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Pentagon narrows access to classified documents – CBS

The reported move comes amid a large-scale intra-department investigation into the recent Ukraine-related leak

The Pentagon has greatly reduced the number of people on government-wide distribution lists to receive classified information, CBS News reported Wednesday, citing unnamed US officials.

Prior to the recent leak of classified documents, some 1,000 people usually had access to such papers, the broadcaster noted. The fact that the leaked documents were printed, photographed and only then uploaded online suggests that the culprit behind the leak will be identified soon, former officials familiar with leak investigations told CBS, adding that “the universe of possibilities is relatively small.”

There’s a limited number of printers authorized to print such classified documents, another US official told the broadcaster. All the devices authorized for the task require a unique ID when printing, further narrowing the pool of potential suspects, he added.

The trove of dozens of documents had been circulating online for weeks, possibly months, but came under media and government scrutiny only last week. The leak has been described as the biggest suffered by the US government since the WikiLeaks publications of thousands of classified documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Pentagon chief grilled over leaks

The US government has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the documents, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stating that the Pentagon was taking the situation “very seriously” and pledged to “turn over every rock” to establish what exactly happened. The Pentagon’s efforts come as part of a broader intra-department investigation into the apparent breach.

Among other things, the leaked documents suggest that the US has been routinely spying on some of its closest allies. A sizable part of the documents contained information about the US and NATO war-planning effort in Ukraine, data on ammunition expenditures, timelines for training and arms deliveries, as well as the structure of Ukrainian combat units, and estimated Ukrainian and Russian battlefield losses. The documents also suggested Washington had been publicly exhibiting way more confidence about Kiev’s military capabilities than it actually had.

Moscow has questioned the authenticity of the documents, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov suggesting the leak might have been orchestrated by Washington itself as a part of its “hybrid war” effort against Russia. 

“Because the US is a party in the conflict [in Ukraine] and is essentially waging a hybrid war against us, such tricks to deceive the enemy, meaning Russia, are possible,” Ryabkov said on Wednesday. “I am not saying anything definitively, but I assume different scenarios are plausible here.”

April 13, 2023 at 12:44AM

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