- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

President Obama didn’t intend to throw the U.S. intelligence community under the bus when he said Sunday night that American officials “underestimated” the power of the Islamic State, White House officials said Monday.

Mr. Obama made the remarks during an interview on “60 Minutes” and indicated the U.S. didn’t expect the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — to rise as quickly as it did, nor did it expect Iraqi armed forces to cede so much territory to the militant organization without much of a fight.

Those comments were interpreted by some political pundits as Mr. Obama blaming the intelligence community for not warning him sooner of the Islamic State’s rise, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that the president wasn’t trying to blame anyone.

“That was not what the president’s intent was. What the president was trying to make clear … [is] how difficult it is to predict the will of security forced based in another country to fight. That is difficult business,” Mr. Earnest said. “Nobody predicted the speed and pace with which ISIL would advance across the Syrian border with Iraq and make dramatic gains across the countryside in a way that allowed them to hold large chunks of territory.”

Mr. Earnest added that “everybody was surprised” by the Islamic State’s advance, including the president himself.

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