September 10, 2015


Politics: In an unprecedented revolt, 50 military intelligence analysts are charging high-ranking officials with cooking the books on Islamic State’s growth and strength for political reasons. It’s high time for house-cleaning.

Fifty intelligence analysts whose job is to honestly assess what’s going on in the Middle East have charged their reports about Islamic State’s rise were systematically altered by senior officials to the opposite of what they meant: “Happy talk” about the terror group being “on the run” and merely a “JV” version of al-Qaida, according to a report in the Daily Beast.

In a letter to the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office, the analysts said their reports were corrupted to further the White House’s narrative that the Middle East was little more than George Bush’s war, and President Obama’s premature pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to “victories.”

It wasn’t, and they didn’t. The shambles of the Middle East and the surprise rise of Islamic State show that something different was going on, and now we know it had a name: Obama’s Domestic Political Priorities.

It’s an outrage, given that the U.S. spends $17.4 billion on its military intelligence program and $58.7 billion on its entire “black budget” of secret operations. The reason these exist is to find the truth and act on it.

The analysts’ anger is wholly understandable.

It’s undoubtedly made worse by the fact that the information used was often obtained at great personal risk by spies in the field — for nothing.

If the truth doesn’t matter anymore, there is little purpose for these operations — and, worse, justification for the likes of National Security Agency contractor Ed Snowden to publicly spill secrets.

Political manipulation of spy reports is an old spy-novel theme, of course. But the fact that 50 analysts went through channels — and on the record to sign this — signals a problem on a whole new systemic level.

Was it that important to the president to have “happy talk” instead of the truth? Why were senior defense officials under pressure to produce faulty intelligence?

And what of the role of the national security advisor’s office? It is already known for politicizing “strategic communications” — as it did by issuing phony Benghazi talking points, cheap propaganda that changed a bona-fide al-Qaida terror attack into the random act of a mob upset over an offensive YouTube film clip.

The Inspector General’s office must confront and resolve these issues — probably with a good dose of reform. If not, the intelligence community won’t recover.