The PJ Tatler

Obama: U.S. Intelligence Agencies Underestimated ISIS

Not his fault. How was he supposed to know that ISIS was a growing threat?

In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies received information from Kurdish officials early this year that ISIS was on the march.

Kurdish officials on Tuesday revealed more details about the warnings they gave to U.S. officials about the threat from Sunni militants now rampaging across Iraq with their eyes on Baghdad.

As far back as six months ago, Kurdish intelligence operatives were receiving troubling reports from along the border between Syria and Iraq, officials told NBC News.

There was a suspiciously large amount of men gathering in makeshift camps and staging areas that were accumulating weapons and vehicles. They appeared, according to Kurdish intelligence, to be preparing for battle.

The men were made up of mostly fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS), which has taken control of several cities in Iraq in the past couple of weeks — but Kurdish Intelligence operatives also noticed the fighters’ ranks had grown.

Joining were young men from local Iraqi tribes not known to have previous affiliation with ISIS, an organization aimed at establishing an Islamic caliphate militarily and imposing their strict interpretation of Islamic Law, or ‘Sharia’ in Iraq and greater Syria. Kurdish intelligence also learned that former officials from Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and ex-military officers were communicating with the fighters.

Then, in April, large convoys of vehicles carrying militants were spotted moving across the Syria-Iraq border. Only this time, after years of moving to the Syrian battlefield, they were now returning to Iraq.

The intelligence, according to Kurdish security sources, also revealed that ISIS had shifted its sights away from Syria and onto Iraq to tap into a groundswell of resentment among Sunni communities in the west of the country — who are underrepresented by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad.

As was their job, the intelligence agencies passed this information along to senior officials at the White House:

The U.S. intelligence community warned about the “growing threat” from Sunni militants in Iraq since the beginning of the year, a senior intelligence official said Tuesday — a claim that challenges assertions by top administration officials that they were caught off guard by the capture of key Iraqi cities.

Earlier Tuesday, in an interview with Fox News, Secretary of State John Kerry said “nobody expected” Iraqi security forces to be decisively driven out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as they were earlier this month in Mosul.

But in a separate briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, the senior intelligence official said the intelligence community had warned about the ISIS threat.

“During the past year, the intelligence community has provided strategic warning of Iraq’s deteriorating security situation,” the official said. “We routinely highlighted (ISIS’) growing threat in Iraq, the increasing difficulties Iraq’s security forced faced in combating (ISIS), and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq’s declining stability.”

Asked who failed to act, the official did not explain.

The president gave an interview to 60 Minutes where he proved that he is either totally out of the loop, or a bald-faced liar:

Obama described the U.S. intelligence assessments in response to a question during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that was airing Sunday night. He was asked about how Islamic State fighters had come to control so much territory in Syria and Iraq and whether it was a surprise to him.

The president said that during the Iraq war, U.S. military forces with the help of Iraq’s Sunni tribes were able to quash Al Qaeda fighters, who went “back underground.”

“During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said, according to an excerpt release before the show aired.

He noted that his director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has acknowledged that the U.S. “underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.” Obama also said it was “absolutely true” that the U.S. overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army.

The Obama administration has cited its intelligence weaknesses before.

At an August news conference, he said “there is no doubt” that the Islamic State group’s advance “has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates” suggested it would be.

U.S. intelligence agencies, he said, did not have “a full appreciation of the degree to which the Iraqi security forces, when they’re far away from Baghdad, did not have the incentive or the capacity to hold ground against an aggressive adversary.”

At an intelligence conference this month, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers expressed regret that his agency had not been “a little stronger” in tracking the Islamic State’s shift “from an insurgency to an organization that was now focused on holding ground, territory, the mechanism of governance.”

Obama called Syria ground zero for jihadis around the world, and said military force was necessary to shrink their capacity, cut off financing and eliminate the flow of foreign fighters.

Obviously, someone is not telling the truth here. Either the administration was informed of the threat of ISIS and the problems with the Iraqi military or they weren’t. Either the official is lying or the president is.

It’s alright though because it’s not Obama’s fault. It never is. He takes responsibility for nothing. “What? Who, me? Never happened.”

President Obama does not have the moral fiber to defeat ISIS. To do that, you need a core set of beliefs, immutable and unshakable. The president’s moral center is mush. His is a presidency of expedience and moral equivocation. It’s why friends don’t rely on him and enemies are able to push him around. He is a cardboard cut-out of a president and we’ll be extraordinarily lucky to avoid a major catastrophe on his watch.