WASHINGTON: Top secret military and intelligence documents surfaced online, with details ranging from Ukraine’s air defense system to Israel’s Mossad spy agency, leaving US officials scrambling to pinpoint the source of the leak. leaks, with some Western security experts and US officials saying they suspect it could be someone from the US.
Officials said the breadth of topics covered in the documents, related to the wars in Ukraine, China, the Middle East and Africa, suggest they were leaked by an American rather than an American. an ally.
Michael Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official, told Reuters in an interview: “The focus right now is that this is an American leak, as many of the documents are in the hands of the United States alone.”
US officials said the investigation was in its early stages and its operators did not rule out the possibility that pro-Russian elements were behind the leak, which is considered one of the most serious security breaches. since more than 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic information. cable appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2013.
The Russian embassies in Washington and the Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment.
Following the disclosure of the leak, Reuters reviewed more than 50 documents labeled “Confidential” and “Top Secret” that first appeared last month on social media sites, starting with Discord and 4Chan. While some of the documents were posted a few weeks ago, their existence was first reported on Friday (April 7) by the New York Times.
Reuters did not independently verify the authenticity of the documents. Some of the battlefield casualty estimates from Ukraine appear to have been altered to minimize Russian losses. It’s not clear why at least one was marked as unclassified but included top secret information. Some documents are marked “NOFORN”, which means they cannot be released to foreign nationals.
Two US officials told Reuters on Sunday they did not rule out the possibility that the documents could have been tampered with to mislead investigators about their origins or to disseminate possible misinformation. harm the security interests of the United States.
The White House referred questions to the Pentagon.
In a statement Sunday, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the validity of the documents photographed “appearing to contain highly classified and sensitive material”.
The Pentagon has referred the matter to the Justice Department, which has opened a criminal investigation.
One of the documents, dated February 23 and marked “Confidential,” outlines in detail the Ukrainian S-300 air defense system that will be depleted by May 2 at the current rate of use. .
Such closely guarded information could be of great use to Russian forces, and Ukraine said the president and its top security officials met on Friday to discuss ways to prevent leakage.
Another document, marked “Top Secret” and from a CIA Intel update from March 1, says that the Mossad intelligence agency is encouraging protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s plan. Netanyahu aims to tighten control over the Supreme Court.
The document said the United States learned of this through intelligence signals, indicating that the United States was spying on one of its most important allies in the Middle East.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu’s office described the assertion as “a lie and without any basis”.
Another document details internal discussions among senior South Korean officials about US pressure on Seoul to help supply Ukraine with weapons and its policy of not doing so. so.
A South Korean presidential official said on Sunday that the country was aware of reports about leaked documents and that it planned to discuss “raised issues” with Washington.
The Pentagon did not mention the contents of any specific documents, including the apparent surveillance of allies.
Two US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while there were concerns about leaks at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, the documents show a snapshot of time from more than a month ago, rather than more recent reviews.
The two officials said the military and intelligence agencies are reviewing their processes to see how widely some intelligence is shared internally.
Officials are looking into what motivated a US official or a group of officials to leak such sensitive information, one of the officials told Reuters.
The official said investigators are looking at four or five theories, ranging from a disgruntled employee to an insider threat who actively wants to undermine US national security interests.