The former No. 2 at the CIA says heads should roll over reports that top intelligence officials are painting unrealistically rosy pictures of the U.S.’s fight against Islamic extremists.
Michael Morell on Thursday responded to a Daily Beast story claiming that more than 50 Central Command intelligence analysts have filed formal complaints with the Defense Department’s inspector general saying that their reports had been inappropriately edited or were not being passed up the chain of command.
The analyses were changed to show that the U.S. was making greater progress against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than was actually happening, the outlet reported.
“If there is truth that somebody has been meddling with their analysis, I think somebody needs to lose their job over it,” Morell said on CBS's “This Morning.”
“One of the key aspects of the policymaking process in the United States is that analysts get to say what they think without any interference, without anyone changing it,” he added. “So this is a very, very serious charge.”
The new reports could be explosive for the Obama administration, which has long claimed to have the upper hand against ISIS’s growing reach in the Middle East.
Not only would the meddling with analysts’ work indicate that operations against ISIS were not actually going so well, but it also could present a crisis of confidence in intelligence officials. The report also carries traces of the buildup to the 2003 invasion into Iraq, which the Bush administration based in part on faulty information about Baghdad’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
According to The Daily Beast, the formal complaints are in part a reaction to that intelligence failure more than a decade ago.
“They were frustrated because they didn’t do the right thing then” by expressing their concerns about the faulty conclusions, one anonymous defense official told the news outlet.