Intel leak has U.S. officials bracing for impact at home and abroad | Leaked documents detail dire assessments of Ukrainian army: reports | Leaked Documents Reveal Depth of U.S. Spy Efforts
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The U.S. national security community is grappling with the fallout from the release of dozens of secret documents, including the impact on sensitive information-sharing within the government and ties with other countries, two U.S. officials said.
Reuters has reviewed more than 50 of these documents, labeled “Secret” and “Top Secret”, that first appeared on social media websites in early March and purportedly reveal details of Ukrainian military vulnerabilities and information about allies including Israel, South Korea and Turkey. The material did not draw much notice until a New York Times article on Friday.
Reuters has not independently verified the documents’ authenticity. U.S. officials have said some giving battlefield casualty estimates from Ukraine appeared to have been altered to understate Russian losses.
The leak was sufficiently alarming within the Pentagon that it referred the matter to the Department of Justice, which has opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of the documents.
Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the Pentagon was examining procedures governing how widely some of the most sensitive U.S. secrets are shared.
Some of the documents, one of the officials said, would most likely have been available to thousands of people with U.S. and allied government security clearances despite being highly sensitive, as the information directly affected those countries.
The Pentagon on Sunday said in a statement that an interagency effort was assessing the impact the photographed documents could have on U.S. national security as well as that of close American allies, a standard procedure known as “damage assessment” for leaks of classified information.
The first official said the number of people who had access to the documents underscores that sensitive information was perhaps being shared too widely with personnel who might not require the level of detail some of the documents contained.
“The Pentagon has needed to curtail the unbridled access to some of the most sensitive intel when they’ve (got) no justifiable reason to have it,” the first official said.
The two officials said further that although the leaks were highly concerning, many of them provided only snapshots of time in February and March – when they were dated – but did not appear to disclose anything about future operations.
Although the release of documents appears to be the most serious public leak of classified information in years, officials say it so far does not reach the scale and scope of the 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables that appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2013.
SEARCHING FOR A MOTIVE
The first defense official said Pentagon investigators were trying to determine who would have the incentive to leak this kind of information.
Since the leak first came to light in March, the investigators have been pursuing theories ranging from someone simply sharing the documents to show off the work they were doing to a mole inside the U.S. intelligence community or military, the first official added.
Daniel Hoffman, a former senior CIA undercover officer, said that given past activities of Moscow’s intelligence agencies, it was “highly likely” that Russian operatives posted documents related to Ukraine as part of a Russian disinformation operation.
He said such operations – meant to sow confusion, if not discord, among Russia’s adversaries – were a “classic” practice of Russian spy services to leak authentic documents in which they have inserted false information.
The aim, he said, appeared to be to drive a wedge between Ukraine and the United States, Kyiv’s largest provider of military support.
Some national security experts and U.S. officials say they currently suspect that the leaker could be American, given the breadth of topics covered by the documents, but they do not rule out pro-Russian actors. More theories could develop as the investigation progresses, they said.
The Kremlin and the Russian embassy did not respond to a request for comment about whether it was involved in the leak.
Ukraine said its president and top security officials met on Friday to discuss ways to prevent leaks.
The White House has declined to discuss publicly who might be responsible for the breach, and has referred all questions about the leak to the Pentagon. The Pentagon said that over the weekend, U.S. officials spoke with allies and had notified the relevant congressional committee about the leak.
“I’m deeply troubled by the possible extent and nature of the information exposed and expect to be fully briefed in the days to come,” said Representative Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger who sits on the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence and foreign relations committees.
IMPACT ON ALLIES
The leaks have already drawn responses from some foreign governments.
In a statement on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office labeled as “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever” a document asserting that the Mossad, one of the country’s intelligence agencies, encouraged recent protests against Netanyahu’s plan to tighten controls on the judiciary.
A South Korean presidential official said on Sunday the country was aware of reports about the leaked documents and planned to discuss “issues raised” with Washington.
One of the documents gave details of internal discussions among senior South Korean officials about U.S. pressure on Seoul to supply weapons to Ukraine, and its policy of not doing so.
One of the documents marked “Top Secret” purportedly detailed how Russian private military contractors met with Turkish “contacts” to buy weapons from Ankara.
The Turkish embassy in Washington declined to comment.
Some of the most sensitive information is purportedly related to Ukraine’s military capabilities and shortcomings.
It is not uncommon for the United States and other countries to spy on their allies. But public disclosures of such spying are uncomfortable for those allies, who need to explain to their populations how they will respond.
