Republicans Now Complaining Obama Relies on PDBs

Republicans are now accusing Obama of throwing the CIA under the bus because the White House released evidence that Obama and Susan Rice hewed to CIA talking points about Benghazi. For example, John McCain just said this on CNN:

First they threw Hillary Clinton under the bus, now I guess they’re going to throw the CIA under the bus.

But here’s the funny thing. Perhaps the most extensive example of Republicans moving the bar is this WSJ article, that confirms the CIA was emphasizing  that Obama’s public statements tracked CIA intelligence is this WSJ article, which first describes what was in Obama’s Presidential Daily Briefs, then, in the passive voice, suggests Obama shouldn’t be using his PDBs as the basis for his public statements.

President Barack Obama was told in his daily intelligence briefing for more than a week after the consulate siege in Benghazi that the assault grew out of a spontaneous protest, despite conflicting reports from witnesses and other sources that began to cast doubt on the accuracy of that assessment almost from the start.

New details about the contents of the President’s Daily Brief, which haven’t been reported previously, show that the Central Intelligence Agency didn’t adjust the classified assessment until Sept. 22, fueling tensions between the administration and the agency.

[snip]

At the same time, questions have been raised about why the White House relied so heavily on the daily intelligence report and wasn’t more proactive about seeking corrections once conflicting accounts about the protests began to emerge in news accounts and elsewhere.

Administration officials’ response is that the White House relied on the intelligence community to provide its best assessment.

[snip]

The CIA was consistent from Sept. 13 to Sept. 21 that the attack evolved from a protest. The current intelligence assessment still notes there is conflicting evidence about whether there was a protest earlier on the day of the attack.

Nowhere does the article mention the attack Republicans were focused on on September 10, the claim that since Obama didn’t get his PDB delivered aurally, he was a bad Commander-in-Chief.

It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting.

The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

[snip]

When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security. As The Post story that the Obama White House sent me put it, “Process tells you something about an administration. How a president structures his regular morning meeting on intelligence and national security is one way to measure his personal approach to foreign policy.”

Golly. Dick Cheney’s mouthpiece says PDBs are centrally important. And Obama, in this case, followed the PDBs.

But now Republicans say that, too, is wrong.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. Michael McCollum says:

    It isn’t surprising that they can’t keep a manufactured talking point on point. They are so used to seizing without facts. By doing so, you risk losing credibility when the facts are shored up.

    And Theissen, is a goddamn joke. Mr. Waterboy won’t get waterboarded to prove how easy it is. Chump.

  2. OrionATL says:

    “…Golly. Dick Cheney’s mouthpiece says PDBs are centrally important. And Obama, in this case, followed the PDBs.

    But now Republicans say that, too, is wrong.”

    this is the tactic right-wing trolls used to use;

    it would drive me around the bend.

    i’d track some of these down to ground – only to be disciplined by well-meaning, he-said-she-said-approving monitors.

    just watched the giants get the final out – in pouring sanfran rain – for a series win against the cardinals. congrats to giants for a great comeback. i’d guess the greatest manager in baseball history must be feeling really let down about now.

  3. marksb says:

    A stunning double back-flip with a half twist, but too bad they couldn’t stick the landing. And I think that may be a permanent injury…

  4. marksb says:

    And we all know how paying attention to the PDB is a sign of weakness, as GW showed everyone his manliness when ignoring the OBL determined to strike memo.

  5. Arbusto says:

    I was curious why all reported intel, PDB’s and such are from the CIA, when State has the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in support of embassies and such. Other than Limbaugh, NYPost, and other nut cases, no one mentions INR intel on the Benghazi attack or other demonstrations. The CIA seems so politicized as to be unreliable.

  6. joanneleon says:

    Off topic:

    UK intelligence officers knew of CIA’s rendition plans within days of 9/11
    Meeting at British embassy in US raises questions about repeated denials by MI5 and MI6 of connivance in torture

    Within days of the 9/11 attacks on the US, the CIA told British intelligence officers of its plans to abduct al-Qaida suspects and fly them to secret prisons where they would be systematically abused.

    The meeting, at the British embassy in Washington, is disclosed in a forthcoming book by the Guardian journalist Ian Cobain. It raises serious questions about repeated claims by senior MI5 and MI6 officers that they were slow to appreciate the US response to the attacks, and never connived in torture.

    The meeting signalled to British officials that the US was preparing to embark on a global kidnapping programme which became known as extraordinary rendition. Cobain reveals that at the end of a three-hour presentation by Cofer Black, President George Bush’s top counter-terrorist adviser, Mark Allen – his opposite number in MI6 – commented that it all sounded “rather bloodcurdling”.

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