Five Points Peace Plan for Ukraine:
1.Establish the Republic of Crimea, which will include the territories presently occupied by Russia; under the joint sovereignty and jurisdictions of Ukraine, Russia, and EU (with participation of Turkey), with the details to be refined later.… twitter.com/i/web/status/164…
Michael Novakhov’s favorite articles on Inoreader
1.Establish the Republic of Crimea, which will include the territories presently occupied by Russia; under the joint sovereignty and jurisdictions of Ukraine, Russia, and EU (with participation of Turkey), with the details to be refined later.… twitter.com/i/web/status/164… first appeared on Trump Investigations – trumpinvestigations.org – The News And Times.
The post Michael Novakhov’s favorite articles on Inoreader: Five Points Peace Plan for Ukraine: 1.Establish the Republic of Crimea, which will include the territories presently occupied by Russia; under the joint sovereignty and jurisdictions of Ukraine, Russia, and EU (with participation of Turkey), with the details to be refined later.… twitter.com/i/web/status/164… first appeared on The Global Security News – The News And Times.
Voices from across the political spectrum are demanding to know how 21-year-old National Guardsman Jack Teixeira even allegedly had access to top-secret classified documents on the war in Ukraine, imperiling the safety of Ukrainian troops—not to mention allied unity—and giving a priceless gift to Vladimir Putin when he needed it most.
“I’m stunned by this,” former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson under the Obama Administration said on Sunday, while Republican Senator Lindsey Graham commented: “I am stunned that somebody at that level could have so much access … some people need to be fired over this.”
Just this morning, Congressman Jim Himes, who serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said that “it is almost inconceivable that this particular individual A) had access to the information, B) that the individual was able to print this stuff out and take it away and photograph it. And then finally, in a world of very advanced technology, that apparently this stuff could live on the internet and various chat rooms and be viewed by people quite possibly for weeks or months before the Department of Defense became aware of it being in the wild in the first week of April.” Defenders of the intelligence community will point out that much of the real work in intelligence—particularly in supporting warfighters and decision makers—is actually driven by junior enlisted and officers. They are the ones that heroically assemble briefing books, collect and review material, and ensure that senior intelligence officials are well briefed. Intelligence chiefs are not keeping the books, collecting the data, or running the models: they are consuming the information that comes up within the organization. Access by up to a million pairs of eyes seems a tad reckless and needless, but to rip out the junior analysts would mean the whole workflow would fall apart.
Defenders will also point out the context of how we got here: after the 9/11 Commission found that one of the major reasons we had such a massive intelligence failure before the attack was that intelligence was not being shared quickly and efficiently within our government, the U.S. moved toward the opposite pole, adapting intelligence infrastructure to allow for the flow of intelligence across agencies and the military and allowing for more eyes than ever before on the most sensitive secrets.
But there is something obviously broken systemically within the intelligence community that allows for three major national security intelligence leaks in less than a decade, including fellow IT systems administrator Edward Snowden’s infamous trove to Chelsea Manning’s Wikileaks document dump. Even if the Manning leak was 750,000 pages compared to the hundreds of pages in this case, any leak is unacceptable and can put sources, methods, and lives at risk. Three times is enough. The challenge for the government now is to channel its outrage into an actionable set of steps to ensure Teixeira’s leak is the last for a very long time.
Here are some of the most urgent questions that the intelligence community needs to address to fix a broken system:
1. Accessibility – Who has access to information, and why?
It seems “need-to-know” has evolved into “want-to-know.” In each of the Teixeira, Snowden, and Manning leaks, none of these traitorous hangers-on had jobs anywhere related to intelligence analysis and the decision-making process, and yet each had seemingly unlimited access to a smorgasbord of classified intelligence.
Indeed, there is something that is ridiculously pathetic about this latest saga, almost too ridiculous to imagine up were it not true: somehow, this extremely junior enlisted barely old enough to drink alcohol, fresh out of high school, was able to obtain regular access to some of the nation’s most sensitive top-secret classified documents. Teixeira reportedly had no ulterior motive for leaking the documents other than to show off to a virtual video game chatroom of loners seeking friends in youthful immaturity.
