DOJ Races To Find Source of Leaked Pentagon Documents
The US government is scrambling to identify who's been publicly posting a growing trove of classified military and intelligence documents. Sources in and out of government tell Reuters that initial hunches center on the possibility it was leaked by an American.
"We have referred this matter to the Department of Justice, which has opened a criminal investigation," Department of Defense press secretary Sabrina Singh said Sunday.
NBC News reports that most of the documents it studied "appear to be briefing slides prepared by the U.S. military’s Joint Staff and refer to information gleaned from an array of U.S. intelligence agencies.
The first batches of maps and documents pertained to the war in Ukraine. On Friday, a new collection hit public view, this time relating not only to Ukraine, but also China, Africa and the Middle East.
Among other things, Friday's documents suggested Ukraine's robust Soviet-era air defenses -- which have thus far minimized the participation of Russian aircraft -- could run out of ammunition in next several weeks.
Another document -- a purported CIA intelligence update -- claims Israel's Mossad supported protests against Prime Minister Netanyahu's Supreme Court reform scheme. Netanyahu said the claim is "mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever."
In an embarrassment to Washington, the documents reflect United States spying not only on Israel but ally South Korea, too. One report says internal discussions show that South Korean officials are wary of requests to hand over artillery shells to the United States to replenish American stockpiles, out of concern they'd end up in Ukraine.
The expanding breadth of subject matter has many suggesting a US source is responsible.
"The focus now is on this being a US leak, as many of the documents were only in US hands," former Pentagon official Michael Mulroy told Reuters. As opposed to electronic downloads, it appears most or all of these leaks are in the form of photographs of paper documents.
“As many of these were pictures of documents, it appears that it was a deliberate leak done by someone that wished to damage the Ukraine, US, and NATO efforts,” Mulroy told the New York Times.
Many documents, such as those assessing the state of Russian military forces, cite electronic eavesdropping. Those disclosures could help the targets of American spying patch holes in their security.
While the classified documents began appearing in March on the Discord and 4Chan sites, it was only on Friday that the New York Times broke the story. The mass compromise of security is considered the most significant to hit the US government since Wikileaks published more than 700,000 documents and videos downloaded by US Army Private Bradley Manning.