Media: Obama was right about ISIS, but we’re mad at him anyway

The media is very upset with President Obama today for telling “60 Minutes” something last night that the media admits is in fact true.

But, but, but… Obama!

You see, when asked about ISIS, the President said that the intelligence community underestimated the threat the terrorist organization posed to Iraq and Syria.

In response, not only did Fox News produce one of its usual propaganda pieces translated from the original Republican, but the Daily Beast did one too.

The thing is, both Fox and the Daily Beast admit that Obama was right, but then they blast him anyway.

First, here’s Fox:

the flag of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or simply the Islamic State (IS). Via Shutterstock.

the flag of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or simply the Islamic State (IS). Via Shutterstock.

In the interview, Obama was asked how the Islamic State was able to gain so much territory. “Our head of the intelligence community Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” the president said.Clapper previously had admitted that U.S. analysts both underestimated the Islamic State, or ISIS, and “overestimated” the ability of the Iraqi army to fight them….

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaking on CNN, also said he’s “puzzled” by some of the president’s statements.

Oh, so the President was right. But John McCain is still puzzled by the truth. Yeah — when isn’t he?

Then we hear from Eli Lake at the Daily Beast, who’s written things I’ve actually liked in the past:

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.

So again, Obama was right.

Note that Lake goes on to say that some other intelligence officials, who were subordinate to Clapper, have been warning about ISIS for months. Yeah, and their boss believed otherwise. So, what is Lake suggesting exactly? That the President is supposed to ignore the advice of the head of the entire intelligence community because some staffer disagrees with him? (“Sorry James, but we’re invading Syria anyway cuz Joe the janitor is pissed.”)

It’s all well and good, and fair even, for the media and Fox News to ask why nothing was done about ISIS earlier. But to suggest that the “smoking gun” here is the President’s statement to “60 Minutes,” when both Fox and the Daily Beast then admit that the President’s comments were in fact accurate, is bizarre.

The issue here isn’t what President Obama told “60 Minutes,” as both outlets admit that the President spoke truthfully. The issue is why we’re only hearing about ISIS now. And so far I’ve seen no smoking memo warning the President of an imminent ISIS attack. So far, we’ve only heard the truth.

But hey, why let that get in the way of a good scandal.

(If only Obama had listened to level-headed John McCain.)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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10 Responses to “Media: Obama was right about ISIS, but we’re mad at him anyway”

  1. JNo says:

    If ISIS were a growing threat in Syria what were we supposed to do about it? Arm rebels in Syria? Which ones? One thing that bothers me is the tone of Obama’s statements, it sounds like he is throwing Clapper under the bus, it just doesn’t look good when there were officials on the record going on about the threat of ISIS as stated in the article. If we kept a US presence in Iraq this may not have spilled over, or who knows we could have 10K dead US soldiers. What a mess.

  2. FuzzyRabbit says:

    Perhaps if the NSA spent fewer resources reading American’s emails and listening in on Americans’ phone calls, and more resources on events in the Middle East and other trouble areas they wouldn’t drop the ball so often.

  3. Naja pallida says:

    You give our “intelligence” agencies a lot more credit than I ever would. Considering they have a track record of being wrong on pretty much every major event in the world, dating back to the founding of the CIA. One thing they are very good at is giving money and arms to groups that should never have it, which inevitably comes back to bite us in the ass. Which is really what has happened here… again.

  4. nicho says:

    Oh, please. nobody underestimated anything. They created ISIS as a way to overthrow Assad. And like so many US creations before — AlQaida, for example– their creation slipped the leash and attacked them. Obama was in on it all the way. He is salivating over the prospect of taking down Assad.

    “ISIS did not fall from the sky. Nor is it some sort of spontaneous movement. Like the Mujahedeen forces in Afghanistan, which fought both, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) and later the Soviet Union, ISIS were paid, armed and trained by the United States and its allies.

    It is a common tactic used by the West, to identify and groom the most radical forms of Islam, including Wahhabism, which is now choking Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/26/syria-the-latest-crusade/

    Please don’t ask us to fall for the political theater of who’s blaming whom.

