CENTCOM intel analysts being forced out for exposing cooked intelligence on ISIS

Fifty intelligence analysts at CENTCOM headquarters are being retaliated against for exposing a scandal involving altered intelligence reports about ISIS that put a far more optimistic spin on military progress against the terrorists than the analysts originally reported.  The reports were changed by high-ranking officers at CENTCOM and were used by the Obama administration to "prove" that we are winning the battle against Islamic State.

Some analysts have lost their jobs, and higher-ups at CENTCOM have been looking at which analysts may have talked to the media or the Pentagon inspector general who is investigating the allegations.

Daily Beast:

One of the analysts alleging reprisals is the top analyst in charge of Syria issues at CENTCOM. He and a colleague doubted rebels’ capabilities and their commitment to U.S. objectives in the region. The analysts have been effectively sidelined from their positions and will no longer be working at CENTCOM, according to two individuals familiar with the dispute, and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The analysts’ skeptical views put them at odds with military brass, who last year had predicted that a so-called moderate opposition would make up a 15,000-man ground force to take on ISIS in its self-declared caliphate. An initial $500 million program to train and arm those fighters failed spectacularly. And until the very end, Pentagon leaders claimed the operation was more or less on track. Lawmakers called the plan a “joke” when Gen. Lloyd Austin, the CENTCOM commander, finally testified last September that there were just “four or five” American-trained fighters in Syria.

Earlier allegations from CENTCOM, the military command responsible for overseeing the Middle East, had focused on leaders there fudging intelligence reports about U.S. efforts to attack ISIS and undermine its financing operations. That analysts are now raising red flags around reporting on Syrian rebel groups suggests that, at least from the analysts’ perspective, there is a broader systemic problem than was previously known.

The Pentagon inspector general and a congressional task force are investigating allegations of doctored intelligence reports about ISIS.

The working environment at CENTCOM has been described as “toxic” and “hostile.” As The Daily Beast previously reported, more than 50 CENTCOM analysts have said that senior officials gave more scrutiny and pushback on reports that suggested U.S. efforts to destroy ISIS weren’t progressing. Analysis that took a more optimistic view of the war effort got comparatively less attention from higher-ups.

The inspector general's report is expected shortly.  But CENTCOM's head of intelligence, General Steven Grove, along with his civilian deputy Gregory Ryckman, has been accused of deleting emails and other documents related to the case.  It's unknown whether the I.G. got a complete picture of what was going on at CENTCOM due to a lack of cooperation by senior intelligence officers.

This wouldn't be the first time a president, or those loyal to him, fudged intelligence for political reasons, and it probably won't be the last.  Congress would like to get to the bottom of where the impetus for altering intel reports came from.  Was it ambitious officers at CENTCOM who wished to please superiors in Washington who were politically connected?  Or did the order come from the White House?

Keep an eye on this scandal, as it will likely explode when the I.G. releases his report.

Fifty intelligence analysts at CENTCOM headquarters are being retaliated against for exposing a scandal involving altered intelligence reports about ISIS that put a far more optimistic spin on military progress against the terrorists than the analysts originally reported.  The reports were changed by high-ranking officers at CENTCOM and were used by the Obama administration to "prove" that we are winning the battle against Islamic State.

Some analysts have lost their jobs, and higher-ups at CENTCOM have been looking at which analysts may have talked to the media or the Pentagon inspector general who is investigating the allegations.

Daily Beast:

One of the analysts alleging reprisals is the top analyst in charge of Syria issues at CENTCOM. He and a colleague doubted rebels’ capabilities and their commitment to U.S. objectives in the region. The analysts have been effectively sidelined from their positions and will no longer be working at CENTCOM, according to two individuals familiar with the dispute, and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The analysts’ skeptical views put them at odds with military brass, who last year had predicted that a so-called moderate opposition would make up a 15,000-man ground force to take on ISIS in its self-declared caliphate. An initial $500 million program to train and arm those fighters failed spectacularly. And until the very end, Pentagon leaders claimed the operation was more or less on track. Lawmakers called the plan a “joke” when Gen. Lloyd Austin, the CENTCOM commander, finally testified last September that there were just “four or five” American-trained fighters in Syria.

Earlier allegations from CENTCOM, the military command responsible for overseeing the Middle East, had focused on leaders there fudging intelligence reports about U.S. efforts to attack ISIS and undermine its financing operations. That analysts are now raising red flags around reporting on Syrian rebel groups suggests that, at least from the analysts’ perspective, there is a broader systemic problem than was previously known.

The Pentagon inspector general and a congressional task force are investigating allegations of doctored intelligence reports about ISIS.

The working environment at CENTCOM has been described as “toxic” and “hostile.” As The Daily Beast previously reported, more than 50 CENTCOM analysts have said that senior officials gave more scrutiny and pushback on reports that suggested U.S. efforts to destroy ISIS weren’t progressing. Analysis that took a more optimistic view of the war effort got comparatively less attention from higher-ups.

The inspector general's report is expected shortly.  But CENTCOM's head of intelligence, General Steven Grove, along with his civilian deputy Gregory Ryckman, has been accused of deleting emails and other documents related to the case.  It's unknown whether the I.G. got a complete picture of what was going on at CENTCOM due to a lack of cooperation by senior intelligence officers.

This wouldn't be the first time a president, or those loyal to him, fudged intelligence for political reasons, and it probably won't be the last.  Congress would like to get to the bottom of where the impetus for altering intel reports came from.  Was it ambitious officers at CENTCOM who wished to please superiors in Washington who were politically connected?  Or did the order come from the White House?

Keep an eye on this scandal, as it will likely explode when the I.G. releases his report.