September 18, 2012
By Peter Brookes
According to an article in The Washington Post by opinion writer Marc Thiessen, President Barack Obama isn’t attending his daily intelligence briefings all that often.
In fact, Thiessen asserts that the president is missing more than half his daily intelligence briefings, attending only around 38 percent of his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) intelligence sessions during 2011 and through mid-2012.
If true, that’s really troubling.
It’s not like there aren’t any high priority national security matters the commander in chief needs to get briefed on, right? By many accounts, the world is on fire and American interests are threatened in a whole raft of places. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the president is keeping up on how the fight in Afghanistan is going, where 60,000 brave Americans are fighting the likes of the Taliban, Haqqani Network and al-Qaida?
Or maybe what’s going on in Syria, where more than 20,000 people have now died over the last 18 months? Then again, what about Iran’s nuclear program, which has observers especially nervous that Tehran’s getting close to the “bomb?”
Things aren’t going well in Asia, either. North Korea has a new leader, China is on the rise, and territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas have folks wondering if real trouble is around the corner.
And it’s not like missing intelligence briefings is standard practice for an American president. Thiessen writes: “By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.”
Not surprisingly, the White House refutes Thiessen’s concerns, which are based on an investigation conducted by the Government Accountability Institute.
According to the article, the National Security Council (NSC) didn’t seem to think the president missing a briefing — or briefings — was all that important as Obama is reported to read the written PDB daily even if he didn’t meet with the intelligence briefers.
But Thiessen makes a good point that the PDB document and the staff briefing complement one another. It gives the president an opportunity to discuss the PDB’s contents, get background information and ask what might happen next.
Of course, the president has an NSC and Cabinet secretaries that follow foreign policy and national security issues very closely. But the president needs to be a tireless student of international affairs, history and the cultures of the nearly 200 countries and states that make up the international community.
Anything less is dangerous to the protection and advancement of American interests.
The state of affairs as outlined by Thiessen may also account to critics for some of the administration’s lackluster foreign policies, but most important is the potential cost of getting national security policy wrong — and that cost could be American lives.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense. This piece was posted on his Heritage Foundation blog.
First appered in Boston Herald.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 450,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2014, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973