October 30th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Top Obama aides reflect on first year, discuss 3 a.m. moment

(CNN) - Top Obama communication aides Anita Dunn, David Axelrod, and Robert Gibbs sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive, reflective interview looking back at the administration's first 10 months.

In the behind-the-scenes interview, Gibbs described the president's "3 a.m. wake-up call" moment last April, when word came in the early morning hours that the North Koreans had conducted a nuclear missile test.

"We all were in a room in - on the first foreign trip in Prague in the Czech Republic - when we were notified of the North Koreans testing a long-range missile, something we'd expected to happen over a certain amount of time," Gibbs said. "And I think it was about 4:00 in the morning we were in there and we then discussed that and I went to wake him up and he soon joined all of us in getting intelligence briefings from in the room as well as back in D.C."

Axelrod said Obama proceeded to get "a read up on the military people, [get] on the line with Secretary Gates, General Cartwright I think. And then he says, "OK, here's what we're going to do."

The full interview is set to air Monday throughout The Situation Room beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. tom

    lieberman is a good and honest man, too bad we can not say that about you and your extreme liberal views. when are you people going to wake up? who is this man obama, no one really knows, he is just an liberal commy in disguise. he should wear his head gear as well, do we really know who he is ?.

    October 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Mattison

    So his 3 a.m. moment was something that government had intel on and had been expecting for months? Hardly a moment of defining policy... I was under the impression that a 3am moment is a surprise: something that isnt expected.

    This administration will say anything to seem credible. Pathetic.

    October 30, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    North Korea's missle testing could have resorted to war had Bush or bomb, bomb McCain been president. Thank God in President Obama we have a thinking President instead of a war hungry vampire.

    October 30, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Andy

    Unfortunately you cannot believe this crock. The administration has lied about everything from the moment they took the Whitehouse.

    October 30, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. tw

    So now we're told he was well-prepared and decisive about this issue, when he's still dithering about Afghanistan. How much bs does the WH staff think we will swallow? Obama is way over his head on almost every issue, and the idea that this community organizer/state senator is well-prepared to lead the US on foreign policy issues is laughable.

    October 30, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. MARK

    We NEED CHANGE!!! 3 more years.

    October 30, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. ICARE

    Consider the fact that they carried many gorillas on their back, I give them a C. Hopefully, they are going to improve and keep a laser sharp focus on growing jobs and growing the economy.

    As I have said before, if we can unleash green jobs, there will be more jobs than ever in America.

    May the future win! And may we live for the future, not the past. We have dont that for 8 years already.

    October 30, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    How ironic – he was in the Czech republic when the North Koreans tested a nuclear capable missile.

    Later in the year, he pulls the missle defense system protecting the very same country.

    Let's all pray this doesn't lead to 20 million cancelled Czechs.

    October 30, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. It's becoming more clear......

    that Hillary would have been a much better president than Obama.

    Voters will have another chance in 2012'.

    Obama is ONE and DONE.

    October 30, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    And yet these fools are worried about Glenn Beck...pathetic...

    October 30, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Bananarama Victim II: Electric Boogaloo

    Blah blah blah Socialist...Blah Blah Blah Communist...Blah Blah Blah Tea Bags...Blah Blah Blah...Take America Back! Sniff sniff sniff Wah Wah Wah...

    October 30, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. This WAS NOT a 3am moment.......

    there was absolutely no danger.......Pres. Kennedy had a real 3am moment....

    October 30, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. S M R

    Lets ALL be greatful that President Obama is slowly turning the BUSH/CHENEY TRAIN WRECK around. Thank You President Obama for stepping on the toes of the very People that nearly DESTROYED AMERICA. Please allow Eric Holder to continue the investigation of the BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR WAR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. These Criminals are NOT ABOVE THE LAW and action needs to be taken for the good of OUR FUTURE.

    October 30, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. americangirl47

    So, when is he going to reveal what "we are going to do"? He hasn't done anything about anything – just likes to talk a lot -and apologize for our way of life to everyone – pathetic – make some decisions and take some action –

    October 30, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    Let's gather around, fellow bloggers, and see how the anti-Obamabots will slander the president based on this article.

