Sep 28, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 03 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Earlier this summer, we learned the Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that the intelligence on ISIS was manipulated. Analysts at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, formally complained to the IG that analysis contradicting the Obama administration’s narrative on ISIS was routinely challenged, rewritten, or disregarded. The administration was eager to sell the story that the campaign against ISIS was going well; much of the intelligence made clear it wasn’t. That intelligence was buried, and the happy talk continued.
We’re encouraged that the inspector general is taking seriously these reports of intelligence manipulation. To understand the problem, however, the IG will have to expand its investigation, because precisely the same thing happened before.
From 2011 through 2013, top Obama administration and intelligence officials downplayed and discarded intelligence on al Qaeda and its activities. As President Obama sought to convince the American public that al Qaeda was dying, analysts at CENTCOM were quietly providing assessments showing the opposite was true. In 2012, as administration officials made their public claims, the briefings they received from the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, included assessments that al Qaeda had doubled in strength over the preceding two years. A top DIA official was told directly to stop producing reports based on documents collected during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. And when a member of the House Intelligence Committee sought to investigate these allegations of manipulation, he was misled repeatedly.
So the intelligence manipulation now making headlines is not a new scandal, but a broadening of an earlier one—the systematic and willful effort to sell the American people a false narrative about the global jihadist movement and our efforts to defeat it.
On Friday, May 17, 2013, Rep. Devin Nunes flew to Tampa. In the months before, Nunes, now chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had spoken to several officials with access to the documents captured during the bin Laden raid two years earlier. These officials were alarmed. What they were seeing in the files contradicted Obama administration claims about al Qaeda and its reach. In many cases, the documents were primary sources, received or authored by bin Laden himself.
So Nunes arranged a meeting at CENTCOM to learn more. He was told before his trip that analysts involved in the exploitation of the documents would brief him on their findings. And at CENTCOM, the analysts charged with briefing Nunes spent the better part of two days preparing for their meeting.
But when Nunes arrived at CENTCOM on Saturday morning, he was told the analysts were unavailable. Surprised and frustrated, Nunes threatened to hold a press conference in front of CENTCOM’s main gate to share publicly what he’d been told about the intelligence and to accuse CENTCOM of playing games. Maj. Gen. Scott Berrier, the top intelligence officer at CENTCOM (the J2), apologized for any misunderstanding but told Nunes that the analysts who could brief him were unavailable.
“Informants came to me in late 2012 stating that they had information related to the bin Laden raid and the analysis of intelligence,” Nunes told The Weekly Standard last week. “I set up a time to travel down to CENTCOM and requested to meet with the analysts involved. When I arrived, it was on a Saturday, and I was not allowed to meet with them. It wasn’t until after I spent all day Saturday there with the J2 and leadership that I found out those analysts were actually in the building that day prepared to brief me.”
Berrier, now the commanding general of the Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, declined to comment. But sources inside CENTCOM support Nunes’s version of events.
“The analysts had prepared a detailed briefing on several aspects of the documents,” says one intelligence official, adding that they had pulled an all-nighter to finish their preparations. The topics included: Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda, bin Laden’s involvement in the day-to-day operations of al Qaeda, and his operations guidance to offshoots, such as Boko Haram. The administration had portrayed bin Laden as a lonely, relatively powerless figurehead of a deteriorating terror network. Many of the documents made clear that this depiction was inaccurate.
Mar 31, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 28 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Did Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, help Osama bin Laden hide in the years before he was killed in Abbottabad in May 2011? According to an extraordinary piece of reporting in the New York Times Magazine, we finally know the answer: yes.
Carlotta Gall covered the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade. She had long tried to determine just how much Pakistan’s ISI knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts. For years, there had been rumors and suspicions about the role of the Pakistani government.
Iran, al Qaeda, and the secret bin Laden files.Mar 25, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 27 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The arrest earlier this month of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and former spokesman, has sparked renewed interest in an old question: What is the extent of the relationship between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda?
Howard Dean cogitates on the merits of American justice versus international justice in the war on terror.3:20 PM, Dec 2, 2003 • By HUGH HEWITT
HOWARD DEAN wants Osama bin Laden to get 30 years to life. No hanging by the neck until dead. No firing squad. Not even a lethal injection for being the mastermind behind the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans.
That's the upshot of Dean's exchange with Chris Matthews last night, an exchange ignored--and in one case glossed over--by a Dean-friendly press.
MATTHEWS: Who should try Osama bin Laden if we catch him? We or the World Court?
