The U.S. Justice Department has commenced an investigation into the recent posting of classified Pentagon documents on various social media platforms. The more than 50 documents in question that were labeled “Secret” and “Top Secret” first appeared on social media sites such as Twitter, Telegram, Discord and 4Chan, and their authenticity has not been independently verified.
One U.S. official told the Associated Press on Friday that the documents resemble routine updates that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff produce daily but not distribute publicly. Although they do not contain any information about any planned Ukraine offensive, some inaccuracies, including estimates of Russian troop deaths that are lower than numbers reported by U.S. officials, have raised concerns about their authenticity.
In response to these leaks, Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, stated on Friday that the Defense Department had referred the matter to the Justice Department for investigation. The Justice Department also confirmed that they have been in communication with the Department of Defense related to this matter and have started an investigation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office released a statement about a meeting he had with his senior military staff, noting that “the participants of the meeting focused on measures to prevent the leakage of information regarding the plans of the defense forces of Ukraine.”
The potential harm to U.S. security interests caused by the leak is significant. For example, one of the documents, marked “Secret” and dated Feb. 23, contains details on how Ukraine’s S-300 air defense systems would be depleted by May 2 at the current usage rate. This information could be of great use to Russian forces.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in Washington and the Kremlin have not responded to requests for comment on the matter.
The New York Times first reported about the documents, and later said that more documents regarding Ukraine and other sensitive national security topics such as China and the Middle East had started appearing on social media.