3 October 2015

Senate Committee Begins Investigation Into U.S. Intelligence Assessments of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

September 30, 2015

Republican-led Senate panel opens review of Syria intelligence

A U.S. Senate committee said on Wednesday it has begun a review of Obama administration intelligence assessments related to the fight against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, citing news reports that those assessments were skewed to be too optimistic.

Republican Senators Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Joni Ernst, a committee member, sent letters to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, and Jon Rymer, the Department of Defense Inspector General, expressing concerns about the assessments.

A U.S.-led coalition is conducting air strikes in Syria and Iraq targeting the Islamic State. The United States first started attacking the Islamist militant group inside Syria about a year ago, but has been unable to wrest its control from major cities there or in Iraq.

Russia launched air strikes against targets in Syria on Wednesday.

The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation to address the allegations. The head of the Pentagon’s Central Command told a separate Senate committee earlier this month he never asked for intelligence reports to be skewed.

“The possibility that the administration is pressuring intelligence analysts to conform those assessments to the president’s narrative, that we are winning the war against ISIS, when we are not, is unacceptable,” Johnson said in a statement.

President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats are deeply skeptical about repeated investigations by Republican-led Senate and House of Representatives committees into the administration, such as the House Select Committee formed to probe events surrounding the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.

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