Three House panels will join forces to investigate allegations that senior U.S. Central Command officers altered intelligence assessments to make it appear that President Obama is winning the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), according to their chairmen.
“Today, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Appropriations Committee established a Joint Task Force to investigate allegations that senior U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) officials manipulated intelligence products,” revealed a joint statement by Rep. David Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).
Nunes is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Thornberry of the House Armed Services Committee, and Frelinghuysen of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Defense.
Centcom analysts have claimed that senior officers altered the intelligence reports.
In September, 34 Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, expressing outrage over the allegations and demanding answers.
There are several other ongoing investigations into the ISIS intelligence scandal. The inspector general for the Pentagon, other inspectors general within the intelligence community, and two congressional oversight panels are reportedly looking into the allegations.
Last month, the magazine Foreign Policy revealed that the congressional task force would be formed.
“In addition to looking into the specific allegations, the joint task force will examine whether these allegations reflect systemic problems across the intelligence enterprise in CENTCOM or any other pertinent intelligence organizations,” noted the joint statement.
The investigation, expected to yield preliminary results by early 2016, will be led by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).
“Any accusation of intelligence being altered to fit a political narrative must be fully investigated and those responsible held accountable. This is an incredibly important task, and one that I am honored to take on,” said Rep. Pompeo, in a statement, later adding, “This matters both to those who gather the intelligence, often at great risk to their personal safety, and to the policymakers who use this intelligence to make what are often life threatening decisions.”
“Americans expect our military and civilian security officials to produce reports and analysis that are factual and accurately assesses security conditions around the globe,” added Rep. Calvert, in a separate statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to determine what took place and how we can ensure intelligence products meet the high standards all of us expect them to.”
Thornberry discussed the task force in an interview with Fox News, noting that Democrats are participating in the investigation.
“Now there’s an inspector-general investigation — we don’t want to mess that up — but at the same time we’re not going to wait until they conclude,” the House Armed Services Committee chairman told Fox News. “This is a very serious matter that we have an obligation to get into.”
“They are participating in the investigation,” he added, referring to Democrats. “Their staff had been involved in the discussions we have had with a variety of folks from Centcom and elsewhere. So again we want to be careful and do it right, but it’s important.”