Senior military and defense officials accuse officials at the U.S. Central Command of “manipulating” intelligence regarding ISIS in Iraq. The anonymous officials came forward on Monday speaking to NBC News discussing the possible manipulated intel regarding ISIS in Iraq. The officials have seen no evidence of intelligence manipulation. The New York Times first reported the allegations. The accusation is that senior military or civilians officials at CENTCOM in Florida altered or ignored the analysis and downplayed the threat from ISIS to paint a more positive picture of Iraqi and U.S. military progress against ISIS. one senior official predicts an investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General could still lead to a “shakeup” of Central Command (CENTCOM) intelligence personnel.
Officials say CENTCOM would not be the only source of intelligence regarding ISIS in Iraq — that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), CIA, and Director of Intelligence, would normally provide input or review much of the intelligence passed on to the White House. According to one senior defense official, “Among the 17 US intelligence agencies, CENTCOM is not one of them. CENTCOM is a military command not an intel agency.” President Obama, speaking at a press conference in Malaysia over the weekend, said he expects to “get to the bottom” of whether ISIS intelligence reports were altered – and has told his top military officials as much.
One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by the desire to tell a feel-good story,” “I believe that the Department of Defense and all those who head up our intelligence agencies understand that, and that I have made it repeatedly clear to all my top national security advisers that I never want them to hold back, even if the intelligence or their opinions about the intelligence, their analysis or interpretations of the data contradict current policy.”
The president’s call for a thorough investigation was greeted with cynicism by those involved in the 2014 intelligence assessments, since the administration did not act on the earlier raw intelligence that painted a dire picture of developments, especially in Iraq. The Pentagon’s inspector general this month opened an investigation into two formal complaints filed by senior analysts at CENTCOM and corroborated by over 50 analysts in the intelligence community. The complaints allege that higher-ups at CENTCOM are watering-down intelligence briefings for the administration’s benefit. They also allege a “Stalinist” tone at CENTCOM that encourages analysts to self-sensor their reports.
The officials noted, though, that CENTCOM is one of several agencies that pass on intelligence reports to the White House — and that the agency would not be able to submit intelligence to the Obama administration without it first being handled by the Central Intelligence Agency. The chairmen of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Armed Services Committee and the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee “are creating a task force to investigate allegations of intel manipulation at CENTCOM,” said Jack Langer, spokesman for select committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes.