Obama administration intelligence officials were pressured to paint a picture of the Islamic State threat that made it look weaker than it was.
Officials at U.S. Central Command were told via email to “cut it out” and to “toe the line” when sending reports about the terrorists group’s true danger, a source close to CENTCOM told Fox News.
Those emails, among others, are now in the possession of the Pentagon inspector general. The IG’s probe is expanding into whether intelligence assessments were changed to give a more positive picture of the anti-ISIS campaign.
The former Pentagon official said there were “multiple assessments” from military intelligence and the CIA regarding the “rapid rise” of ISIS in Iraq and North Africa in the year leading up to the group’s territory grab in 2014.
Similar intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB – the intelligence community’s most authoritative product — during the same time period. Yet the official, who was part of the White House discussions, said the administration kept “kicking the can down the road.” The official said there was no discussion of the military involvement needed to make a difference.
The IG probe started earlier this year amid complaints that information was changed to make ISIS look more degraded than it really was.
Among the complaints is that after the U.S. air campaign started in August 2014, the metrics to measure progress changed. They were modified to use measures such as the number of sorties and body counts — a metric not used since the Vietnam War — to paint a more positive picture.
On Sunday the New York Times first reported that the inspector general was expanding the probe by adding investigators and that he was in possession of a plethora of documents related to the case.
House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told CNN on Sunday that his committee was also in on the probe.
“We heard from a lot of whistle-blowers and other informants who have given us information. And not just … related strictly to the latest allegations,” he told CNN’s “State of The Union.”
On Sunday President Obama vowed to find out what happened.
“One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by the desire to tell a feel-good story,” he said at a pres conference in Malaysia. “I believe that the Department of Defense and all those who head up our intelligence agencies understand that, and that I have made it repeatedly clear to all my top national security advisors that I never want them to hold back, even if the intelligence or their opinions about the intelligence, their analysis or interpretations of the data contradict current policy.”
Social media was less than comforted by Obama’s words.
Obama has ordered an inquiry into accusations that intelligence reports on ISIS were altered https://t.co/EONIswPTdQ
— David Joachim, NYT (@davidjoachim) November 23, 2015
@davidjoachim Must be nice to be POTUS and accept zero responsibility or accountability. — Lisa (@Flyingright1) November 23, 2015
@davidjoachim That’s like me ordering an inquiry into my why daughter’s room is still a mess.
— Colorado REDTraci (@goptraci) November 23, 2015
@davidjoachim so the person caught lying is going to investigate his lying. — Super King (@SuperKng) November 23, 2015
@davidjoachim So Obama’s going to investigate himself. Cool.
— JWF (@JammieWF) November 23, 2015
Head of Coors orders inquiry into reports that beer gets people drunk https://t.co/wYa0bebqUv
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) November 23, 2015
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