The White House clarifies a remark by Obama that ‘we don’t have a strategy yet’ on combating ISIS – also known as ISIL and Islamic State – in Syria, saying that he was referring to plans still under development by the Pentagon. Press Secretary Josh Earnest:
The president was asked a specific question about possible military action in Syria against ISIL, and he was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options against ISIL in Syria. But when it comes to confronting ISIL in Iraq, the president has been very clear for months about what our comprehensive strategy is.
The White House denies that the expansion of airstrikes in Iraq means it is engaging in ‘mission creep,’ saying that the mission parameters remain to provide humanitarian aid and protect U.S. personnel and facilities. Press Secretary Josh Earnest responds to questions about weekend strikes around the Haditha dam to support anti-ISIS fighters:
The way that it’s been described to me is that there is a threat that if ISIL decided to destroy the Haditha Dam that it could threaten or would threaten the airport downstream from the dam.
A man tries to jump the White House fence and is quickly subdued by the Secret Service. The man wore a Pokemon mask. President Obama is at a 9/11 memorial at the time and is not on the premises. The White House is placed on a temporary lockdown until the matter is resolved.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest tells a weekly press briefing that there are protocols in place if potential U.S. airstrikes in Syria against ISIS meet with a response from the Assad government’s air defenses:
There are rules of engagement any time that our men and women in uniform are put into harm’s way. And so there will be rules of engagement that are related to any military orders that the President directs – military actions that the President directs. So I’d refer you to the Department of Defense for a detailed assessment of that. But it won’t surprise you to know that there are contingencies related to self-defense when it comes to these sorts of rules of engagement.
He says that media reporting of the secret Special Forces mission to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages – which ultimately failed – demonstrates President Obama is willing to put boots on the ground if necessary:
But I can say that while I think it is evident to anybody who is paying attention here that that is – indicates the President’s willingness to order the kind of military action that’s required to protect the lives of military – of American citizens, even if it means sending our military into Syria.
US Army Vet Gonzalez scales the fence of the White House and runs across the front lawn of the US presidential quarters. Gonzales gets as far as the front door, cheating a sophisticated security system before being arrested. Five rings of uniformed and plainclothes police officers and soldiers fail to see or apprehend Gonzalez. No security personnel are guarding the White House front door, nor is the attack guard dog in the vicinity to halt the intruder. Gonzalez says after being apprehended:
I want to warn President Obama that the atmosphere is collapsing…
A relative comments:
He’s been depressed for quite some time. He’d been taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication
Press secretary Josh Earnest says the White House was looking for an ‘implementation expert’, not necessarily someone qualified in Ebola treatment. He tells CBS that Klain is responsible for coordinating the approach to the virus between the various agencies such as USAID and AfriCom overseas and the DHS and CDC domestically:
This administration, under the direction of the President, is pursuing a whole-of-government approach…it is the responsibility of Mr Klain to coordinate those efforts across agencies to make sure we are maximizing this whole-of-government approach.
Klain was selected for his experience in private- and public-sector management:
The president wanted someone who could working in a coordinating function…what we were looking for is not an Ebola expert but an implementation expert.
Some Republicans and political commentators have referred to Klain as a ‘czar’:
They’re certainly welcome to do that. We describe him as the Ebola response coordinator.
He is reporting to Rice and Monaco, but Pres. Obama remains in ultimate charge of the Ebola response.
Earnest explains that Klain will lead a response effort that incorporates many government agencies and says Pres. Obama wanted a person in charge of the response who focused solely on the virus:
By bringing on Mr. Klain he will dedicate 100% of his time to coordinating this whole-of-government approach…The president recognized that the response would benefit from having someone that could devote 100% of their time to coordinating the response, and somebody like Mr. Klain, who has a strong management track record both inside government and outside has the right track record…This is much bigger than a medical response…there is a significant medical component, but it’s not solely a medical response
U.S. officials say the ISIS offensive on Kobani is concentrating the group’s manpower in a small area and presenting a target for air strikes. U.S. CentCom chief Army Gen. Lloyd Austin:
The enemy has made a decision to make Kobani his main effort…Now, my goal is to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL. And if [the enemy] continues to present us with major targets … then clearly, we’ll service those targets, and we’ve done so very, very effectively here of late
White House Press secretary Josh Earnest says the administration sees the assault as an opportunity:
That has created a rather target-rich environment around Kobani for American and coalition air strikes that when they see clusters of fighters or they see depots of material or supplies that are critical to the success of those fighters, it’s easier to take them out.
Pressure from the White House is reported to be behind Hickox’s release from quarantine. Administration official:
We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and others states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa.
We have also let these states know that we are working on new guidelines for returning healthcare workers that will protect the American people against imported cases, while, at the same time, enabling us to continue to tackle this epidemic in West Africa.
The White House is pressing New York and New Jersey to reverse mandatory quarantine policies. Administration official:
[The decision is] uncoordinated, very hurried, an immediate reaction to the New York City case that doesn’t comport with science.
White House admits that it’s counter terrorism operation in January killed Weinstein and Porto who were being held hostage by al-Qaeda.
President Obama takes full responsibility for these operations…We would be conducting a thorough independent review to understand fully what happened and how we can prevent this type of tragic incident in the future.
Mohamed visits the White House for its second astronomy night. President Obama speaks briefly with him, and gives him a hug. He is at the front of the crowd when the President delivers a speech.
President Obama wraps up his final summer getaway to Martha’s Vineyard Sunday. He spends the morning on a final round of vacation golf before rolling out in his motorcade with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.