Alleged Leak of ‘Top Secret’ Documents Poses ‘Serious’ National Security Risk: Pentagon

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
April 10, 2023US News

The apparent leak of highly sensitive U.S. intelligence materials is a “very serious” risk to national security, said a Pentagon official on Monday.

The documents circulating on multiple websites pose “a very serious risk to national security and have the potential to spread disinformation,” Chris Meagher, the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told AFP and other news outlets.

“We’re still investigating how this happened, as well as the scope of the issue. There have been steps to take a closer look at how this type of information is distributed and to whom,” Meagher continued.

Also Monday, White House spokesman John Kirby said the leaked information should not “be in the public domain” and shouldn’t be on the “front pages of newspapers” although he stressed that officials do not know who leaked them or if it has been contained.

Kirby, during a White House press briefing, was repeatedly pressed about documents that were posted on multiple websites including Telegram, Twitter, Discord, 4chan, and others. Some included U.S. intelligence around the Russia-Ukraine war and Pentagon spying efforts, according to an Epoch Times review of the materials. The Epoch Times cannot confirm the authenticity of the documents.

When asked about the authenticity of the intelligence materials, Kirby said that U.S. officials believe some of them were doctored.

“We know some of them appear to be doctored. I won’t speak to the validity of all the document … we are still working through the validity of all the documents out there,” he said, adding that the Biden administration doesn’t know if any more documents will be posted online.

Whether or not the leak has been contained, Kirby said that “we don’t know. We truly don’t.” The Pentagon doesn’t know “what’s out there” or “who is responsible,” he said.

Officials also don’t know if the leakers have more intelligence documents and are looking to release them online. But Kirby later stressed that the intelligence materials have “no business in the public domain … or front pages of newspapers” or broadcast  “on television,” although it appeared to conflict with his previous statement about the authenticity of the documents.

“There is no excuse for these kinds of documents to be in the public domain,” he said. “They don’t deserve to be in the public domain.”

Russia Ukraine War
Volunteer soldiers prepare to fire toward Russian positions close to Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on March 8, 2023. (Libkos/AP Photo)

Reports indicated that well over 100 U.S. intelligence documents were posted on the messaging app Discord in March, containing information about Russian military activity, the Ukraine conflict, the Chinese regime and its military, and the Middle East. Some of the materials appeared to have been sourced from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other government entities.

And some of the documents were marked as “TOP SECRET” while others had the “NOFORN” marking, meaning that they should “not be released in any form to foreign government[s].”

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said on Sunday evening that the Biden administration has formed a team that is now “focused on assessing the impact these photographed documents could have on U.S. national security and on our allies and partners.” U.S. officials, she added, have communicated with “allies and partners” about the leak.

Some Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, claimed that the leak was carried out by Russia and alleged the documents were digitally altered. Top Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak said the leaks are part of a Russian disinformation scheme or are fabricated attempts to sow doubt in Ukraine’s soon-to-come spring counter-offensive.

“It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the most successful operations of the Russian special services have been carried out in Photoshop,” Andriy Yusov, the representative of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Main Directorate, told Politico.

The Kremlin and the Russian Embassy have not commented on whether it was involved in the leak.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded to the leak, saying documents asserting that the Mossad, one of the country’s intelligence agencies, sought protests against Netanyahu’s plans for the country’s judiciary there were “mendacious and without any foundation.” Also, a  South Korean presidential official said on Sunday that Seoul is aware of reports about the documents and will discuss the matter with the White House.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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