Last Updated Aug 11, 2016 7:20 AM EDT
According to a hard-hitting government task force report released Thursday, intelligence generated by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) was manipulated to paint a rosier picture of the U.S. effort to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The report finds that, beginning in mid-2014, final intelligence reports issued by CENTCOM contradicted the initial internal assessments made by its own analysts, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod.
“The facts on the ground didn’t match what the intelligence was saying out of the United States Central Command,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a member of the task force.
The military CENTCOM is responsible for American security interests in 20 nations, stretching from Egypt through the Arabian Gulf region and into central Asia.
The task force stemmed from a whistleblower complaint from a senior analyst at CENTCOM alleging that intel had been manipulated. The complaint is under active investigation by the Defense Department inspector general.
“There’s enormous evidence about how this information from talented career professionals inside the analytic arm at CENTCOM did their job and accurately depicted what was going on on the ground, but when it got to very senior levels, that information was changed,” Pompeo said.
But it wasn’t just classified intelligence. The task force also found that CENTCOM’s public statements were far more positive than events on the ground warranted — such as in March 2015 when CENTCOM Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin testified to Congress.
“The fact is that he [ISIS] can no longer do what he did at the outset, which is to seize and hold new territory. He has assumed a defensive crouch in Iraq,” Gen. Austin said.
While the report found intelligence was in fact manipulated by CENTCOM, the task force found no evidence that orders for those changes came from the White House.