Da una ventina di giorni negli Stati Uniti è pubblica la notizia secondo la quale un analista della DIA, l’agenzia di intelligence militare, avrebbe denunciato alle autorità che alcuni rapporti di intelligence sull’ISIS, anche quelli diretti verso la Casa Bianca, sarebbero stati manipolati dal Comando Centrale del Pentagono, il CENTCOM, responsabile per le operazioni militari contro lo Stato Islamico.
La questione è ora sotto l’esame dell’Ispettore generale del Pentagono e secondo le ultime notizie l’ipotesi è che alcuni alti dirigenti dell’intelligence del Comando Centrale avrebbero modificato i report loro sottoposti inoltrandoli poi, così modificati, al vertice decisionale. In breve, tali documenti avrebbero dipinto un quadro eccessivamente positivo enfatizzando i risultati delle operazioni anti-ISIS. Scrive il New York Times:
[…] The revisions presented a more positive picture to the White House, Congress and other intelligence agencies, the officials said.
The senior intelligence officers are flipping everything on its head,” said one government intelligence analyst, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The analyst said that the complaints involve the highest-ranking officials in Centcom’s intelligence unit, run by Army Maj. Gen. Steven R. Grove.
The Pentagon’s inspector general would not examine disputes over routine differences among analysts, and so it is highly unusual that an investigation would be opened about the intelligence conclusions in an ongoing war. The allegations raise the prospect that military officials were presenting skewed assessments to the White House and lawmakers that were in sharp contrast with the conclusions of other intelligence agencies.
The issue is expected to come up Wednesday when Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Central Command, is expected to testify before a Senate panel about the military campaign against the Islamic State.
“We do take seriously any allegations of the mishandling or manipulation of intelligence information for purposes other than getting to ground truth,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday. “In the wake of the flawed intelligence prior to the Iraq war, we must make sure that all voices are appropriately considered and that assessments are never again politicized.”
Last week, Mr. Schiff said that the intelligence presentations that lawmakers get from spy agencies are in general far better than they were in the period leading up to the start of the Iraq war in 2003, when dissenting views about Iraq’s weapons programs were often buried in intelligence reports or ignored. Today, he said, dissenting views are given more prominence in reports.
Disagreements over analytical conclusions are both commonplace and encouraged. Just as in the peer review process in academia, the government wants analysts to consider opposing viewpoints and revise reports as necessary. Analysts who disagree are encouraged to publish rival papers, but changing someone else’s conclusion is forbidden.
The matter is complicated because the analysts who made the complaint work for the Defense Intelligence Agency — it was created to be immune from the pressures and biases of the officers leading the war — but are supervised by officers at Centcom. At least one analyst complained to the inspector general in July. Last week, The Daily Beast reported that those complaints were supported by a cadre of more than 50 intelligence agents.
Col. Patrick S. Ryder, a Centcom spokesman, on Tuesday reiterated several points he had made when news of the investigation broke last month. The inspector general has a responsibility to investigate all allegations, he said, and he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.
But Colonel Ryder said that because many different intelligence agencies provide assessments to policy makers — all derived from a wide range of sources — the system is structured to guard against “any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision makers.”
On Friday, Pentagon investigators held a conference call with members of Congress as a growing, bipartisan chorus of lawmakers expressed concerns about the dispute. One official who listened to the call said it was intended to assure lawmakers that investigators were taking the claims seriously. […]