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Ernst, Johnson Statement on the Administration's Alleged Manipulation of Intelligence Assessments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recent news reports from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Daily Beast suggest that military intelligence reporting was manipulated to reflect the President’s narrative that the U.S. is winning the war against terrorists in Iraq and Syria, specifically the Islamic State (ISIS) and al Nusra.

According to these reports, the Director of National Intelligence maintained frequent contact outside an official chain of command with the Intelligence Directorate leadership of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). This influenced CENTCOM’s Intelligence Directorate leadership to regularly ignore or inappropriately alter intelligence assessments that were not positive enough about U.S. military success in the region. This created a culture of suppressing dissent within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate that kept analysts from giving candid assessments. Such was the culture of suppression that some who complained purportedly were urged to retire, and did. In July, finding no reprieve from complaints made to CENTCOM leadership, two senior intelligence analysts at the organization filed a formal complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, with 50 other analysts supporting the complaint.

As a result, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee opened a review of the administration’s alleged actions in this matter. On Friday, Senators Ron Johnson and Joni Ernst, chairman and member of the committee respectively, sent letters to those purportedly involved in altering the intelligence assessments, including James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and Jon Rymer, the Department of Defense Inspector General.

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the primary investigative committee of the Senate, including on national security matters, and routinely works with whistleblowers to investigate misconduct in the federal government. Anyone with knowledge of waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement in the federal government is encouraged to contact Chairman Johnson’s staff directly at


Statement from Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:

“The allegations of the politicization of intelligence at the Department of Defense’s Central Command are highly concerning.  The job of intelligence analysts is to produce objective, fact-based assessments, which then serve as an essential basis for informed national security and foreign policy decisions. The possibility that the administration is pressuring intelligence analysts to conform those assessments to the president’s narrative — that we are winning the war against ISIS, when we are not — is unacceptable.  Doctoring and denying reality has no place in national and military intelligence, which require objectivity and candor. Strong leaders appreciate and cultivate dissenting views. Therefore, I have opened a review of these allegations to ensure that our nation’s intelligence analysts are able to continue to produce unbiased, fact-based assessments free from political pressure.”


Statement from Joni Ernst, member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:

“It is clear that there are discrepancies between the Obama Administration’s assessment of the war against ISIS, and the realities on the ground.  Now is the time for a thorough review of whistleblower reports from our intelligence community. This government owes it to the American people, especially our servicemembers who are putting their lives on the line for our nation, to get an accurate picture of the threats to our national security and to our allies around the world.”

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