US President Barack Obama has attended only 42 percent of his daily intelligence briefings since assuming office more than five and a half years ago, according to a new study.
The Government Accountability Institute, a watchdog non-profit organization, calculated the number of times Obama has received daily oral intelligence briefings, or the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB). The group found that as of Sept. 29, the President had attended 42.4 percent of PDBs during his first term and 41.3 percent during his second term.
The report came days after Obama told 60 Minutes that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has “underestimated” the strength of Islamic State, the militant group currently the target of US-led airstrikes on its holdings in Syria and Iraq.
“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama said.
The statement infuriated some in the intelligence and defense communities. One anonymous former senior Pentagon official told the Daily Beast that Obama is surely getting valuable information about Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, from intelligence reports.
“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” said the former official who is familiar with jihadist actions in Syria and Iraq.
After a previous tally of PDB attendance in 2012, the White House said that Obama always receives a copy of such intelligence reports on his secure iPad, and that the White House public schedule is, at times, inconsistent with how and when the President’s daily meetings and events are announced or termed.
“It’s pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail on Monday. “He gets them in writing.”
The staffer added that Obama has been warned of Islamic State for years.
“Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate predictions about ISIL have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the 2012 election,” the security staffer said.