Fox News contributor Karl Rove claimed that President Obama skipped intelligence briefings following the September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, Obama received multiple intelligence briefings after the attack, including on September 12, and the right-wing media claim that Obama regularly skips presidential daily briefings has been refuted.
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Rove Forwards Theissen's Claim That Obama Skipped Briefings After Benghazi Attack
Wash. Post's Thiessen: Obama Skipped Intelligence Briefings "One Day After A Terrorist Attack." In his September 13 Washington Post column, Marc Thiessen claimed that Obama had been skipping intelligence meetings in the lead-up to the Benghazi attack. Specifically, he wrote that Obama "was scheduled to hold [his daily] intelligence meeting at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, the day after the attacks," but that it was canceled so that he could comfort State Department employees. Thiessen then claimed that "instead of rescheduling the intelligence briefing for later in the day, Obama apparently chose to skip it altogether." [The Washington Post, 9/13/12]
Rove Suggests That After Benghazi Attack, Obama Failed To Meet With "Intelligence Chiefs." On Fox's America's Newsroom, while discussing the October 11 vice presidential debate with host Bill Hemmer, Rove said that the one substantive issue in the debate that would linger is the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack. Rove suggested that Obama canceled his presidential daily briefing and did not later receive a briefing on the situation from intelligence officials:
ROVE: Well, if there was one substantive issue that came out of last night that's going to remain and linger, it's exactly that, Libya. What did the administration know and when did they know it? And it fits into a broader context, which is the handling of this. Remember, the president of the United States receives news on the night of September 11 in Washington, D.C., that our ambassador has been killed at the consulate in Benghazi, and he cancels, the next morning, his presidential daily brief with the intelligence community in order to go to the State Department, console the foreign service.
And then he -- rather than returning to the White House and meeting with the intelligence chiefs, he gets on an airplane, flies to Las Vegas in order to attend a fundraiser and campaign event, flies to Denver overnight so he can have a campaign event in Colorado the next day. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/12/12]
In Fact, Obama Received Multiple Intelligence Briefings Following The Attack, Including On Sept. 12 ...
White House Press Secretary Says Obama Received Briefing From Deputy National Security Adviser On September 12. During a September 13 a press gaggle, reporters asked White House press secretary Jay Carney whether Obama was monitoring the protests over an anti-Muslim video in Cairo. Carney responded that after the incidents in Cairo and Benghazi, Obama directed security to be enhanced and diplomatic facilities around the world. He added, "I meant to and neglected to last night read out a briefing he received from his Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough that was focused specifically on developments in the region with regards to the protest, but especially on the progress of efforts underway to enhance security at our facilities." Carney added that Obama would also have a briefing later that day with senior members of his national security team. [WhiteHouse.gov, 9/13/12]
Carney: Obama Was Briefed Twice On September 13. In a September 14 press briefing, Carney said that in addition receiving the presidential daily briefing, as he does every day, Obama was briefed "directly, by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, by Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, by Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, and others, including a secure call at 2:00 p.m. yesterday and another briefing at 10:00 p.m. yesterday." [WhiteHouse.gov, 9/14/12]
... And Obama Has Reportedly "Never 'Skipped' " A Presidential Daily Briefing
ABC News: "Obama Has Never 'Skipped' A Presidential Daily Briefing, Aides Say." In a September 14 blog post, ABC News reported that, contrary to "[c]onservative critics" of Obama, including Thiessen, "Obama has never "skipped" a Presidential Daily Briefing, aides say, even if an in-person briefing isn't listed on his schedule." [ABC News, 9/14/12]
Press Secretary: "The President Of The United States Gets The Presidential Daily Briefing Every Day." The Hill reported that Carney said of the presidential daily briefing:
"He gets it every day, okay?" Carney said. "The president of the United States gets the presidential daily briefing every day. There is a document that he reads every day when he is not -- well, he always reads it every day because he's a voracious consumer of all of his briefing materials. And when he is physically here, most days he has a meeting in his office, the Oval one, with participants in his national security team." [The Hill, 9/11/12]
Right-Wing Media Have Previously Attacked Obama Over Daily Intelligence Briefings
Conservative Report: Obama Has Attended 43.8 Percent Of Daily Security Briefings. A report by the conservative group Government Accountability Institute examining official White House records found that from his inauguration through May 31, 2012, Obama attended 536 total daily intelligence briefings, or 43.8 percent of the 1225 days in that period. [Government Accountability Institute, 9/11/12]
Wash. Post's Marc Thiessen: "Why Is Obama Skipping More Than Half Of His Daily Intelligence Meetings?" In his Washington Post column, former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen touted the findings from GAI, a "new conservative investigative research organization," to suggest that "national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be," adding, "It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting." He concluded: "When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security." [The Washington Post, 9/10/12]
Right-Wing Media Attack Obama Over Daily Intelligence Briefings. On September 12, multiple right-wing media outlets, including Breitbart.com, Fox Nation, and RedState.com attacked Obama for supposedly "skip[ping]" daily intelligence briefings. [Media Matters, 9/13/12]
- Wash. Post Fact Checker Rates Claim That Obama "Skips" His Intelligence Briefings "Bogus." In a post responding to Thiessen's September 10 column, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gave the claim that Obama "skips" his daily intelligence briefings three of four Pinocchios, calling it "bogus." Kessler wrote that Obama reads his presidential daily brief every day, but does not "always require an in-person briefing," so it is "specious to say he has 'skipped' " meetings that were not actually scheduled. Kessler also noted that "different presidents have structured their daily briefing from the CIA" in different ways and that "[m]any did not have an oral briefing." [The Fact Checker, The Washington Post, 9/24/12]
For more on the truth about Obama's national security and intelligence briefings, see here.