50 Intel pros at CENTCOM claim senior officials 'cooking the books' on ISIS

The defense department's inspector general has opened an investigation into complaints by 50 intelligence officers working for CENTCOM that senior officials are doctoring intelligence to paint a rosier picture of progress against Islamic State than is reflected by reality.

The intel was altered to reflect the administration pronouncements that ISIS is being beaten.

Daily Beast:

The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.

Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative. The allegations echoed charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003.

The two signatories to the complaint were described as the ones formally lodging it, and the additional analysts are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples.

Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.

There is nothing new about these charges, except perhaps the extent of the cooking. The temptation to tell policy makers what they want to hear rather than what's actually happening is hard to resist for political appointees who see cooking the intelligence reports as a way to rise up the chain of command - perhaps even a ticket to a top Pentagon job.  

CENTCOM's own website gives us a pretty good idea of how the war is going. There are a limited number of sorties every day, as reported on September 9. Note the targets, including a motorcycle and a front end loader.

* Near Al Hawl, one airstrike destroyed three ISIL bunkers.
* Near Ar Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL training camp and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL motorcycle.
* Near Mar'a, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL front end loader.

How they can sex up a report like that takes a creativity I didn't think they had.

At this point, we expect the White House and the Pentagon to lie about progress against ISIS and al-Qaeda. But it would be refreshing to hear at least a sembalnce of the truth while we contemplate our next move against the terrorists.

The defense department's inspector general has opened an investigation into complaints by 50 intelligence officers working for CENTCOM that senior officials are doctoring intelligence to paint a rosier picture of progress against Islamic State than is reflected by reality.

The intel was altered to reflect the administration pronouncements that ISIS is being beaten.

Daily Beast:

The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.

Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative. The allegations echoed charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003.

The two signatories to the complaint were described as the ones formally lodging it, and the additional analysts are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples.

Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.

There is nothing new about these charges, except perhaps the extent of the cooking. The temptation to tell policy makers what they want to hear rather than what's actually happening is hard to resist for political appointees who see cooking the intelligence reports as a way to rise up the chain of command - perhaps even a ticket to a top Pentagon job.  

CENTCOM's own website gives us a pretty good idea of how the war is going. There are a limited number of sorties every day, as reported on September 9. Note the targets, including a motorcycle and a front end loader.

* Near Al Hawl, one airstrike destroyed three ISIL bunkers.
* Near Ar Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL training camp and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL motorcycle.
* Near Mar'a, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL front end loader.

How they can sex up a report like that takes a creativity I didn't think they had.

At this point, we expect the White House and the Pentagon to lie about progress against ISIS and al-Qaeda. But it would be refreshing to hear at least a sembalnce of the truth while we contemplate our next move against the terrorists.