The nation’s former top spy said Tuesday that President Obama ignored early warning about the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group in 2011 and 2012 because the intelligence did not fit his re-election “narrative.”
When asked if his warnings about the extremist group were ignored, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency told CNN, “I think they did not meet a particular narrative that the White House needed, and I’ll be very candid with you, I have said and I believe that the people around the president, his sort of inner circle that were advising him, I think advised him incorrectly.”
Gen. Flynn said his agency’s intelligence report issued in 2012 did not reinforce the positive narrative that the U.S. was beating terror groups in the Middle East.
“I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and [Osama] bin Laden was dead,” he said. “They’re dead and … we’ve beaten them. …”
Shortly after the DIA gave its report to the president, Mr. Obama compared the Islamic State to the “JV team.”
Last month, the president claimed that the terror organization had been “contained” just before extremists in Paris carried out multiple attacks that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured.
The Pentagon’s inspector general is currently investigating allegations that intelligence reports on the Islamic State were cooked to show a more positive outlook of the U.S. effort against the group.
Gen. Flynn argued that any problems identified with the intelligence reports began at the top of the chain: the White House.
“If [the president] feels like he’s getting poor intelligence, then he needs to either find different people, or he needs to figure out what’s the matter with the system that’s in place because that is a huge system. It’s the best in the world if it’s focused properly,” Gen. Flynn told CNN.
“The president has to say, ‘Hey, I need the best of whatever it is that you have. I want unvarnished truth. And if I’m not getting the unvarnished truth, then I need to find it from other people that will give it to me,’ ” Gen. Flynn continued. “Because if he’s getting something … that those that are around him want him to hear, versus what he needs to hear, then he’s going to make poor decisions.”
Gen. Flynn has been critical of both Mr. Obama and former President George W. Bush’s policy in the Middle East since retiring last year, saying both men have made major mistakes during their presidencies.
He also warned in his CNN interview that, while the FBI is the most capable police agency in the world, it is only “a matter of time” until a Paris-style attack occurs in the U.S.
“I really do believe it’s a matter of time,” he said, “Our luck is going to run out, and they are going to be able to achieve something along the lines of what we saw in Paris.”