Steve Hayes: Cooked Intel on Islamic State Could Be Biggest Scandal of Obama’s Presidency

Weekly Standard senior writer Steve Hayes said Friday that the alleged manipulation of intelligence about the Islamic State (IS, also ISIS) by senior officials could be the biggest scandal of President Obama's presidency.

"You had analysts who provided information, provided assessments that said that ISIS was actually a growing threat and a real danger, and those threats were systematically rewritten to downplay the threat from ISIS," Hayes said on Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier.

"I think this is potentially the biggest scandal of the Obama administration," Hayes said later.

The scandal in question has simmered under the surface for some time before an article in The Daily Beast brought matters to a boil. The article revealed that 50 intelligence analysts had formally complained that their reports about IS and al Nusra, an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, were being altered by senior officials to downplay the groups' strength.

Hayes said that intelligence has been hidden and massaged by the Obama administration to downplay the strength of al Qaeda for years.

"My argument is that this isn't a new scandal at all," Hayes said. "There were games played with [the Osama bin Laden documents]. The administration was arguing at the time that al Qaeda was no longer a threat—that it was, in fact, retreating—when you had somebody like Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former chairman of the [DIA] saying at the time that al Qaeda had doubled in strength

 

Transcript below:

BRET BAIER: Cooking the books on intel about ISIS. The chairman of the House Intelligence committee says knows it's been going on since 2012, because he was told by an informant that it was going on back then. What about all of this? We start the Friday lightning round. We're back with the panel. Steve.

STEVE HAYES: Well, I think this is a big deal. There has been a lot of media focus over the past couple weeks, past couple months about intelligence manipulation as it relates to ISIS, where you had analysts who provided information, provided assessments that said that ISIS was actually a growing threat and a real danger, and those threats were systematically rewritten to downplay the threat from ISIS. But most of the media is treating this as a new scandal. My argument is that this isn't a new scandal at all. In fact, it has happened before both with respect to the War on Terror but also involving [the Defense Intelligence Agency] and CENTCOM. That goes back to the translation, the exploitation of the documents that were captured in Osama bin Laden's compound. The same thing happened. Those documents, there were games played with them. The administration was arguing at the time that al Qaeda was no longer a threat—that it was, in fact, retreating—when you had somebody like Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former chairman of the [DIA] saying at the time that al Qaeda had doubled in strength. I think this is potentially the biggest scandal of the Obama administration.

BAIER: Okay. Mark it down.