National Security & Defense

Has the Obama Administration Been Hiding the Truth about Our War on ISIS?

(Photo Illustration: NRO)

Late last night, The Daily Beast broke news that should be splashed on the front pages of newspapers across the United States. More than 50 intelligence analysts are now in open “revolt,” claiming that senior officials are changing classified reports “to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria.” The New York Times had previously reported that the Pentagon inspector general was investigating claims that senior officials “skewed” intelligence assessments to match the Obama administration’s messaging on ISIS, but The Daily Beast’s report makes the magnitude of the allegations clear for the first time.

And the magnitude of the allegations is enormous. These are not one or two disgruntled analysts, but rather dozens who claim there is a “cancer” within the “senior levels of the intelligence command.” While two analysts actually signed the complaint asking the Pentagon inspector general to investigate, they had substantial support:

That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

And, like clockwork, this morning brings word of still more battlefield gains by ISIS, including its capture of a Syrian “missile facility” and advances on a “key” Syrian air base. ISIS still holds Mosul, still holds Ramadi, possesses (and uses) chemical weapons, and is gaining ground in Syria. Given these known realities, it’s mystifying to think that military officials (or their civilian leaders) believed they could get away with cooking the books for long. After all, terrorists either hold cities or they don’t. They either capture missile facilities or they don’t.

RELATED: Obama Trades Real Security for Spin to Secure His Legacy

A pattern is emerging. The American people are being denied truthful information about the jihadist threat. Retired general John Allen, whom President Obama appointed to coordinate international efforts against ISIS last year, says that the terrorist group “is losing.” Obama himself recently denied that America was being beaten by ISIS, calling the fall of Ramadi a “tactical setback.” All the while, intelligence analysts were telling a very different story:

But recent intelligence assessments, including some by Defense Intelligence Agency, paint a sober picture about how little the Islamic State has been weakened over the past year, according to officials with access to the classified assessments. They said the documents conclude that the yearlong campaign has done little to diminish the ranks of the Islamic State’s committed fighters, and that the group over the last year has expanded its reach into North Africa and Central Asia.

#share#The Daily Beast report can’t be isolated from larger events in the fight against jihadist terrorism. While senior officials are reportedly suppressing the truth in Iraq and Syria, the administration is unapologetically denying Congress access to the complete nuclear agreement with Iran, including key so-called “side deals” between the IAEA and the ayatollahs. Even Obama acknowledges that the deal is likely to benefit terrorists — that an “economically stronger Iran” could “further enhance [its] support of Hezbollah” — but we’re still supposed to trust that it’s in America’s national interests.

Over the last decade, an ocean of ink has been spilled over the question of whether the Bush administration overhyped the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the question is reversed: Is the Obama administration minimizing the jihadist menace with the help of senior defense officials? Is it setting up the American people for another 9/11?

#related#The “most transparent administration in history” is unquestionably guilty of hiding the entire Iran deal from the American people. And now it stands accused of intentionally misrepresenting the reality of our fight against ISIS. The price of deception and concealment is American national security, including American lives here at home. Give us the truth, Mr. President. We can handle it.

— David French is an attorney, a staff writer at National Review, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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