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President Barack Obama shakes hands with Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, who is expected to testify to a Senate panel on the ongoing operation against ISIS on Wednesday. (Photo: US Central Command)

Top Military Brass Accused of Flipping ISIS Intel 'On Its Head'

Analysts say that Centcom superiors mislead White House and Congress about the success of the bombing campaign to justify ongoing war

Lauren McCauley

Intelligence analysts are accusing the upper brass of the U.S. Military's Central Command of "flipping everything on its head" in order to present the United States' ongoing war on ISIS in a positive light and maintain the bombing of Iraq and Syria.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Pentagon Inspector General's investigation, which was first revealed last month, is focusing specifically on the "highest ranking officials" at U.S. Central Command, or Centcom, which is overseeing military operations against fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Quoting several anonymous government officials, the Times writes, "The officials now say that the analysts at the center of the investigation allege that their superiors within Centcom’s intelligence operation changed conclusions about a number of topics, including the readiness of Iraqi security forces and the success of the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria."

"In the wake of the flawed intelligence prior to the Iraq war, we must make sure that all voices are appropriately considered and that assessments are never again politicized."
—Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)

Officials say that the revisions presented to the White House, Congress, and other intelligence agencies "presented a more positive picture" of the ongoing war.

"The senior intelligence officers are flipping everything on its head," one analyst charged.

Previous reporting in late August revealed the internal investigation, though the scope and focus were still unknown. 

Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s inspector general, confirmed the inquiry's focus.

"The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression, or improper modification of intelligence information; any deviations from appropriate process, procedures, or internal controls regarding the intelligence analysis; and personal accountability for any misconduct or failure to follow established processes," Serchak said in a statement sent to ABC News.

Meanwhile, the U.S. bombing of Iraq and Syria, which began over a year ago, has resulted in the death of as many as 1,600 civilians and has helped fuel a worldwide refugee crisis as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians have been driven from the war-torn region.

On Wednesday, Centcom commander Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III is scheduled to testify to a Senate panel on the ongoing military operation.

Ahead of the meeting, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, likened the current allegations to the deliberate falsification of intelligence which spurred the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"We do take seriously any allegations of the mishandling or manipulation of intelligence information for purposes other than getting to ground truth," he said Tuesday. "In the wake of the flawed intelligence prior to the Iraq war, we must make sure that all voices are appropriately considered and that assessments are never again politicized."


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