Obama Seemed More Interested in Golfing, Skipped More Than Half of his Intelligence Meetings
posted at 11:42 pm on September 10, 2012 by Matt Vespa
While Democrats slammed Romney for omitting Afghanistan during the Republican Convention, they should note that the leader of their party ignored more than half of his intelligence meetings to do other things – like play golf. Marc A. Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post on September 10 that:
The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.
Thiessen “asked National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor about the findings, and whether there were any instances where the president attended the intelligence meeting that were not on his public schedule. Vietor did not dispute the numbers, but said the fact that the president, during a time of war, does not attend his daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis is ‘not particularly interesting or useful.”
However, “Vietor also directed me to a Post story written this year in which Obama officials discuss the importance of the intelligence meeting and extol how brilliantly the president runs it. ‘Obama reads the PDB ahead of time and comes to the morning meeting with questions. Intelligence briefers are there to answer those questions, expand on a point or raise a new issue,’ The Post reported.”
According to former officials who have detailed knowledge of the PDB process, having the daily meeting — and not just reading the briefing book — is enormously important both for the president and those who prepare the brief. For the president, the meeting is an opportunity to ask questions of the briefers, probe assumptions and request additional information. For those preparing the brief, meeting with the president on a daily basis gives them vital, direct feedback from the commander in chief about what is on his mind, how they can be more responsive to his needs, and what information he may have to feed back into the intelligence process. This process cannot be replicated on paper.
Thiessen admits that no electronic files are on record to contrast President Obama with that of President Bush, but “the former president held his intelligence meeting six days a week, no exceptions — usually with the vice president, the White House chief of staff, the national security adviser, the director of National Intelligence, or their deputies, and CIA briefers in attendance.”
To deepen his understanding of national security, “once a week, he [President Bush] held an expanded Homeland Security briefing that included the Homeland Security adviser, the FBI director and other homeland security officials. Bush also did more than 100 hour-long ‘deep dives’ in which he invited intelligence analysts into the Oval Office to get their unvarnished and sometimes differing views.”
Apparently, Obama doesn’t feel the same way. While it’s interesting the Democrats are on the offensive on the issue of foreign affairs (they have been on defense on national security ever since McGovern clinched the 1972 Democratic nomination), it’s an effective ruse. Yes, the president nabbed Bin Laden, but only after three previous raids were discussed, debated, and eventually cancelled thanks to Valerie Jarrett. On the other hand, Obama has surely stepped up his golf game. I got bin Laden – let’s cruise.