White House: Obama not skipping intel briefings
The president is show pictures during an intelligence briefing in 2011. (Credit: White House photo)
September 10th, 2012
05:04 PM ET

White House: Obama not skipping intel briefings

The president's spokesman disputed a Washington Post item that suggested the commander-in-chief has not attended the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB)  "more than half the time."

The PDB is a daily rundown of threats and developments as assessed by the national security community. It is a top secret written document that is read by the President and his inner circle of security advisors and is often accompanied by in-person briefing by intelligence officials.

The opinion column by Marc Thiessen, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, cites research by the conservative Government Accountability Institute, which studied Obama's daily schedule from his first day in office through June 2012.

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

Asked about the article Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the assertion that the president was playing hooky from his presidential daily briefings was "hilarious" :

MR. CARNEY: He gets it every day, okay? 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 - (laughter) - with participants in - his national security team, including obviously Tom Donilon and others. He also has regular meetings with -

Q This is about the physical briefing from whoever is giving it versus the written briefing?

MR. CARNEY: This was a case of - I don't know how far I want to go here, but I believe if you compare our foreign policy record with the one that preceded this one, we’re comfortable with that comparison. And this President is very much steeped in the details of national security issues and the information that as President he received -

Q Do you believe this report was misleading -

MR. CARNEY: I believe the article written about it was amusing.  

Filed under: Intelligence • Obama • White House
soundoff (36 Responses)
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  10. Strange?

    I find it weird that there are people claiming that the President is skipping his intel meetings when they are not attending those meetings themselves to actually prove he is not there. Furthermore these meetings are highly classified so any one that is not the President, or high up on the chain of command in the CIA, FBI, NSA, or DOD actually has no idea when or where these meetings are even taking place.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
  11. SP11

    I can bet high almighty doesn't look at "it" even if it's put in his face. He left our United States ambassador unsecured in the embassy in Libya when he said himself that the government is new and finding their way. That goes to show his respect for our government and the people do America.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Reply
    • Annie

      Oh right, the PRESIDENT is responsible for the Ambassador's security. Do you know that the families of those killed are objecting to the way their deaths are being used for political ends by Romney? That's because the families know that those on the ground in Benghazi are responsible for themselves – 3 of the people killed were security EXPERTS. So, if they didn't see it coming, if they were willing to go to Benghazi, what do you think the President could do? This is just a huge waste of time and resources by Republics were are willing to attack the President but unwilling to defend Americans by passing the Violence Against Women Act, Postal Reform, or the Farm Bill.

      October 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  12. Huh

    So I guess this info wasnt in his brief... http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/revealed-inside-story-of-us-envoys-assassination-8135797.html

    September 14, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
  13. Yand Guyana

    Obama just looks weak. Doing an interview on Letterman? Typical. I guess Eastwood was right about the empty chair

    September 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  14. seib3377

    This is just horrible reporting by CNN.

    I don't think his attendance record is all that relevant but at no point does Mr. Carney really dispute anything! He states that the POTUS reads his report daily but The Washington Post Op-Ed acknowledges that he reads it daily. It's failing to attend the meetings they accuse him of.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  15. Julie

    It is scary that this was written on Sept. 10. I wonder what was in that report. Could it have saved our embassador? Why did he skip it on Sept 11, Sept 12, and today. Isn't he learning his leason? I heard he went to a fund raiser in Las Vegas instead of attending the briefing the morning after 4 Americans were murdered.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  16. Huh

    So Obama is too smart for meetings? That is the WH response? And how are they "disputing" the WP article, exactly? He attends less than half of his meetings. Sounds as though he is not too concerned with national security to me. Anyone that attends meetings would know how important the cross talk and sidebars are. Does anyone think just reading the meeting minutes are sufficient? Then why even hold a meeting in the first place?

    September 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      The issue isn't if he's having face-to-face meetings every day, but if he's getting the information and following up with them. He's the most wired President in US history, making use of technologies to stay in touch that are available 24×7. He can be "briefed" from anywhere, anytime by anyone on his staff with teleconferencing, videoconferencing, phone calls, text messaged, email, and more... and he get the information he needs to do his job. The trend in even business is less face-to-face meeting except when decisions or action is required, and more to have information delivered in more on-demand or real-time modes... so, if you want the President to sit through a briefing to get information, well, there are fast ways to get that and he can follow up whenever needed. Welcome to the 21st Century, people... besides, Bush and company attended those meetings, but still didn't head the warning of pending attacks on the US... they ignored their own intelligence officers because they were telling them things contrary to what they wanted to hear..

      September 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
      • Huh

        Bob is with the POTUS all the time and can confirm he reads the daily briefs via Facebook apparently...

        September 14, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  17. thehummelr

    Bush may have attended but he wasn't bright enough to understand.

    September 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Reply
    • TessComments

      You have a right to your opinion.
      In my opinion, Bush is Smarter thn many realize. Plus, Bush really cares about the American People, ALL of them.
      Plus Bush does not need a Press Coverage Photo Opt for every charitable thing he and Mrs. Bush do.

      September 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  18. jsmoulder

    He Unlike our former President, cares not about our safety but how he can make himself more popular to bring in more money for his bank account.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  19. IndFL

    He, unlike our former President has a clue what is going on in the world and doesn't need a cartoon book written by Chaney in order to carry out daily work.

    September 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Reply

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