In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria set to air Wednesday night, outgoing president Barack Obama admitted that he was taken by surprise by the rise of ISIS as a territorial power in 2014.
“Let me ask you if it’s possible in your position to be completely honest and say the rise of the Islamic State surprised you, it took you by surprise, it took the administration by surprise,” asked Zakaria in a preview posted to CNN’s website.
“The ability of ISL to initiate major land offense, that was not on my intelligence radar screen,” Obama admitted.
Obama was careful to avoid taking direct blame for the intelligence failure. In 2014, he similarly pointed fingers at the intelligence community, telling 60 Minutes that, “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
[Image via screengrab]