Internet clues could help investigate Pentagon leak

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WASHINGTON – A surprisingly large number of people may have gained access to Pentagon intelligence documents leaked on a social networking site in early March, but clues left online could help investigators quickly narrow down the group of likely suspects with related relatives, US officials said on Monday.

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The investigation revolves around a series of fundamental questions: who took possession of the documents and published them on the internet, and why and what kind of damage could have been caused by the disclosure of the material.

National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby speaks during a press conference at the White House.  (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

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National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby speaks during a press conference at the White House. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

“We don’t know who is behind this, we don’t know what the reason is,” he said. John KirbyNational Security Council spokesman.

“We don’t know what else might be out there.”

White House, Justice Department and Pentagon officials said little Monday about the investigation into the leaked materials, which appear detailed national security secrets about Ukraine, Russia and a number of other countries.

While some documents have been tampered with, these revisions appear to have been made at a later date.

Officials have acknowledged that many of the documents are authentic and which were initially posted on the Internet without alterations.

Determining a motive could prove difficult, in part because the classified material has revealed weaknesses in both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries and could potentially harm the United States’ ability to gather intelligence in the future.

It is possible, according to former officials, that the motivation not out overtly political, but these questions will only be answered as the investigation progresses.

The intelligence material appears to have been first photographed and then posted on the Internet, a type of procedure negligent suggesting that the person who leaked the documents likely took little action to hide the Internet protocol addresses used or the date stamps on the photographs, said Javed Ali, a former senior government official. anti Terrorism of the United States who have performed intelligence functions in the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

A senior US official said hundreds, if not thousands, of military and other US government officials have the security clearance needed to access documents.

The official said the armed forces’ joint chiefs of staff on Friday instituted procedures for limit distribution of highly sensitive information documents and limiting attendance at meetings where briefing books containing hard copies of documents were available.

Officials said it was too early to determine whether the release of the documents would harm the US ability to gather intelligence inside Russia.

A senior US military official said on Saturday there was no indication that Russia had it covered none of the information leaks that US and other Western intelligence services had seized and passed on to Ukrainian officials to help them attack Russian targets.

This suggests that Russia, like senior Pentagon officials, only recently became aware of the revelations, even though the files had been received discorda social media messaging platform, since early March, analysts said.

Christopher Meagher, chief Pentagon spokesman, declined to answer most questions about the investigation, citing a criminal investigation launched by the Justice Department and the FBI.

The Pentagon is leading an independent interagency team, which includes the White House, State Department and intelligence agencies determine the damage caused from the revelations and consider what more needs to be done to deal with the leak.

“That includes taking steps to take a closer look at exactly how this type of information is being distributed and to whom,” Meagher said, “but beyond that, I won’t go into more detail.”

Meagher said the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austinhe was initially notified of the leak Thursday morning.

The next day, Austin began calling department-wide meetings to address the mounting revelations.

“The Secretary, the Department of Defense and the United States government take this apparent unauthorized disclosure very seriously,” Meagher said.

“It’s a top priority for us.”

Meagher said the Pentagon and other US officials began reaching out to congressional leaders and allies over the weekend warn them of losses, which they already have complicated relations with some countries.

“The reports of intelligence leaks are incredibly troubling,” the representative said in a statement on Monday. Mike Rogers, Republican from Alabama and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Rogers said the panel was “actively seeking answers from the Department of Defense.”

Ali said classified materials that were disclosed would be content electronically on standalone computer systems that are not connected to the Internet in the broad sense.

The computers reside in secure work areas known as SCIF – Security Facilities. Compartmental sensitive information-, where it is not permitted to introduce electronic devices that can be used to take photographs or make video or audio recordings.

Anyone involved in the production of these everyday products would be licensed at the highest levelhe has declared.

“While these protocols may help narrow down the group of people who could be responsible, they will still involve a significant investigative process in which hundreds or thousands of people will need to be interviewed,” said Ali, who now works at the Gerald R. Ford of the University of Michigan.

The fact that the intelligence material appears to have been first photographed and then posted online may help forensic investigators determine the points of origin of that activity by tracing IP addresses and the timestamps of photographs, unless efforts were made to conceal these signatures, Ali said.

A former senior FBI official with extensive experience in national security affairs said Monday that investigators would first try to identify the universe of government personnel and contractors who had access to the documents.

Investigators would then try to identify documents that are unique to a smaller group of recipients, which could help narrow the investigation, the official said.

After that, the removal process begins.

“Sometimes a leaker makes a mistake by disclosing photos or an electronic fingerprint,” the official said.

“This will be very difficult.”

The documents included intelligence the United States had gathered on allies such as South Korea and Israel and partners such as Ukraine.

Kirby declined to answer specific questions, saying only that “US officials have been in contact with relevant allies and partners.”

Source: Clarin

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