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Top One Magazine

Why the U.S. didn’t notice leaked documents circulating on social media

“My district is where the raids happened for the plot to kidnap and kill my governor. But the government agencies — I understand it is a sensitive issue — but I couldn’t feel more strongly about the importance of you all getting left and right limits, getting really clear about it and then coming up to proactively talk to us about this issue,” Slotkin said. “No one wants to go after someone for free speech, but when you have double the incidents of antisemitism in my state, the question remains what is my government doing to help?”

Cohen argued that the government needs to find a way to more closely monitor activity online that does not threaten acts of violence or relate to terrorism but may still be illegal, such as the leaking of classified information. But he said that leaning on research or academic institutions that track illicit activity on the internet may be an easier path than asking law enforcement or intelligence agencies to do the monitoring.

In recent days, officials inside the Biden administration have also faced tough questions from allies about how the leak occurred and why the U.S. is just now racing to investigate. U.S. officials have also discussed with allies in Europe and Kyiv whether it plans to restrict the dissemination of classified intelligence about the war in Ukraine.

Top officials at the Pentagon and National Security Council have not answered detailed questions from the podium since the leaked documents appeared, but have said they take the leak seriously and are still investigating. NBC News reported Wednesday the administration is considering changing the way it tracks social media content.

It’s unclear exactly how many documents have circulated online since the original posting on Discord. Many of the users and servers where they first appeared have since vanished. But one person who viewed the documents on the original Discord server said they believe there are perhaps dozens of additional classified documents that have not been made public.

The winding trajectory of how the classified documents spread through social media is likely muddying the investigation into the leak.

“This is not your typical leak where it goes to the media or to a foreign power,” the former U.S. intelligence official said. “It’s going to make it a bit of a challenge for the FBI to try to figure out what’s going on here.”

Alexander Ward and Mohar Chatterjee contributed to this report.

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