Pentagon Refers Leaked Documents to Department of Justice for Criminal Investigation
Recently, dozens of highly classified documents were leaked, causing concern within the U.S. national security community. These documents, labeled as "Secret" and "Top Secret," were first seen on social media websites in March and purportedly reveal sensitive information about allies including Israel, South Korea, and Turkey, as well as details of Ukrainian military vulnerabilities.
While the authenticity of the documents has not been independently verified, the Pentagon has referred the matter to the Department of Justice, which has opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of the documents.
Leaked documents reveal altered battlefield casualty estimates in Ukraine
Some of the leaked documents, such as those giving battlefield casualty estimates from Ukraine, appeared to have been altered to understate Russian losses, according to U.S. officials.
The Pentagon is currently reviewing protocols related to the dissemination of highly classified American information due to the severity of the leak, which was deemed alarming.
Two U.S. defense officials said that the number of people who had access to the documents highlights that sensitive information may be being shared with personnel who do not require such highly detailed information.
Leaked Document Reveals South Korea's Refusal to Provide Weapons to Ukraine
The leaks have already drawn responses from some foreign governments, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office dismissing one of the documents as "mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever," and a South Korean presidential official said they planned to discuss "issues raised" with Washington.
A senior South Korean official's internal conversations about the US's demand for weapons from Seoul to be provided to Ukraine, which Seoul refuses to do, were disclosed in one of the documents.
According to one of the documents labeled as "Top Secret," Russian private military contractors allegedly held meetings with Turkish individuals to acquire weapons from Ankara. The leaked information, particularly concerning Ukraine's military capabilities and limitations, is considered highly confidential.
Pro-Russian involvement suspected in Leak of Sensitive U.S. Documents
While the investigation is still ongoing, national security experts and U.S. officials have noted that the broad scope of the leaked documents could suggest that the leaker may be American, but they do not rule out the possibility of pro-Russian actors being involved.
As per Daniel Hoffman, an ex-senior undercover officer at the CIA, Russian operatives were probably involved in uploading the Ukraine-related documents as a part of a disinformation campaign. This practice, meant to sow confusion or discord among Russia's adversaries, involves leaking authentic documents that include false information.
National Security Experts Warn of Potential Damage to U.S. Allies Following Document Leak
This recent leak highlights the need for better procedures to protect highly sensitive information and restrict access to only those who require it. The potential involvement of Russian disinformation operations also underscores the importance of remaining vigilant and cautious in assessing leaked information.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the potential harm caused by these leaks extends beyond just the national security of the United States and could also jeopardize the security of its allies.