Obama must end phony intel reports

  • Monday, November 30, 2015 10:49am
  • Opinion

It’s bad enough that Pentagon
supervisors would sugarcoat intelligence reports on how the military is faring against any foreign adversary. But doing it in regard to assessments of the Islamic State group when jihadists are expanding their attacks abroad risks the security of the United States and its allies.

The inspector general of the Defense Department is expanding an internal investigation of the U.S. Central Command on suspicions that supervisors revised intelligence reports on the Islamic State to present a more optimistic account of U.S. efforts.

The New York Times reported months ago that Centcom intelligence accounts were being recast by supervisors; on Sunday it said the Pentagon’s inspector general recently obtained emails and documents to chart the revised assessments. More investigators have also been assigned to the case.

President Barack Obama reacted to the news by ordering senior defense staff to root out whether the intelligence briefs had indeed been recast to paint a rosy picture not supported by reality.

“I don’t know what we’ll discover with respect to what was going on in Centcom,” the president told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, while wrapping up a 10-day trip.

“What I do know is my expectation _ which is the highest fidelity to facts, data, the truth.”

The inspector general’s investigators are reportedly comparing Centcom intelligence reports to assessments on similar matters made by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other analysts.

Unfortunately, the United States has been down this road before. Over-optimistic reports from the Defense Department were issued in the 1960s to boost support for the Vietnam War. In 2011 the Pentagon was accused of providing excessively sunny assessments of security in Afghanistan as the U.S. was preparing to withdraw troops.

No one benefits from intelligence reports that are spun to lead the reader to a false conclusion. More important is that, in an ever-dangerous world, the facts are necessary not just for being accurate, but for protecting lives.

—Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Nov. 24

More in Opinion

An array of stickers awaits voters on Election Day 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The case for keeping the parties from controlling our elections

Neither party is about to admit that the primary system they control serves the country poorly

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Voter tidbit: Important information about voting in the upcoming elections

Mark your calendar now for these upcoming election dates!

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict