The reported decision comes amid a large-scale intra-departmental investigation into the recent Ukraine-related leak.
The Pentagon has dramatically reduced the number of people on government-wide mailing lists to receive classified information, CBS News reported Wednesday, citing unnamed US officials.
Before the recent leak of classified documents, some 1,000 people usually had access to these documents, the broadcaster noted. The fact that the leaked documents were printed, photographed and only then uploaded online suggests the culprit of the leak will soon be identified, former officials familiar with leak investigations told CBS, adding that “The universe of possibilities is relatively small.”
There are a limited number of printers authorized to print such classified documents, another US official told the broadcaster. All devices authorized for the task require a unique identifier when printing, which further reduces the number of potential suspects, he added.
The treasure trove of dozens of documents had been floating around online for weeks, if not months, but only came under media and government scrutiny last week. The leak has been described as the biggest casualty by the US government since WikiLeaks released thousands of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The US government has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the documents, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying the Pentagon is taking the situation “very seriously” and committed to “Flip Every Rock” to establish exactly what happened. The Pentagon’s efforts are part of a larger intra-departmental investigation into the apparent breach.
Among other things, the leaked documents suggest that the United States regularly spy on some of its closest allies. An important part of the documents contained information on the war planning effort of the United States and NATO in Ukraine, data on expenditure on ammunition, training and delivery times for weapons, as well as the structure of Ukrainian combat units and the estimated losses on the Ukrainian and Russian battlefield. The documents also suggested that Washington publicly showed far more confidence in kyiv’s military capabilities than it actually did.
Moscow has questioned the authenticity of the documents, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov suggesting the leak could have been orchestrated by Washington itself as part of its hybrid warfare effort against Russia.
“Because the United States is a party to the conflict [in Ukraine] and basically waging a hybrid war against us, such tricks to deceive the enemy, i.e. Russia, are possible,” Ryabkov said on Wednesday. “I’m not saying anything definitive, but I guess different scenarios are plausible here.”
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