own opinion — but not his own facts.
When the Obama Administration finally slinks out of town in a cloud of lies, deceptions, and broken promises we know where we will find Glenn Kessler. He’ll be in the men’s room of the Washington, DC, Greyhound station propositioning derelicts; striving to regain his self respect.