DEAN: I don't think it makes a lot of difference. I'm happy . . .
Dec 1, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 12 • By
The Old News on Saddam and Osama
Stephen F. Hayes's article last week on the history of friendly contact between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden ("Case Closed") provoked criticism from several quarters, including from the Pentagon itself--where the secret memo on Iraqi-al Qaeda links obtained by Hayes originated.
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball get the Osama-Saddam memo wrong.12:26 PM, Nov 20, 2003 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
A NEWSWEEK article by investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball about the memo linking Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein dismisses a recent WEEKLY STANDARD report as "hype" and concludes, the "tangled tale of the memo suggests that the case of whether there has been Iraqi-al Qaeda complicity is far from closed."
While it's refreshing to see the establishment media pick up the story, the News
A close examination of the Defense Department's latest statement.11:00 PM, Nov 18, 2003 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT late Saturday, November 15, issued a statement that began: "News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate."
The statement didn't specify the "inaccurate" news reports, but most observers have inferred that the main report in question was an article in the most recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD--
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.Nov 24, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 11 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Editor's Note, 1/27/04: In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney . . . in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."
Here's the Stephen F. Hayes article to which the vice president was referring.
Hugo Chavez supports Saddam Hussein and terrorism. Several congressional Democrats support Chavez. What's wrong with this picture?11:00 PM, Mar 10, 2003 • By THOR HALVORSSEN
LATE LAST YEAR, 16 U.S. congressmen voiced their approval for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Representatives Barney Frank, John Conyers, Chaka Fattah, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, and others complained in a letter to President Bush that the United States was not adequately protecting Chavez against a groundswell of internal opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule--an upsurge that might lead to his ouster. Elected to power in 1998, Lt. Col.
A look at the ten most popular objections to war and some common-sense responses to them.11:00 PM, Mar 5, 2003 • By FRED BARNES
THOSE OPPOSED to military action in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, destroy his weapons of mass destruction, and liberate the 24 million Iraqi citizens under his control cite at least 10 objections to going to war now. These objections range from the arguable to the totally absurd. Let's examine them.
(1) Rush to war. This is a favorite of congressional Democrats. But the rush is more like a baby crawl. Iraq has been in material breach of United Nations resolutions since a few weeks after the Gulf War ended in 1991.
Does Osama bin Laden plan to become the ultimate suicide bomber?11:00 PM, Feb 18, 2003 • By MANSOOR IJAZ
OSAMA BIN LADEN, or some good likeness of him, spoke from the ether again on two occasions last week, releasing two undated audiotapes as Muslims completed their pilgrimages to Mecca. His call to Jihad did not stop at tying himself to Iraq's people, by which he had clearly hoped to provoke Washington into immediate unilateral military action against Saddam Hussein. Nor did it end with his messianic recitation of verses in the Koran that clearly demonstrated he knows the end game is near.
Today Colin Powell will deliver evidence not only of Saddam's U.N. violations, but of Iraqi cooperation with al Qaeda.11:00 PM, Feb 4, 2003 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
COLIN POWELL travels to the United Nations today to "make the case" for war in Iraq. He will detail Saddam Hussein's possession, ongoing development, and continued concealment of weapons of mass destruction. It's a solid case, and most Americans buy it. As Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) told me last week, "There is no doubt in my mind that if Saddam Hussein were put on trial for having weapons of mass destruction, he would be found guilty." Those predisposed to agree with us will find it compelling. So will most of the fence-sitters, including Russia.
. . . and let slip the U.S. Special Operations Command.11:00 PM, Jan 22, 2003 • By CHRISTIAN LOWE
FOR MANY, it may seem like the news of the day is "All Iraq All The Time." But don't forget the United States is still waging a fierce war against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the globe. President George W. Bush reportedly still keeps a running tally of the 22 Most Wanted terrorists and their dispositions in his desk drawer.
The CIA's top counterterrorism official, Cofer Black, has been given the mandate to track these terrorists down and kill or capture them.
The most powerful man in Saudi Arabia.Dec 23, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 15 • By BILL TIERNEY
IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA, the trappings of monarchy obscure the police state that keeps the Saud family in power. But beneath the veneer of gracious luxury, internal security has never been more important than it is today to a regime that constrains the press and commerce, struggles to provide the generous benefits promised its citizens, and has made the country a breeding ground for Islamic extremism. Enmeshed as we are in an alliance of necessity with the Saudis, Americans should be asking: Who runs Saudi internal security?