Not only does it appear that one can have the résumé of a Walmart greeter and gain access to the country’s most sensitive information, but it seems Gmail does a better job of locking out unwitting users who have forgotten their passwords than the federal government seems to do of walling off highly sensitive information. Intelligence leaders should redesign processes to restrict access to information to a genuine “need-to-know” basis to limit unnecessary sharing of sensitive information. In no other organizations are such tangential figures provided as vast high-level information and access to secrets. Now is the time for the government to fix these fundamental flaws with the protection of classified information.
2. Transportability – How is it so easy to smuggle out classified documents?
Teixeira allegedly smuggled classified printouts by folding them up to fit in his pant pockets, then taking surreptitious snapshots of them once outside sensitive compartmentalized information facilities (SCIFs). If it is really this easy for a guileless 21-year-old to smuggle classified papers out into the open, only to be discovered when the documents later circulated online, how many other individuals might have carried away classified documents—whether accidentally or intentionally—escaping all scrutiny? One cannot even walk out of a public library carrying library books this easily. There needs to be better guardrails and protections to ensure classified material stays behind close doors. Some balance between stronger administrative procedures and stronger accountability for personal trust needs to be struck which is not overly reliant on either to the detriment of the other.
3. Detectability and Accountability – How does the intelligence community monitor and track the distribution of classified information that’s out in the public?
The fact that these leaked documents were reportedly public for over a month on video game chat servers without drawing any attention it appears from the federal government—the government seems to have only responded after Twitter and media commentators picked up on the leak widely—suggests there are gaping holes in security protocol for tracking the handling and distribution of classified material.
The wide-ranging nature of these disclosures has already been well-established. Teixeira’s documents included troop movements on Ukrainian battlefields and private assessments of Ukrainian military capabilities, briefings intended for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, databases of weapons and munition inventories, intelligence channels into Russia, and much more. How can the federal government allow for such a vast array of classified material to float online without even a smidgeon of scrutiny? Perhaps they overlooked obscure video game chatroom servers on Discord, but it is pushing our luck to hope that the FSB and other rival countries’ intelligence agencies are just as hapless in not discovering these documents for months until they became outdated.
4. Vetting and Ongoing Monitoring – What do we know about individuals who have access to classified information?
The CIA and FBI both experienced embarrassing and highly damaging security breaches with Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, respectively, both of whom were discovered to be spying for Russia. What followed were increased security measures to protect against insider threats, including investigations into finances and travel of employees and routine polygraphs of individuals. The military has high standards for entry and conduct, but that is not a replacement for thorough and ongoing vetting of employees who have clearances. And while First Amendment rights must be balanced against national security concerns, the Teixeira case suggests that the military may need to keep better tabs on what social media and internet platforms personnel with clearances are accessing, perhaps through disclosure requirements.
5. Addressing extremist views – What do military personnel believe?
Immediately after being appointed, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered immediate changes to combat extremism in the military, an initiative that was long overdue considering four times as many people with military backgrounds have been arrested for extremist crimes over the last decade than in the decade prior. However, Austin’s efforts have encountered resistance from conservatives in Congress, who in 2022 called on the Pentagon to “immediately halt” counter-extremist programs in a report which accompanied the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The most recent leaks reveal that playing politics with extremists in the military is no longer an option: Teixeira allegedly held racist, antisemitic, and anti-government views, and he found a community of like-minded individuals in the chat room where he held court. Such behavior has no place in our military and presents a clear and present national security threat.
The U.S. has had to contend with three destructive leaks of sensitive information over a decade from low-level malcontents who had no business accessing any of the information they had access to. It is past time for the intelligence community to fix a broken system.
Benjamin Franklin warned facetiously, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Surely, 290 years later, we can do better.
Featured Posts – The News And Times: Online Gaming and #GRU: What is the FBI doing about it? Do they understand the true risks and dangers? #FBI has a long standing, blown out of all proportions, sick obsessions with sexual issues, (which are their projections of their own… twitter.com/i/web/status/164…
So far this century, there have been three major public “compromises” of US intelligence material. The first – the WikiLeaks series initiated by Chelsea Manning – revealed the mayhem at the heart of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Edward Snowden’s vast cache uncovered the US state’s campaign of unlawful surveillance against its own people. Over the past week, we have seen yet another collection of secret documents ruffle the feathers of US intelligence.