    And besides, ISIS is so last week. The new thing to fear is Khorasan.

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/28/u-s-officials-invented-terror-group-justify-bombing-syria/

  5. Indigo says:

    It surprised me way back when our military said ISIS was not a threat. Clearly, it was. Now they know. But now we also know how profoundly flawed our military intelligence was.

    This is a good time to cast a casual glance over the history of the first European power to achieve global dominance. The media was so supportive of government policy that in 1896 when the Spanish Empire finally collapsed under the force of the US military and Teddy Roosevelt’s famous charge up San Juan hill that the Spanish public first came around to getting that Spain hadn’t been an actual world power for nearly a century.

    We’re not quite there yet but the solid ground we pretend our most-powerful-nation-in-the-world stands on is getting spongy. Our military intelligence sources are clearly not first rate.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obama’s back door attack on Syria is the seventh war he’s started or continued (Libya, Iraq, [continued and restarted], Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine) to make the world safe for British Petroleum and Halliburton. That’s going to hurt him and the Democrats no matter what those pesky journalists say or don’t say.

    “With a wounded candidate at the top of their ticket, Democrats in Ohio have been forced to adopt a Plan B as they seek to avoid a disastrous shutout in elections for governor and other statewide offices,” the New York Times reports. “Democrats here and nationally had high hopes of ousting Gov. John Kasich, whose job approval was below 50 percent among voters in Quinnipiac University polls taken early this year. But that was before the challenger, Ed FitzGerald, suffered self-inflicted wounds and his campaign all but imploded. With donors fleeing, top aides to Mr. FitzGerald quit last month as it became clear there was not enough money for a hard-fought race.” via Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire 09 29 2014

    Time for Democrats to Panic? – Nate Silver looks at the implications of a new poll showing Joni Ernst (R) with a solid lead over Bruce Braley (D) in the Iowa U.S. Senate race. – “If Republicans are favored there also, they have a path to a Senate majority without having to worry about the crazy race in Kansas. Nor is Iowa their only option. Polls have also moved toward Republicans in Colorado, where their candidate Cory Gardner is now a slight favorite. … This is an awfully flexible set of outcomes for Republicans. Win the six ‘path of least resistance’ states that I mentioned before, avoid surprises in races like Kentucky, and all Republicans need to do is win either Iowa or Colorado to guarantee a Senate majority. Or they could have Roberts hold on in Kansas. Or Orman could win that race, but the GOP could persuade him to caucus with them.” via Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire 09 29 2014

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 46% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Obama’s job performance. Fifty-two percent (52%) disapprove.” Gallup has it as 42% approve and 53 % disapprove. http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/gallup-daily-obama-job-approval.aspx

    He’s going to pull the Democrats down with him. The problem with that is that Republicans are just as bad as Democrats.

  7. BeccaM says:

    Hell, most of the time the media can’t even be bothered to mention that it was Obama’s predecessor, President Shrubbenfuhrer, who signed the agreement to remove U.S. troops from Iraq.

    Not that it was a good idea to stay anyway. I’ll still never forgive that S.O.B. and his pack of war criminals for ruining my nephew’s physical and mental health.

  8. Hue-Man says:

    Government departments NEED diverse opinions to challenge received wisdom – the same critics would jump on “Groupthink”. And by the way, Iraqi WMD.

  9. mtblaze says:

    I wager that most of us (and I’m sure President Obama as well) know that Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here”. We really don’t need to Google it. Obama receives intelligence from his agencies… he doesn’t create the intelligence.

    Why should intelligence agents all be fired for underestimating one faction among many in an internecine conflict in Syria that morphs weekly? Things change fairly rapidly in this era of rebellious factions and Al Queda recruitment and I don’t know of any intelligence agency that has a completely clear picture. I would think that the US should simply reassess, correct the intelligence and keep the people working who have been involved in the process all along.

  10. nicho says:

    And who is resigning/being fired? Or is the reponse merely “Heads will roll — just not any of ours.” Obama needs to google “Harry Truman — the buck stops here.”

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