Rank-and-file analysts at the U.S. Central Command say senior officials have been changing the conclusions of ISIS intelligence reports to make it appear the U.S.-led campaign is doing better than it really is.
The charges received little attention two weeks ago when the Pentagon's Inspector General launched an investigation into allegations from two analysts.
But late Wednesday, a report in The Daily Beast revealed that more than 50 intelligence analysts at CENTCOM had formally complained that their intelligence reports on the Islamic State had been inappropriately altered by senior officials.
"One of the central tenets, one of the key aspects of the policymaking process in the United States, is that analysts get to say what they think without any interference, without anybody changing it, so this is a very, very serious charge," CBS News Senior National Security Contributor Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA, said on "CBS This Morning" yesterday. If the report is true, he said, "somebody needs to lose their job over this."
The complaints allege that the ISIS intelligence was changed to reflect the Obama Administration's public position that the president's policy was succeeding in the effort to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS.
For example, John Allen, a retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the ISIS campaign, flat-out said "ISIS is losing" in a July speech at the Aspen Security Forum.
But despite some 6,700 airstrikes by the U.S-led coalition and rising U.S. assistance to the Iraqi army, ISIS is no worse off. It has lost territory in some areas but gained it in others.
"We've seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers," a defense official told the Associated Press in July.
The discrepancy between the reality on the ground in Iraq and the Obama administration's public statements put pressure on top intelligence officials to deliver reports more in line with the desired "spin."
One source told The Guardian that aides in the Obama administration simply did not want to hear "the narrative that ISIS is winning."
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.