Of the three sets of leaks, the most recent is, in itself, the least politically damaging. But what they demonstrate again is the dangerous self-created and continuing rot at the heart of the US intelligence system: the combination of over-classification and the widespread availability of access to secret material.
Given the nature of the documents available so far, most of which seem to be daily updates and analysis, there seems to be little operationally damaging intelligence. Most significant perhaps is the “revelation” that US intelligence was spying on allies such as South Korea and Israel. Any government leader with significant links to the US who believes their ally is not keeping a close eye on them needs to fire their counterintelligence advisers. It therefore should have come as no surprise to President Zelenskiy that he was also on the receiving end of US surveillance. As for the UK, no one should have been shocked by the news that the only UK troops not subject to any form of effective democratic oversight – special forces – are deployed in Ukraine in considerable numbers.
It is unlikely that these people (and their counterparts from elsewhere in Europe and the US) are directly involved in combat; rather, they are training Ukrainian soldiers and assisting in planning operations. While it would be difficult for Russia to argue that their presence denoted direct involvement, should the opportunity present itself it could suit Russia to do so, nonetheless. Also of some significance are the concerns expressed in the leaks that Ukraine may “fall short” in its long-awaited spring offensive. While much has been made of this, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US chiefs of staff, has recently made similar views clear in public.
More importantly, the leak represents another own goal by an intelligence bureaucracy with a pathologically confused attitude to information management. A rational approach to access to secret information is based around classification according to reasonably clear definitions of various levels of secrecy; distinguishing and defining “confidential”, “secret” or “top secret”, for instance.
So far so good; the US does this well. This should be accompanied by a “need to know” approach. In other words, “Does a person or institution with access really need to know this to function effectively?” One might be given to wonder why a junior reservist airman in Cape Cod, Massachusetts – if indeed he was the source of the Discord leaks – should “need to know” about Ukrainian plans to strike Russia, or the political machinations of the Israeli intelligence services.
Brigadier General Patrick Ryder holds a press conference at the Pentagon following the appearance of the leaks. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The answer, of course, is that he doesn’t – but has access anyway. The reason for this lies in two countervailing but powerful impulses that, taken together, are fatal to secrecy. On the one hand, US military and intelligence personnel have a serious, almost paranoid, habit of over-classification – treating anodyne military information in much the same way as genuinely sensitive material. As Bill Burns, the director of the CIA, put it last Tuesday: “There is a serious problem of over-classification.”
The situation is compounded by a system that then sprays that classified information to huge numbers of people with security clearances. An astonishing 1.2 million US government employees have access to top-secret information. A further 1.6 million can read material that is merely “secret”. The real surprise is how apparently few huge leaks have occurred.
Apparently. The worry for the US, and by extension western intelligence organisations, is that there is a real possibility that they have occurred. The kind of leaks we have seen from Manning, Snowden or in the Discord files are politically embarrassing, but are they really damaging? Breathless claims by officials and politicians that “lives are at risk” are likely to be specious or “significantly overwrought”, as with previous publicly acknowledged leaks.
Indeed, a case can be made that the Discord leaks are rather more damaging to Russia than to any western power. Consider the extent of information revealed about Russia’s internal confusion, with the security services arguing with the defence ministry over proper death counts, for instance.
The motivations for Manning, Snowden and the person behind the latest leaks may differ. They have in common that all were content for their material to be publicised. Literally everyone knows what has been released. Really serious leaks are not publicised, by anyone. They are kept very, very secret. These may well have happened, we just don’t know about it.
While Russia’s intelligence agencies have given every recent appearance of being inspired more by Inspector Clouseau than The Americans, they have a long history of highly effective work. And the capabilities of China’s ministry of state security and relatively new strategic support force dwarf those of Russia. Rather than fulminating about the latest embarrassment and casting about for people to blame, the US intelligence “community” needs to get busy sorting out the systemic vulnerabilities it has created for itself. It can be sure that Russia, China and others are working very hard to exploit them.
