WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has criticised the US intelligence agencies over their performance in predicting and analysing the spreading unrest in the Middle East, a leading American newspaper reported Saturday. Citing current and former American officials, The New York Times said Obama was specifically critical of the agencies for misjudging how quickly the unrest in Tunisia would lead to the downfall of the countrys government, and how rapidly the unrest had spread to Egypt. The intelligence assessments last month had concluded that despite demonstrations in Tunisia, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Alis security forces would defend his government. Instead, the military and the police did not, and Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia. A former official also said that in recent weeks the President has urged intelligence officials to ensure that spy agencies were devoting as much effort to long-term analysis as they were to carrying out operations against Al-Qaeda, the Times said. The officials, however, stressed that despite the question marks over the recent performances, Obama has not ordered any major changes inside the intelligence community, which has a budget of over 80 billion dollars a year. Earlier, on Friday, a White House spokesman had said that spy agencies had given Obama relevant, timely and accurate analysis throughout the crisis in the Middle East. Several American officials, according to the Times, said that after Tunisias government collapsed, intelligence analysts renewed their focus on gauging the impact that the chaos could have on Egypt, Americas most important ally in the Arab world. Some CIA veterans said it was wrong to conclude that because the spy agency had stepped up paramilitary operations in recent years, it had lost focus on the job of analysing global events for the White House and Congress. The Egypt analysts in the CIA arent picking targets in Pakistan; thats just not the way the agency operates, said Mark Lowenthal, a former CIA assistant director for analysis, was quoted as saying. Still, Lowenthal said that intelligence officials for decades had to endure the wrath of American presidents who blamed them for misjudging the events of the day - and that it was their obligation to accept the criticism. If you are an intelligence officer, you say, 'Yes sir, thank you very much, sir, he said.