Military files, e-mails deleted amid ISIS probe

2016-02-25 22:43
Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart. (AP)

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart. (AP)

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Washington - The chair of the House Intelligence Committee said on Thursday that personnel at US Central Command have deleted files and e-mails amid allegations that intelligence assessments were altered to exaggerate progress against Islamic State group militants.

"We have been made aware that both files and e-mails have been deleted by personnel at CENTCOM, and we expect that the Department of Defence will provide these and all other relevant documents to the committee," Devin Nunes said at a hearing on worldwide threats facing the United States.

Central Command oversees US military activities in the Middle East.

Nunes also said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefed the committee on a survey indicating that more than 40% of Central Command analysts believe there are problems with the integrity of the intelligence analyses and process.

With turmoil across the Mideast, Nunes asked whether it was appropriate to wait months for the Defence Department's inspector general to complete an investigation into the allegations before efforts are made to rectify the alleged problems.

"To me, it seems like 40% of analysts who are concerned at CENTCOM, that's just something that can't be ignored," Nunes said.

Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, said that while it would be favourable for all to "get closure on exactly the extent of this allegation", he cannot control the pace of the watchdog's investigation.

Asked if he considered 40% an unusually high number, Stewart replied that he would.

The New York Times, which first disclosed the investigation, reported that it began after at least one civilian DIA analyst told authorities he had evidence that Central Command officials were improperly reworking conclusions of assessments prepared for President Barack Obama and other top policymakers.

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