By Christopher W. Holton
At the very best, President Obama is out of touch when it comes to the threat posed by the Islamic State. From the time he called them the “JV” to his comments a few months ago when he admitted that he still had not developed a strategy to confront them, President Obama has, for one reason or another, neglected the threat from the Islamic State.
As is often the case, the president’s neglect has influenced those serving underneath him as they take cues from the “commander’s intent.” So, what we now have is a brewing scandal in which an unprecedented number of Pentagon intelligence analysts have decided to blow the whistle on what they see as Obama administration political appointees watering down their analyses to make it seem that the threat from the Islamic State is not as serious as it actually is.
Multiple investigations have been launched into allegations that senior officials altered intelligence estimates about the Islamic State to indicate a more favorable impression of progress:
In addition to the Pentagon inspector general’s investigation into allegations by dozens of intelligence analysts, other inspectors general inside the intelligence community and two oversight committees in Congress have begun their own probes, according to senior lawmakers and intelligence officials. The Congressional investigations will expand the scope of the existing inquiry by examining allegations of intelligence tampering that predate the war against the Islamic State, some dating back years.
The roots of the intelligence scandal go back to July when the New York Times reported that the Pentagon’s inspector general had launched an investigation into allegations that intelligence products had been distorted by CentCom’s top intelligence officer. The Daily Beast earlier this month reported that 50 CentCom analysts backed up the allegations in the initial complaint, an almost unprecedented revolt inside military intelligence.
U.S. intelligence officials tell us the objections began when an analyst in charge of Iraq intelligence at CentCom for more than 13 years complained through intelligence community whistleblower processes that the assessments produced by his unit were being rejected or distorted before they reached decision makers.
Top officials like Secretary of State John Kerry have used isolated statistics to show progress, but those figures often do not stand up to scrutiny. Ret. Gen. John Allen, who will resign this fall as the president’s envoy to the collation against the Islamic State, used to say that half of the group’s leaders in Iraq had been killed. That was an exaggeration.
Interestingly, while the Obama administration has sought to downplay the threat from the Islamic State and exaggerate the effectiveness of the pinprick US-led air campaign, other world leaders are sounding the alarm, painting quite a different picture of the threat than the rosy scenario that Barack Obama and John Kerry would have us believe.
This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India called the Islamic State among the “greatest challenges facing the international community.” Modi met with King Abdullah of Jordan, a leader who has taken a particularly strong stand against the Islamic State, to the point he was personally flying sorties against Islamic State forces.
Czech President Miloš Zema will be in New York this week where he will be continuing to “call for a joint struggle against Islamic State, now dominating a large part of Iraq and Syria during his speech in the United Nations.”
Zema is expected to call for the creation of an anti-terrorist unit under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council and for the cooperation of the international community in the struggle against Islamic terrorism.
We’re not crazy about his call for a UN-led anti-terrorism unit under the Security Council due to the UN’s atrocious track record of putting barbarians, savages and despots in charge of things like human rights, but we do agree that there needs to be a greater cooperation between world powers in the West to destroy the Islamic State.
That might mean cooperating closely with Russia and Putin in their campaign against the Islamic State, which is commencing largely because Obama has been so inept in attacking the Islamic State…
If Putin is successful in leading a coalition absent the US in “crushing” the Islamic State, it will have certainly fulfilled one of President Obama’s goals of cutting American influence in the world down to size. That will be a terrible legacy for the next and future presidents to live down.