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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

CentCom responds to article about investigation over intel analysts complaints

Gen. Lloyd Austin III, left, took control of U.S. Central Command in a ceremony in 2013. He testified at a congressional hearing in September on reports of manipulated intelligence about Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State.

Times (2013)

Gen. Lloyd Austin III, left, took control of U.S. Central Command in a ceremony in 2013. He testified at a congressional hearing in September on reports of manipulated intelligence about Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State.

7

December

U.S. Central Command officials said Monday the intelligence-gathering process makes it difficult for any one source of information to have undue sway over decision-makers.

The statement came in response to a Tampa Bay Times report Sunday that detailed published reports about a group of 50 CentCom intelligence analysts who have complained about their work being manipulated by supervisors to portray a too rosy picture of the fight against the Islamic State.

The allegations are being investigated by the Defense Department’s inspector general.

Its leaders, CentCom officials said, get intelligence from a wide variety of sources in the U.S. intelligence community, including commanders on the ground.

“The multi-source nature of the assessment process purposefully guards against any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision-makers,” CentCom said.

CentCom said it could not comment on the ongoing investigation by the analysts allegations but noted the command hold’s itself to the “highest standards.”

“As he said during his testimony to Congress this fall, you can be assured that (CentCom commander, Gen. Lloyd Austin III) will take appropriate action once the investigation results have been received and reviewed,” CentCom said.

Austin also told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “we will do everything within our power to ensure that the whistleblowers remain protected and that there is no retaliation.”

For Gregory Hooker, a senior Iraq analyst who the New York Times has identified as the leader of the disgruntled analysts, this is not the first time he has gone out on a limb to challenge the narrative at the top of the chain of command. In 2005, he publicly criticized the George W. Bush administration for advocating “amateurish and unrealistic” plans for the invasion of Iraq two years before.

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

[Last modified: Monday, December 7, 2015 2:26pm]

    

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