You can chalk this up as another example of President Obama employing his signature strategy for dealing with sticky national security issues: Ignore, discredit, or downplay. If the foreign policy crisis was too big to ignore, he would give a speech — and kick the can down the road for another president to deal with.
In 2013, Obama not only downplayed the Defense Intelligence Agency’s intelligence report about Korea’s mini nukes — he attempted to discredit it. The White House media echo chamber was — as always — happy to go along with the ruse.
Tuesday’s bombshell Washington Post story that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has determined North Korea is capable of constructing miniaturized nuclear weapons that could be used as warheads for missiles – possibly ICBMs – left out a crucial fact: DIA actually concluded this in 2013. The Post also failed to mention that the Obama administration tried to downplay and discredit this report at the time.
During an April 11, 2013, House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., inadvertently revealed several unclassified sentences from a DIA report that said DIA had determined with “moderate confidence” that North Korea has the capability to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be launched with a ballistic missile.
The Director of National Intelligence and Obama officials subsequently tried to dismiss Lamborn’s disclosure by claiming the DIA assessment was an outlier that did not reflect the views of the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
All 16 remaining intel agencies, I’m sure.
The media could easily have turned this leak into a major front-page story — like it is today — but after the Obama White House signaled to the echo chamber that the president didn’t want to deal with it, the story went away.
It was clear what Obama officials were doing in 2013. The DIA report represented inconvenient facts that threatened President Obama’s North Korea “strategic patience” policy — a policy to do nothing about North Korea and kick this problem down the road to the next president. Obama officials tried to downplay the DIA assessment to prevent it from being used to force the president to employ a more assertive North Korea policy.
Fleitz notes that it is significant that the Trump White House has not condemned the Washington Post story as a leak — probably because it was “an authorized disclosure of classified information to advance President Trump’s North Korea strategy.”
Obama concealed the intelligence so he could avoid taking any action against North Korea. The Trump administration, on the other hand, publicized the intelligence so American citizens could see the seriousness of the threat and why decisive action is in order.