'Intelligence reports skewed on US progress against ISIS'
Military officials allegedly skewed intelligence assessments about the US-led campaign in Iraq against dreaded Islamic State militants to provide a more optimistic account of progress, prompting the Pentagon to launch a probe, according to a media report.
Washington: Military officials allegedly skewed intelligence assessments about the US-led campaign in Iraq against dreaded Islamic State militants to provide a more optimistic account of progress, prompting the Pentagon to launch a probe, according to a media report.
The Pentagon's inspector general is investigating allegations that US military officials tweaked intelligence assessments to provide a more optimistic account to policy- makers, including President Barack Obama, the New York Times reported citing several officials familiar with the inquiry.
The probe began after at least one civilian Defence Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at US Central Command ? the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State ? were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policymakers, officials were quoted as saying.
Details of the claims, however, were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command (Centcom), the analyst said, was responsible.
The officials said that the recently opened investigation focused on whether military officials had changed the conclusions of draft intelligence assessments during a review process and then passed them on.
The prospect of skewed intelligence raises new questions about the direction of the government's war with the IS, and could help explain why pronouncements about the progress of the campaign have varied widely, the report said.
Legitimate differences of opinion are common and encouraged among national security officials, so the inspector general's investigation is an unusual move and suggests the allegations go beyond typical intelligence disputes, it said.
Government rules state that intelligence assessments "must not be distorted" by agency agendas or policy views. Analysts are required to cite the sources that back up their conclusions and to acknowledge differing viewpoints.
Under federal law, intelligence officials can bring claims of wrongdoing to the intelligence community's inspector general, a position created in 2011. If officials find the claims credible, they are required to advise the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
That occurred in the past several weeks, the officials said, and the Pentagon's inspector general decided to open an investigation into the matter, the report said.
Col Patrick Ryder, a Centcom spokesman, refused to comment on a continuing inspector general investigation but said "the IG has a responsibility to investigate all allegations made, and we welcome and support their independent oversight."
Some senior American officials have provided largely positive public assessments about the progress of the military campaign against the IS.
However, the recent intelligence assessments, including some by Defence Intelligence Agency, paint a sober picture about how little the IS has been weakened over the past year, according to officials with access to the classified analyses.