A simple three-page report by the Government Accountability Institute tallying up the number of days President Barack Obama has attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) on intelligence has ignited a firestorm of controversy that places the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the murder of U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three members of his staff in a new and critical light.
The report found that of the first 1,225 days of his time in office, Mr. Obama has attended less than half (43.8 percent) of his daily intelligence briefings. As Breitbart News reported last week, in the week prior to the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Stevens, the White House official calendar shows no record of Mr. Obama attending his PDB.
When the GAI report was initially reported in a Washington Post article by Marc Thiessen, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed the report's findings as "hilarious." The very next day, Ambassador Stevens and three American members of his staff were murdered.
Now, with the Middle East ablaze, White House reporters on Friday once again pressed Mr. Carney on why Mr. Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings, even as he makes time for parties with Beyonce and Jay-Z, as well as numerous fundraisers. According to ABC News, Mr. Carney did not dispute the GAI report's numbers or findings, but said it depends on what the definition of "attended" is:
The White House does not directly dispute the numbers, but insists they
are a "selective representation of the facts." Obama has never
"skipped" a Presidential Daily Briefing, aides say, even if an in-person
briefing isn't listed on his schedule.
While his predecessor might have preferred an oral daily briefing, Obama
religiously reads a written version of the same prepared material,
often on a secure iPad (as seen in this official White House PHOTO ).
But as Marc Thiessen points out, the in-person briefings afford presidents and their intelligence officers the ability to challenge assumptions, drill deeper into threat assessment, and ascertain what additional information a commander in chief may need to make sagacious intelligence decisions.
But Mr. Carney says in-person briefings aren't necessary for Mr. Obama; the iPad works just fine. "His record of evaluating and acting on intelligence, I think, speaks for itself," Mr. Carney said on Friday. "I'll leave it at that."
Yesterday, senior diplomatic sources revealed that "the U.S. State Department had
credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in
Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be
targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert."