A potential scandal involving intelligence reports about the Islamic State being manipulated to make US progress sound rosier than reality seems to be getting bigger. And now, national intelligence director James Clapper is involved, reports the Guardian. The story surfaced last month, when the New York Times reported that the Pentagon's inspector general was looking into allegations that intelligence reports about ISIS being presented to policy makers were too positive given the facts on the ground. Defense analysts were complaining that when they turned in their sober assessments to the US military's Central Command, their superiors were altering them. Yesterday, the Daily Beast shed more light on the story, reporting that more than 50 such analysts had made the allegations.
Now the Guardian focuses on Clapper's role. The newspaper reports that he had been personally checking in, almost daily, with a Centcom intelligence official named Army Brigadier General Steven Grove. The latter is reportedly one of the officials under scrutiny in the Pentagon's inquiry. Given that Clapper is so high-ranking, that interaction is "highly, highly unusual," a former intel official tells the newspaper. The story makes clear that Clapper is not accused of ordering altered reports, but his very interaction raises questions. The Guardian's take: Clapper "is said to tell Grove how the war looks from his vantage point, and question Grove about Central Command’s assessments. Such a situation could place inherent pressure on a subordinate, sources said." No word on when the Pentagon inquiry will conclude.