RELIGION

Congress probes Islamic State counter-propaganda operations

  • FILE - In this July 7, 2016 file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, confers with the committee's ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional investigators are demanding documents and contacting witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department’s troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    FILE - In this July 7, 2016 file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, confers with the committee's ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional investigators are demanding documents and contacting witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department’s troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 7, 2016 file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, confers with the committee's ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional investigators are demanding documents and contacting witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department’s troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    FILE - In this July 7, 2016 file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, confers with the committee's ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congressional investigators are demanding documents and contacting witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department’s troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)  (The Associated Press)

Congressional investigators have demanded documents and contacted witnesses in a wide-ranging probe of the Defense Department's troubled anti-propaganda efforts against the Islamic State.

The inquiry by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs follows an investigation by The Associated Press that uncovered critical problems with the program known as WebOps. The AP investigation in January also revealed conflicts of interest in a new $500 million program to expand psychological operations against terrorist groups.

Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz on Thursday called the allegations "disturbing."

Lawmakers from both major parties have sent letters to Alabama-based Colsa — the contractor running WebOps — and to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis demanding documents. The letters cite problems at WebOps revealed by the AP, including the hiring of Arabic specialists who are not fluent.