A new congressional report released on Thursday reveals that senior leadership at the U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM, altered intelligence reports to downplay the threat posed by ISIS.
The Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command Intelligence Analysis found, “The leadership environment within CENTCOM and its Intelligence Directorate deteriorated significantly following the 2013 departure of Marine General James Mattis and his senior intelligence leaders.”
Mattis was reportedly forced out by the Obama administration over policy differences regarding Iran.
Although a supporter of the president, journalist Thomas Ricks writing for Foreign Policy, nonetheless notedat the time: “The message the Obama Administration is sending, intentionally or not, is that it doesn’t like tough, smart, skeptical generals who speak candidly to their civilian superiors. In fact, that is exactly what it (and every administration) should want.”
According to the task force findings, the senior leadership at CENTCOM appeared to take notice, and began manipulating intelligence analysts’ findings during the period from 2014 to the middle of 2015.
A senior analyst blew the whistle on what was happening last year, prompting the congressional inquiry. The Defense Department’s inspector general is also investigating the matter.
“There is enormous evidence about this information from talented, career professionals inside the analytic arm at CENTCOM did their job and accurately depicted what was going on on the ground, but when it got to very senior levels that information was changed,” task force member Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., told CBS News.
The representative added in a press release, “The cultural breakdown in Central Command’s intelligence process resulted from an administration-wide understanding that bad news from Iraq and Syria was not welcomed.
“Claims that ISIS was the ‘JV team’ and that al-Qaeda was ‘on the run’ were both a result—and a cause—of the politicization of intelligence at CENTCOM. This intelligence manipulation provided space for both ISIS and al-Qaeda to grow and it put America at risk,” he added.
During a rally in Florida on Thursday, Republican Donald Trump charged that President Obama “is the founder of ISIS … I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
The candidate added during an interview with CNBC, that Obama and Clinton should get the “most valuable player award having to do with Iraq and having to do with the ISIS situation.”
Trump surrogate former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani explained on CNN’s New Day on Thursday, “It is true in the sense that before Obama, ISIS was an almost unknown, small little organization. He even called it the JV. Totally wrong.”
Giuliani added, “Here is why it happened: because he withdrew the troops from Iraq,” thereby destabilizing the country and allowing ISIS to rise.
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