“It is going to take some time to rebuild trust with our allies,” the second U.S. defense official interviewed by Reuters said.
Michael Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official, played down the lasting impact of the leak.
“It is of course embarrassing when these activities become publicly disclosed,” Mulroy said. “It may cause short-term problems for the relationships but I believe long-term the shared interests between the countries will still be strong.”
Галявиев попросил убрать из запрошенного приговора пять лет тюрьмы, поскольку у него и так значится пожизненный приговор, а также заявил, что просит прощения у потерпевших, передает ТАСС.
Между тем адвокат обвиняемого заявил, что его клиента следует освободить от уголовной ответственности, поскольку он якобы страдает хроническим психическим расстройством – параноидальной шизофренией. Галявиева, по словам защитника, нужно принудительно лечить.
В 2021 году экспертиза Государственного научного центра социальной и судебной психиатрии имени Сербского признала Галявиева невменяемым. Позже другая экспертиза, проведенная в Петербурге, признала его вменяемым, и указала, что обвиняемого можно привлечь к уголовной ответственности.
Напомним, на предыдущем заседании по делу Галявиева прокурор запрашивал пожизненного лишения свободы для подсудимого.
В ноябре Галявиев полностью признал вину в суде.
1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)
The classified documents apparently leaked last week detail the weaknesses in the Ukrainian army, specifically shortfalls of ammunition and air defense, according to reports.
The Washington Post reported that one of the leaked Pentagon documents detailed that Ukraine’s air defense may not be able to protect the front lines through the end of May. One of the documents included an assessment from February from the Defense Department’s Joint Staff, which said Ukraine’s “ability to provide medium range air defense to protect the [front lines] will be completely reduced by May 23,” according to the Post.
The reported classified document also says once Ukraine’s first layer of defense munitions run out, the “2nd and 3rd Layer expenditure rates will increase, reducing the ability to defend against Russian aerial attacks from all altitudes.”
Both the Justice Department and the Defense Department are investigating the apparent leak of classified documents after Russian sources posted them to online websites, like Twitter. The documents are dated from March or earlier of this year, and appear to include information on Ukrainian training, munition expenditures and estimated casualties from both Ukraine and Russia. The documents do not appear to have plans for a Ukrainian counter offensive expected for this spring.
The Post also reported that another document shows how quickly the Ukraine’s air defense projectiles will deplete, saying that SA-11 systems will be depleted by April 13, NASAMs, made by the U.S., will be expended by April 15 and SA-8s will be gone by May. Another chart appears to suggest that Ukrainian air defense focus on Russian jets and helicopters and ignore smaller threats, like drones, in light of the expected shortfalls, according to the Post.
The New York Times reported that the trove of documents includes an assessment on the state of fighting in Bakhmut, a city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region that has been under siege for seven months. The Times said that the documents appear to show that the U.S. is spying on Ukraine’s top military and political leaders.Pope mentions Ukraine-Russia war, Israel-Palestine violence in Easter message East Palestine isn’t alone: Communities around the country grapple with toxic chemical exposure
The document outlined how Ukrainian forces “were almost operationally encircled by Russian forces in Bakhmut,” as of Feb. 25, the Times reported. The documents show top Ukraine leaders offering grim assessments in the ongoing fight for Bakhmut, with General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s director of military intelligence, saying that the situation was “catastrophic” at the time of the report.
The Times also reported that Roman Mashovets, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak, said that Ukrainian forces esteem was low in Bakhmut.
“Mashovets reported that, for those reasons, the morale in Bakhmut was low, with the Ukrainian forces under the impression that they were almost operationally encircled,” the assessment read.
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The U.S. Defense Department said Sunday that multiple agencies are working to assess the national security impacts from a leak of highly classified documents.
“The Department of Defense continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement.
Singh said national security is the Pentagon’s highest priority and that U.S. officials have “engaged with Allies and partners and have informed relevant congressional committees of jurisdiction about the disclosure.”
The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it had opened an investigation into the matter.
The information, which includes apparent military assessments about Russia’s war in Ukraine and of U.S. allies, appeared on multiple social media sites.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.
Published: 20:47 BST, 8 April 2023 | Updated: 23:58 BST, 8 April 2023
A trove of leaked documents has revealed the depth of America's spying apparatus around the world, detailing how the US continues to infiltrate allied nations amid heightening global tensions.
The documents, which provided the clearest picture yet of the Kremlin's depleted military capacity, were telling as to the extent to which US espionage tactics have effectively penetrated Vladimir Putin's war machine.
