Cheney responds to Obama’s reportedly poor intelligence briefings attendance

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Former Vice President Dick Cheney took a shot at President Barack Obama late Monday night after it was reported that the president has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings.

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney told The Daily Caller in an email through a spokeswoman.

“Those who deserve the credit are the men and women in our military and intelligence communities who worked for many years to track him down. They are the ones who deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.”

Some former special forces officers have released a political ad criticizing Obama for taking what they believe to be too much credit for the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

In the Washington Post Monday, opinion writer Marc Thiessen pointed to a new report by the conservative Government Accountability Institute that charged that Obama had attended fewer than half of the presidential daily briefs since taking office.

“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,” Thiessen, who was a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote.

“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.”

When Thiessen confronted National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor with the numbers, he wrote that Vietor did not dispute them, but rather dismissed them as “not particularly interesting or useful.”

“He says that the president reads his PDB every day, and he disagreed with the suggestion that there is any difference whatsoever between simply reading the briefing book and having an interactive discussion of its contents with top national security and intelligence officials where the president can probe assumptions and ask questions,” Thiessen wrote.

In an email to TheDC, Vietor said Theissen’s revelations weren’t “exactly breaking news to anyone who has covered this place for the last few years.”

“As I told Marc, the President is among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet,” Vietor said.

“He receives and reads his PDB every day, and most days when he’s at the White House receives a briefing in person. When necessary he probes the arguments, requests more information or seeks alternate analysis. Sometimes that’s via a written assessment and other times it’s in person.”

“I’d note that these are hardly the only national security meetings he has each week,” Vietor added. “Marc basically wrote a story culled from our public schedule that shows how Marc’s old boss, President Bush, structured his day differently than President Obama. Not exactly breaking news to anyone who has covered this place for the last few years.”

Sources Thiessen talked to, however, argued that the process of engaging with intelligence briefers couldn’t “be replicated on paper.”

“According to former officials who have detailed knowledge of the PDB process, having the daily meeting — and not just reading the briefing book — is enormously important both for the president and those who prepare the brief,” Thiessen wrote.

“For the president, the meeting is an opportunity to ask questions of the briefers, probe assumptions and request additional information. For those preparing the brief, meeting with the president on a daily basis gives them vital, direct feedback from the commander in chief about what is on his mind, how they can be more responsive to his needs, and what information he may have to feed back into the intelligence process. This process cannot be replicated on paper.”

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