Pentagon Inspector General Finds No Evidence ISIS Intel Reports Were Skewed

Pentagon / Wikimedia Commons
February 1, 2017

The Pentagon inspector general concluded in a report released Wednesday that senior officials at the U.S. Central Command did not falsify intelligence related to operations against the Islamic State.

While a team of investigators interviewed "many" witnesses who fully or partially agreed with allegations by two complainants who asserted that intelligence was altered or suppressed to present a more favorable portrayal of operations against ISIS, the probe did not ultimately turn up evidence that intelligence had been skewed.

Details of the report were leaked earlier to news outlets including the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press. According to BuzzFeed, intelligence analysts who brought forth the allegations were outraged at the results of the investigation, one calling the final report a "whitewash."

Allegations of intelligence manipulation by leaders in Centcom's intelligence directorate first became public in 2015, precipitating a congressional investigation that concluded in a preliminary report last August that officials did indeed distort intelligence related to the fight against ISIS to make it appear rosier.

However, the Pentagon inspector general investigation found no evidence that intelligence was skewed or suppressed, according to the unclassified report released on Wednesday morning.

"The allegation that intelligence was falsified is the most extreme aspect of the allegations we investigated, and the evidence and testimony we found did not substantiate this allegation," the report states. "The few witnesses that described the intelligence assessments as false did not provide specific examples that supported that allegation. They also did not point out, and we did not find, specific intelligence products that contained false–untrue–facts or analysis."

"Certainly, many witnesses believed that intelligence was distorted and that the [Centcom] intelligence products presented a more positive assessment of the success of the [Iraqi Security Forces] and the failures of ISIL than they believed the intelligence warranted," the report states, using the government-preferred acronym for ISIS.

The inspector general did, however, identify "several weaknesses and flaws" in the intelligence collection process that likely contributed to allegations that officials were distorting intelligence assessments.

"We identified several weaknesses and flaws in the process that we believe contributed to the allegations, as well as the widespread perception that CCJ2 senior intelligence leaders were distorting intelligence to present a more positive view of the success of the ISF and a more negative view of the success of ISIL," the report states. "We also believe these management deficiencies hindered the effectiveness and efficiency of the CCJ2 [Centcom Intelligence Directorate] and JICCENT [Joint Intelligence Center Centcom], as well as the morale of the analytical workforce."

The team of investigators interviewed more than 100 witnesses and analyzed "millions" of emails and intelligence documents. A classified version of the report–which stretches more than 500 pages–has been delivered to various departments within the Pentagon, the Director of National Intelligence, and relevant congressional panels.

Published under: ISIS , Military , Terrorism