Republican lawmaker says intelligence on Islamic State too optimistic

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2015 10:53 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said on Sunday he was concerned that Pentagon intelligence reports on the fight against Islamic State did not reflect a grimmer reality on the ground.

Devin Nunes was asked on CNN about a New York Times report on whether intelligence assessments from U.S. Central Command painted an overly optimistic picture of the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

He said members of his committee had long noticed discrepancies between what they saw during visits to the region and the intelligence reports.

"We travel to many of these countries and we meet with the people on the ground and it's almost all the time, what we hear and see on the ground when we talk to the folks that are actually doing the work, is grimmer than the intelligence reports," Nunes said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"More alarming, what we hear the president and his senior officials saying to the public - it just doesn't jive with, what they're saying in public and what we see on the ground," he said.

Nunes said his committee was working with other congressional panels to study the Centcom intelligence reports.

"We're trying to gather all the facts," he said. "We've heard from a lot of whistleblowers and other informers."

Nunes criticized President Barack Obama's policy on Islamic State as a "containment policy" that began only after two journalists were beheaded by the militant group, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate.

He said the Islamic State is spread far beyond that region and U.S. strategy should be broadened to match the global threat.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Pentagon's inspector general was investigating claims by Centcom intelligence analysts that "supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Ralph Boulton)