U.S. Intelligence Distorting Truth About ISIS?

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In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, former Florida governor Jeb Bush has finally settled on an Iraq position that he can live with. It was a mistake, yes, but it was a mistake born out of faulty intelligence. In other words, anyone would have invaded Iraq given what the intelligence community was saying about weapons of mass destruction. This, one assumes, is how Bush can win voters without straining family relations.

Well, it remains to be seen whether the voters will buy into Bush’s Iraq War narrative, but the issue of faulty intelligence is once again in the spotlight. According to several reports from both The New York Times and Fox News, there is dissension in the ranks at the Pentagon. The inspector general of the Defense Department is now investigating whether intelligence reports regarding America’s airstrike campaign on ISIS have been modified to make it seem like we’re making more progress than we really are.

At issue are reports from a civilian employee at the Defense Intelligence Agency accusing CENTCOM officials of improperly rewriting progress assessments before sending them along to lawmakers, including the president. Government rules mandate that such assessments “must not be distorted” by a political agenda of any kind. In investigating the matter, the DOD will have to determine what changes were made and why.

Claiming to welcome the oversight, CENTCOM spokesman Patrick Ryder said, “The multi-source nature of our assessment process purposely guards against any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision-makers.”

In other words, eh, it’s no big deal. This is called the Hillary Clinton approach to major accusations. And the American people are tired of it.

12 Months and Counting

The U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes against ISIS last August, and the consensus among experts within and outside the government is that they have had little effect. Intelligence officials released a report last month claiming that ISIS was no weaker than they were at the outset of the strikes. They have expanded into Egypt, Afghanistan, and Libya. They are replacing top men and “soldiers” at a rate that outpaces their deaths. This is not a successful campaign by any definition.

Seeing as how these reports are public knowledge, it’s hard to give Obama a pass on this one. Unless he’s getting intelligence briefings that tell a much different story, he cannot be absolved of his responsibilities. And he has the responsibility, as commander-in-chief, to change the game plan when the current one is failing. Lame duck or not, you’re still the guy. Focus a little less on your presidential library and a little more on the terrorist army destroying lives across the ocean.

As we’ve seen before, that ocean is not enough to keep us safe.