Pentagon Leaks: How America Was Exposed, At Home And Abroad
Confronted with a significant security breach, the U.S. is learning a brutal lesson about modern warfare.
PARIS — It's a total embarrassment for America. The recent leaks of highly classified documents have revealed a disturbing security flaw for the world's leading power. In Washington, an investigation is underway into the source of the documents, some of which initially surfaced on obscure gaming chat platforms.
The fact that the information contained in the documents is now public is also disconcerting — with the additional concern that some of the information may be falsified, including date on losses in the war in Ukraine. How can we distinguish true from false? Regardless, the damage is done, and it is considerable.
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The leaked Pentagon documents deal with subjects as varied as Ukraine, spying in South Korea, protests in Israel, Turkey and the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner, as well as France. The consequences are disastrous, starting with American credibility.
CNN has reported that Ukraine has been forced to change plans for its spring counteroffensive after some secret military information was revealed in the leaks. If true, this is perhaps the most important consequence of the leaks.
But it is not the only one. The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, was forced to deny that 100 French Special Forces members were on Ukrainian territory. France, like other Western nations, denies its service members are present on Ukrainian soil. Whether information or disinformation, the leaks are sowing confusion.
Some of the documents have caused discord among allies. Revelations about American surveillance of officials in South Korea, a close ally of the United States, have caused significant turmoil in the country, as one would imagine.
Other documents claim that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, is behind recent massive protests against the Netanyahu government. Despite denials, this detail has created confusion and mistrust.
Trouble among allies
Who benefits from this crime? This is the big question. The leaked documents have been shared widely in pro-Russian channels on Telegram, which makes Russia a prime suspect. But the U.S. seems to favor the theory that this was an internal leak, although officials have not yet publicly identified the possible source or motivation.
Could the leak of Pentagon documents be payback to the Americans in kind?
The history of leaks in the United States is varied. It includes the Pentagon Papers — the massive Vietnam War-era leaks orchestrated by an antiwar government contractor at the RAND Corporation — as well as Iraq and Afghanistan documents shared by soldier Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden's revelations about global American surveillance.
But in the current context, state-sponsored leaking remains a possibility. Before the invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. had information that seemingly came from well-placed sources. Could the leak of Pentagon documents be payback to the Americans in kind?
Regardless of the source, the affair highlights how modern warfare is hybrid, sometimes faceless, and can come from unexpected places. It's a lesson Americans are learning the hard way today.