Dick Cheney picked the wrong day to criticize Barack Obama for not paying close enough attention to presidential daily briefings. Last night, The New York Times published new evidence about how the Bush White House ignored warnings about the 9/11 attacks in daily intelligence briefings. So, when Cheney ripped into the Obama White House, was he being ironic? Or maybe just offering a helpful "I learned this the hard way" lesson? Not as far as we can tell.
As The Daily Caller reports, Cheney was responding to a report by the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative group, finding that President Obama has attended less than half of his daily intelligence briefings since taking office. “If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney told Jamie Weinstein through his spokeswoman. According to the report, Obama attended his daily intelligence meeting just 536 times during his first 1,225 days in office, or 43.8 percent of the time. (The White House responded saying the president always reads the daily briefing but doesn't always attend the meetings).
OK, we know Donald Rumsfeld cancelled his New York Times subscription, but Cheney, you too? Last night, of course, author Kurt Eichenwald published a much talked-about op-ed citing newly-declassified documents identifying dire intelligence briefings submitted to the Bush White House ahead of 9/11:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
Prior to Eichenwald's column, it was already known that the Bush White House received an Aug 6. briefing with the headline "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." but the records Eichenwald cites weren't declassified until recently and included ominous briefings delivered months prior to the August report.
It goes without saying that former Bush officials are free to argue that those briefings weren't substantive enough to act upon in a meaningful way (and they already are thanks to Twitter). But Cheney may want to scan the latest headlines next time he dings the President Obama on an issue he has little ground to stand on.