(breitbart) – A group of U.S. intelligence documents dealing with the Ukraine war and other global matters apparently leaked through online gaming forums has been dismissed as fake by some in both Ukraine and Russia, but is apparently being taken seriously elsewhere.
Up to 100 pages of secret U.S. intelligence reports have leaked into the public domain in what one newspaper, citing an intelligence commentator, says could be the “biggest since Edward Snowden”, who leaked thousands of documents in 2013 after he became concerned with the ethical implications of western intelligence activities.
As reported by Breitbart News the authenticity of this new group of leaked documents, which deal predominantly with military assessments of the Ukraine war but also purport to reveal U.S. spying on allies including South Korea and Israel, has previously been disputed. Yet they appear to be taken seriously by observers of Western intelligence, even if the Pentagon and Justice Department in the U.S. have said nothing other than they are aware of claims, are investigating, and have no other comment to make.
Establishment-adjacent news outlets like CNN and papers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times — which was first to report of the emergence of the documents on social media and online gaming forums — note intelligence sources are treating the documents “appear to be legitimate intelligence and operational briefs”, and report frustration in the U.S. government that the documents were being posted online for weeks before anyone noticed.
The original source of the documents is unclear, but open-source intelligence collective Bellingcat traces apparently leaked intelligence documents being posted on Discord, a social platform popular with computer gamers, back to January. Eventually, the documents spread to 4chan — where they were used to settle arguments, which echoes a previous leak used to browbeat users in an online debate about the realism of a tank warfare game — and Russia’s Telegram, where they were noticed.
The seriousness of the leak, which is reported to underline the degree of infiltration of the Russian intelligence and military hierarchies by U.S. intelligence to the extent of being able to warn the Ukrainians of Russian artillery strikes in advance, and of advanced spy satellites deployed to the area, is discussed by Obama-era U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told CNN: “This appears to be a very serious breach of security, which is potentially very damaging both to the US as well as many friends and allies… I am sure all resources are being tapped to find who is leaking this sensitive information.”
Britain’s Daily Telegraph cites a senior British intelligence officer who called the leak “very significant” and said: “It shows a failure at the very highest levels of classification… If it is genuine, the Americans have a very serious problem. The biggest since Edward Snowden.”
While the leak has serious implications for the integrity of the U.S. intelligence community, it may also impact America’s ability to gather such detailed information about Russia’s war machine in future if Moscow is able to use the documents to identify their own vulnerabilities.