CIA Director Brennan contradicts Obama on ISIS threat

This doesn’t happen very often: the head of the CIA making a fool of his president.  But that is what happened yesterday as CIA Director John Brennan testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Less than 48 hours before his testimony, President Obama had tried to soothe the nation’s concerns in the wake of the Orlando jihad massacre, as IBD summarizes:

Obama’s remarks came after a meeting with his National Security Council, during which he spent a significant amount of time detailing all the many successes his strategy is having against the Islamic State (which Obama calls ISIL instead of ISIS), progress that he thinks is being obscured by recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. committed in the name of ISIS.

Here are the relevant parts of Obama’s statement.

“We are making significant progress. ... This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders. ... ISIL is under more pressure than ever before.

“ISIL continues to lose key leaders. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Iraq. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Syria as well.

“As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its lifeblood. ... ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system.

“ISIL’s ranks are shrinking as well.  Their morale is sinking. ... The flow of foreign fighters -- including from America to Syria and Iraq -- has plummeted.

“In fact, our intelligence community now assesses that the ranks of ISIL fighters have been reduced to the lowest levels in more than 2-1/2 years.”

Obama went on to say that “lone actors,” like the Orlando terrorist, “or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent.” And the best way to deal with this threat, he went on to argue, is with stricter gun-control laws.

Perhaps his startling honesty contradicting this pabulum was because Brennan was under oath. Or perhaps it was because with just over half a year left of the Obama presidency, Brennan is thinking ahead to his own legacy, and putting some distance between himself and the terror debacle brewing with ISIS planning even bigger strikes and our security apparatus hampered by political correctness that shuts down following leads involving Islam (as in the case of the many warnings received about Omar Mateen).

Whatever the reason, Brennan did not mince words (full text here):

Damien Paletta and Alan Cuillison hit the high points of the testimony in the Wall Street Journal:

“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against [Islamic State] on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” Mr. Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee. (snip)

“The group’s foreign branches and global networks can help preserve its capability for terrorism regardless of events in Iraq and Syria,” Mr. Brennan said. “In fact, as the pressure mounts on [Islamic State], we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”

He said so-called lone-wolf attackers are an “exceptionally challenging issue for the intelligence community,” citing Mr. Mateen’s attack in Orlando as an example.

Acting on the inspiration of Islamic State but without its direction, such attackers can case a target and prepare an assault “without triggering any of those traditional signatures that we might see” when a foreign terrorist group sends its members on a mission, Mr. Brennan said.

“Those individual actors, either acting alone or in concert with some cohorts—it really presents a serious challenge,” he added.

Whatever the reasons for Brennan’s honesty in debunking his boss’s claims, the nation is left with a commander in chief who does not want to see or act on the obvious threats we face.

This doesn’t happen very often: the head of the CIA making a fool of his president.  But that is what happened yesterday as CIA Director John Brennan testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Less than 48 hours before his testimony, President Obama had tried to soothe the nation’s concerns in the wake of the Orlando jihad massacre, as IBD summarizes:

Obama’s remarks came after a meeting with his National Security Council, during which he spent a significant amount of time detailing all the many successes his strategy is having against the Islamic State (which Obama calls ISIL instead of ISIS), progress that he thinks is being obscured by recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. committed in the name of ISIS.

Here are the relevant parts of Obama’s statement.

“We are making significant progress. ... This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders. ... ISIL is under more pressure than ever before.

“ISIL continues to lose key leaders. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Iraq. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Syria as well.

“As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its lifeblood. ... ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system.

“ISIL’s ranks are shrinking as well.  Their morale is sinking. ... The flow of foreign fighters -- including from America to Syria and Iraq -- has plummeted.

“In fact, our intelligence community now assesses that the ranks of ISIL fighters have been reduced to the lowest levels in more than 2-1/2 years.”

Obama went on to say that “lone actors,” like the Orlando terrorist, “or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent.” And the best way to deal with this threat, he went on to argue, is with stricter gun-control laws.

Perhaps his startling honesty contradicting this pabulum was because Brennan was under oath. Or perhaps it was because with just over half a year left of the Obama presidency, Brennan is thinking ahead to his own legacy, and putting some distance between himself and the terror debacle brewing with ISIS planning even bigger strikes and our security apparatus hampered by political correctness that shuts down following leads involving Islam (as in the case of the many warnings received about Omar Mateen).

Whatever the reason, Brennan did not mince words (full text here):

Damien Paletta and Alan Cuillison hit the high points of the testimony in the Wall Street Journal:

“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against [Islamic State] on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” Mr. Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee. (snip)

“The group’s foreign branches and global networks can help preserve its capability for terrorism regardless of events in Iraq and Syria,” Mr. Brennan said. “In fact, as the pressure mounts on [Islamic State], we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”

He said so-called lone-wolf attackers are an “exceptionally challenging issue for the intelligence community,” citing Mr. Mateen’s attack in Orlando as an example.

Acting on the inspiration of Islamic State but without its direction, such attackers can case a target and prepare an assault “without triggering any of those traditional signatures that we might see” when a foreign terrorist group sends its members on a mission, Mr. Brennan said.

“Those individual actors, either acting alone or in concert with some cohorts—it really presents a serious challenge,” he added.

Whatever the reasons for Brennan’s honesty in debunking his boss’s claims, the nation is left with a commander in chief who does not want to see or act on the obvious threats we face.