Trouble is brewing at US Central Command (Centcom), the Pentagon’s agency covering security interests in nations throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.
According to a report from The Daily Beast, more than 50 intelligence analysts at Centcom have formally complained that reports on the Islamic State and the Nusra Front — Al Qaeda’s Syria branch — have been repeatedly altered by senior intelligence officials to fit with the Obama administration’s insistence that the US is winning the war against the two militant groups.
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell explained on “CBS This Morning” how serious these allegations are.
“One of the central tenants, one of the key aspects of the policymaking process in the United States is that analysts get to say what they think without any interference, without anybody changing it, so this is a very, very serious charge. I think it needs to be fully investigated,” Morrell said.
“If there is truth that somebody has been meddling with their analysis, I think somebody needs to lose their job over it, and there needs to be full transparency into this because it is so important that analysts be able to say what they really think.”
A written complaint was sent in July by two Centcom senior analysts to the Department of Defense Inspector General, an independent agency that provides oversight to the Department of Defense.
The complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, according to The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast published similar allegations last month, citing sources familiar with the terrorism assessments who said senior military and intelligence officials pushed analysts to portray ISIS “as weaker than the analysts believe it actually is” and “paint an overly rosy picture about how well the US-led effort to defeat the group is going.”
Now it appears that the problem is more widespread than just a few frustrated analysts.
Eleven individuals knowledgeable about the details of the complaint told The Daily Beast that it says crucial parts of intelligence reports were taken out, analysts were subject to an environment in which they did not feel able to give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria, and sometimes reports seen as being too negative were sent back to analysts.
The analysts are now in a full “revolt,” according to The Daily Beast. The work environment at Centcom is reportedly so bad that it has been described as “Stalinist.” One source alleges that when they brought concerns to Centcom leadership, they were urged to retire, and some agreed to leave.
Source: Business Insider | Harrison Jacobs and Pamela Engel