About that leaker

The Washington Post purports to have identified the leaker of the sensitive Pentagon documents that were rolled out on social media earlier this year and reported by the New York Times in this April 8 story (and several follow-ups since then including this one today). Now the Washington Post claims to have identified the leaker in “Leaker of U.S. secret documents worked on military base, friend says,” by Shane Harris and Samuel Oakford. The Post story is behind a paywall, but it is summarized elsewhere in accessible form such as this New York Post story by Victor Nava.

The Washington Post story is based largely on an interview with the teenage friend of the alleged leaker — the alleged leaker being “OG.” OG is described as “a young, charismatic gun enthusiast who shared highly classified documents with a group of far-flung acquaintances searching for companionship amid the isolation of the pandemic” and the online group is described as follows:

United by their mutual love of guns, military gear and God, the group of roughly two dozen — mostly men and boys — formed an invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord, an online platform popular with gamers. But they paid little attention last year when the man some call “OG” posted a message laden with strange acronyms and jargon…. There were top-secret reports about the whereabouts and movements of high-ranking political leaders and tactical updates on military forces, the member said. Geopolitical analysis. Insights into foreign governments’ efforts to interfere with elections. ‘If you could think it, it was in those documents.’”

About the Post’s source for the identification of OG:

This account of how detailed intelligence documents intended for an exclusive circle of military leaders and government decision-makers found their way into and then out of OG’s closed community is based in part on several lengthy interviews with the Discord group member, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. He is under 18 and was a young teenager when he met OG. The Post obtained consent from the member’s mother to speak to him and to record his remarks on video. He asked that his voice not be obscured.

The Post has corroborated the source’s story with a second member of the group:

His account was corroborated by a second member who read many of the same classified documents shared by OG, and who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. Both members said they know OG’s real name as well as the state where he lives and works but declined to share that information while the FBI is hunting for the source of the leaks. The investigation is in its early stages, and the Pentagon has set up its own internal review led by a senior official.

I take it that the Post has precisely those two sources for the story along with material provided by the young source. Unlike the Post’s promotion of the Russia hoax, the sources for the current story do not appear to be deep state functionaries. It’s a long story and I may have missed something, yet I find no hint in the the Post story how the reporters tumbled to OG’s friend or the second source.

Neither the FBI nor the Pentagon has yet identified the leaker. One infers from the story that the Post has beat them to it. The FBI is busy worrying about the Catholic Church and the Pentagon about spreading the woke doctrine. This is the concluding paragraph of the story:

To date, no federal law enforcement officials have contacted the young group member. Asked why he was prepared to help OG even at the risk of his own freedom, the young man replied without hesitation: “He was my best friend.”

This does not exactly compute:

In his final message to his companions, OG admonished them to “keep low and delete any information that could possibly relate to him,” the member said. That included any copies of the classified documents OG had shared.

When it dawned on them that OG was in grave peril and intended to disappear, the members of Thug Shaker Central “full-on sobbed and cried,” the young member said. “It is like losing a family member.”

In hours of interviews, he continued to express admiration and loyalty to a man who may have endangered his young followers by allowing them to see and possess classified information, exposing them to potential federal crimes.

“I figured he would not be putting us in any sort of harm’s way,” the member said.

The story describes OG in unsavory terms. Unlike the great (in the eyes of the Post) Edward Snowden, OG is not a “whistleblower.” That is the heading of a long subsection of the story: “Not a whistleblower.” Yet elsewhere in the story OG is said to have “ranted about ‘government overreach.'”

Stephen Sondheim wrote the words and music for the show Anyone Can Whistle. I take it that anyone can be a whistleblower. It’s easy. Just say you are.

The Post has more in its possession deriving from the leak: “The Post also reviewed approximately 300 photos of classified documents, most of which have not been made public; some of the text documents OG is said to have written out; an audio recording of a man the two group members identified as OG speaking to his companions; and chat records and photographs that show OG communicating with them on the Discord server.”

The Post story includes two videos of interview excerpts with its principal source (below).

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