Is U.S. Analysis of Progress Against ISIS Skewed?

The New York Times is reporting that the Pentagon’s inspector general is looking into allegations that military officials made intelligence assessments seem optimistic.

ISIS supporters march in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq, in June 2014. (AP)

The Pentagon’s inspector general is looking into allegations that military officials skewed intelligence assessments about the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq against ISIS to make them seem optimistic, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing several officials familiar with the investigation.

Here’s more from the newspaper:

The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command—the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State—were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.

Fuller details of the claims were not available, including when the assessments were said to have been altered and who at Central Command, or Centcom, the analyst said was responsible. The officials, speaking only on the condition of anonymity about classified matters, said that the recently opened investigation focused on whether military officials had changed the conclusions of draft intelligence assessments during a review process and then passed them on.

ISIS—also called ISIL, Islamic State, and Daesh—controls large parts of Iraq, including its second-biggest city Mosul. It also occupies large parts of neighboring Syria. The U.S. and its allies have been carrying out a campaign against the group in Iraq, and has announced some recent successes. But the group continues to hold onto territory across a vast swath of Iraq and Syria.

The Times’ report could explain why accounts vary about U.S. successes against ISIS. The newspaper notes that the inspector general’s investigation is unusual because differences of opinion among national security officials are common.

You can read the Times story here.