A more expanded document dump and leak of highly classified materials is being reported in the wake of the initial disclosure that memos related to US strategy in the Ukraine war appeared online, including material marked "Top Secret".
This time the leak appears more expansive: "A new batch of classified documents that appear to detail American national security secrets from Ukraine to the Middle East to China surfaced on social media sites on Friday, alarming the Pentagon and adding turmoil to a situation that seemed to have caught the Biden administration off guard," The New York Times reported Friday evening.
"The scale of the leak — analysts say more than 100 documents may have been obtained — along with the sensitivity of the documents themselves, could be hugely damaging, U.S. officials said," the report continues.
One senior intelligence official was quoted in the report as saying the leak is "a nightmare for the Five Eyes" - in reference to the intelligence-sharing nations of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Like the Ukraine war plans earlier reported on by the Times, some of these latest documents appeared on Twitter and other social media platforms, and they include reports labeled with one of the highest classification ratings of "Secret/NoForn" - which means they are sensitive enough to not be shared with even foreign allies.
Interestingly, the NY Times notes that one intelligence slide which is circulating features "an alarming assessment of Ukraine’s faltering air defense capabilities." But these leaks, some of which actually appeared on a Discord server devoted to discussing Minecraft and other unusual places, include more than the initial content on Ukraine war planning:
But the leaked documents appear to go well beyond highly classified material on Ukraine war plans. Security analysts who have reviewed the documents tumbling onto social media sites say the increasing trove also includes sensitive briefing slides on China, the Indo-Pacific military theater, the Middle East and terrorism.
The report quotes one analyst who warns this is likely "the tip of the iceberg" and that more major leaks are coming, or possibly have already happened, in something which could begin to rival the 'Pentagon Papers' of the Vietnam war era.
A former senior Pentagon official, Mick Mulroy, was also quoted as saying this could possibly hinder Ukrainian military planning given that "many of these were pictures of documents" and thus "it appears that it was a deliberate leak done by someone that wished to damage the Ukraine, U.S., and NATO efforts."
This assessment suggests a leak from inside allied forces, and not from a foreign adversary, even though US officials are accusing Russian-linked entities online of being the chief spreaders of the leaked documents.
US officials are also warning that some of the documents may have been digitally altered to fit a more pro-Kremlin narrative, as we detailed earlier. Twitter has acknowledged that US officials are requesting that it act to scrub classified materials from the platform.
There's growing concern that the leaks could be coming from within the Ukrainian military...
Pentagon and US intelligence officials are also scrambling to discover the source of the leak in an ongoing investigation. Likely this is to result in greater scrutiny on Kiev and how its chain-of-command handles sensitive data shared from the Pentagon.