WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and 33 other Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, expressing outrage over allegations that senior intelligence officers at U.S. Central Command altered their assessments of the U.S. military efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria to make it appear that President Obama is winning the war.
Pittenger, chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, told Breitbart News that he is greatly concerned that the Obama administration may have endangered the lives of Americans participating in the fight against ISIS by being dismissive of valuable intelligence reports for political purposes.
“For people fighting to secure our freedoms to be operating without a clear understanding of what the threat is because intelligence reports have been altered — it’s absolutely unfathomable to me that that could be tolerated,” he said.
There are several ongoing investigations into the ISIS intelligence scandal.
The inspector general for the Department of Defense (DOD), other inspectors general within the intelligence community, and two congressional oversight panels are reportedly looking into the allegations.
In the letter, dated September 22, Rep. Pittenger and his 33 colleagues demand answers on how the Pentagon chief intends to address and mitigate the issue.
“There must be some accountability,” Pittenger told Breitbart News. “It’s enormously troubling to learn that members of the intelligence community have written to senior DOD officials saying their intelligence reports have been altered, apparently, to be more in line with the political narrative of President Obama.”
“The narrative that the Obama administration has been seeking to portray is that they’re winning this war and, clearly, those who are providing intelligence have a different a view,” he added.
Pittenger doubts the Obama administration will conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations.
Nevertheless, he told Breitbart News, “We expect the administration to be forthcoming about the allegation. Get the facts out in front. We need to have some answers and they need to be accountable to Congress. They need the support and the confidence of the members of Congress.”
“We need transparency in our government. We haven’t seen it in a long time and this affects the lives of people fighting to secure our freedoms,” added Pittenger.
Bloomberg reports the congressional investigations into the intelligence tampering allegations are expected to expand the scope of the Pentagon’s inspector general’s inquiry by probing claims of intelligence report alterations that go back years before the military efforts against ISIS started.
Citing Senate sources, Bloomberg reports that “staffers from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Armed Services Committee have already met with the main whistleblower to discuss the allegations.”
“As elected officials, we respectfully request that you update our offices on your investigative efforts, including the accuracy of news reports, the extent of the inappropriate editing, and your solutions to mitigate the problem,” said the 34 GOP lawmakers in the letter to the Pentagon chief.
The lawmakers also expressed frustration over the Pentagon’s struggle to develop a coherent Syria strategy and its failed program to train moderate Syrian forces to take on ISIS.
“Despite the President’s misguided efforts to reverse longstanding policies towards Russia and Iran, there have been no indications that those countries are willing to side with the United States on Syria,” they wrote.
“With these issues in mind, we find reports of senior-level Defense Department staff altering intelligence documents in Syria especially troubling,” the members of Congress told Carter. “As you have stated, the intelligence-gathering process should remain non-partisan, and senior officials should not alter or disturb the impartiality of the process.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Pittenger, David Rouzer (R-NC), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Scott Perry (R-PA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Bill Posey (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bob Latta (R-OH), Pete Olson (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), David Brat (R-VA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), David Young (R-IA), John Culberson (R-TX), Rick Allen (R-GA), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), John Mica (R-FL), Bill Flores (R-TX), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and Trent Kelly (R-MS).