Massive Leak of Classified US Documents May Have Been Caused by Military Base Employee – The WP

Thursday, 13 April 2023

The Washington Post has learned that an employee at a US military base may be behind a large-scale leak of classified US intelligence documents, who allegedly leaked them online without any particular purpose and without fully realising the consequences.

The Washington Post published a large article about this after talking to people who claim to be acquaintances of this employee.

According to his friends, he is a "young charismatic enthusiast" interested in firearms, and he began sharing documents from his work with friends on a gaming platform a long time ago because he was bored during the pandemic.

A group of a few dozen people who shared an interest in "firearms, military equipment, and God" formed a closed club on the Discord gaming platform in 2020, which could only be accessed by invitation.

Last year, a user with the nickname "OG" first posted a document with little-known abbreviations, and hundreds more followed.

"OG" allegedly told his friends that he knew "secrets that the government hides from ordinary people." He claimed to have brought the posted documents from his work at a "military base," but did not disclose which one he was referring to.

"OG" also said that he allegedly spent part of his time in classified areas, where mobile phones and other personal devices that could potentially be used to copy something and take it out are prohibited. He allegedly spent hours transcribing classified documents to share with friends on a server that was a particularly important communication point for the group at the time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other things, "OG" told his friends about "world affairs" and "covert operations by the authorities", allegedly with the motivation that his friends should be aware of the real state of affairs and thus be more protected.

"He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind," one of the group said.

After a while, OG began posting not even copied but photographed documents with a stamp, and there were "hundreds of photos."

The copies of the documents, which in reality are only available to government officials after thorough checks, dealt with a wide range of issues, including the movements of top politicians, the location of troops, analysis of the geopolitical situation, and attempts by other countries to interfere in elections.

The source who told WP these details is a member of this closed club on Discord, who agreed to speak anonymously. The boy is under 18, so the publication even obtained his mother's consent to record his testimony and capture it on video.  

His words were confirmed on the condition of anonymity by another person from the group, who also read many of the documents published by "OG".

Members said they know OG’s real name as well as the state where he lives and works but declined to share that information.

The Washington Post also reviewed approximately 300 photos of classified documents, most of which have not been made public. Some of these documents are what OG is said to have transcribed. The journalists also obtained an audio recording of a man the two group members identified as OG speaking to his companions, along with archived chats and photographs that show OG communicating with them on the Discord server.

One of the members says he was impressed by OG’s seemingly "prophetic ability" to forecast major events. He describes him thus: "He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s armed. He’s trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie." 

In a video seen by The Post, the man who the member said is OG is standing at a shooting range, wearing safety glasses and ear defenders and holding a large rifle. He yells a series of racial and antisemitic slurs into the camera, then fires several rounds at a target.

One of the group members told reporters that he met the person who hides behind the nickname OG about four years ago, on a different server for fans of Oxide, a popular YouTuber who streams videos about guns. It was there that a group was formed that wanted a more cosy atmosphere for communication and eventually found it on Discord. The server was named "Thug Shaker Central", whose membership OG effectively controlled as the administrator.

Members describe him as an "undisputed leader", they say that he very much expected the group to carefully read the documents, and when he noticed that interest was not particularly significant, he got angry.

Among the photographed documents that were posted relatively recently are materials about the situation on the front in Ukraine  and highly classified satellite images of the aftermath of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities, the potential trajectory of North Korean ballistic nuclear missiles that could reach the United States, and photos of a Chinese spy balloon that flew to the United States and was eventually shot down.

OG has shared several documents a week, beginning late 2022. 

In some places, the photos allegedly contain details of a room that could potentially lead investigators to its location.

One of the members said OG was not hostile to the US government, and he insisted that he was not working on behalf of any country’s interests and he was not on anyone's side on the issue of Russia's war against Ukraine. The folder on the server where he posted the documents was called "bear-vs-pig". At the same time, the member said OG spoke of the United States, and particularly its law enforcement and the intelligence community, as "a sinister force that sought to suppress its citizens and keep them in the dark", about the "excessive control" of the US government, that the government "hides the horrible truth from the public".

According to one of the sources, their group included people from Russia and Ukraine, as well as some other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. Allegedly 25 active members of the group had access to the channel where the documents about the war were posted, and those who were "from the Eastern bloc and post-Soviet countries" showed the greatest interest in them.

On 28 February, another teenage user from the Thug Shaker Central server began posting several dozen photographs showing classified documents on another Discord server affiliated with the YouTuber "wow_mao" and so began a larger leak of documents.

The Discord platform said it is cooperating with US authorities as part of an investigation into the leak and declined to comment further.

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