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Key US Military Command Accused of Manipulating Islamic State Reports

  • Wayne Lee

American and Spanish trainers use live ammunition in training exercises at Basmaya base, 40 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Intelligence assessments approved by senior leaders at U.S. Central Command exaggerated the progress of anti-terrorism efforts they ran against Islamic State militants.

American and Spanish trainers use live ammunition in training exercises at Basmaya base, 40 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Intelligence assessments approved by senior leaders at U.S. Central Command exaggerated the progress of anti-terrorism efforts they ran against Islamic State militants.

A U.S. House of Representatives task force has accused leaders of a key military command unit of manipulating intelligence reports to depict more favorable progress in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria than warranted.

The congressional joint task force, created in response to a whistlerblower allegation, released a report Thursday alleging leaders of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) gave rosier assessments of anti-terrorism efforts against IS than those provided by their own internal analysts.

The task force's first reports highlighted problems in 2014 and 2015 with CENTCOM assessments.

The report said the task force is continuing its investigation along with a separate probe that is being conducted by the Defense Department's Inspector General.

"The leadership failures at CENTCOM reach to the very top of the organization," said Congressman Ken Calvert, one of the leaders of the task force. "What happened at CENTCOM is unacceptable. Our war fighters suffer when bad analysis is presented to senior policymakers."

"That may well have resulted in putting American troops at risk as policymakers relied on this intelligence when formulating policy and allocating resources for the fight," said task force leader and Congressman Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo urged the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General to "hold accountable" the CENTCOM leaders "who failed our service members fighting our wars on the ground."

Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a task force member, said the reasons behind the inconsistent assessments are unclear but they show a need for an independent intelligence gathering and reporting process. "We cannot win the war against [IS] with incomplete intelligence," he said.

The task force was established by the Chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee.

VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report

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