Obama’s intel scandal–59h.,b26
Barack Obama says he wants the truth. On November 21,the New York Times reported allegation that with skewed assessments that minimized the threat from ISIS and overstated the success of U.S. efforts against the group. The Times story was an update of reporting from the Daily Beast earlier this fall.
“More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials,”
These analysts say their superiors regularly massaged pessimistic assessments to make them more upbeat before sending them up the chain of command. The analysts registered their grievances with the inspector general at the Pentagon who is investigating their claims.
“What do know is my expectation, which is the highest fidelity to a facts, data—the truth.” They were ready when they did, providing the IG with extensive documentation—going back more than a year—to support their claims.
And they understood that by formalizing their n complaints they would be challenging not their immediate superiors alone but in some important respects an entire system that had encouraged analysts and other national security officials to downplay the jihadist threat.
It’s better understood as an installment in a long-running scandal that extends beyond CENTCOM in Tampa, into the upper reaches of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps into the White House The Sensitive Site Exploitation team on the raid collected more than a million documents—papers, computer hard drives, audio and video recordings.
According to senior U.S. intelligence officials with firsthand knowledge of the controversy, the documents sat largely untouched for as long as a year. The CIA retained “executive authority” over the documents, and when analysts from other agencies requested access to them, the CIA denied it—repeatedly. Much of what these analysts were seeing—directly from Osama bin Laden and Other al Qaeda leaders—contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly. While drone strikes had killed some senior al Qaeda leaders, the organization had anticipated the U.S. decapitation strategy and was flourishing in spite of it; bin Laden remained intimately involved in al Qaeda decision-making and operational planning; the relationship between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban remained strong despite the Obama administration’s attempts to weaken it by negotiating with Taliban leaders; al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran, while uneven and fraught with mutual distrust, was far deeper and more significant than U.S. intelligence assessments had suggested.
Al Qaeda wasn’t dying; it was growing. The Afghan Taliban wasn’t moderating; its leaders were as close to al Qaeda as ever. The same Iranian regime promising to abide by the terms of a deal to limit its nuclear program had provided safe haven for al Oaeda leaders and their families and had facilitated al Qaeda attacks on the interests of the United States and its allies. One official on the team was summoned to Washington and ordered to quit analyzing the documents. To date, only a fraction of the document collection has been fully exploited, and fewer than 150 of the documents have been declassified and released.
“We were certainly blocked from seeing all the documents, and we were given limited time and resources to exploit the ones we had,” says Michael Pregent a DIA analyst on the CENTCOM team.
In the late spring 2012, the CENTCOM team received approval from Clapper’s office to review the documents uninterrupted for five days at the National Media Exploitation Center in McLean, Va. CIA director David Petraeus whose agency retained executive authority over the collection, supported the trip. But shortly after the visit was approved, it was canceled. Pregent says they were told they were being “let go” because of “sequestration.”
Why would the president’s National Security Council intervene to block access to the bin Laden documents for analysts from the DIA and CENTCOM—analysts who are providing intelligence to those on the frontlines of America’s battle with jihadists?
NSC officials handpicked the first set of documents released to the public—chosen to reinforce the impression that bin Laden was weak and isolated when he was killed and that al Qaeda was in disarray.
Lt. Gen Michael Flynn former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, says any investigation into the manipulation of intelligence must include the White House. While investigators might find “some of the tactical issues at Central Command,” that’s not the source of the problem. Flynn says. “The focus of this investigation ought to start at the top.
Harvey has worked on Iraq and the global jihadist threat for more than three decades, earning accolades from many who worked closest to him. He spoke out repeatedly against overly optimistic assessments in Iraq from the Bush administration, prompting one retired general to call him the “best strategic intelligence officer in the U.S. military” and another to describe him as “the best intelligence analyst the U.S. government has on Iraq.
source–the weekly standard (12/7/20150, stephen hayes, the daily beast, centcom, michael pregent, david patraeus, nsc, derek harvey, dia, gen michael flynn, megan kelly, fox,