An investigation by the US Congress says that intelligence approved by the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) painted a rosier picture of progress in the battle against the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The Congressional Joint Task Force (JTF), which reviewed military assessments of the American air offensive in Iraq and Syria beginning in 2014, released early findings of its probe on Thursday.
The Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee had established the task force.
The 17-page report faults the Pentagon for overly optimistic intelligence reports about the war against the Daesh, detailing “persistent problems” in 2014 and 2015 with CENTCOM’s analysis of how the war was going.
The investigation blames the problem mainly on “structural and management changes” in 2014 that “resulted in the production and dissemination of intelligence products that were inconsistent with the judgments of many senior, career analysts at CENTCOM.”
“These products were consistently more optimistic regarding the conduct of U.S. military action than that of the senior analysts,” a summary of the report concluded.
A US military spokesman said CENTCOM officials “appreciate the independent oversight” and are “reviewing the findings of the initial report.”
“Since the Joint Task Force investigation is ongoing, as is the DoD IG’s investigation, we will refrain from further comment at this time,” said Navy Cmdr. Kyle Raines.
The report presented no significant evidence that there was any political motivation for intelligence assessments more positive than reflected on the ground, but it still plays into the hands of those Republicans who argue that the Obama administration has consistently underestimated the threat posed by the terrorist group.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday accused President Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton of founding Daesh in the Middle East region,
“He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder! He founded ISIS,” the real estate tycoon said, using an alternative acronym for the terrorist group.
“I would say the co-founder would be ‘Crooked’ Hillary Clinton,” Trump added.
The investigation was launched after more than 50 intelligence analysts at CENTCOM had complained that their assessments were being handled inappropriately by their superiors.
Daesh terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, still control parts of Iraq and Syria. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in areas under their control.
They have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities, including Shia and Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and Christians.