Did the intelligence community underestimate ISIS or did the president?
In his "60 Minutes" interview, President Obama seemed to put the blame on the intelligence community, saying, “I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.” At the White House daily briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest cast the net quite a bit wider.
“Everybody was surprised to see the rapid advance that ISIL was able to make from Syria across the Iraqi border,” said Earnest. “To be able to take over such large swaths of territory in Iraq did come as a surprise.”
But for nearly a year, senior officials in the U.S. government have been warning about the alarming rise of ISIS, or ISIL as the terrorist group is also known, and the inability of the Iraqi government to confront the threat.
Here are three examples:
BRETT MCGURKDeputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran
ROBERT BEECROFTU.S. Ambassador to Iraq
“It's a very precarious situation,” Beercroft told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. “And a misstep anywhere could set off a larger conflict in the country.”
Lt. Gen. MICHAEL FLYNNU.S. Army Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
“ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria,” Flynn told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
That’s a prediction, unfortunately, that proved to be right on target.