The intelligence community is not amused. Last week President Obama explicitly blamed faulty intel for his failure to act more quickly against ISIS. As the president told ‘60 Minutes,’ Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admits that “they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
Mr. Obama has an interesting way with pronouns. When something goes right, it’s first person all day long. As in, “I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I ended it.” Or, “We have killed Osama bin Laden.” But when ISIS is running wild, it’s because “they” missed all the cues.
But now “they” are getting even and setting the record straight. Like consumers lining up for the newest iPhone, America’s top spooks are lining up to give their side of the ISIS debacle. Intelligence officials have told Fox News and other outlets that their warnings about the ISIS threat were consistently ignored by the White House.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, echoed that when she entered the No Spin Zone Monday. “We had heard about the group almost two years ago,” she revealed, “and before Christmas we knew this was a real problem.”
That would be Christmas of 2013, right about the time State Department official Brett McGurk testified before a House committee and laid out this conclusion: “There is no question that ISIL is growing roots in Syria and in Iraq.”
So President Obama had to know that his own State Department and intelligence analysts considered ISIS a growing threat. But he did … nothing! The president seems to believe a terrible situation will vanish if he just closes his eyes and wishes hard enough. Or if he gives another speech. But those dangerous situations do not disappear, they grow.
Pakistan has undermined Afghanistan and America for decades by providing safe haven to the Taliban; Iran has funded Hezbollah and trained Shi’a terrorists; some unknown nation is harboring Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri. The president is well aware of all those situations, but seems almost incapacitated.
President Obama deserves credit for authorizing drone strikes that have wiped out terrorists in the Middle East. But he obviously did not want to do much more than that, at least until he was forced into action by beheadings and a public outcry.
And now? The president still believes he can convince Muslim leaders to “speak out forcefully” against ISIS and other butchers. But many Muslims are terrified, knowing that speaking out can lead to a gruesome death.
No, the only forces that can combat the savagery are the West, particularly the United States.
What is holding Barack Obama back? Our own Monica Crowley gave this armchair analysis this week: “This is a man who won the presidency as an anti-war leftist, and he is completely committed to that. He has spent his presidency minimizing and miniaturizing the jihadi threat.”
If General George Smith Patton were around today, he would want to take his Third Army into Syria to wipe out the ISIS evildoers. And if things went wrong, he would take the blame, not pass it off on some anonymous “they.” But we don’t have Patton, we have Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, and James Clapper. And, to paraphrase former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the leaders you have.
Bill O’Reilly is a talk show host on Fox News. His column runs on Friday in the Minden Press-Herald.