WASHINGTON: Over 50 top intelligence analysts in the US have complained that their reports on ISIS and al-Qaeda's branch in Syria were altered by senior officials to give an optimistic assessment of America's war against the dreaded terror group.
The complaints by analysts working out of US military's Central Command spurred the Pentagon's Inspector General to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence, according to the Daily Beast.
The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the US military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence, the report said.
"The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command," one defence official said.
Last month, the Pentagon's Inspector General began a probe after a civilian analyst at the Defence Intelligence Agency said he had evidence that US Central Command officials were inappropriately altering intelligence report conclusions prepared for President Barack Obama and other policymakers.
In July, two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defence Department Inspector General alleging that the reports portrayed the ISIS and al Nusra Front in Syria as weaker than the analysts believe they are.
The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the Obama administration's public line that the US is winning the battle against the terror groups, analysts claim.
That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicising of intelligence reports for months.
The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative.
Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a "revolt" by intelligence professionals who are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy.
The two signatories to the complaint were described as the ones formally lodging it, and the additional analysts are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples.
Since the US-led campaign against the ISIS began in Iraq a year ago, and later in Syria, Iraqi security forces have retaken some territory previously seized by the group but not major cities like Mosul and Ramadi.
But US intelligence agencies have recently found that the group has been little weakened by the assault.