Sloppy Management Sends Shock Waves around Globe

It is no exaggeration to say that the United States has sweeping information-gathering capabilities that could affect world affairs. The U.S. government should seriously reflect on the terrible situation resulting from its inadequate management of classified information and take remedial measures quickly.

Classified documents belonging to the U.S. government were leaked online. The documents describe the situation of the Ukrainian military fighting Russian aggression and other sensitive matters. They even include information that points to Ukraine’s looming risk of running out of S-300 surface-to-air missiles, which play a key role in air defense.

If information that could expose Ukraine’s weak points is leaked while the country is preparing for a large-scale counteroffensive, that could have a negative impact on future military operations. This is an extremely alarming situation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a 21-year-old Air National Guard member from Massachusetts over his alleged involvement in the leaks. He is a support technician for the U.S. military’s communications networks and is believed to have had access to classified information.

According to U.S. media reports, the National Guard member photographed classified documents and shared them with a group of gaming enthusiasts and others on an online platform. He reportedly expressed his eagerness to tell the “truth” to fellow members online.

How was it possible for such a young National Guard member to obtain confidential information that could shake the world, and take that information out? Were there any deficiencies in the procedures for evaluating his suitability or the pledge of confidentiality?

To prevent a recurrence, it will likely be essential to limit the scope of employees who have access to confidential information, and to strengthen the management system, including background checks on the people handling such information.

In this case, confidential documents spread over a period of several months through various social media platforms. The online surveillance system must be strengthened so that leaks are quickly detected.

The leaked documents included internal information from the Russian military. Through the leaks, Moscow might be able to identify U.S. intelligence sources hiding within its government, or become aware of intrusions into its communications networks, prompting it to take countermeasures. This incident will inevitably impact the U.S.-Russian information war.

The leak of documents that disclose U.S. intelligence-gathering activities in allied countries is also likely to deal a blow to Washington. The documents specify discussions within the South Korean government over the provision of ammunition to Ukraine, and the possibility that the Israeli intelligence agency encouraged people to join protests against the Israeli government.

Both the South Korean and Israeli governments were negative regarding the authenticity of these documents, but they may be harboring doubts about U.S. abilities. Washington must make efforts to dispel distrust by explaining the leaks to the relevant countries.

If such leaks of confidential information undermine ties between the United States and its allies, as well as support for Ukraine, that will only benefit Russia. It is hoped that the countries concerned will deal with the matter calmly.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 15, 2023)