On May 28, 2015, an analyst assigned to CENTCOM filed a formal complaint with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Inspector General (DIA IG) regarding a matter of “urgent concern” and requested that the DIA IG transmit his complaint to Congress. The DIA IG moved it up the line to the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, who then forwarded it to the congressional intelligence committees.
The complaint alleged that senior leaders within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate and the joint intelligence center, (including the Director of Intelligence (James Clapper) and other senior intelligence staff,violated regulations, tradecraft standards, and professional ethics by modifying intelligence assessments to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the ISF and combat ISIL.
The joint task force of the House Intelligence Committee found that the whistleblower’s complaints were accurate. Intelligence reports about the U.S. war against ISIS typically provided a more positive depiction of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts than was warranted by facts on the ground and were consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the Intelligence Community (full report embedded below). In other words the analysis was manipulated to make it look like the U.S. efforts against ISIS were doing better than it actually reported.
Based on its own investigation, the Joint Task Force has substantiated that structural and management changes made at the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate starting in mid-2014 resulted in the production and dissemination of intelligence products that were inconsistent with the judgments of many senior, career analysts at CENTCOM.These products were consistently more optimistic regarding the conduct of U.S. military action than that of the senior analysts.Based on specific case studies evaluated by the Joint Task Force, during the time period evaluated by the Joint Task Force, CENTCOM produced intelligence that was also significantly more optimistic than that of other parts of the Intelligence Community (IC) and typically more optimistic than actual events warranted. Additionally, many CENTCOM press releases, public statements, and congressional testimonies were also significantly more positive than actual events.
(…) Furthermore, senior leaders also relied on details reported from coalition forces rather than more objective and better documented intelligence reporting. The Joint Task Force can find no justifiable reason why operational reporting was repeatedly used as a rationale to change the analytic product, particularly when the changes only appeared to be made in a more optimistic direction. By supplanting analytic tradecraft with unpublished and ad hoc operational reporting, Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) leadership circumvented important processes that are intended to protect the integrity of intelligence analysis.
The task force was created in response to a whistleblower allegation, and was established by the Chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee. It is led by Reps. Ken Calvert, Mike Pompeo, and Brad Wenstrup
Rep. Mike Pompeo commented on the report:
“After months of investigation, this much is very clear: from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, the United States Central Command’s most senior intelligence leaders manipulated the command’s intelligence products to downplay the threat from ISIS in Iraq. The result: consumers of those intelligence products were provided a consistently ‘rosy’ view of U.S. operational success against ISIS. That may well have resulted in putting American troops at risk as policymakers relied on this intelligence when formulating policy and allocating resources for the fight. I urge the Department of Defense Inspector General to hold accountable the intelligence leaders that failed our service members fighting our wars on the ground.”
Rep. Wenstrup added:
“I am proud to serve on the Joint Task Force, which is working diligently to conduct a thorough investigation into the CENTCOM intelligence directorate. Amongst other findings, our investigation has determined that unfavorable intelligence reports underwent significant scrutiny and were likely to be omitted unless they could be confirmed with virtually 100 percent certainty. As a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve, I understand that intelligence is not always certain. Possibilities and probabilities can be just as critical for decision makers. Additionally, despite nearly nine months of review, we still do not fully understand the reasons and motivations behind this practice and how often the excluded analyses were proven ultimately to be correct. We cannot win the war against ISIS with incomplete intelligence. The report out today highlights the importance of having an independent process.”
Not the committee did not find any involvement by senior White House officials. However there was a culture in the senior intelligence community and the White House of wanting to present only good news.
There’s more to the report embedded below, the bottom line is the POTUS and defense official were making decisions about the conflict with ISIS, without an accurate assessment regarding how the American efforts were doing. A very dangerous situation that repeats some of the mistakes of the Vietnam war.
See the full report HERE