• World - North America
  • Updated: April 13, 2023

US Pentagon Documents Leak: What You Should Know

US Pentagon Documents Leak: What You Should Know

The aerial view of the building of the Pentagon in the United States

A series of documents of highly classified Pentagon intelligence and information gathering on close US allies have emerged online in recent weeks.

Documents posted online appeared to reveal details of how US agencies spy on other nations, including allies. The leaks also include scores of highly classified documents about the Russia-Ukraine war.

Here’s what you should know:

Where and when did the documents first emerge?

According to the investigative website Bellingcat, the documents appear to have first emerged on Discord, an online social media platform.

Bellingcat further traced the leak to a now-defunct Discord server. Their research suggested that the documents had already appeared on social media in March.

The website also said it had viewed evidence that some of the documents were posted as far back as January on Discord.

What did the documents contain?

The documents bear classified markings, with some labelled “top secret”, the highest level of classification, and appear to be briefing slides prepared by the US military’s chief of staff.

Some also contain the marking NOFORN, or “Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals”, meaning they cannot be shared with foreign intelligence agencies, according to the New York Times.

It contains highly classified Pentagon intelligence and information on US allies, details of how US agencies spy on other nations, and highly classified documents about the Russia-Ukraine war among others.

It included Five Eyes, the collection of spy agencies in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Which countries are involved?

The documents purport to reveal a wide range of information, including potentially sensitive information about many countries including Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

Detailing the involved countries

If proven authentic, it indicated that the US had been monitoring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls with defence and military officials by using signals intelligence.

The documents would also reveal that the US had penetrated the Russian military forces and the Wagner Group, a mercenary organisation.

According to Al Jazeera, one document appears to show that US spies had caught Russian intelligence officers boasting they had convinced the UAE to work together against US and UK intelligence agencies.

The UAE government had dismissed the accusation this week.

It also reveals that Egypt planned to supply Russia with rockets and munitions. This comes amid the Russian war with Ukraine.

It also appears to provide details of alleged internal discussions among top aides to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol that suggest that the US applied pressure on the country to help supply the US with artillery shells, which could then be sent to Ukraine.

It suggested that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, was encouraging its officers to participate in protests against their government’s plans to weaken the independence of the judiciary. Israel has denied this.

The United States Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the case.

The US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also vowed to uncover the identity of the possible leaker.

He said; “We will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it."

Pentagon spokesman Chris Meagher also said the documents could pose a very serious risk to national security.

Meagher said; "There have been steps to take a closer look at how this type of information is distributed and to whom.

“Disclosure of sensitive classified material can have tremendous implications not only for our national security but could lead to people losing their lives."

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