House Task Force: ISIS Intel Reports Altered to Skew Success of U.S.-Led Campaign

U.S. troops
United States soldiers / AP
August 10, 2016

The U.S. military’s Central Command distorted intelligence reports to make the American-led campaign against the Islamic State and al Qaeda appear more successful than it actually was, a House Republican task force found.

Officials familiar with the task force’s findings told the Daily Beast that the roughly 10-page report, which is expected to be publicly released by the end of next week, will confirm earlier complaints from lower level analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency that Centcom higher-ups had doctored intelligence.

Leaders of Centcom’s intelligence directorate also pressured their subordinates to downplay the threat of ISIS in military reports, the officials said.

The task force, which included members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, was formed after more than 50 intelligence analysts filed a formal complaint accusing senior Centcom officials of inappropriately altering their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The complaint, sent to the Pentagon’s inspector general, said senior officials had created a "Stalinist" work environment where subordinates felt "bullied" into drawing conclusions unsubstantiated by facts.

President Obama unwittingly repeated some of the altered intelligence during briefings, the Daily Beast reported. When the initial Centcom complaint came to light last year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanded that military officials provide "unvarnished intelligence."

The report does not contain decisive evidence that senior Obama administration officials had ordered alterations to the ISIS and al Qaeda intelligence.

One official familiar with the House task force’s findings said that while the investigation was "ongoing," the report "substantiates" claims from lower-level Centcom employees.