According to news reports, a large group of intelligence analysts working at the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, have formally complained that their superiors altered assessments about the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in order to adhere more closely with the Obama administration’s public line that the military campaign against these groups is progressing well. As I argued in a previous post, the emerging scandal exemplifies a long-running critique about Mr. Obama’s approach to foreign policy – that his national security inner team is excessively focused on the dictates of domestic politics and is not above squelching dissenting views.
The Daily Beast, which has taken the lead in breaking this story, now reports that the intelligence scandal has broader dimensions: Two senior analysts at CENTCOM, including the top expert on Syria, have been ousted from their positions due to their assessments casting doubt on the viability of the Obama administration’s plans to arm rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.
In a separate report, the publication also claims that the CENTCOM work environment has turned “toxic” and “hostile” as top officials there have created a culture of intimidation.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the House intelligence committee, which is conducting its own investigation into the scandal, has complained that CENTCOM is deleting relevant documents and harassing analysts it wishes to interview.