However, the intelligence breach, which included reports from late February to early March but have only been leaked online in recent days, also unearthed probes in a variety of nations, including South Korea, Iran and the UK, per the Wall Street Journal.
Now, US military officials are able to provide real-time warnings to their Ukrainian counterparts about impending strikes in exact locations, indicating exhaustive intelligence gathering in the region.
While the breach underscored America's ability to infiltrate Moscow's upper echelons, it has also sparked fears that Russian intelligence may now have a clearer understanding of exactly what the US does and does not already understand, providing an opportunity to cut off sources of information.
The leak comes amid speculation that a wave of classified document breaches could be being orchestrated by Russia, in what was described by a senior intelligence official as 'a nightmare for the Five Eyes' - a reference to the intelligence sharing agreement between the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Joe Biden, seen in Washington DC on Tuesday. His administration confirmed the leaked documents were real, but said some aspects had been doctored
The documents revealed the extent to which US officials have penetrated Russian intelligence. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 6, 2023
Notably, the documents covered intimate details about the spread of US military spying across the globe. Per multiple reports, this included classified information about Iran's nuclear program and North Korea's missile systems.
In Ukraine, the documents suggested a misalignment between US and Ukrainian military strategies, with intelligence reports appearing to show the US continues to spy on top military and political leaders in the region.
American officials told the New York Times that while the leak underscores the Pentagon's capacity to collect information on Russia's strategies, it remains to be seen whether their sources of information will be hampered by the revelations.
Officials told the outlet that the Pentagon has issued a swift lock down of sensitive briefing documents following the leak.
However, the scandal is already being noted as one of the most damaging national security breaches in recent memory, which may have further implications into the legitimacy of US espionage into the future.
Per the outlet, a senior Western intelligence official said the release could curb intelligence sharing between agencies, as trust over secretive information collaborations could be lost.
Assurances over the validity of the US military's spying apparatus is set to be further disrupted by revelations that America's focus extends far beyond its Russian enemies.
Allied nations, such as South Korea, have also reportedly been the subject of spying by the Pentagon, raising questions as to the diplomatic impact the leak could have at a time of deteriorating global ties.
The intelligence breach could have a drastic impact upon the landscape of the conflict in Ukraine. US President Biden, left, is pictured meeting Ukrainian President Zelensky on February 20, 2023
The document leak indicates that the US has been spying on Ukrainian allied officials. Pictured: A Ukrainian serviceman in training exercises in Donetsk
The documents, which were posted on social media sites including Twitter, Discord and Telegram, have also highlighted the devastating impact the war in Ukraine has had on both sides of the conflict.
Despite the Biden administration pouring almost $200 billion into the Ukrainian military, the leak revealed that its stockpiles are severely depleted and it is low on air defense ammunition.
But with Russian forces also found to be struggling, reports indicate a renewed push backed by western forces in the coming months.
One of the leaks, reportedly posted to Telegram, detailed 'a secret plan to prepare and equip nine brigades of the Amed Forces of Ukraine by the US and NATO for the spring offensive.'
The Biden administration has not denied the legitimacy of the leak, but it did claim that certain documents had been doctored.
An FBI probe was launched Friday to determine the source of the leak, however a senior official told The New York Times that tracking down the perpetrator could prove difficult because a large number of officials have the security clearances needed to access the information.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials scrambled Saturday to assess the potential fallout of the scandal.
A wide-ranging, multi-agency investigation into the intelligence breach is set to be escalated, with officials reportedly fearing that US national security matters could be significantly compromised.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pictured at the Pentagon on March 30, 2023
The documents have revealed the efficacy of US efforts to infiltrate Russian intelligence. Pictured: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, April 6, 2023
On Friday, a series of documents were posted on controversial message board 4Chan that covered both the war efforts in Ukraine as well as operations in China and the Middle East.
The reports included photographs of charts of weapons that are set to be transported to Ukraine, alongside determinations into the strength of ground troops in the region.
Among the documents leaked Friday was a map depicting the impact of the war in the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, which has been the center of fierce fighting for six months.
It was not clear if the map had been altered, as American authorities have claimed about some of the leaked information.
However, the day before, another image circulated online appeared to have exaggerated the scale of Ukrainian deaths and minimized the Russian losses.
While claiming that 16,000 to 17,500 Russian soldiers had been killed, the slide alleged that Ukraine had suffered as many as 71,500 troop deaths.
The Pentagon and other analysts estimate that Russia has seen approximately 200,000 killed and injured - double the figure for Ukraine.
The leaked documents also referred to U.S. analysis of the situation in the Middle East and China, and terrorist threats worldwide.
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