Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Discord Leaks: Harmful, Embarrassing, Or Manipulation?

Posted by M. C. on May 10, 2023

Upon parsing the data carefully, it becomes apparent that the primary knowledge gleaned from this leak is obvious — that countries spy on each other, even among allies and partners. Moreover, as already noted, much of the so-called classified information was already available in the public domain. As such, the possibility this leaked data was reworked to unsettle global competitors, especially Russia and China, cannot be disregarded. The data show how thoroughly those governments and their military and intelligence sectors have been infiltrated by the US. Leaders and subordinates within those authoritarian regimes will now be looking at each other with greater distrust.

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Authored by Carol Choksy & Jamsheed Choksy via,

Once again, classified materials linked to U.S. intelligence and defense agencies have reached the public domain via the internet. But do these documents really undermine Washington and its allies by revealing information not already known to geopolitical rivals? Is there much in the leaked items that is actually, or deserved to be, top secret? Or have the revelations, embarrassing as they might be to America and its partners, been shaped and reshaped to influence rivals and the global public by demonstrating the limitations of opposing powers? 

What Came Through the Discord App 

The so-called top secret documents have been exposed since February 2022. They were spread by a nondescript National Guardsman, Jack Teixeira, on Discord servers and chat groups to a Minecraft chat server, to the 4chan bulletin board and Russian Telegram channels, and eventually to Twitter users. Apparently, only in April did the Pentagon catch on to the online revelations. 

The information leaked included intelligence analysis products about issues both related and unrelated to the war in Ukraine. Directly relevant data detailed estimates about Israel supplying equipment to Ukraine, the UAE and Egypt possibly supplying rockets to Russia, discussions by South Korean officials about supplying munitions to Ukraine, NATO plans to equip and train Ukrainian troops, personnel losses on both sides, and Russian plans to reward the destruction of NATO tanks. Other information covers topics such as a cyberattack on Canadian oil infrastructure, the Mossad’s attitude about judiciary protests in Israel, China’s hypersonic advances and its Indo-Pacific maneuvers, emerging powers seeking to stay removed from superpower rivalries, and shifting geopolitical alliances. 

A Damaging Leak? 

The greatest concern about this leak would be that Russia or other adversaries could figure out who collected information or how information was collected — sources and methods, in other words. Knowing sources means an adversary can remove them. Knowing methods means an opportunity to end access, or to work around it and nullify its usefulness. Should either or both these occur, U.S. ability to support Ukrainian battlefield maneuvers with effective intelligence, and to peer into the inner workings of rival nations, could fall short. 

However, the leaked documents contain no great new revelations. The data sets were largely known and available through open sources. Likewise, many of the leaked analytical conclusions had already circulated beyond government circles without the need for top-secret, covertly collected data. 

U.S. President Joe Biden nodded to the consequences’ lack of severity by telling the press, “I’m concerned that it happened, but there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence right now.” Unauthorized disclosure, rather than revealed knowledge of data, sources, and methods, is the focus of the U.S. government’s response. The Discord leak is a violation of law and duty by the leaker and therefore an area of concern for information security, but it is not a national security calamity. 

An Embarrassing Disclosure? 

See the rest here

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