    October 30, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. mjm

    "ok...here's what we're going to do....Nothing."

    Then he went on to create or "save" nothing.

    The 3 am moment should have been when he woke up the day after the election and said..."they fell for it?".

    2012 can't get here soon enough.

    October 30, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. J.P.

    Oh, Anita Dunn will be speaking. How quaint!

    Will she quote her one of her "favorite philosophers" Chairman Mao?

    I mean, hey, what's 70 MILLION dead Chinese among friends, eh?

    October 30, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Turbanator

    If it was BUSH in the office, he would have shot u in the face for waking him up at 3AM. I m so glad Obama is our president.

    October 30, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. File under "Sarcasm"

    What a wonderful unscripted story. But since the punch line to "OK, here's what we're going to do" is "Nothing", the story doesn't have much value.

    October 30, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. Randolph Carter

    And this is to make Obama look like a great leader. Nice try at Madison Avenue for Obama CNN.

    Have a nice day!

    October 30, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. Enough

    The country would have been better off with Hillary answering the 3am calls, with Obama the phone is still ringing...........he's out campaigning and can't be bothered to do his job.

    October 30, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    So the highlight of Obama's first ten months was that some two-bit dictatorship actually managed to get a pop-bottle rocket off the ground without having it blow up?

    Meanwhile, back home, the 53% of the country that's being soaked in taxes to pay for all the goodies for the welfare bums are on the ragged edge of political, if not armed, rebellion, the Democrats are printing and spending money as fast as they can, and one in ten Americans are unemployed.

    No wonder, I guess, Gibbs wants to talk about North Korea–it's the only thing in the last ten months that hasn't been a total disaster for Obama.

    October 30, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Steve in North Carolina

    Gee. I thought his 3 AM moment had something to do with Fox News.

    October 30, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Barack reads his lies, Unions Thrive and the Economy dies.

    Don't be surprised that a lot of fraudulent Absentee votes, go for Corzine on Tuesday, even though he was down by mor ethan double digits when many of those votes were taken.

    Why because of the Obama Acorn machine. Don't be surprised. Is it right? No it isn't, its just Chicago politics, kind of like the election in Iran this year.

    I just hope the GOP confirms many of the absentee votes are legitimate, by contacting them and asking them, simple questions, like did you happen to vote this election (response actually not, why, you meen I did?), and who would you have voted for (Chrstie, who did it say I voted for in my absentee vote? Corzine).

    That is the Obama Chicago way. We have to stop this Marxist with his balogna, or he will find a way to corrupt our votes.

    October 30, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. A. Smith

    Wow! It appears Gibb's made a Major Mistaken Remark!!!

    All of the Media Buzz on the past April North Korea test of the North Korean U'nha 2 / Taepo Dong 2 launch vehicle carrying the Kwangmyongsong 2 (Bright Lodestar 2 ) satellite did not in any fashion state the Taepo Dong 2 missile was designed to launch a Nuclear Weapon.

    There is a very large and sizeable difference between a 500 pound satellite launch vehicle and a 2,000 pound nuclear warhead. Perhaps Gibbs is simply cutting bait and banking on Media Viewers short term memory loss.

    Unfortunately, there is a much darker possibility here. The Chinese government apparently received the blueprints for the miniature hydrogen bomb warheads used in the trident submarine missiles, via Los Alamos labs, and perhaps some CIA help. The sad news on that ghastly discovery was a high ranking US official remark that was simply, 'Oh Well, it's so small, what would they do with it'.

    Yes, the miniature hydrogen bomb warhead used in the Trident Missiles could possibly fit and be used on the Taepo Dong 2 launch vehicle provided the Chinese gave the North Koreans copys of those highly classified miniature hydrogen bomb blueprints.

    I would rather believe that Gibbs just made a major rhetorical mistake and that the Taepo Dong missile is way to small to launch any existing plutonium based North Korean nuclear weapon.

    A. Smith

    October 30, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9