The Biden Administration is considering using an intelligence failure that allowed classified Pentagon documents to circulate online unnoticed for weeks to call for broadening its surveillance of social media platforms.
This potential alteration to intelligence gathering methods comes as authorities rush to find out not only how the leak occurred, but also how to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Last week, President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were informed of the leak.
However, it was reported that the secret documents first emerged on the Discord social media app as early as January, according to open-source investigative group Bellingcat which has alleged ties to the intelligence community.
Upon discovering that the documents had been available online for an extended period, the president and other officials allegedly considered ways to prevent this from happening again in the future.
As a response, the administration may expand the scope of online platforms that intelligence and law enforcement agencies monitor, NBC reported.
The leaked Pentagon documents allegedly emerged in internet gaming circles, giving officials justification to surveil this area more closely.
One of the apps considered to be more closely surveilled is Discord. Discord is a communication app designed primarily for the gaming community but has since expanded to serve a wide range of users and purposes. It provides a platform for text, voice, and video chat, allowing users to communicate and collaborate in real-time. Discord offers both public and private servers, enabling people to create and join chat rooms or channels focused on specific topics, interests, or groups. Users can also send direct messages to each other, share files, and stream their screens or games.
The intelligence community is reportedly wrestling with how to scan platforms like Discord for relevant content to prevent similar leaks in the future.
This incident has prompted new questions about the management of sensitive intelligence information within the government and whether access to such data should be further restricted. In light of the leak, the administration has already tightened access to classified information and is considering additional measures.
The leaked documents reveal detailed intelligence on Russian tactical maneuvers in the Ukraine war, assessments of Ukraine’s military strengths and weaknesses, alleged sabotage by Ukrainian agents within Belarus and Russia, and intelligence reports on allies, including South Korea and Israel.
Images of some documents first appeared on Discord channels dedicated to the Minecraft video game and fans of a YouTuber called wow_mao, according to Bellingcat.
From there, the images made their way to 4Chan, pro-Russian Telegram channels, and Twitter. The New York Times first reported on the documents last week.
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