WASHINGTON, D.C. — Forty percent of intelligence analysts working at the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), which is charged with the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), warned that the “analytic integrity” of their work is flawed, the chairman of a top House panel said on Thursday.
This revelation comes as many intelligence professionals at CENTCOM have accused their bosses of altering their assessments of the U.S. military efforts against ISIS to make it appear that President Obama is winning the war.
The 40 percent figure, which reportedly translates to at least 400 intelligence analysts, was discovered in a recent survey by the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which was first reported by The Daily Beast this month.
Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the prestigious House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, asked intel community chiefs about the figure during a hearing Thursday.
“To me, it seems like if 40 percent of analysts are concerned at CENTCOM, that’s just something that can’t be ignored,” Nunes told top intelligence officials testifying before the House intelligence panel, including DNI James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan.
“I would consider that unusually high,” said Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), referring to the 40 percent figure. “We’ve already had requests where there’s been a dispute at CENTCOM where we’ve sent out an ombudsman there to look at the analytic rigor.”
Citing the survey, The Daily Beast reported that there are more than 1,000 intelligence analysts at CENTCOM, noting that means at least 400 (40 percent) of them have voiced concerns about their work.
“Last year, a unit in Clapper’s office that acts as an ombudsman for intelligence reports conducted a survey to gauge whether politics or other factors were inappropriately influencing intelligence analysis,” noted the news outlet. “The CENTCOM analysts reported that some of their reports had been skewed by their bosses to reach conclusions that they felt weren’t supported by facts, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter.”
“The analysts believe that the fight against ISIS is not going as well as their bosses have tried to portray,” it added. “A large number of those analysts have also lodged a similar complaint with the Defense Department’s inspector general [IG], which is investigating the matter.”
Nunes’ comments on the intelligence survey were reportedly the first an official has quantified the extent of dissent and concern among analysts at CENTCOM.
Pentagon officials have reportedly said they believe the Department of Defense (DOD) IG’s review may be finished by spring.
Several other investigations into the scandal surrounding the ISIS intelligence reports are ongoing.
Besides the Pentagon IG, other inspectors general within the intelligence community and two congressional oversight panels are reportedly looking into the allegations.
Moreover, the House Committees on Armed Services, Intelligence, and Appropriations announced in December 2015 that they had established a Joint Task Force to investigate claims that senior CENTCOM officials manipulated intelligence products.
In September, 34 Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, expressing outrage over the allegations and demanding answers.
“Many officials are eager to see what the review finds so the Pentagon and CENTCOM can accurately assess the depth of the problem,” reported The Daily Beast.
“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one unnamed defense official told The Daily Beast.