Readers will recall that General Mike Flynn, then director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned Congress about the rise of ISIS in late 2013, warnings which prompted Barack Obama to compare ISIS to a “jayvee team” in an interview with the New Yorker. Flynn’s DIA had warned the White House about ISIS even earlier than that, in an August 2012 memo issued shortly after Flynn assumed command of DIA and chair of the Military Intelligence Board. Now Obama expresses surprise over the rapid rise of ISIS and wants an investigation into CENTCOM and the alleged cooking of the evidence, but Flynn tells Megyn Kelly that the probe should start at the top — and that Obama got plenty of warnings (via the Weekly Standard):
Flynn points out that CENTCOM is hardly the only agency supplying intel from this region. There are 16 different agencies funneling intel to the White House, Flynn says, and CENTCOM’s analysis would only be one part of a much larger picture. Flynn is confident that the intelligence has been quite accurate, and says the problem resides at the top:
Many of them have been deployed for many years in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere… so I think that the focus of really this investigation, they’ll find whoever they’re going to find and some of the tactical issues at central command, but the focus of this investigation ought to start at the top. Where intelligence starts and stops is at the White House. The president sets the priorities and he’s the number one customer. So if he’s not getting the intelligence he needs and if he’s not paying attention to what else is going on, then something else is wrong there between them and the advisers he has.
Flynn scoffs at the claim that the White House got surprised by the rapid expansion of ISIS in 2014-15:
Nobody can sit here today — no one, particularly the amount of intelligence that the White House got — and say, “We didn’t know this was a problem.” I mean, give me a break.
Flynn’s correct on both points. First, the White House clearly got warned about both what was happening with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)/ISIS in 2012, and the consequences of it if left unchecked in the August 2012 memo. Flynn himself warned Congress in late 2013 of the same threat. To the extent that intelligence analysis got cooked later, one has to ask why it got cooked. Who told those analysts to “cut it out” will be important, but why did they make that demand? Who told those people ixnay-on-the-aliphate-cay in the first place? Or better put, cui bono? The only benefit that came from professions of ignorance accrued to Obama and his national-security team, who could pretend that the rebound of al-Qaeda in Iraq was something else entirely, and they could continue to claim that “al-Qaeda was on the run.” That benefit certainly didn’t accrue to the people within military intelligence, not unless those people got rewarded for cooked intel from above.
What makes this interesting is that Flynn was Obama’s adviser in the 2012-2014 period and got a front-row seat as to how intelligence got handled. He’s been an outspoken critic ever since, and this probe of CENTCOM intelligence (his prior post to Flynn’s DIA command) has made him even more critical of his former boss. That should tell people something about the White House claims of shock, shock of gambling in the casino. Barack Obama gets the Captain Louis Renault award, Special Jayvee Team Edition: