Obama's problems with the intelligence community
The Newsweek story covered by Clarice Feldman this morning regarding the briefing Obama received three days before the attack about possible Christmas terror plots seemed a little strange.
After all, it was based on a conversation with a "high administration official" which usually means someone with regular access to the president. The question is why would anyone close to the president leak the story that he had been briefed just days prior to the attack that something might happen?
Buried in that Newsweek story was this:
Presidential aides are concerned that Obama will somehow be unfairly accused of dropping the ball on the fight against terrorist in Yemen.
It seems pretty clear that the president wants to shift any blame for this debacle to the intelligence agencies. Not surprisingly, this isn't sitting well with them.
Nor was the other oddity relating to intelligence that Obama was involved in; his seemingly innocent statement about the attack in Afghanistan that killed 8 CIA agents.
People tell me the President's rush to acknowledge the attack on the CIA in Afghanistan and mourn the deaths openly, publicly, and via press release is a huge no no. The CIA and greater intelligence community would prefer not to have the attention put on them. Additionally, because the President took the time to draft a blanket statement focused on the CIA in general instead of individually and more privately focusing on the families of the victims, it acknowledges the CIA's work in Afghanistan, acknowledges that the attack has an impact on the CIA, and gives the terrorists a new recruiting tool - "you too can cause America to publicly mourn the loss of their spies."
To you and me this may not seem like a big deal. But I'm told this is hugely significant and shows just how out of touch the Obama administration is with the intelligence community. I'm told that no other President has issued such blanket statements of public mourning directed toward an attack on the CIA and thereby having the White House itself confirming an attack on our intelligence community.
The intelligence community is licking its wounds right now and Obama's rush to confirm for the world that the community suffered such wounds has the intelligence community simmering tonight and Al Qaeda preparing a PR blitz with what they view as good news.
You can't fault the impulse of the president but you can fault the execution. I also have heard from two friends now retired from the intel community who tell me that many in the CIA are in an uproar over this statement by the president. Letting the enemy know how badly you've been hurt is stupid and I agree with Eric it shows a clear lack of sophistication from Obama.
That lack of sophistication was made evident by the breakdown that led to the attack on Christmas day. And here's a note to the Obama administration; don't get involved in a spitting contest with the CIA. As George Bush discovered, you'll only come out on the short end.