President Barack Obama’s criticism of former President George W. Bush for allegedly manipulating intelligence leading up to the Iraq War is taking on a new light as a growing number of reports indicate his own administration is manipulating intelligence on Islamic State and al Qaeda for political purposes.
“There is, of course, a sad irony that a White House filled with people who frequently charge the George W. Bush administration with manipulating intelligence on the region now stand accused of the same thing,” David Karl writes in The Diplomat, referring to the recent reports.
More than 50 intelligence analysts working with U.S. Central Command on ISIS and al Qaeda have formally complained that their superiors softened the conclusions of reports to more closely match Obama’s talking points about U.S. progress against the groups.
“The senior intelligence officers are flipping everything on its head,” one of the unnamed analysts tells The New York Times.
Senior intelligence officials allegedly revised a report describing the Iraqi Army’s retreat from ISIS last year to say the soldiers “redeployed” instead of retreated. The Pentagon’s inspector general recently expanded an investigation into the complaints, seizing troves of emails and documents from military servers and putting more investigators on the case.
The allegations are strikingly similar to allegations against Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney for lying their way into the Iraq War by manipulating intelligence on the region. Members of the Obama administration and Obama himself have levelled those charges.
Fox News’ Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen confronted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the irony last week. Given Obama’s complaint during his first presidential campaign about Bush and Cheney manipulating intelligence, Rosen said, what does Obama make of the complaint his own intelligence on ISIS is being “sanitized and distorted and manipulated?”
“What the president has repeatedly sought from his national security team is the clearest and best assessment of what exactly is happening on the ground,” Earnest replied. “And that’s what the president has routinely asked for, and that’s what the president has confidence that he is routinely provided by his national security team.”
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who resigned last year over conflicts with the administration, recently described White House national security policy meetings as rambling and indecisive, and panned Obama’s strategy to deal with Syria as seriously lacking.
This report, by Rachel Stoltzfoos, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.