Report alleges a civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst said intelligence was altered to seem better for the U.S.
Central Command said the intelligence community incorporates a variety of viewpoints in its analysis
The Defense Department’s inspector general is believed to be reviewing an allegation that U.S. intelligence gathered on ISIS was altered, an official told CNN Wednesday, after The New York Times reported that the IG might be looking into whether intelligence reports about the terror group were amended.
A U.S. defense official told CNN it is believed the inspector general is looking into some question on ISIS intelligence, but the Pentagon said it cannot comment on IG matters because that organization operates independently of the Pentagon and the department has no knowledge of what it is doing.
The response came after a Times report late Tuesday that at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst said he had evidence that showed that individuals at U.S. Central Command were adjusting intelligence reports for top officials – including President Barack Obama – to enhance the amount of progress the United States had made in fighting ISIS.
The Times cited several officials familiar with the matter to say the inspector general’s office had opened an investigation into the allegations but more details weren’t available.
In a statement, CentCom said it could only describe the intelligence community’s process.
“The IG has a responsibility to investigate all allegations made and we welcome and support their independent oversight,” CentCom said. “While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can speak to the process and about the valued contributions of the Intelligence Community (IC). The IC routinely produces a wide range of subjective assessments related to the current security environment.”
CentCom said the different agencies making up the intelligence community typically seek comment from others on their assessments before publication, but the primary agency does not have to incorporate the feedback.
“Further, the multisource nature of our assessment process purposely guards against any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision-makers,” CentCom said.
The White House referred questions about the report to the Defense Department but also noted that the intelligence community provides a range of viewpoints.
“I can tell you that the President’s expectation is that his national security team will work diligently to get information to him and other members of the team that reflects an accurate assessment of what’s exactly happening on the ground,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday in his daily press briefing.
“The President places a premium on getting an unvarnished assessment from the intelligence community,” he continued. “One of the things that [the intelligence community] place[s] a priority on doing is making sure that they’re getting differing points of view on what’s happening on the ground, making sure they’re not just relying on one analyst’s assessment.”
The State Department also wouldn’t comment directly on the inspector general investigation, but spokesman John Kirby said the entire administration is confident in the government’s strategy to combat ISIS.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, and in fact it would be news if it didn’t, you know, if people didn’t have different ideas moving forward,” Kirby said.
The administration has faced withering criticism from opponents on its ISIS strategy, and it has been difficult to find a widely accepted assessment of how the fight is going. Reports of progress have varied, though the administration has maintained that it is confident its strategy to repel the terrorist organization is working.
CNN’s Laura Koran contributed to this report.