Questions & Answers – All showing off? What is known about the US data breach?

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The American data leak mole just wanted to please his friends in a private chat group? What do the documents say about Russia and Ukraine? krone.at has answered these and four other pressing questions for you.

The US Department of Defense is turning over “every stone”. The Ukrainian leadership around President Volodymr Zelenskyj is “exasperated” and other states suddenly have an acute need for an explanation. The reason for this is the largest US military data breach since Edward Snowden.

Social media and other regulars around the world are simmering – and the wildest theories are being thrown around. krone.at explains what is known so far about the publication of top secret information from the US intelligence service. So far: the current case should have little to do with ideal values, such as Snowden’s.

Where did the documents first appear?
Photos of printed briefing reports, largely for U.S. General Mark Milley, were first posted to a closed chat group of about two dozen members on Discord, according to consistent media reports. A popular messaging platform for gamers.

The first mail containing classified documents – then still handwritten – is said to have appeared in the Discord group in late 2022, as group members of the “Washington Post” confirmed. On February 28, some documents were also posted to another Discord server. The papers then spread exponentially on other platforms such as Twitter, 4chan and Telegram. That brings us to the next question.

Who posted the first post?
The mole is said to be a young man who worked at a US military base, the Washington Post reports. Under the alias “OG” – internet slang for “original” – he is said to have posted handwritten notes at the end of 2022. Two group members describe him as a “young, charismatic gun enthusiast who shared top secret documents with a group of widely dispersed acquaintances seeking companionship in the isolation of the pandemic.”

Unable to impress its Internet friends with handwritten copies of classified documents, OG posted photos of the printed briefing reports. It is not known how he managed this. According to his own statement, the young American was sometimes in secure facilities where mobile phones and other electronic devices that could be used to take photos or videos were prohibited.

According to the American newspaper, the approximately two dozen members shared a love of weapons, military equipment and their belief in God. “OG” itself is not a whistleblower who wants to expose wrongdoing. “He is not a Russian agent. He is not a Ukrainian agent,” the newspaper quoted one of the members as saying.

In other words, it’s entirely possible that the United States suffered one of the largest military data breaches in its history because one of its government employees wanted to please his digital friends. The Pentagon has already announced that it will reconsider its access policy to classified documents.

What does the US data breach say about Russia?
The classified documents showed the extent to which the US had infiltrated Russian intelligence and other authorities. The “New York Times” reports of feuds between powerful factions within Russia’s defense network.

The domestic secret service FSB accuses the army of covering up the scale of casualties on the Russian side. For example, one document states that Putin’s figures and facts, such as losses, would have changed significantly. The leaks also include Russian battle plans and manpower.

The new documents also revealed details of a public dispute between the head of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over ammunition allegedly withheld from the Wagner forces by the military. Accordingly, Putin would have personally tried to settle the dispute between the two. According to the latest information from the British secret service, the Kremlin is actively dismantling the mercenaries.

According to military analyst and commander of the Austrian armed forces, Markus Reisner, the documents also contain indications of Putin’s “health problems”. So there are “internal quarrels” in continuing the Russian offensive. According to the documents, Russian Chief of General Staff Vitaly Gerasimov wanted to end the offensive war and was looking for an opportune time to do so. It was probably early March 2023, when “Putin got his chemotherapy”.

What does the US data breach say about Ukraine?
The data breach also reveals the US government’s concerns about the state of war. According to the released documents, Ukraine could “far miss” the original plans to recapture occupied territories.

According to Reisner, the situation in Ukraine is presented as “very precarious” in the documents. The Ukrainian air defense clearly does not have enough missiles for its anti-aircraft systems. The Russians would also succeed in “disrupting” the use of precision bombs supplied by the US – and “of course” there are also “challenges that can hardly be solved” in dropping them. And that can also be decisive for the war under certain circumstances,” said the military analyst in an Ö1 radio interview.

Are the documents authentic?
Yes, say US officials – at least for the most part. Some documents were modified after publication. It is unclear who falsified the reports. However, it should not be assumed that these were individual perpetrators, as the documents have been available to the general public since March.

And while U.S. officials have confirmed that many of the documents are authentic, it’s unclear how accurate the intelligence assessments are. It is clear to Reisner that much of the content of the documents is correct, he explained to the “Krone”. This is “a fatal situation for the US”.

So how big is the problem for the US?
The external impact for the US is embarrassing. The leaks could also have fatal consequences for whistleblowers worldwide. Because the documents also showed that the US had been spying on its closest allies, such as South Korea, Israel, Egypt and Ukraine.

While the leaked documents have a devastating external impact on the United States, they will hardly do lasting damage to the United States. “The damage to the United States is limited, even if that sounds paradoxical,” political scientist Thomas Jäger told editorial network Germany. “The US intelligence community is so powerful that no country in the world can afford to stop working with them.”

What could be decisive for the war in other countries will probably go down in history as an embarrassment to the US. But nothing more.

Source: Krone

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