The World Today for May 04, 2023


Loose Lips


Massachusetts Air National Guard Airman First Class Jack Teixeira was a Cyber Transport Systems journeyman, or an IT specialist. The 21-year-old now stands accused of making classified documents public since at least late February, potentially jeopardizing US national security, Reuters explained. He posted the secret info, incidentally, on a social media platform where video gamers and other virtual communities hang out.

The leaks were embarrassing to say the least. They detail, for example, how the Pentagon has concluded that Taiwan could not withstand a Chinese missile attack, reported NBC News. The disclosures also suggest that the US has been spying on Israel, Ukraine, and South Korea – all hotspots, obviously, where the US might unsurprisingly want high-quality intelligence.

Leaders in those countries were not amused. South Korean legislators called the revelations proof of a violation of their national sovereignty, Vice News wrote. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he would request “appropriate measures” in light of the developments, added the Korean Herald, an English-language newspaper based in Seoul. The leak, incidentally, came just before President Joe Biden and the first lady were to host the South Korean president and his wife for a state visit. Needless to say, it was awkward.

Meanwhile, American officials have sought to calm their allies. Speaking at Ramstein Air Base in Germany recently, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin depicted the leaks as an attempt to divide the Western coalition backing Ukraine, reported the Associated Press. Many of the secret documents contained info on the war in Ukraine and deliveries of Western weapons to the Ukrainians.

The leaked documents describe how Ukraine’s air defenses are on the brink of collapse, for example, information that could undermine the resolve of its partners. At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was not pleased. “It’s definitely a bad story,” he said. “It’s not profitable for us … It is not beneficial to the reputation of the White House, and I believe it is not beneficial to the reputation of the United States.”

Meanwhile, the secret files also paint a bleak picture of Russia’s situation, according to the New York Times. Russian officials are, for example, fighting each other over casualty numbers, even as more wounded soldiers come back from the front.

The leaks also shone a light on other Russian hijinks around the globe. They suggest that Egypt, a nominal ally of the US, had been on the brink of selling weapons to Russia, as leaders in Moscow are shopping around the world for more munitions as the war drags on, the Washington Post noted. Egypt is a major recipient of American economic and military aid.

The Guardian compared Teixeira to the many famous leakers who have become hero whistleblowers or destructive traitors, depending on one’s point of view – ranging from Daniel Ellsberg uncovering dubious US policy in the Vietnam War to Edward Snowden exposing the US government’s extensive surveillance of telecommunications inside the US, and abroad.

Teixeira certainly won’t be the last of his kind.

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