An investigation into classified communications and documents originating with the U.S. military’s commanders in the Middle East has raised questions about whether President Barack Obama and Congress were misled about the emergence of ISIS as a strategic threat.
The Pentagon’s inspector general and congressional investigators are reviewing emails and classified assessments produced by United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees military operations in Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. The investigations were prompted after military intelligence officers claimed senior commanders altered their reports before sending them up the chain of command to the White House.
Investigators say Centcom may have underestimated the threat posed by ISIS before it seized portions of Iraq, and later overplayed the effectiveness of military operations against the Islamic militants.
The New York Times reported “the prospect that senior officials intentionally skewed intelligence conclusions has raised questions about how much Mr. Obama, Congress and the public can believe the military’s assessments.” In some documents, Iraqi forces were originally reported as having retreated, but higher-ups changed the characterization to “redeployed.”
The investigations may be hampered by missing documents, the Times also found, because some were destroyed before the materials were given to investigators. Sources told The Daily Beast that Maj. Gen. Steven Grove and his civilian deputy, Gregory Ryckman, deleted emails and files from computer systems before the inspector general could examine them.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
Pentagon Expands Inquiry into Intelligence on ISIS Surge (by Matt Apuzzo, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S.…