Ernst, Johnson Statement on Report Finding Evidence of Overly Optimistic Intelligence Reporting at CENTCOM
Aug 12 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the new interim report of the House of Representatives Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command Intelligence Analysis:
"Pursuant to whistleblower and media reports, Senator Johnson and I have called on the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate whether military intelligence reports on ISIS have been altered or selectively disseminated in order to paint an unduly favorable picture of events on the ground,” said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran. “This interim report released by the Joint Task Force is alarming and fuels my concerns that we may not be receiving a clear picture of our ongoing fight against ISIS. As the report states, ‘analytic integrity is crucial to good intelligence, and good intelligence is crucial to making informed policy judgements.’ Any actions or structural or cultural deficiencies resulting in an inaccurate picture of the situation on the ground would prevent Congress and our military leaders from making the best decisions possible in our continued fight against ISIS. It would also deny the American people of their right to know the truth. I will continue to follow this matter closely and look forward to the final conclusion of what I hope will be a full and robust investigation by the DOD IG."
“The fact that intelligence reports were apparently manipulated to paint a rosy picture of the war against ISIS is unacceptable,” said Chairman Johnson. “The job of intelligence analysts is to produce objective, fact-based assessments, which then serve as a basis for informed national security and foreign policy decisions. Doctoring and denying reality has no place in national and military intelligence, which require objectivity and candor. President Obama owes it to the American people to be transparent and provide an accurate assessment of our national security threats rather than turning a blind eye to the dangers that face America, our troops abroad and our allies around the world.”
Last September, the senators sent letters to those with potential knowledge of the allegations of manipulation of intelligence assessments, including James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and Jon Rymer, the Department of Defense Inspector General.
According to its press release, the House Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command Intelligence Analysis "found that intelligence products approved by senior CENTCOM leaders typically provided a more positive depiction of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts than was warranted by facts on the ground and were consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the Intelligence Community. It further determined that numerous process changes implemented at CENCTOM as well as leadership deficiencies resulted in widespread dissatisfaction among CENTCOM analysts who felt their superiors were distorting their products.”