Jon Karl Grills Earnest On Obama Administration's ISIL Assessment Spin

September 29, 2014

ABC Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl dismantled the Obama administration's claim that the rise of ISIL was the result of an intelligence failure during a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday.

Karl began by pointing out that former National Security Council adviser Brett McGurk warned the administration of the Iraqi Security Forces' weakness in November of 2013:

"This is one of your key people on Iraq who was raising this alarm in November of last year," Karl said. "Did this message get to the president? Did he believe it? Did he not hear it? What happened?"

Earnest attempted to defend the president by pointing out that ISIL's advance across the Iraqi desert and into Syria happened after McGurk's warning was issued. Karl noted that even after the advance Earnest mentioned, Obama made his infamous "JV" comment.

"We've been through this," Earnest said. "That's not what the president was talking about."

After a brief argument over the context of the "JV" statement, Karl pointed out that in Februrary of 2014, General Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, issued another warning before congress in February 2014 that ISIL was advancing rapidly and would attempt to take control of large parts of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

"He's warning of exactly what happened," Karl said. "This is back in February. How can the president say this was an intelligence failure?"

Despite Obama's remark about the intelligence community "underestimating" the rapid spread of ISIL, Earnest emphasized that the president "has complete confidence in the intelligence community to deal with these very dynamic but significant threats to our broader national interests."