Now that the whole “Trump ignored intelligence about Russian bounties on U.S. Troops” story has been debunked by multiple military and intelligence officials, it seems appropriate to assess why Democrats and the media are still clinging to the story, pretending it’s true and believing it to be more Trump/Russia fodder.
The media and the Democratic Party were quick to jump on the alleged bombshell report from the New York Times because they wanted it to be true. It also served as a great counter to one of the most significant intelligence blunders of the past decade: the failure of the Obama-Biden administration to stop the rise of ISIS.
Despite the story being debunked, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and said Trump “doesn’t seem to be cognitively aware of what’s going on.”
Make no mistake about it, this is all a smokescreen to help Joe Biden when he has to answer for intelligence failures while he was vice president. The media wants to project the weaknesses of the Obama-Biden administration onto President Trump to undermine his reelection narrative.
Remember, Obama claimed that the White House was caught off guard about the rise of ISIS, even though he was repeatedly warned about it, but failed to act on it.
A national security staffer in the Obama-Biden administration told the Daily Mail in 2014 that Barack Obama was getting “highly accurate predictions” about the rise of the ISIS “before the 2012 election.” The intelligence was described as “actionable.”
Rather than accept responsibility for his failure, Obama publicly faulted his Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, for underestimating ISIS.
A former Pentagon official also told then-Fox News national security correspondent Catherine Herridge that Obama received “specific intelligence” about the rise of ISIS in his presidential daily briefings for at least a year:
A former Pentagon official confirms to Fox News that detailed and specific intelligence about the rise of ISIS was included in the PDB, or the President’s Daily Brief, for at least a year before the group took large swaths of territory beginning in June.
The official, who asked not to be identified because the PDB is considered the most authoritative, classified intelligence community product providing the President with analysis of sensitive international events, said the data was strong, and “granular” in detail, adding a policy maker “… could not come away with any other impression: This is getting bad.”
The official who has close knowledge of the process said the President, who reads the PDB unlike his predecessors who traditionally had the document briefed to them, was not known to come back to the intelligence community with further questions or “taskings.” Asked to describe the frequency, the former Pentagon official said “not generally.”
After suggestions that the administration may have been blindsided by the rise of ISIS, and that poor intelligence was to blame, the former Pentagon official said some of the intelligence was so good it was described as “exquisite”.
According to Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was Obama’s former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Obama White House ignored reports warning about the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit Obama’s reelection narrative that al Qaeda was on the run and that we were winning the war on terror.
“I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed. And I’ll be very candid with you, they just didn’t,” Flynn told CNN in 2015. “I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and (Osama) bin Laden was dead. … They’re dead and these guys are, we’ve beaten them.”
So, while Obama was warned, repeatedly, with accurate and actionable intelligence about the rise of ISIS but failed to act, the alleged Russian bounties were, according to an intelligence official, uncorroborated, and only reached low levels at the NSC because there was dissent within the intelligence community about its accuracy. It never appeared in a presidential daily briefing.
Territory in Iraq was quickly lost to ISIS as they grew in strength and numbers thanks to the incompetence and inaction of the Obama-Biden administration. It took Donald Trump becoming commander in chief to defeat ISIS.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis