Obama's Claims of 'Decimated' Al-Qaida Contradicted by Intel Briefings

Image: Obama's Claims of 'Decimated' Al-Qaida Contradicted by Intel Briefings

Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 12:20 PM

By Melanie Batley

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As Americans mark the twelfth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, intelligence insiders say the president's campaign talk last fall about the weakened strength of al-Qaida was in direct contradiction to private intelligence briefings he was receiving.

According to The Washington Times, officials say that in the summer and fall of 2012, the president was being advised that al-Qaida posed fresh threats to American security abroad due to the rise of new regional affiliate groups.

He was also advised by multiple intelligence sources that the offshoot groups in Africa were linked to al-Qaida's central leadership, led by Ayman al-Zawahri, and were gaining money, lethal knowledge, and determination to strike at Western targets.

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In the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, despite intelligence to the contrary, President Barack Obama refused to publicly acknowledge that the attack was likely driven by al-Qaida's central command. He also repeatedly used rhetoric throughout his campaign that al-Qaida was "decimated" and "on the run."

That decision, intelligence insiders believe, may have been a politically-calculated strategy by the president to give voters a misleading impression of his impact on the war against terrorism, and to distance the administration for any responsibility it may have had for failing to act on intelligence and take more steps to secure the U.S. outpost in Benghazi.

"I completely believe that the candidate Obama was understating the threat," House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers told The Washington Times.

"To say the core is decimated and therefore we have al-Qaida on the run was not consistent with the overall intelligence assessment at the time," the Michigan Republican added.

But Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, told the Times that the president's statements during the election have to be evaluated in context because al-Qaida's original organization headed by Osama bin Laden was in fact weakened, even though some of its elements were still "adaptive and resilient."

Rogers, however, said there was still "more than enough info at the time to understand the changes that were occurring in al Qaeda.”

In his view, he told the Times, he could only draw two conclusions from the president's narrative out on the campaign trail.

“One, he wasn’t getting the information that the rest of us were getting, or two, he got the information and decided to disregard it for political purposes.

"Either of those is a problem for a commander in chief," Rogers added.

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