Lawmakers Seek Answers From Pentagon on Ukraine War Doc Leaks

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 11, 2023Politics
Lawmakers Seek Answers From Pentagon on Ukraine War Doc Leaks
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, gestures during committee's hearing on "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan" in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Sept. 29, 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via Reuters)

The leaders in the House and Senate Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees are pressing the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to find the source of apparent leaks of Ukraine war documents and determine the extent to which sensitive U.S. intelligence has been exposed.

Numerous alleged U.S. military documents, including some with “secret” and “top secret” markings, appeared online recently and appeared to show U.S. military assessments and plans to support the Ukrainian military in its ongoing war with Russian forces. The DoD acknowledged these apparent leaks on Friday, April 7, and said it is reviewing the matter.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) urged the DoD to find answers about the source of the apparent leaks quickly.

“Any breach of classified material is serious, especially when sources and methods are identified,” McCaul said in a statement emailed to NTD News. “I urge the administration to investigate and move swiftly to identify the leaker and take appropriate action. The administration must also brief Congress on the security implications of this leak.”

Among the alleged leaked materials was a “secret” document listing April 30 as a key date for a “Spring Offensive,” potentially alluding to a Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian invasion forces. Some documents also described delivery timelines and consumption rates for weapons and supplies the United States and its allies have donated to Ukrainian forces.

“The reports of intelligence leaks are incredibly concerning,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a statement. Rogers said his committee is “actively seeking answers from the Department of Defense.”

The leaks have sparked concerns from a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

In an emailed statement, a Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) spokesperson said the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman is tracking the leak issue closely.

Reed “believes that breaches of U.S. national security and intelligence must always be addressed with the utmost seriousness and urgency,” the spokesperson continued. “The Department of Defense and other agencies have launched investigations, and the Senate Armed Service Committee expects to be fully briefed on the Pentagon’s investigation as it proceeds.”

Pentagon, Biden Admin Taking Leaks Seriously

Defense officials and President Joe Biden’s administration members have said they are taking the alleged leaks of U.S. intelligence documents seriously.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Chris Meagher told news outlets that the apparent leaks are “a very serious risk to national security and have the potential to spread disinformation.”

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

On Sunday, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said that the Biden administration had formed a team to assess the impact these potential leaks could have on the United States and its allies and partners.

During a White House press briefing on Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the matter.

Kirby also shared concerns about how the potentially leaked information has proliferated online and in the news media, saying the documents should not “be in the public domain” and shouldn’t be on the “front pages of newspapers.”

On Monday, when asked whether the leaks had been contained, Kirby said, “We truly don’t know.” Kirby gave a similar response when asked about the extent of the documents that may have been compromised and how long leaks could continue, “We don’t, we don’t know what’s out there …  We don’t know who’s responsible for this, and we don’t know if they have more that they intend to post.  So we’re watching this and monitoring it as best we can, but the truth and the honest answer to your question is: We don’t know, and is that a matter of concern to us?  You’re darn right it is.”

Vulnerabilities From Leaks

The authenticity of the documents appearing online can only be partially confirmed. Meagher, Kirby, and other military and administration officials have said some leaked documents appear to have been altered.

Depending on their authenticity, the documents could provide some insights to Russian forces about Ukraine’s plans and vulnerabilities.

The documents appear to describe the rates at which Ukrainian forces are expending munitions for weapons like the HIMARS rocket artillery system—a detail the U.S. military has not openly disclosed. The timetables for training and supplying Ukrainian forces with new weapons and ammunition could give Russian military planners clues about their opponent’s ability to defend itself.

After months of costly fighting, Russian forces have made incremental gains in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has indicated that a loss in Bakhmut could cause Ukrainians to lose resolve in the ongoing war and instead want the government to compromise with Russia.

“Our society will feel tired,” Zelenskyy told the Associated Press last week. “Our society will push me to compromise with them.”

A Ukrainian counteroffensive failure could place further pressure on Zelenskyy.

Some of the alleged leaked documents also bear a “NOFORN” marking, meaning that they should “not be released in any form to foreign government[s].”

Meagher said they have contacted U.S. allies and partners about the leaks “to reassure them of our commitment to safeguarding intelligence and fidelity to our security partnerships.”

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