Like we can trust Obama on how he found out.
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The unfolding sectarian violence in Iraq is just the latest crisis where the Obama administration seemingly has been caught off guard. From the Veterans Affairs scandal to Russia’s swift annexation of Crimea, news of the world somehow keeps taking the commander-in-chief and his team by surprise.
The following is a refresher of major domestic and foreign policy developments that, apparently, were news to the White House.
1. Islamist militants gaining in Iraq
The New Yorker (1/27/2014): “In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated.’ I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.
‘The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,’ Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. ‘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.'”
The Wall Street Journal (6/11/2014): Iraq Drama Catches US Off Guard
2. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine
Politico.com (3/4/14): “A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Obama was satisfied with the intelligence he received on Russian intentions in Ukraine. But spokesmen for the U.S. intelligence community defended its work.
The Central Intelligence Agency says it’s always noted the possibility of aggressive military action.
‘Prior to and throughout the situation in Ukraine, the intelligence community has provided timely and valuable information that has helped policy makers understand the situation on the ground and make informed decisions. That continues to be the case today,’ said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. ‘Any suggestion that there were intelligence shortcomings related to the situation in Ukraine are uninformed and misleading.’