WASHINGTON, March 1, 2017 —
An investigation found that allegations that U.S. Central Command senior intelligence officials falsified intelligence in the campaign to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria could not be substantiated, the acting Defense Department inspector general told a House subcommittee yesterday.
Glenn Fine told members of the House Armed Services Committee panel on oversight and investigations that a team of 30 DoD IG employees investigated allegations that intelligence was falsified, distorted, delayed or suppressed.
“These were very serious and troubling allegations and we devoted significant resources to investigating them,” he said, adding that more than 150 interviews were conducted of 120 witnesses inside and outside of Centcom.
“We examined in detail the specific intelligence products that were raised by the complainants and witnesses,” Fine said. “We also reviewed a massive amount of draft and final intelligence products and emails produced by Centcom and interviewed intelligence officials in DoD and the intelligence community for their assessments of Centcom’s intelligence products.” An analytical review was also done, he noted.
The full findings and conclusion, issued Jan. 31, is a 542-page classified report of the IG’s investigation, Fine said, adding that another unclassified report was published for public release.
“In short, our investigation did not substantiate the most serious allegation that intelligence was falsified,” he said.
Other weaknesses and flaws -- such as ineffective communication and guidance, lack of adequate feedback, and uncertainty about various policies -- led to a series of 29 recommendations, the acting inspector general said.
The team did not find any evidence of systematic or intentional distortion of intelligence by Centcom senior leaders, or that they suppressed or delayed intelligence products, Fine noted.
Widespread Perception of Distortion
“However, we did find a troubling and widespread perception among many intelligence analysts that their leaders were attempting to distort intelligence,” Fine said.
Largely in light of that perception, all 29 recommendations are important and provide a useful roadmap for improving intelligence processes, not only at Centcom, but at the other combatant commands and DoD, he said, adding that many of them are consistent with what the House of Representatives task force’s separate investigation also recommended.
Fine urged DoD, Centcom and the Defense Intelligence Agency to take the recommendations seriously, and to fully implement corrective action in response to them.
“We believe such actions can further improve intelligence processes and reduce the risk that allegations such as the ones at issue in this report will arise in the future,” he said.
Vital, Complex Responsibility
Air Force Maj. Gen. James Marrs, director of intelligence for the Joint Staff, said the reports from both teams “remind us that the vital and complex responsibilities entrusted to intelligence professionals within our joint force [with] continual improvements and analytic standards and processes are necessary to ensure intelligence products continue to be of the highest quality, objectivity and integrity.”
Army Maj. Gen. Mark Quantock, director of intelligence for Centcom, said he will lead to put in place the recommendations from both teams.
“We’ve developed an aggressive action plan, which we are executing to ensure commanders and the nation’s policy makers receive the very best intelligence support,” he said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)