In September 2012, near the height of the presidential campaign, Dick Cheney, Marc Thiessen, and a handful of other Republican voices briefly focused on a new line of attack against President Obama: the president, they claimed, was routinely “skipping” intelligence briefings related to national security. It wasn’t true – Obama receives written briefings every day, and there are no in-person briefings to skip – and the criticisms soon faded.
Until this week, when the right decided to bring it back.
President Obama has received a face-to-face intelligence briefing 42% of the days he’s been in office, a conservative watchdog group said Tuesday.The group, the Government Accountability Institute, issued a similar report in 2012, finding that Obama had such in-person briefings 42% of the days during his first term.
Right on cue, Rush Limbaugh, right-wing blogs, and Fox News pounced. The cast of “Fox & Friends,” focusing on the 42% figure, asked viewers, “Is that good enough for the globe that your national security interests are in the low 40s?”
Even by conservative standards, this doesn’t make any sense at all. The right really ought to be embarrassed by such nonsense – especially since they rolled out this same silliness two years ago, when it was proven to be ridiculous.
But since some folks have apparently forgotten the basics, let’s set the record straight again.
According to the “Government Accountability Institute,” since President Obama’s second inaugural, he’s received in-person daily intelligence briefings 41.26% of the time, and written daily intelligence briefings 58.74% of the time. Under the White House’s system, if the president has follow-up questions or requests additional details after reading the written report, intelligence officials then provide more information upon request.
Why is this interesting? It’s not.
By the reasoning pushed by Limbaugh and Fox, if the president receives information in writing, it doesn’t count. I have no idea why Republicans would draw this conclusion. Maybe they’re not big readers.
Dana Milbank added two years ago, “In reality, Obama didn’t ‘attend’ these meetings, because there were no meetings to attend: The oral briefings had been mostly replaced by daily exchanges in which Obama reads the materials and poses written questions and comments to intelligence officials. This is how it was done in the Clinton administration, before Bush decided he would prefer to read less. Bush’s results–– Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and the failure to find Osama bin Laden – suggest this was not an obvious improvement.”
Oliver Willis’ report noted a CIA history of the Presidential Daily Briefing that noted Ronald Reagan almost never received oral briefings on the PDB with CIA personnel.
I can’t wait to see conservative media run corrections today. That’s going to happen, right?