Chris Lange, FISM News
The Department of Defense has launched an internal investigation into roughly 100 leaked intelligence documents that have been circulating online.
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a “comprehensive review” of how classified information is handled and managed by the U.S. military.
“Within 45 days, [investigators] will provide the secretary with initial findings and recommendations to improve the department’s policies and procedures related to the protection of classified information,” Singh told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing Monday. “We will have more to say soon on more immediate actions that we will be taking.”
Singh said that senior Defense Department officials “continue to convene daily meetings to examine the scope and scale of this disclosure, as well as ensure that appropriate mitigation measures are being taken.”
The deputy press secretary also specifically addressed leaked documents that revealed that 14 U.S. service members were on the ground in Ukraine as recently as last month.
“To be clear, there are no U.S. combat troops conducting combat operations in Ukraine,” Singh said. The Pentagon previously noted that week that U.S. military personnel were in Kyiv to oversee U.S. aid and weapons shipments to Ukraine.
Singh said several times during the briefing that the Pentagon is cooperating with the Justice Department on its criminal investigation into the breach and that defense officials continue to assess the authenticity of the documents.
Massachusetts Air National Guard airman Jack Douglas Teixeira, 21, has been charged in connection with the leak of classified U.S. intelligence documents that began surfacing on social media on April 7.
PENTAGON COULD CHARGE SUSPECT SEPARATELY
Stars and Stripes reported that questions have arisen about jurisdiction in the case, given that Teixeira is an active member of the Air Force National Guard. While the Justice Department has control over the civil criminal investigation, the Pentagon could also bring charges against Teixeira under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“In terms of jurisdiction, [it is] something we are working through,” Singh said in response to a reporter’s question.
The Pentagon has so far not commented on the precise number of classified materials discovered online.
Singh told reporters that they should “be mindful” of the way in which they “are reporting and repurposing these images due to the classified nature of this information and the potential impact on national security, as well as the safety and security of our personnel and those of our allies and partners.”
TIMING OF DISCOVERY LEAK DISCOVERY BY PENTAGON RAISES QUESTIONS
The first batch of documents posted on Twitter included documents and maps detailing Ukrainian and Russian military positions in the European conflict as well as their military weaknesses, including Ukraine’s diminishing supplies of weapons and ammunition. Another group of documents revealed U.S. intelligence-gathering methods and sources abroad.
Several media reports indicated that the documents had been circulating online for well over a month on a Discord gaming chat room reportedly frequented by Teixeira, leading to questions about why the Pentagon appeared to have only been made aware of the leaks weeks later, when images of the materials began to surface on social media.
At the time of his arrest, Teixeira was an active-duty member of the 102nd Intelligence Wing headquartered at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod. He had been given security clearance as an information technology technician to work on internal computers and communications systems.