Early Friday, a top military official revealed that an Inspector General investigation has been started to determine whether intelligence reports about the progress of the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against the ISIS terror group have been ‘skewed’ to be more optimistic. A U.S. defense official told CNN it is believed the inspector general is looking into some question on ISIS intelligence, but the Pentagon said it cannot comment on IG matters because that organization operates independently of the Pentagon and the department has no knowledge of what it is doing.
The New York Times first reported that at least one civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told authorities that officials at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) were improperly reworking intelligence assessments prepared for policymakers, including President Obama. The Times report did not say when the assessments were allegedly altered, nor did it say who may have been responsible. Officials told the paper the investigation was focused on whether military officials had changed the conclusions of draft intelligence reports during a review before passing them on. The New York Times cited serveral officials familiar with the matter who acknowledged the inspector general’s office opened an investigation into the allegations. Central Command released a statement on the investigation but remained silent on the investigations.
The IG has a responsibility to investigate all allegations made and we welcome and support their independent oversight,” “While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can speak to the process and about the valued contributions of the Intelligence Community (IC). The IC routinely produces a wide range of subjective assessments related to the current security environment.”
CentCom said the different agencies making up the intelligence community typically seek comment from others on their assessments before publication, but the primary agency does not have to incorporate the feedback. The White House referred questions about the report to the Defense Department but also noted that the intelligence community provides a range of viewpoints. White House spokesman Joshua Earnest addressed the investigation.
I can tell you that the President’s expectation is that his national security team will work diligently to get information to him and other members of the team that reflects an accurate assessment of what’s exactly happening on the ground,” “The President places a premium on getting an unvarnished assessment from the intelligence community,” “One of the things that [the intelligence community] place[s] a priority on doing is making sure that they’re getting differing points of view on what’s happening on the ground, making sure they’re not just relying on one analyst’s assessment.”
Under federal law, intelligence officials can bring claims of wrongdoing to the intelligence community’s inspector general. U.S. officials told the paper that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were advised of the claims within the past several weeks, as is required if officials find the claims credible. At that point, The Times reports, the Pentagon’s inspector general decided to look into the matter. Government rules state that intelligence assessments “must not be distorted” by agendas or policy views. However, The Times reports that legitimate differences of opinion are both common and encouraged among national security officials.