Biden says United States is nearing discovery of intelligence leaks source
Chief Joe Bied said Thursday that investigators are closing in on the source of the leak of top-secret US intelligence documents, in what he believes is the most serious security breach in a decade.
The administration has been assessing the diplomatic and security implications of the leaked documents since they first appeared online last week.
A formal criminal investigation was opened by the Department of Justice after the matter was referred by the Pentagon, which is assessing the harm caused by the release.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department and the FBI have narrowed down the pool of potential suspects believed responsible for the disclosure of top-secret military documents on the Ukraine war, a person familiar with the investigation said Thursday.
Some of the more sensitive leaked details allegedly concerned Ukraine’s military capabilities and shortcomings, and information about US allies including Israel, South Korea and Turkey.
A Pentagon spokesperson told reporters earlier this week that the disclosure of the information represented an “extremely grave risk to national security.”
Since then, investigators have filtered out the number of suspects who may be responsible, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation. It was not clear how many suspects remained or when or if they could be arrested.
Reuters reviewed more than 50 documents labeled “secret” and “top secret” but has not independently verified their authenticity. The number of leaked documents is likely to be more than 100.
A number of countries questioned the authenticity of some of the documents, including Britain, which said there was a “serious level of inaccuracy” in the information.
Biden, who is on a three-day tour of Ireland, said he was not too concerned about the leak.
“There’s a full investigation going on, you know, with the intelligence community and the Department of Justice, and they’re closing in but I don’t have an answer,” Biden told reporters.
“I’m not worried about it leaking, I’m worried about it happening but there’s nothing contemporary that I’m aware of.”
The FBI’s Washington field office is leading the investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing members of an online chat group, that the person who leaked the documents is a firearms enthusiast in his 20s who worked on a military base.
the source of the leak
The Post relied in its report, which did not name the person, on interviews with two members of a Discord chat group. Discord said in a statement on Wednesday that it is cooperating with law enforcement.
Reuters could not verify the details of the report. Its outline — that the documents were first shared on a Discord server for gun and ammo enthusiasts who often exchange offensive jokes — was initially reported by Bellingcat last week.
Reuters was unable to locate members of the now-defunct server, but a military-focused YouTuber named “Oxide” said he believes some members of the group may have been people he kicked off his Discord server.
A Redditor who claimed to be in contact with a member of the server told Reuters that there was a scramble to delete evidence when news of the leak surfaced.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm either person’s account, although they are consistent with other reports published elsewhere.
Some national security experts and US officials say they suspect the leaker to be American, given the breadth of topics covered in the documents.
Since the leak first came to light in March, investigators have been pursuing theories that range from someone simply sharing documents to show the work they were doing to someone within the intelligence community or the US military.
The leaks have sparked reactions from some foreign governments.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called a document “false and totally baseless,” asserting that the Mossad intelligence agency had encouraged the recent protests against him.
A South Korean presidential official said on Sunday that the country was aware of reports of the leaked documents and that it planned to discuss “issues raised” with Washington.
One of the documents, according to the BBC, discussed how UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is so willing to accommodate Russian interests.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric criticized the leaks themselves.
“(Guterres) is not surprised by the fact that people are spying on him and listening in on his private conversations,” Dujarric said in a statement.
“It is surprising what irregularities or incompetence allow such private conversations to be distorted and become public.”
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