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Obama Blames U.S. Intelligence for Missing Rise of the Islamic State

Obama Blames U.S. Intelligence for Missing Rise of the Islamic State

As President Obama prepares to leave office without having destroyed the Islamic State, he’s selling the notion that U.S. intelligence agencies failed to warn him promptly about the rise of the terrorist group more than two years ago, an assertion raising howls of incredulity in some quarters.

The White House pushed that version of events Thursday, pointing to an assessment by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in September 2014 that U.S. intelligence agencies “underestimated” the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

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Ms. Silverberg, speaking in New York City at the forum hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S., said Mr. Obama has made three fundamental failures in Iraq.

“There was the original failure — they failed to get the Iraqi government to agree to a status of forces agreement that would have allowed us to keep troops in with appropriate legal protections,” she said. “After he failed to do it, he failed to understand that he needed to keep some troop levels there anyway. And then he failed to understand his mistake on withdrawing troops prematurely until 2014, after ISIS had already run Mosul. So it’s not that he has kept us out of a quagmire, it’s that he’s ignored the obvious facts on the ground that would [have] allowed us to prevent some of these events from taking place in the first place.”