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September 29, 2014

Once More Under the Bus, Dear Friends!

Once more under the bus, dear friends, once more;
Lest blame descend upon thy sovereign's head.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a Prez
As boastful taunts and sharp-edged mockery:
But when reality rears its ugly head,
Then imitate the action of the ostrich!

Bury thy face, claim troubles to be inherited,
Obscure past inattention with sur-prised rage;
Then lift the chin with distainful sulk;
Let blameshifting fly from the imperial maw
Like the Nerf cannon; lower thy displeased brow
At fearful minions and questioners of authority alike
O'erwhelming the confused base with ever-shifting statements.

On, on, you noblest Scribblers.
Whose purpose lies in shielding us from reproof!

On “60 Minutes,” the president faulted his spies for failing to predict the rise of ISIS. There’s one problem with that statement: The intelligence analysts did warn about the group.

Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.

But in an interview that aired Sunday evening, the president told 60 Minutes that the rise of the group now proclaiming itself a caliphate in territory between Syria and Iraq caught the U.S. intelligence community off guard. Obama specifically blamed James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence: “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.

Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said.

Clapper did tell The Washington Post’s David Ignatius this month that he underestimated the will of the ISIS fighters in Iraq and overestimated the ability of Iraq’s security forces in northern Iraq to counter ISIS. (He also said his analysts warned about the “prowess and capability” of the group.)

Still, other senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Of course, the prediction wasn’t exactly hard to make. By then, Flynn noted, ISIS had taken the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and the demonstrated an “ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

The ability of ISIS to hold that territory will depend on its “resources, local support, as well as the responses of [Iraqi security forces] and other opposition groups in Syria,” Flynn added. He noted that while many Sunnis likely opposed ISIS, “some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups appear willing to work tactically with [ISIS] as they share common anti-government goals.”

Flynn was not alone. Clapper himself in that hearing warned that the three most effective jihadist groups in Syria—one of which he said was ISIS—presented a threat as a magnet for attracting foreign fighters. John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, said he thought both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s formal franchise in Syria, presented a threat to launch external operations against the West.

You knuckledraggers remember Mike Flynn, don't you?

The terrorist ideology behind al Qaeda is expanding significantly—contrary to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign theme that declared the Islamist terror threat in decline, according to the outgoing director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“It’s not on the run, and that ideology is actually, it’s sadly, it feels like it’s exponentially growing,” DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said during a security conference Saturday.

Flynn was asked about the controversy over Obama’s statements during his 2012 reelection bid that al Qaeda had been “decimated” by the U.S. war on terrorism, and that the group was “on the run” as a result.

Flynn challenged use of the term “core al Qaeda” to identify the group once led by Osama bin Laden and now headed by his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri.

“My belief—so this is Mike Flynn—core al Qaeda is the ideology,” he said.

The list of people who have warned of the consequences of announcing withdrawal dates and pulling out of Iraq prematurely goes on and on and on. And yet somehow, we're always caught napping.

Posted by Cassandra at September 29, 2014 07:40 AM

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And yet, the comment is being reported as straight news by all the usual suspects, including (natch) NPR.No media bias here, nossir! Nothing to see, move right along etc. etc.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at September 29, 2014 09:29 AM

"When he lies, he speaks his native language" John 8:44 (NIV)

Posted by: George Pal at September 29, 2014 09:45 AM

Shall we tolerate this base deception?

Neigh, say we! Neigh...

Posted by: Won't you be my Neigh-bor? at September 29, 2014 12:47 PM

When, oh when will you people stop flogging me and mooooove on?

Posted by: Deceased Equine Flesh at September 29, 2014 12:49 PM

I hear a glue factory is opening up around here somewhere.

Posted by: Evil Twin at September 29, 2014 12:53 PM