Exclusive: 50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked - The Daily Beast

Nice scoop, Daily Beast. Obama has a mini-Bush moment:

More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military's Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.
The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.
“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.
Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups 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 analysts claim.
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.

Although the problem appears to be mostly inside CENTCOM rather than with the White House or the civilian parts of DoD, unlike the cooked-up info about Iraqi WMDs under the Bush administration.

Things that haven't changed in Egypt

1. The abysmal treatment of detainees (and their remarkable resilience) as yet another foreign journalist's account of being arrested shows: 

During this time I studied the back of the man kneeling in front of me. The different rips and blood stains, the open wound on his upper right shoulder, where the blood began to coagulate. I could feel the man behind me resting his head on my back. As the sun set, the call for prayer was heard, and incredibly, after asking a guard’s permission, everyone somehow pivoted towards Mecca and began to pray, still crouched.

As time passed, the men started talking to one another. Speaking in whispers, some of the men near me said they were part of the march, while others swore that it was just a case of wrong place, wrong time. All but one were experiencing arrest for the first time. I couldn’t believe how well everyone was dealing with it, some even risking a smile.

“Don’t worry, your embassy will help” one said to me. “Yeah, but only if they know he’s here,” replied the man behind him. “Just stay… what’s the word? Optimistic,” said the man behind me, his head still resting on my back. The man in front suddenly gave that old trope that every visitor to Egypt would have heard a thousand times.  “Welcam to Eegipt,” he said. Everyone burst into laughter. “Shut up!” the guard shouted.

2. The solid relationship between American and Egyptian intelligence services: 

Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, the director of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, said had been “no change” in his organization’s relationship with U.S. spy agencies, despite delay of some U.S. weapons deliveries to the Egyptian military and talk of new Egyptian military contacts with Russia. “Cooperation between friendly services is in a completely different channel than the political channel,” Tohamy said. “I’m in constant contact with [Director] John Brennan at the CIA and the local station chief, more than with any other service worldwide.”


Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.