The White House is urging journalists not to report on what seems to be leaked classified Pentagon documents circulating online, as the U.S. government grapples with a potential security breach reminiscent of the Edward Snowden incident.
John Kirby, the coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, addressed the issue during a White House press briefing on Monday. He emphasized that the information is not intended for public consumption and should not be published or discussed in the media.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is assessing the validity and national security impact of images that have surfaced on social media, including Discord. These images appear to reveal secret details about China, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, surveillance efforts and more.
The Pentagon has reportedly engaged with allies, partners, and Congress regarding the disclosure.
A U.S. defense official informed the Washington Post that many of the documents look like they were prepared for Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military officials. However, the official noted that these records would be widely accessible to those with proper clearance.
The source of the apparent leak remains unknown and the Department of Justice has initiated a criminal investigation following a referral from the DoD. Kirby confirmed suspicions that some of the document images may have been doctored.
Israel has also refuted alleged intelligence suggesting that the country's Mossad intelligence agency encouraged protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial judicial reforms plan. The prime minister's office, on behalf of Mossad, called the report "mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever."
Kirby stated that President Joe Biden is staying informed on the situation. When asked if the suspected leak is contained or if there is an ongoing threat, Kirby admitted, "We don't know. We truly don't know."