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Obama Says U.S. 'Underestimated' ISIS Threat

In a "60 Minutes" interview, President Obama acknowledged U.S. intelligence didn't predict the rise of ISIS.
Posted at 6:06 PM, Sep 28, 2014

In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday, President Obama acknowledged U.S. intelligence failed to anticipate the rise of the terrorist group ISIS.

"I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

Obama's remark was in response to similar comments made by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told The Washington Post last week, "We underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army."

Obama had earlier hinted at intelligence shortcomings about ISIS during a press conference in August.

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE: "There is no doubt that their advance, their movement over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates."

But Sunday's comments are some of the most candid remarks Obama's made about the rise of ISIS so far. The administration has been frequently criticizedfor initially underestimating the terror group's capabilities.

That's due in part to an offhand comment Obama made in January during an interview with The New Yorker, in which he referred to ISIS and other militant groups in the region as the "jayvee team," insisting they only posed a regional threat.

ISIS' scope has grown considerably since then, prompting the U.S. to assemble an international coalition aimed at dismantling the group. So far at least 18 countries have joined the U.S. and contributed to the fight against ISIS, which is being carried out primarily through airstrikes. (Video via The Telegraph)

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Obama also lays out a basic strategy for defeating ISIS without committing American troops to a protracted ground operation. The full interview airs Sunday night on CBS.

This video includes images from Getty Images.