The leaked Pentagon documents will have a compounding effect of distracting officials from other, urgent topics of national security and will weaken allies’ trust in the country’s ability to safeguard intelligence and operatives, experts told Fox News Digital.
“For the diplomats, this is going to take up a lot of oxygen that would otherwise be devoted to high priorities in our bilateral relations with many of the countries that are mentioned in these documents like South Korea, Turkey, Egypt, Israel,” former CIA station chief Dan Hoffman told Fox News Digital. “We’re going to be talking about this stuff.”
FBI agents arrested Massachusetts Air National Guardsmen Jack Douglas Teixeira at a home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, on Thursday in relation to a trove of classified documents that have been leaked online in recent months.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that Teixeira, 21, is being investigated for the “alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
Aerial photo of the arrest of Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira by FBI agents for allegedly leaking classified materials. (Fox News)
James Anderson, former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said that he fully expected “many, many decades in a federal prison” following a conviction, but that in the immediate aftermath, the U.S. needs to ensure that it restores ally confidence.
“It’s important in the aftermath of this that there be a very thorough internal investigation as to what happened, and a congressional inquiry,” Anderson said. “That’s what will be necessary to help convince allies and partners that we’re doing everything in our power to try to prevent similar episodes from recurring in the future.”
“If we fail to convince them of our seriousness on this point, then they will be less likely to want to share sensitive intelligence with the United States government, and that would be most unfortunate,” he added.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks warned Pentagon employees against sharing classified information in a memo Tuesday. (Fox News )
Hoffman highlighted the damage the leaks have caused to the CIA and intelligence assets out in the field, some of whom will have lost confidence in the U.S.’ ability to protect their most sensitive information.
“Our sources, existing ones and those whom we hope to recruit, are going to wonder whether we can protect their information and their identities,” he argued. “Our people out in the field — my former colleagues at the CIA, even — have to reassure existing sources and potential sources that we can do that in spite of these leaks, and that’s a that’s not easy to do.”
“People are going to be taken off-line to deal with this counterintelligence flap, and the opportunity cost of that is they’re not going to do other stuff they’ve got to deal with that is high priority, and that’s not good for our national security, either,” he added.
President Biden made remarks about the document leak investigation during a state visit to Ireland on Thursday. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, claimed that the disclosures could have a “destructive impact” on the country’s ability to collect intelligence.
“It takes years to recruit human sources who are willing to betray their country and steal secrets from his/her country’s government and provide them to the United States,” she explained. “It takes years and billions of dollars to map out access to adversarial (or allied) networks and systems, in order to intervene in their communications,” Koffler said.
“Now, some of these sources and channels will be patched up, closed and unusable by U.S. spy agencies. And massive amounts of taxpayers’ money will be wasted,” she added. “Overall, the impact of this leak is disastrous.”