Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency says the White House ignored reports prefacing the rise of ISIS
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn also says an attack like the one Paris is likely at some point in the U.S.
President Barack Obama’s former top military intelligence official said Tuesday that the White House ignored reports prefacing the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit its re-election “narrative.”
“I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed. And I’ll be very candid with you, they just didn’t,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
Flynn, who has been critical of both Obama’s and former President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War and involvement in the Middle East, said that Obama was served poorly by a small circle of advisers who were worried about his re-election prospects at the time.
The story they needed to tell, he said, was that pulling troops from Iraq would not leave the region vulnerable to the rise of a radical Islamic group like ISIS.
“I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and (Osama) bin Laden was dead. … They’re dead and these guys are, we’ve beaten them,” Flynn said – but the problem was that no matter how many terrorist leaders they killed, they “continue to just multiply.”
Obama has been criticized by opponents for referring to ISIS as the “JV squad” and apparently underestimating the group’s threat. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating complaints that top intelligence officials manipulated reports to make the threat of ISIS look minimal.
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Flynn also warned that an attack like the one conducted in Paris was likely at some point in the U.S.
“I really do believe it’s a matter of time, I believe, there’s going to be where our luck is going to run out and they’re are going to be able to achieve something along the lines of what we saw in Paris,” Flynn said.
Flynn has been a vocal critic of the Obama and Bush administrations since leaving his job overseeing the Defense Intelligence Agency last year. Flynn told the German news outlet Der Spiegel on Sunday that removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya destabilized the region.
“It was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision,” Flynn said.
The answer to ISIS, Flynn told Tapper, should be the creation of an “Arab NATO” organized among U.S. allies in the region, with a parceling of duties to take out ISIS.
“I do believe that there has to be some type of Arab NATO-like structure formed, so there has to be a recognition that the Arab community in that particular region … that gets after this problem,” Flynn said, adding that the U.S. would have to lead the group with support from Russia and Europe.