Tapper Grills WH Spox: 'Just How Badly Did Obama Underestimate ISIS Threat?'

Tapper Grills WH Spox: 'Just How Badly Did Obama Underestimate ISIS Threat?'

Friday on CNN’s “The Lead,” host Jake Tapper grilled Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken for President Barack Obama’s comments last January in which he referred to non-al Qaeda groups in Iraq as the JV team.

Tapper asked, “You say you’ve been warning about it, but in January, President Obama told the New Yorker magazine’s David Remnick that ISIS, which was then still considered a part of al Qaeda, fighting in Syria was like a JV basketball team. He said quote, ‘The analogy we use around here sometimes and is accurate is if a JV team puts on Laker uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.’ How badly did President Obama underestimate it the threat of ISIS?”  

Blinken answered by downplaying ISIS’s threat to American directly saying, “There are two different things going on. One is the question of the threat that ISIS poses to us here in the homeland. Unlike core al Qaeda, right now their focus is not on attacking the U.S. homeland or our interests here in the United States or abroad … It’s focused intently trying to create a caliphate in Iraq and a base from which over time to operate. That’s what we’re focused on. We’re focused on making sure we can help empower the Iraqis and others to prevent them from doing just that. The president was right. they did not pose a threat like al Qaeda central to us in the homeland. We want to make sure they don’t get to the point where they can pose that threat.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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