Report: Semi-retired president has skipped more than half of his daily security briefings this year

Via Breitbart, a little garnish for the Obama failure sandwich you’ve been dining on this morning. In O’s defense, surely some of these briefings were missed not because of inattention but because he had more pressing matters to attend to. Like Democratic fundraisers.

Maybe it’s time to change the joke from “semi-retired” to “mostly retired.”


Luckily, 2014 has been pretty calm abroad. If this feels familiar to you, it’s because the same issue came up a few months before the 2012 election. GAI, the group behind today’s report, noted at the time that O had been skipping his Presidential Daily Briefing regularly. Not true, said the White House — he sometimes skips an in-person briefing but he “religiously” reads the material prepared for the briefing every morning. He knows what’s going on even if it isn’t James Clapper (who still has a job for some reason) or some underling who’s spoonfeeding it to him face to face. If that’s true (is it?) then whether you think this is a big deal or not boils down to how valuable you think an in-person briefing is compared to a written communique. According to Marc Thiessen, who made a splash with this topic two years ago, it’s pretty valuable:

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.

While the Bush records are not yet available electronically for analysis, officials tell me 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. Once a week, he 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. Such meetings deepened the president’s understanding of the issues and helped analysts better understand the problems with which he was wrestling.

Any natsec readers out there have thoughts on that? I can’t speak to the truth of it, although I do find it odd that a guy who was touted as having a restless, inquisitive mind allegedly thinks less of give-and-take with his security team than the supposedly “incurious” chimp-like warmonger he replaced. Although I suppose the reply to that is that O doesn’t need Clapper sitting right in front of him if he wants to ask a follow-up question about his reading material. I’m imagining this phone chat circa January:

“Hi, Jim. It’s Barack. Is it ‘ISIS’ or ‘ISIL’?”
“Who’s ‘ISIS’?”

Here’s a reminder from the Free Beacon first posted back in May about where Obama really gets his news.