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Missed briefings don't speak well for Obama

Sep. 27, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

As our nation's chief executive, the president of the United States has a tremendous responsibility to oversee our country's foreign policy. Arguably his actions are responsible for setting the tone for the entire executive branch of government in successfully fulfilling its duties to the American people.

In his role as commander-in-chief, the president is forced to rely upon information provided by U.S. intelligence gathering entities to be proactive and effective in his decision-making.

Since the Kennedy years, in an effort to provide the president with the most recent, up-to-the-minute intelligence information, a daily function of the White House has been the President's Daily Briefing (PDB).

Each morning data gathered the night before by each of our intelligence agencies is compiled into the highly classified PDB and shared only with the president and a handful of top government officials for immediate assessment.

Given the security threats our intelligence has uncovered in recent years, one would expect this daily briefing to be a top priority for the president of the United States, right?

Well, as reported in the Washington Post, The Government Accountability Institute, a conservative investigative research organization, recently examined President Obama's schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his PDB.

Their findings were alarming.

During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB on just 536 occasions, or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became less frequent, falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, the president's predecessor, George W. Bush, almost never missed his daily intelligence briefing.

So, how long had it been since President Obama attended his PDB prior to the recent attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya and Egypt? Surely the approaching anniversary of 9/11 prompted the president's faithful attendance!

Sadly, according to the president's public schedule, the last time President Obama attended his daily PDB was Sept. 5, a week before the attacks. According to the Washington Post, he was scheduled to hold another intelligence meeting the day after the attack but apparently chose to skip it to attend a Las Vegas fundraiser for his re-election.

I find it irresponsible for a president to miss more than half of his daily intelligence briefings.

I find it reprehensible he would skip briefings during the days leading up to the anniversary of the worst attack by radical Islamists in our nation's history!

Now while these briefings are provided the president in hard copy, nothing replaces the non-verbals and interaction associated with this sort of setting. Besides, I find it difficult to believe Barack Obama takes the time from the campaign trail needed to read them carefully.

While evidence now indicates al Qaeda orchestrated these recent attacks, information is now revealing these Islamic terrorists may have indeed telegraphed their attacks days before.

One now has to wonder just how badly the Obama administration dropped the ball in protecting the lives of these U.S. citizens.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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