Obama Has Spent More Time Playing Golf Than In Intel Briefings

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama has spent more time golfing than he has spent listening to daily intelligence briefings.

The Daily Caller has calculated that he’s spent almost 700 hours in 875 “Presidential Daily Briefings” since 2009.

But he’s also spent roughly 800 hours on almost 200 golf trips since his first inauguration.

Obama’s golf trips typically last four and half hours, including one hour on the road. The longest trip took about six hours, according to regular reports from the media pool that follows the president on trips outside the White House.

In contrast, President George W. Bush largely gave up golfing during the Iraq campaign, from 2003 to 2008.

The daily briefing calculations are based on a new report by the Florida-based Government Accountability Institute, which reported Sept. 30 that Obama has attended 875 Presidential Daily Briefings over the course of his presidency.

Those briefings allow top intelligence officials to share their latest intelligence data on security threats, and also to focus the president’s attention on growing or novel problems.

The formal intelligence briefings usually last 45 minutes, according to the “daily guidance” schedules issued each evening by the White House. That time adds up to about 700 hours, so far.

The GAI released its Sept. 30 report on the 875 PDBs amid a furor over the United States’ failure to stop the rapid expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The dispute over Obama’s attendance at the briefings is being revived by the president’s decision to shift blame for the anti-ISIS failure from his desk to Gen. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Obama announced during an interview, broadcast Sept. 28 on the “60 Minutes” TV show.

In response, anonymous intelligence officials have told several media outlets that they provided many warnings about ISIS to the president.

White House officials say the president’s time spent in daily briefings does not fully account for Obama’s focus on intelligence reports. Officials say Obama reads additional reports delivered to his handheld computer, and also has many additional meetings with top security officials where he talks about new intelligence reports.

But “the purpose of a briefing is that it is interactive,” said Peter Schweizer, the GAI’s founder. “The White House’s position is that he gets his briefings in writing, which is fine… but the purpose of the briefing is to help the president interact with intelligence officials,” he said.

That lack of interaction could help explain why the president and top aides did not recognize or act on evidence of the growing threat from ISIS, he said.

Obama has been caught by surprise before.

On Sept. 11, 2012, he was surprised by the jihadi attack on the diplomatic site in Benghazi, Libya, and by the failure of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government to protect the U.S. embassy from a mob seeking the release of a senior jihadi leader now jailed in the United States.

After the attack, his top aides successfully focused the media’s attention on an anti-Muslim video, and kept the media from looking at what top White House officials describe as “broader failures of policy” in the Middle East.

This year, he also admitted that his Libyan intervention was a failure.

“I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this,” Obama said about his 2011 campaign to remove Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

According to data meticulously gathered by the ObamaGolfCounter website and White House pool reports, Obama has played golf 197 times since his inauguration.

The president regularly plays 18 hole rounds of golf and has even been known to play 27 holes in a single outing.

The golf outings usually take 4.5 hours, but can be much shorter when he’s on vacation. TheDC assumed an average of four hours, and multiplied the time by 197, to get 788 hours.

His Sept. 27 golf outing, for instance began with his departure from the White House at 12:32 pm, and his return at 5:42 pm.

On Sept. 21, he left at 1:26 pm and returned at 6:06 pm. On Aug. 31, he arrived at the course at 1:05 pm, and left at 5:22 pm. On Aug. 21, he arrived at 1:13 pm, and left at 5:42 pm.

Most of his games are at the easy-to-guard course at Andrews Air Force Base, east of Washington, D.C.

By contrast, the White House’s guidance reports show that most PDBs last about 45 minutes.

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