An investigation by Republican members of Congress suggests that intelligence reports on ISIS from U.S. Central Command were altered, making them overly optimistic.
A congressional staff familiar with the report told CNN that CENTCOM senior leaders pushed for more favorable assessments of progress against ISIS. The congressional review was the result of a whistleblower claim that intelligence was altered between mid-2014 and mid-2015.
"There's enormous evidence about how this information from talented career professionals inside the analytic arm at CENTCOM did their job and accurately depicted what was going on on the ground, but when it got to very senior levels, that information was changed," Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, a member of the task force, told CBS News.
Intelligence reports from CENTCOM "were consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the Intelligence Community," The Washington Times reported, citing the task force.
CNN noted that differing views on ISIS, also known as ISIL, were reported in March 2015, when then-CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin said, "we have significantly degraded his (ISIS') capability -- his ability to command and control his forces and also his primary sources of revenue, namely his oil refineries and his crude collection points. The fact is that he can no longer do what he did at the outset, which is to seize and to hold new territory. He has assumed a defensive crouch in Iraq."
Ten days later, CIA director John Brennan said, "ISIL is well-armed and well-financed. Its fighters are disciplined, committed, and battle-hardened. Left unchecked, the group would pose a serious danger not only to Syria and Iraq, but to the wider region and beyond, including the threat of attacks in the homelands of the United States and our partners."
The 10-page congressional report, the result of a five-month investigation, is expected to be released at the end of this week, The Daily Beast reported. Members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee participated in the review.
The committee cannot directly punish officials for wrongdoing, but lawmakers could curtail funding for CENTCOM, The Daily Beast noted. A separate Department of Defense Inspector General investigation is ongoing.
CENTCOM spokesman Cmdr. Kyle Raines said the agency hadn't received the report and couldn't comment, CNN reported.
"We appreciate the independent oversight provided by the task force, cooperated fully with this investigation and encouraged personnel to speak freely with investigators and congressional staff members," he said.
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