Throwing the Intelligence Community under the Bus

Earlier this month, President Obama asked the American people to use the midterm election as a referendum on his policies.  His comment: "I am not on the ballot this fall… But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot.”  He is completely correct, and looking at his failed policies toward combating terrorism, people should vote to send a message of opposition to the president.  Throughout his administration President Obama and the Democrats have made wrong decisions and have constantly thrown the intelligence community under the bus, while deceiving Americans.  Intelligence experts were interviewed by American Thinker on their opinions regarding the president’s policies.

This president seems to be fighting intelligence agencies more than the terrorists.  José Rodriguez, Jr., former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, and a very respected intelligence official, is not surprised that the president is once again using the blame game directed at the intelligence community when he said in a recent 60 Minutes interview, "Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."  To refresh everyone’s memories, Rodriguez notes, “Remember: in January 2009 the Obama administration made the decision to release the highly classified legal justification of the interrogation program, against the advice of his top intelligence officials.  He gave away the blueprint to our enemies.  Then-Attorney General Eric Holder reinvestigated CIA officials even though it was already done and the investigation had been closed.  Most recently, the president said we tortured some folks.  This is just highly irresponsible, for the president of the U.S. to say this.  It is obvious that regarding the intelligence community, this president is either misinformed or does not understand, and it is disgusting.”

Regarding the 60 Minutes statement, Rodriguez believes that the president threw the intelligence community under the bus for political expediency.  It is another example of this president’s desire not to take any responsibility.  “This administration is in denial.  They have ignored the growing terrorist threat because they did not want to deal with it.  The American people should understand that what he says are just empty words.”

Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, agrees and notes, “Words to this president seem to be things that are useful in the moment.  A lot of what he says in speeches or statements never seems to happen.”  It sure seems that way, considering statements like “If you like your doctor or health insurance you can keep it,” and “Al-Qaeda is decimated,” or the famous "red line" President Obama drew on Syria and chemical weapons.

Maybe this president needs to take a lesson from past Democratic presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.  Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), who has for over two decades led efforts in Congress to help prevent terrorism, has some advice for the president: that the person in charge should always accept responsibility.  Instead of the blame game and trying to fit the facts into an untrue narrative, this president should have uttered words that do not seem to be in his vocabulary: It is my fault that we were caught off balance by ISIS and Khorasan.

So how is it that the ISIS and Khorasan threats have increased?  Rodriguez refers to the Government Accountability Office report, which states that Obama has not been at nearly 60% of his presidential daily briefings.  Rodriguez wonders if it is because these updates do not fit in the narrative of President Obama's worldview so he would rather ignore and argue with the facts instead of embracing them.  “If the president was actually present, he would have been able to have a healthy exchange, a give-and-take, asking follow-up questions.  This is something important for a president to do for the protection of the U.S.”

Congressman Wolf believes that the president needs to be more personally engaged.  “He took personal credit when bin Laden was killed.  There were a lot of Is, which was very appropriate.  But now, to defeat this threat, the president has to be honest with himself and the American people.  For example, this supposed new terrorist group, Khorasan, is really al-Qaeda and not an affiliate.  McDonald’s, whether in New York, Virginia, or LA, is still McDonald's.  The fact that they are in different places does not change who they are.  Al-Qaeda has just relocated.”

Michael Hayden is hoping that Americans will consider the past policies of this administration to understand the terrorist threat.  Because of this administration’s reluctance to stay involved in Iraq and not to arm the legitimate Syrian opposition, ISIS and Khorasan have gained traction.  He has said many times that the residual forces in Iraq should not have been completely withdrawn.  The president needed to be more personally engaged, investing personal prestige and energy, to obtain an official status of forces agreement.  Hayden explained, “Many Americans do not understand that the former Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, agreed to it but refused to ask Parliament to vote on it.  We insisted that it had to be approved by Parliament.  Now the President talks about never sending ground troops to Iraq.” 

Yet, Hayden argues, “[t]hink about this.  We have almost two thousand troops in Iraq currently.  Do we have a SOFA agreement?  So what changed?  No boots on the ground is a mantra, not a policy.  We need that, and a lot more air power.  What the president should be saying, something I could agree with: that there is no need for American battalions or brigades.  That is different than embedding American forces at a lower level there to have a positive effect.  We need to be effective, because otherwise, the message sent will not be very good.  With the world watching, how can we let the Syrian Kurdish town fall to ISIS?  And without our help, the Iraqi army will not be able to take back Mosul.”

To defeat this latest threat, President Obama needs to stop deceiving himself and the American people.  His rhetoric and statements are inconsistent with reality, and most Americans would agree with Hayden and others that ground forces are needed.  In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in early October, a whopping 72 percent of Americans believe that the United States will still use its ground troops against ISIS.  This means that they do not believe the president’s narrative.

