President Barack Obama has missed more than half of his daily intelligence briefings since he came into power, a new report shows.
Obama has been to less than 44 percent of the vital meetings, the White House admits, with his attendance reaching a low spot towards the end of 2011 and the start of this year.
His predecessor, George W, Bush made a point of having the meetings six days a week, and attending as many as possible, the American Enterprise Institute fellow, Marc Thiessen reports in the Washington Post.
Obama’s attendance figures were prepared by the conservative Government Accountability Institute, and were not disputed by the White House. At one point he was attending fewer than two meetings out of five.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Thiessen that Obama’s attendance at the meetings was “not particularly interesting or useful,” as he received written daily briefings. “The president gets the information he needs from the intelligence community every day,” Vietor said.
However, in January, the Post published an article, in which security officials stressed the importance of the daily meetings. “One regular participant in the roughly 500 Oval Office sessions during Obama’s presidency said the meetings show a president consistently participating in an exploration of foreign policy and intelligence issues,” that piece said.
Thiessen’s Op-Ed says that the president’s personal attendance at the briefings “is enormously important both for the president and those who prepare the brief.”
“For the president, the meeting is an opportunity to ask questions of the briefers, probe assumptions and request additional information,” Thiessen writes.
“For those preparing the brief, meeting with the president on a daily basis gives them vital, direct feedback from the commander in chief about what is on his mind, how they can be more responsive to his needs, and what information he may have to feed back into the intelligence process.”
Thiessen adds, “This process cannot be replicated on paper.”
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