In one of the biggest national security breaches in a decade, hundreds of classified Pentagon documents were leaked online by a man who wanted to show off his access to sensitive information to his internet friends. The documents contained top-secret details about the Ukraine war and other parts of the world, and raised diplomatic issues about US spying on its allies and adversaries. This article will tell you everything you need to know about this news beyond satire.
Who is behind the 2023 Pentagon leaks?
The man behind the 2023 Pentagon leaks has been identified as Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who worked on a military base. He was arrested by the FBI on April 13, 2023, at his home in North Dighton, Massachusetts. He is suspected of photographing briefing slides that contained classified information and sharing them online, on a discord group called “Thug Shaker Central”.
Teixeira was known online by the handle “jackthedripper”, “OG” or “excalibureffect”, and was part of a Discord chat group called “Thug Shaker Central”, which had about two dozen members who regularly discussed guns, video games and racist memes. He was also a gun enthusiast who posted pictures of his firearms and accessories on social media.
Previously, the TSA no-fly list leak also revealed that some classified documents are under less protection than the public is led to believe.
Why did Jack Teixeira leak classified documents?
According to someone from this Discord group, interviewed by the Washington Post, Jack Teixeira (O.G.) leaked documents to impress his friends. However, no one in the group reacted to the photographs, and did not understand their significance. Then, Jack grew angrier, and became less and less careful with his posts.
Some of these items, such as a rifle scope brochure, Gorilla Glue and a Boston Red Sox hat were seen in the background of some of the leaked documents. These helped law enforcement officials to catch the leaker. I was able to find a number of these documents on 4Chan. However, I will obviously not be posting the links.
What did the Pentagon leaks reveal ?
According to The Guardian, the Pentagon leaks reveal details about Ukraine’s level of preparedness for a counteroffensive and serious air defense shortages, as well as information about Russia and other countries.
More specifically, the Pentagon leaks revealed the following:
- Ukraine: US intelligence officials were pessimistic about Ukraine’s prospects for a new attack in the spring, and there are details of serious air defense shortages and a risk of running out of anti-aircraft missiles by May.
- Russia: The leaks suggest the US has live information about the targets being attacked by Moscow and details of a plan to pay a bonus to soldiers who damage or destroy NATO tanks. They also show the depth of the infighting inside the Russian government and information on the Russian mercenary Wagner group’s plan to expand its operations in Haiti.
- UK: One document suggests that 50 of 97 special forces operatives in Ukraine were British, and it is suggested they could form part of a coordinated NATO group.
- UN: The files reportedly suggest the US felt the UN Secretary General was too influenced by Russian interests, saying he was “undermining broader efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its actions in Ukraine”.
- South Korea: Some papers suggest that South Korea is facing difficulties due to the US insisting on shipping ammunition to Ukraine. This is because the US wants artillery shells for its own use, but they are worried that they could end up being used by other countries or groups. South Korea does not typically provide lethal weapons to countries at war.
- Israel: A different paper suggests that the Mossad intelligence agency urged its employees to join in on protests against Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda to limit the autonomy of Israel’s legal system. The Mossad has denied these allegations. There is also an evaluation of how Israel may be convinced to supply weapons to Ukraine.
Where can I find the Pentagon leaks?
In May 2023, the non-profit website DDoSecrets published a large part of the leaks. As said by the website:
This collection includes the 53 documents reported on by CNN and others, plus 11 additional confirmed documents from the same source.
This is, as far as I’ve found, the most complete version of this leak. However, as they are classified document, I do not recommend downloading these images.
How did the leaked documents spread online and who saw them?
The classified documents were first posted in the “Thug Shaker Central” chat group, where they did not attract much attention from other members. However, on February 28, 2023, another member reposted them to another Discord channel linked to YouTuber “wow_mao”, which has more than 100,000 subscribers and focuses on geopolitics and military topics. A member of that channel then posted some of them on March 4, 2023, to an even larger channel called “Minecraft Earth Map”, which has more than 300,000 members and is dedicated to a popular video game.
From there, the Pentagon leaks spread like wildfire through the internet, reaching platforms such as Reddit, Twitter and Telegram. Some of them were also translated into other languages such as Russian and Chinese. The documents included details about US military operations, intelligence assessments, satellite images and diplomatic cables. Some of them revealed that the US was spying on countries such as Germany, France, China and Russia.
What are the consequences and implications of the leak?
The leak has been described as a major security breach that could damage US national interests and relations with its allies and adversaries. The leaker, Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested on April 13th.
The Pentagon said that it was taking the leak very seriously and that it was reviewing its security protocols and procedures. It also said that it was working with other agencies to assess the damage and mitigate any risks.
The leak has also raised questions about how Teixeira was able to access such sensitive information and why he decided to share it online. However, as we now know, the most likely scenario is not ideological or dogmatic motivation, but simply that Teixeira wanted to impress his friends on Discord.