Lawmakers worry US intel suppressed for political reasons

Lawmakers worry US intel suppressed for political reasons
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Lawmakers tasked with overseeing the nation’s spy powers are worried that U.S. intelligence may have been suppressed for political reasons.

An inspector general’s investigation into the possibility that intelligence officers’ reports were edited to paint a glowing picture of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has caught the eye of top lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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“The politicization of intelligence products would be a major issue, and these allegations need to be thoroughly investigated,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes used political donations for K in NBA tickets, winery tours, Vegas trips: report Russia raises problems for GOP candidates GOP lawmaker regrets appearing on Alex Jones's radio show MORE (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “The Intelligence Committee will take all appropriate action to ensure our nation’s policymakers receive unbiased analysis from the intelligence community.”

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Top intel chief: I don't know what Trump, Putin discussed in meeting White House: Trump 'disagrees' with Putin's request to question Americans MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, echoed Nunes’s concerns.

“Obviously we take enormously seriously any allegations that intelligence is being spun for a political purpose,” Schiff told The Hill. “So without commenting on these allegations, I can just say that any allegations of this nature are going to be met with the greatest interest and scrutiny.”

The concern follows a report in the Daily Beast earlier this week that 50 intelligence officers at U.S. Central Command have made formal complaints to the Pentagon’s inspector general alleging that their books have been cooked in order to paint a disingenuously rosy picture of the effort to dismantle ISIS. 

According to the report, some of the analysts believe that their analysis is being edited in order to fit a political narrative about the U.S.’s success against ISIS, when in fact the situation on the ground is more complicated.

The Intelligence Committee had been notified about the existence of an investigation, Schiff said, but had yet to be given a full briefing since the probe is still ongoing.

News of the inspector general investigation was first broken by the New York Times earlier this year, though the Daily Beast reported the large scope of the concern.

If confirmed, the allegations could have major consequences for the Obama administration’s national security structure. Not only would it present a crisis of confidence among the intelligence community, but would also point to a dramatically more pessimistic assessment of the U.S.’s fight against ISIS.   

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell claimed that the allegations ought to prompt top officials to be fired, if proven true. 

On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said that Defense Secretary Ash Carter “made clear that he expects candid intelligence analysis” from his agents.

"Unvarnished, transparent intelligence is what this secretary expects on a daily basis,” he added.