People should ask how it is possible that the president was uninformed about this latest terrorist threat when members of Congress openly talked about the dangers months before, and intelligence experts testified before annual House and Senate committees on ISIS and Khorasan’s growing strength.  Instead of throwing the intelligence community under the bus for political purposes, this administration should be protecting and supporting it.  Michael Hayden summarized it best: “This is far more a failure of policy than a failure of intelligence.  Remember: those in the CIA and other agencies are the people who we depend on the most to keep us safe.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

Earlier this month, President Obama asked the American people to use the midterm election as a referendum on his policies.  His comment: "I am not on the ballot this fall… But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot.”  He is completely correct, and looking at his failed policies toward combating terrorism, people should vote to send a message of opposition to the president.  Throughout his administration President Obama and the Democrats have made wrong decisions and have constantly thrown the intelligence community under the bus, while deceiving Americans.  Intelligence experts were interviewed by American Thinker on their opinions regarding the president’s policies.

This president seems to be fighting intelligence agencies more than the terrorists.  José Rodriguez, Jr., former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, and a very respected intelligence official, is not surprised that the president is once again using the blame game directed at the intelligence community when he said in a recent 60 Minutes interview, "Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."  To refresh everyone’s memories, Rodriguez notes, “Remember: in January 2009 the Obama administration made the decision to release the highly classified legal justification of the interrogation program, against the advice of his top intelligence officials.  He gave away the blueprint to our enemies.  Then-Attorney General Eric Holder reinvestigated CIA officials even though it was already done and the investigation had been closed.  Most recently, the president said we tortured some folks.  This is just highly irresponsible, for the president of the U.S. to say this.  It is obvious that regarding the intelligence community, this president is either misinformed or does not understand, and it is disgusting.”

Regarding the 60 Minutes statement, Rodriguez believes that the president threw the intelligence community under the bus for political expediency.  It is another example of this president’s desire not to take any responsibility.  “This administration is in denial.  They have ignored the growing terrorist threat because they did not want to deal with it.  The American people should understand that what he says are just empty words.”

Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, agrees and notes, “Words to this president seem to be things that are useful in the moment.  A lot of what he says in speeches or statements never seems to happen.”  It sure seems that way, considering statements like “If you like your doctor or health insurance you can keep it,” and “Al-Qaeda is decimated,” or the famous "red line" President Obama drew on Syria and chemical weapons.

Maybe this president needs to take a lesson from past Democratic presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.  Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), who has for over two decades led efforts in Congress to help prevent terrorism, has some advice for the president: that the person in charge should always accept responsibility.  Instead of the blame game and trying to fit the facts into an untrue narrative, this president should have uttered words that do not seem to be in his vocabulary: It is my fault that we were caught off balance by ISIS and Khorasan.

So how is it that the ISIS and Khorasan threats have increased?  Rodriguez refers to the Government Accountability Office report, which states that Obama has not been at nearly 60% of his presidential daily briefings.  Rodriguez wonders if it is because these updates do not fit in the narrative of President Obama's worldview so he would rather ignore and argue with the facts instead of embracing them.  “If the president was actually present, he would have been able to have a healthy exchange, a give-and-take, asking follow-up questions.  This is something important for a president to do for the protection of the U.S.”

Congressman Wolf believes that the president needs to be more personally engaged.  “He took personal credit when bin Laden was killed.  There were a lot of Is, which was very appropriate.  But now, to defeat this threat, the president has to be honest with himself and the American people.  For example, this supposed new terrorist group, Khorasan, is really al-Qaeda and not an affiliate.  McDonald’s, whether in New York, Virginia, or LA, is still McDonald's.  The fact that they are in different places does not change who they are.  Al-Qaeda has just relocated.”

Michael Hayden is hoping that Americans will consider the past policies of this administration to understand the terrorist threat.  Because of this administration’s reluctance to stay involved in Iraq and not to arm the legitimate Syrian opposition, ISIS and Khorasan have gained traction.  He has said many times that the residual forces in Iraq should not have been completely withdrawn.  The president needed to be more personally engaged, investing personal prestige and energy, to obtain an official status of forces agreement.  Hayden explained, “Many Americans do not understand that the former Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, agreed to it but refused to ask Parliament to vote on it.  We insisted that it had to be approved by Parliament.  Now the President talks about never sending ground troops to Iraq.” 

Yet, Hayden argues, “[t]hink about this.  We have almost two thousand troops in Iraq currently.  Do we have a SOFA agreement?  So what changed?  No boots on the ground is a mantra, not a policy.  We need that, and a lot more air power.  What the president should be saying, something I could agree with: that there is no need for American battalions or brigades.  That is different than embedding American forces at a lower level there to have a positive effect.  We need to be effective, because otherwise, the message sent will not be very good.  With the world watching, how can we let the Syrian Kurdish town fall to ISIS?  And without our help, the Iraqi army will not be able to take back Mosul.”

To defeat this latest threat, President Obama needs to stop deceiving himself and the American people.  His rhetoric and statements are inconsistent with reality, and most Americans would agree with Hayden and others that ground forces are needed.  In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in early October, a whopping 72 percent of Americans believe that the United States will still use its ground troops against ISIS.  This means that they do not believe the president’s narrative.

People should ask how it is possible that the president was uninformed about this latest terrorist threat when members of Congress openly talked about the dangers months before, and intelligence experts testified before annual House and Senate committees on ISIS and Khorasan’s growing strength.  Instead of throwing the intelligence community under the bus for political purposes, this administration should be protecting and supporting it.  Michael Hayden summarized it best: “This is far more a failure of policy than a failure of intelligence.  Remember: those in the CIA and other agencies are the people who we depend on the most to keep us safe.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.