The US military may be fabricating intelligence reports about its war with the Islamic State

GlobalPost
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter conducts a press conference Aug. 20, 2015, from the media briefing room of the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

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NEED TO KNOW:

Senior officers in the United States military are probably making things up about the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, intelligence analysts at the Pentagon claim. The New York Times reported today that senior military officers were revising reports from its analysts to present “a more positive picture” to the White House, Congress and other intelligence agencies.

It seems a rather irresponsible thing to do, especially in light of intelligence failings in the lead up to the Iraq War, which one can make a strong case is the very root of the current nightmare the world is facing. “The senior intelligence officers are flipping everything on its head,” one government intelligence analyst told the New York Times.

The Daily Beast last week reported that “more than 50 intelligence analysts” working in the US Central Command had formally complained that their reports on the Islamic State were being “inappropriately altered” by senior officials. The analysts claimed in their objections, according to the Daily Beast, that their reports had been changed to portray the terror group as weaker than they believed it was. That way the reports would conform to the White House's public line that the United States is winning the war again the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The truth, which can easily be gleaned by simply reading daily news reports, is that the United States has had a very hard time winning anything, let alone defeating the Islamic State, with the airstrikes it began launching last summer. While the strikes have helped Iraq regain some territory, the Islamic State still controls large parts of the country, including major cities like Mosul and Ramadi. In Syria, the strikes have fared little better. Meanwhile, the airstrikes have killed civilians, giving the Islamic State valuable propaganda to help swell its ranks.

WANT TO KNOW:

A day after Hungary closed its borders to refugees, the repercussions are being felt around the region. Hungarian officials said that on Wednesday police had arrested more than 500 refugees trying to cross into the country, in most cases in their effort to pass through to Austria and finally to Germany, which has publicly announced that it may re-settle up to one million people.

Many other refugees have changed course, making their way west to Croatia and Slovenia, which also borders Austria. It's a longer route and most of these people are on foot. They have little money, food or shelter. And the nights are cold. These are human beings forced out of their country by unspeakable violence that is well beyond their control. They can't go back. Not yet. So they continue to walk.

Turkey, which is now hosting about 1.5 million refugees in camps along its border, is struggling to manage such a massive humanitarian crisis. And it is frustrated by what it says is a lack of European support. Many Syrians in Turkey, where for them there is a lack of much freedom or the ability to find jobs, are also attempting to make their way to Europe.

Refugees in Turkey on their way to Greece are now in a standoff with Turkish police on the country's far western border. The refugees were forced to spend the night outside in the open air. Many of them set up makeshift tents along the roads. Facing police dressed in riot gear, some turned around to go back to Istanbul. Others said they would find a way across at any cost.

Meanwhile, at home, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the West for all the chaos, claiming that Turkey has supported “the terrorists” that his army is fighting inside Syria. Assad added that the world can expect more Syrian refugees. It was hard to tell if that was a threat aimed at the world or the Syrians still living in the country.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

Things are getting weird in India. In deference to a religious festival observed by the Jain community (you can read more about the Jains here), during which they refrain from eating chicken, local administrators announced this year that they would enforce a ban on eating chicken for the entire community. The ban was made a law some 40 years ago, but no one ever actually followed it.

Those Indians who don't belong to the Jains were a little annoyed, especially the Marathis, who are native to the state of Maharashtra, where all this went down. Local politicians jumped into the fray, of course, exacerbating rather than mediating the problem in their quest for political points.

The brouhaha culminated when a local political party decided to string up cooked, whole chickens in front of the building where the Jain community was celebrating. Protesters sat outside munching on chicken. It was a grave and deliberate offense to the Jain customs of vegetarianism. It was also just kind of gross.