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U.S. Central Command may have been told to paint rosy picture of terrorism fight

By
Doug G. Ware
A New York Times report Sunday said U.S. Central Command, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, may have been ordered to manipulate progress reports that detail the military's efficiency in fighting against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq. Monday, officials told NBC News those accusations could be true and that an investigation may lead to a shakeup of CENTCOM personnel. Photo by Everett Historical/Shutterstock
A New York Times report Sunday said U.S. Central Command, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, may have been ordered to manipulate progress reports that detail the military's efficiency in fighting against Islamic State terrorists in Iraq. Monday, officials told NBC News those accusations could be true and that an investigation may lead to a shakeup of CENTCOM personnel. Photo by Everett Historical/Shutterstock

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Analysts' reports detailing progress made in the United States' fight against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq may have been manipulated to indicate a greater degree of efficiency, U.S. defense officials reportedly said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the information being classified, told NBC News on Monday that personnel at U.S. Central Command may have manipulated reports regarding militants in Iraq -- a focal point of the American fight against terror.

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The allegations, first reported by The New York Times Sunday, say the reports may have been fixed to downplay the threat of the group in Iraq.

The report said military or civilian officials at CENTCOM, based in Florida, may have cooked the intelligence to make it appear the United States military has been making a greater impact on the fight than it really has.

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President Barack Obama has since ordered an official inquiry into the matter.

"Any time there is an allegation that intelligence is being shaved in a certain way, or distorted in a certain way, that's a cause for serious concern," House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told the Times.

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One of the unnamed officials told NBC News he expected a Pentagon investigation that could lead to a shakeup of personnel at CENTCOM. None of the officials said they had seen any evidence to suggest intelligence reports are being doctored.

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The officials noted, though, that CENTCOM is one of several agencies that pass on intelligence reports to the White House -- and that the agency would not be able to submit intelligence to the Obama administration without it first being handled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Fox News cited a source close to CENTCOM analysts Monday in reporting some analysts at the agency even received emails from superiors instructing them to "cut it out" and "toe the line" when it came to their intelligence reports.

The source reportedly said those emails were in response to negative assessments given by the analysts regarding the military's lack of progress in fighting the IS -- also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL -- in Iraq.

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