Politicized intelligence threatens US interests

WASHINGTON, August 11, 2016 – New reporting suggests that the US Central Command, CENTCOM, intentionally twisted intelligence about US efforts against ISIS and al Qaeda, jeopardizing US personnel and interests.

The Daily Beast reports that a House task force found that senior officers in CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate pressured analysts to soften information on the threat posed by ISIS and to suggest US efforts against terrorists were more successful than analysts believed.

In intelligence community parlance, that means politicizing information, one of the cardinal sins of any intelligence organization. Whether intentional or not, politicized intelligence is never acceptable, is often deadly, and places a long-lasting blemish on the organization that perpetrates it.

According to The Daily Beast, the House task force is scheduled to release findings regarding CENTCOM politicization by the end of next week.

The controversy erupted last fall, after analysts reported pressure from higher-ups to paint a more positive picture of the counter-terror fight than what they actually believed. A survey released by Stars and Stripes last December found that 40 percent of the 120 CENTCOM personnel in the analysis directorate stated that “somebody had attempted to distort or suppress their analysis within the past year despite persuasive evidence.” Specifically, analysts complained that reports were altered to downplay the threat and to boost US successes against terrorists.

The DOD inspector general, the Armed Services Committee and two other House committees launched investigations of CENTCOM after the initial complaints from analysts.

The US Central Command is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, and has a forward headquarters in Qatar. It is responsible for the Middle East and North Africa; specifically, it is the Command responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and for the fight against ISIS.

(Article continues here)

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