The Pentagon believes the apparent leak of classified documents came from an insider, while a person who claims to have known the source of the leak described a young man who worked on a military base and spilled secrets to impress his compatriots on a private online chat platform, according to media reports.
A person identified by others who knew him as “OG” began posting hundreds of photos of classified documents on a private Discord server where OG functioned as an administrator and claimed to access the information from his job on a military base, two members told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter while the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation. While the U.S. government has not honed in on a single suspect, the Pentagon, which has also initiated a separate internal probe, believes an individual with direct access to the material may be responsible for the massive intelligence leak, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
“He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind,” the member, a teenager who spoke with a parent’s permission, told the Post.
The community consisted of less than two dozen males who formed the group on Discord, a messaging platform popular with gamers, to discuss guns, religion and military gear, the member told the Post. They became close friends, upholding one another through life’s vagaries, and came to revere the individual known as OG.
OG claimed to have access to information out of reach of ordinary people and began publishing long strings of text on the platform, thought to be transcriptions of intelligence documents OG brought home from his work at a still unknown military base, the member said.
He intended to “keep us in the loop” on important global affairs, the member told the Post.
When OG became frustrated with the members’ inability to comprehend Pentagon jargon and the time consuming process of typing up each document in late 2022, he turned to posting photographs of the documents, which supplemented the analysis with maps and other visual effects.
Content of the documents, of which the Post said it reviewed hundreds as well as text from the early messages from OG, chat records and an audio recording of the person who may be OG, included highly sensitive information, according to the Post. Topics ranged from the movements of top political leaders to maps of battlefield conditions in Ukraine, intelligence on foreign adversaries’ attempts to influence elections and analysis of the Chinese spy balloon and its collection apparatus.
“If you could think it, it was in those documents,” the member told the Post.
Prior to the Post’s reporting, only about 50 of what was thought to be near 100 documents had reached the broader public in early April and were widely reported on.
“An interagency effort has been stood up, focused on assessing the impact these photographed documents could have on U.S. national security and on our Allies and partners,” the Department of Defense said.
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