The President’s Former Advisors Weigh In

‘Obviously There's A Lot Of Concern’

Former Obama Admin Official: ‘Change Your Strategy, Mr. President’

LEON PANETTA, Former Secretary Of Defense: ‘Obviously there's a lot of concern … resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient’ “Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the President described. …I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that. And for that reason I think we have to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 11/22/15)

MICHAEL VICKERS, Former Under Secretary Of Defense For Intelligence: “Change Your Strategy, Mr. President: One of the duties of a senior policy adviser is to tell the president when his strategy isn’t working. By any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding, or is not succeeding fast enough.” (“Former Obama Terrorism Adviser: Change Your Strategy, Mr. President,” Politico Magazine, 11/20/15)

ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, Former Coordinator For Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), U.S. State Department: ‘The administration seems to be really flailing and tone deaf to this latest challenge’ “Alberto M. Fernandez, who until earlier this year led the State Department unit that counters militant propaganda, said, ‘The administration seems to be really flailing and tone deaf to this latest challenge.’ He called the San Bernardino attack ‘D.I.Y. jihad,’ and said it ‘forces the administration to look at where it does not want to go and is weakest, at jihadist ideology and its dissemination.’” (“California Attack Has U.S. Rethinking Strategy On Homegrown Terror,” The New York Times, 12/6/15)

JOHN COHEN, Former Acting Under Secretary For Intelligence And Analysis, U.S. Homeland Security Department: Administration needed to ‘wake up’ “John D. Cohen, a professor at Rutgers University and a senior Homeland Security Department counterterrorism official until last year, said the administration needed to ‘wake up’ to the threat and change an approach that is ‘ill-suited to deter these kinds of attacks.’” (“California Attack Has U.S. Rethinking Strategy On Homegrown Terror,” The New York Times, 12/6/15)

“President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official said Tuesday that the White House ignored reports prefacing the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit its re-election ‘narrative.’ ‘I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed. And I'll be very candid with you, they just didn't,’ retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told CNN's Jake Tapper on ‘The Lead.’” (“Former Intel Chief Says WH Worried Over Re-Elect 'Narrative,'” CNN, 12/2/15)

  • Q: ‘Do you feel your warnings were ignored?’ LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, Former Head Of DIA: ‘You know, I think they did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed…’ JAKE TAPPER, CNN: “In 2012, your agency put out a now declassified report that seems to have predicted the rise of ISIS to power. You said that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and Syria could lead to a declaration of a, quote, ‘Islamic State through union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and protection of its territory.’ It was not long after you issued that report that President Obama referred to ISIS as the jayvee team. Do you feel your warnings were ignored?” LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, Former head of DIA: “You know, I think they did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed, and I'll be very candid with you. I have said, and I believe, that people that were around the president, his sort of inner circle that were advising him, I think advised him incorrectly.” TAPPER: “What was the narrative?” FLYNN: “I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and bin Laden was dead and he was –” TAPPER: “The election narrative.” FLYNN: “And they were dead, these guys are, you know, we've beaten them. And we knew that. We have killed more leaders in the al Qaeda/ISIS/AQI, Boko Haram, more leaders than we can say and they continue to just multiply. So, we have to get more realistic on what it is we're facing. And we're not facing a bunch of criminals. These are not criminals. These are hardcore radical Islamists who have a deeply held belief.” (CNN’s “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” 12/1/15)


FLASHBACK: Previous Obama Administration ‘Narratives’

 2011: President Obama Asserts ‘The Tide Of War Is Receding’

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I would note that the end of war in Iraq reflects a larger transition.  The tide of war is receding.” (“Remarks By The President On Ending The War In Iraq,” The White House, 10/21/11)

2012: President Obama Asserts Al Qaeda Has Been ‘Decimated,’ ‘On The Path To Defeat’

“President Barack Obama has described al Qaeda as having been ‘decimated,’ ‘on the path to defeat’ or some other variation at least 32 times since the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to White House transcripts.” (“Obama Has Touted Al Qaeda’s Demise 32 Times Since Benghazi Attack,” CNS News, 11/1/12)

“One day after the Benghazi attack that occurred on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, Obama spoke at a campaign event in Las Vegas on Sept. 12. ‘A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead,’ Obama said in Las Vegas. On Sept. 13 in Golden, Colo., Obama said, ‘Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq -- and we did. I said we’d wind down the war in Afghanistan -- and we are. And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.’ He repeated that line again on Sept. 17 in Cincinnati and again that day in Columbus, Ohio. The next day at a fundraising event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Obama brought up the first 9/11 and used ‘decimated,’ indicating past tense. ‘We’ve got choices about war and peace,’ Obama said. ‘I ended the war in Iraq, as I promised. We are transitioning out of Afghanistan. We have gone after the terrorists who actually attacked us 9/11 and decimated al Qaeda.’” (“Obama Has Touted Al Qaeda’s Demise 32 Times Since Benghazi Attack,” CNS News, 11/1/12)

Jan. 2014: President Obama Compared ISIS To ‘A JV Team’

DAVID REMNICK, The New Yorker: “Even in the period that you’ve been on vacation in the last couple of weeks, in Iraq, in Syria, of course, in Africa, al-Qaeda is resurgent.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.” REMNICK: “But that JV team just took over Fallujah.” (“Spinning Obama’s Reference To Islamic State As A ‘JV’ Team,” The Washington Post, 9/3/14)

Nov. 13, 2015: President Obama Asserts ‘We Have Contained’ ISIS

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: “ISIS is gaining strength, aren't they?” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, I don't think they're gaining strength. What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain -- and we have contained them.” (ABC News’ “This Week,” 11/15/15)

  • Nov. 14, 2015: “Paris massacre: At least 128 killed in gunfire and blasts, French officials say: On a night when thousands of Paris residents and tourists were reveling and fans were enjoying a soccer match between France and world champion Germany, horror struck in an unprecedented manner. Terrorists -- some with AK-47s, some reportedly with bombs strapped to them -- attacked sites throughout the French capital and at the stadium where the soccer match was underway. ISIS claims responsibility for Paris attacks.” (“Paris Massacre: At Least 128 Killed In Gunfire And Blasts, French Officials Say,” CNN, 11/14/15)



Related Issues: War on Terror, ISIL, Syria, National Security, Iraq