Last week the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Task Force released their initial findings on the intelligence analysis of the U.S. Military’s Central Command (CENTCOM). The report found that, among other things, CENTCOM leaders “distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products” to paint U.S. efforts to combat ISIS in a more positive light. Moreover, 50% of analysts within CENTCOM said that the “procedures, practices, processes and organizational structures hampered objective analysis” while another 40% said they had experienced attempts to “distort or suppress intelligence” within the past year.
The annual Analytic Objectivity and Process Survey , directed by the ODNI, was conducted from August through October 2015, and included responses from 125 analysts and managers within CENTCOM. The survey results were significantly worse than those of other IC agencies or COCOMs, and showed that a substantial number of CENTCOM respondents felt their supervisors distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products. Over 50% of analysts responded that CENTCOM procedures, practices, processes and organizational structures hampered objective analysis, and 40% responded that they had experienced an attempt to distort or suppress intelligence in the past year. Yet despite receiving these results in December 2015, CENTCOM and IC leaders did not take corrective actions to address many of the issues identified in the survey results
Frankly we’re shocked by these findings which seem to suggest that the military intelligence gather process is motivated less by gathering quality intelligence intended to keep our country safe and more by political pressure intended to help re-elect the incumbent party to the White House.
Investigative reporter Aaron Klein of Breitbart conducted a thorough review of the House report and found many other troubling discoveries. Below is a review of a couple of his most shocking findings.
1. Senior leaders were found to modify intelligence assessments to cast a positive spin on CENTCOM efforts to train the Iraqi Security Forces and combat the Islamic State
…senior leaders within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate and JIC, including the Director of Intelligence and other senior intelligence staff, violated regulations, tradecraft standards, and professional ethics by modifying intelligence assessments to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the ISF and combat ISIL.
According to multiple interviewees, operational reporting was used as a justification to alter or “soften” an analytic product so it would cast U.S. efforts in a more positive light. No interview provided any instances where operational reporting was used as a justification to come to a more pessimistic conclusion. Additionally, numerous interviewees indicated that analytical products which conflicted with operational reporting were routinely subject to more stringent scrutiny than those that did not.
2. In June 2014, CENTCOM established an around-the-clock intelligence “fusion center” intended to be the key intelligence gathering body in the fight against ISIL. Unfortunately, there was no “fusion” as people whose ideas conflicted with those of senior intelligence officials were not allowed to participate.
In June 2014, with the ISIL threat apparent, CENTCOM established an intelligence “fusion center,” a specially equipped JIC facility staffed around-the-clock, to serve as a “focal point” for ISIL-related intelligence. Interviewees recalled only informal communications noting the center’s establishment, and some were also uncertain about the center’s organizational structure, responsibilities, and how it was determined which JIC analysts would participate. The establishment of the Intelligence Fusion Center also removed some analysts who had the most experience with respect to ISIL and Iraq, including those whose analytic views often conflicted with those of CENTCOM’s senior intelligence leaders, from the production of daily intelligence products. This impact was especially significant given the critical analytic tasks of the Intelligence Fusion Center at this time of paramount importance in the theater.
3. Not only were “dissenters” not allowed to participate in the “fusion center” they were also restricted in any efforts to coordinate with other IC analysts.
Public statements by CENTCOM representatives emphasized close collaboration with other elements of the IC, but many interviewees indicated that in late 2014, senior CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate leaders instructed analysts to cease all external coordination with other IC analysts. The authority to coordinate was restricted to senior officials only, including to leaders of the Fusion Center. Other special arrangements were also put into place to notify the Director of Intelligence in the event that analysts sought to formally “dissent” from analysis produced elsewhere. The restrictions on collaboration have since been partially rescinded.
4. Despite whistle blower complaints from inside CENTCOM, the House report found no efforts to correct the apparent intentional distortion of the intelligence process.
The Joint Task Force is troubled that despite receiving the whistleblower complaint in May 2015 and receiving alarming survey results in December 2015, neither CENTCOM, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) took any demonstrable steps to improve the analytic climate within CENTCOM. The survey results alone should have prompted CENTCOM and IC leaders to take corrective action without other inducements.
And finally, per the norm, the Joint Task Force pointed out that it “did not receive access to all the materials it requested.”
And with that the full conversion of our military to a political entity is complete. Be safe America.
The full report from the Joint Task Force:
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