Stephen Hayes, The Weekly Standard:
Earlier this summer, we learned the Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that the intelligence on ISIS was manipulated. Analysts at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, formally complained to the IG that analysis contradicting the Obama administration’s narrative on ISIS was routinely challenged, rewritten, or disregarded. The administration was eager to sell the story that the campaign against ISIS was going well; much of the intelligence made clear it wasn’t. That intelligence was buried, and the happy talk continued.
We’re encouraged that the inspector general is taking seriously these reports of intelligence manipulation. To understand the problem, however, the IG will have to expand its investigation, because precisely the same thing happened before.
From 2011 through 2013, top Obama administration and intelligence officials downplayed and discarded intelligence on al Qaeda and its activities. As President Obama sought to convince the American public that al Qaeda was dying, analysts at CENTCOM were quietly providing assessments showing the opposite was true. In 2012, as administration officials made their public claims, the briefings they received from the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, included assessments that al Qaeda had doubled in strength over the preceding two years. A top DIA official was told directly to stop producing reports based on documents collected during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. And when a member of the House Intelligence Committee sought to investigate these allegations of manipulation, he was misled repeatedly.
So the intelligence manipulation now making headlines is not a new scandal, but a broadening of an earlier one—the systematic and willful effort to sell the American people a false narrative about the global jihadist movement and our efforts to defeat it.