Leaked documents may have originated in chatroom for gamers: Reports
In yet another massive intelligence failure, reports circulated suggest that the leak which shook Washington may have started in a chatroom on a social media platform popular with gamers.
A new batch of classified US documents made up of more than 100 new files has been leaked on Friday, divulging information pertaining not only to Ukraine but also to China and the Middle East.
The leak which shook Washington and unmasked a new intelligence failure may have started in a chatroom on a social media platform popular with gamers, AP reported.
A debate on Discord that was originally intended to cover a wide range of topics turned to the conflict in Ukraine as it was being held on the Discord platform, which supports live voice, video, and text chats.
Classified documents leaked caused a reaction from the Pentagon. The #US admin is trying to persuade Twitter & Instagram to delete these documents relating to the #US plans in #Ukraine, deployment of forces, casualties of belligerents, supply of weapons & more v @Spriter99880 pic.twitter.com/JD6UMfNLrc— Elijah J. Magnier 🇪🇺 (@ejmalrai) April 7, 2023
One chat participant claimed that an anonymous user published documents that were purportedly categorized as part of discussions on Ukraine, first typing them out with the poster's own thoughts and then, as of a few months ago, starting to post photographs of papers with folds in them.
The posts don't seem to have received much attention outside of the conversation until a few weeks ago when they started to get more traction on social media and were circulated by major news organizations.
On Saturday, Bellingcat revealed that it appeared that WowMao, a different chatroom, had been used to transfer papers from Thug Shaker Central. The records appear to have moved beyond WowMao, and on Thursday, The New York Times published a piece about them after first learning that the Pentagon was looking into a breach.
The Discord user who talked to the AP under the condition of anonymity claims that when the Times story broke, he was on a call with other people, including the person who had been distributing papers that they said were classified for months.
Another lie, another leak
US officials are reportedly concerned about the disclosures, which have led to a Justice Department probe. US officials stated on Sunday that the FBI has launched a probe into the leaks, as one senior US official labeled the leaks as a "massive intelligence breach."
Last week, an NYT report cited officials stating that confidential documents were leaked online regarding US national security secrets concerning China, Ukraine, and the Middle East.
One of the documents, dated February 23, was said to be labeled "Secret/NoForn" which meant that the content of the document was not meant to be disclosed to any foreign nation.
Former senior Pentagon official Mick Mulroy stated that the new batch of leaked files represented a major breach of security that might have an influence on the military strategy in Ukraine. Moreover, Mulroy said the documents are likely to have been leaked by someone who wanted to undermine US, Ukrainian, and NATO operations.
'We don't know'
Commenting on whether the US government was effectively waiting for more intelligence documents to appear online, National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated, “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.”
On his account, Chris Meagher, a top spokesperson for the Pentagon, called for restraint in “promoting or amplifying any of these documents,” stressing that “it does appear that slides have been doctored.”
The leak, however, highlights the challenges that the US government has in protecting confidential material. Experts and Congressional investigations have long raised concerns about US counterintelligence's flaws, the difficulties of keeping track of the 3 million or more persons with security clearances, and the fact that government agencies produce and overclassify information to the point where the US cannot safely handle it.