A Congressional task forced released a report Thursday revealing that CENTCOM (the U.S. Central Command) manipulated intelligence about the U.S. effort to fight ISIS to “paint a rosier picture” and portray a better image of what was really happening on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
The task force was put together after 50 intelligence analysts at CENTCOM who filed a whistleblower complaint, still under active investigation by the Defense Department Inspector General, that information was being manipulated before being released. The investigation, launched in mid-2014, found that CENTCOM issued intelligence reports which contradicted the initial internal assessments made by the CENTCOM analysts on the battlefield.
Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas, a leading member of the task force, stated “the facts on the ground didn’t match what the intelligence was saying out of the United States Central Command.”
“There’s enormous evidence” Rep. Pompeo continued, “about how this information from talented career professionals inside the analytic arm at CENTCOM did their job and accurately depicted what was going on on the ground, but when it got to very senior levels, that information was changed.”
Pompeo also said that downplaying the threat of ISIS “may well have resulted in putting American troops at risk as policymakers relied on this intelligence when formulating policy and allocating resources for the fight.” He also urged the Department of Defense Inspector General to “hold accountable the intelligence leaders that failed our service members fighting our wars on the ground.”
This tweet from Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow User Micah Zenko highlights the frustration within CENTCOM.
The task force includes the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee, and, in addition to Rep. Pompeo, is led by Rep. Ken Calvert of California and Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.
Rep. Calvert released a statement saying, “what happened at CENTCOM is unacceptable. Our warfighters suffer when bad analysis is presented to senior policymakers. We must continue our efforts until we fix it.”
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross who is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tweeted the following:
Rep. Wenstrup, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve said, “we cannot win the war against ISIS with incomplete intelligence. The report out today highlights the importance of having an independent process.”
Thus far, the task force found no evidence that the order to manipulate facts was directed by the White House.