Frank Ledwidge is a barrister and former military officer
ANDREW LIMBONG, HOST:
The U.S. government is investigating a leak of classified documents that appear to give a snapshot of how the intelligence community saw the world in late February and early March. That includes the war in Ukraine, Chinese influence on global technology, terrorism and more. Oddly enough, the documents were first spotted on a social media platform that’s mostly used for gaming. NPR’s Jenna McLaughlin is here to tell us more about this leak investigation. Hi, Jenna.
JENNA MCLAUGHLIN, BYLINE: Hey, Andrew.
LIMBONG: So The New York Times broke this story when these documents were spreading in Russian social media circles last week, but it sounds like the story is a little bit more complicated, right? Can you tell us a little bit about how this started?
MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. So it does appear that this leak got the attention of the Pentagon when it reached the messaging app Telegram, which has a lot of different public channels you can join, and that includes a lot of pro-Russian groups. The Pentagon was forced to kind of – accusing Russia that, you know, they had leaked those documents because some of them appeared in those groups, and a handful of them appeared sloppily altered to favor Russian narratives. But, you know, there were immediately a lot of weird details going on. The documents are all photographs of printed pages, which makes it seem like they weren’t hacked or stolen. And it turns out that it was just a portion of the total leaked documents. Once the open source community started digging, it quickly became clear that Telegram actually wasn’t the original source.
LIMBONG: All right. So say more. Where did this trail lead?
MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. So after the story first broke, NPR and others found the same documents on 4Chan posted earlier in March and then even more on Discord, which is a social media messaging app that’s pretty popular with gamers. Then pretty much a group of us journalists, open source researchers and random internet users frankly were chasing leads in real time together.
LIMBONG: Yeah. Wow. So what did you find?
MCLAUGHLIN: So I kind of got actively involved in the hunt. I got on Discord and confirmed that some of the documents were posted in a server dedicated to the game Minecraft, which is a game where you can build your own world. They didn’t exactly greet me with open arms.
LIMBONG: Yeah, I can imagine that.
MCLAUGHLIN: I briefly messaged with the user who had originally posted them and while he was kind enough to tell me where he had gotten them from, he promptly blocked me. That led me down to another Discord server dedicated to a popular Filipino YouTuber. What seemed to be a young man in Southern California had posted them to that server, but within minutes users on the channel blocked me as well. They were all kind of yelling and screaming about concern that pro-Ukrainian social media narcs were coming in to infiltrate their platform. But by the time I got kicked off, the young man was still tweeting about how he found the documents, and he said that he got them from another since-deleted channel on Discord. So it’s impossible to really prove where they came from before that. As you can see, it’s a real rabbit hole. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying to find out more. My colleague Geoff Brumfiel and I have been trying to spot things in the background of the leaked photos to find clues, including Gorilla Glue, a user manual for a hunting scope, toenail clippers and potentially a pamphlet about archery. So putting together those clues, it seems like maybe someone in the U.S. who’s a fan of hunting.
LIMBONG: All right. So what about the documents themselves? Like, just how damaging does this leak seem?
MCLAUGHLIN: It’s not totally clear yet. Some Discord users did say that they saw other documents released as early as January, which could suggest that the source has more prolonged access. But I haven’t seen proof of that. NPR has access to about 40 of these documents from late February and early March, so they are very current and now. And the subjects are really wide-ranging. They mention sensitive things like Russian cyber operations, as well as South Korean officials’ private hesitation and conversations about sending artillery to Ukraine, for example. Then again, it really is just a snapshot in time. It’s certainly embarrassing for the U.S. government, and it gives enemies and allies alike some hints about how the U.S. knows about their internal conversations, maybe even how much they know, how they got there. But it doesn’t even go into detail about how those U.S. operations are run, similar to what we saw with the Snowden leaks and the Vault 7 leaks about CIA hacking tools. So the source and the impact remain pretty uncertain, but there’s wide government concern about the leak and a manhunt is underway.
LIMBONG: That was NPR’s Jenna McLaughlin. Jenna, thanks so much.
MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.