The White House has called on journalists to avoid reporting on leaked Pentagon classified documents that have recently surfaced online, stating that the information is not intended for public consumption and their validity has not been confirmed. The Pentagon has responded to the leak by confirming that it is investigating the matter and assessing the documents’ national security impact.
White House Urges Journalists to Withhold Reporting on Leaked Classified Documents
The White House has urged journalists to refrain from reporting on leaked Pentagon classified documents that have been circulating online. John Kirby, the coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, spoke at a White House press briefing on Monday, stating that the documents have no place in the public domain, and their validity has not been confirmed. Kirby added that such information is not intended for public consumption and should not be on the front pages of newspapers or on television, saying:
“Without confirming the validity of the documents, this is information that has no business in the public domain. It has no business — if you don’t mind me saying — on the front pages of newspapers or on television. It is not intended for public consumption and it should not be out there.”
John Kirby warns journalists not to report on leaked Pentagon documents.
"This is information that has no business in the public domain…It has no business…on the front pages of newspapers or on television." pic.twitter.com/625CxNIarI
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) April 10, 2023
Pentagon Responds to Leak of Classified Secrets
Following the emergence of classified documents on social media, the Pentagon released a statement confirming that it is working to assess their validity and national security impact. The documents appear to contain secret details about China, Russia’s war in Ukraine, surveillance efforts, and more. The Pentagon has engaged with allies, partners, and Congress about the disclosure, and the Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the matter following a referral from the Department of Defense.
Uncertainty Surrounds the Source of the Leak
The source of the apparent leak remains unclear, but a U.S. defense official told 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. Kirby confirmed that there is suspicion that at least some of the images of documents may have been doctored. President Joe Biden is being briefed on the situation, and Kirby stated that it is unclear whether the suspected leak is contained, or whether there is an ongoing threat.
Q: "Do you believe the leak is contained? Are there more documents out there that have not been released publicly? Is this an ongoing threat?"
NSC Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby: "We don't know. We truly don't know." pic.twitter.com/QpPYXZyexS
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 10, 2023
Israel Denies Allegations of Intelligence Involvement
Israel has pushed back on allegations made by The Washington Post that its Mossad intelligence agency encouraged protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial judicial reforms plan. The Prime Minister’s office called the report “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever” in a Twitter post claiming to be on Mossad’s behalf.
“The report that was published overnight in the American press is mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.”
The Prime Minister's Office, on behalf of the Mossad:
The report that was published overnight in the American press is mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 9, 2023
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, is being briefed on certain documents and the White House has requested that journalists avoid reporting on them. It is unclear who leaked the documents, and some believe that portions of them may have been altered.
The Israeli government has denied any involvement in protests concerning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms, which would transfer more control over the judiciary to the Knesset, sparking outrage among many Israelis. The proposed changes would be the most significant since the country’s founding in 1948 and would include giving the government a majority of the seats on the committee responsible for selecting judges, a clause that allows parliament to pass laws previously invalidated by the court, and a bill making it more difficult for a sitting Prime Minister to be declared unfit for office.
The proposed reforms have led to widespread protests, drawing hundreds of thousands of individuals from various backgrounds, including businesspeople, academics, and military personnel. There are concerns that these reforms are intended to protect the current Prime Minister, who faces allegations of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust, from being declared unfit for office, and that they will result in judges being appointed to favor the Prime Minister’s interests.