A task force formed by House Republicans found senior leaders at US Central Command altered intelligence reports on ISIS to present findings that were “consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the Intelligence Community.” The task force’s report concerns CENTCOM’s analysis of counterterrorism efforts in Iraq between 2014 and 2015, according to a House Armed Services Committee release. The report does not attribute the alterations to the CENTCOM commanders at the time, nor assert that the practice was requested by the White House. Unnamed CENTCOM intelligence analysts reported top intelligence officials who took over in the summer of 2014 directed changes in the production of intelligence reports and took more active roles in crafting the findings that were sent to national intelligence leaders, actions that could have influenced the briefings to President Obama. The report said the affected analyses downplayed the strength and rapid progress of ISIS extremists. The task force, formed in 2015 in response to complaints by an unnamed CENTCOM intelligence analyst, was directed by three Republican House defense and intelligence panel members, and has no Democratic participation. CENTCOM spokesperson Cmdr. Kyle Raines said the command is reviewing the findings, but due to a continuing investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general, “we will refrain from further comment.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.