A discussion between Ching Shih and Lark O’Dell regarding the 60 NATO documents allegedly leaked by Pvt. Jack Texeira of the National Guard in March of 2023. Neither of them has seen more than a few photographed pages of the documents circulated in social or news media.
Ching Shih: The thing that I don’t understand is whether any of this is new information. Haven’t the Biden admin and its supporters in the news media and online been saying all of this stuff already?
- China is selling weapons to Russia
- Russia is fully penetrated by spies
- The Russian army and Intel are scattered and disorganized
- There’s NATO specialists on the ground for accountability of weapons
And so on and so on. Even the vehicle counts have already been reported in the media. For example, the 20 Senator vehicles from Canada and the 14 Leopard tanks from Germany.
I haven’t read these documents because I have better things to do. The “revelations” that the media is reporting on just sound like old news to me. I’ve heard it all on Telegram or Xinhua or BBC or Twitter… It’s all there if you’ve been looking for updates from more than American sources.
The UAE has been accused of supporting Russia in the media because of these docs, but that is already an obvious strategic fact. OPEC has been opposed to the Biden admin’s effort to drive down oil prices to hurt the Russian economy. The UAE also facilitated the reopening of Iranian and Saudi relations which is, again, not a surprise. Chinese news has already reported this.
Maybe to the average CNN viewer these are revelations but it is all publicly available information from either US officials or international reporting. As far as I have seen, anyway.
Naturally there are some distrustful people who think that the leaked documents are part of some sort of deception operation. I don’t think it’s much of an op. It’s an internal report which repeats the public political line of the State and Defense Departments.
NATO’s reports have been denied by other nations throughout the war (namely Russia and Belarus).
Under the Cover Story
If it’s an op by Biden then what’s the point? To find an unofficial way to “show their work” that led them to their publicly stated conclusions? Like a school assignment? If anything this makes the NATO efforts look really bad. Ukraine is still losing ground despite the KIA numbers they cite, and the weapons that were promised are not being delivered (which the media HAS reported on even though they are cheering for the news that, say, two Leopard tanks are being sent by Belgium as if that will turn the tides).
The international support for Russia also makes America look weak, really really weak. Egypt and the UAE arming and aiding Russia? America’s allies in critical regions across the world going behind their backs to help Russia?
These leaks seem to really undermine the idea that Russia is isolated and unpopular, or that America and NATO have broad global support.
Even the news that China is supplying weapons is neither revelatory nor important. Chinese and Russian and Ukrainian sources have all reported that Chinese drones are being purchased by all sides which then strap bombs to them. Drone sales via Alibaba to Russia were briefly suspended when these accusations were current.
It just seems to me, from what I’ve gathered of secondary reports, that the leaks show the NATO side is doing poorly despite high Russian casualties.
Imo this leak is probably a genuine failure of opsec or else the work of a right wing clique that left docs in the open for some dumbass grunt to post, knowing that the war thunder leaks were an easy way to deliver secrets to the public.
It’s either a simple leak by an idiot or disgruntled opponents of Biden war giving sensitive docs to an idiot.
But this is all premised on the idea that the docs contain nothing really secret.
Lark O’Dell: The leaks do seem to repeat Biden admin talking points. No revelation, only showing their sources. I’m also not reading very closely. Regardless of the reason the documents were leaked I do think that the leak was exploited by the government after it was publicly acknowledged.
If these docs were real and the admin wanted them hidden then they would have denied their authenticity. Instead the U.S. government promoted the documents by prosecuting Texeira and telling the media that the leak is real.
The admin has verified them as real which means they aren’t trying to protect critical secrets. Or else they’re unable to deny the documents’ veracity or to protect those secrets. Or the documents are not real and so there is no harm in promoting them as real.
Scenario 1: Tightening security
So as far as I can tell the documents are authentic but the contents are not critical threats to NATO plans, which gives the USG the chance to crack down on leaks.
If the contents of the documents are no longer critical secrets and they also conform to public propaganda then there’s no real loss in acknowledging the leak. However there is value in prosecuting the leaker to the full extent of the law, to make an example of him and to plug holes in operational security (OpSec). It may be true that the leak causes no harm but justifies an increase in surveillance, security, etc.
Maybe they left these docs lying around so some dumbass could take the chance to own his friends online, War Thunder has already done this with actual secrets so it’s a believable route for military secrets to be leaked.
Deliberately leaking it to justify a social media crackdown makes sense but there’s no direct evidence of that being a motivation. It’s only one of many ways people are spinning the leak.
This could be either a deliberate motive for the leak or a post facto benefit of it, there’s no way to tell from the premises laid out so far.
Scenario 2: Falsified Documents
What I’m still wondering about is, what if the docs are faked and the admin is promoting forgeries? What’s the point? The leaked information just seems to show that military intelligence agrees with the Department of State.
This bidetmarxman thread basically says that the leak is an information op and that its objective is to ramp up paranoia to justify more defense spending. Maybe so, but there’s a thousand ways to do that, like freaking out over weather balloons. Why do something that risks the reputation of NATO opsec?
I’ve only read secondary reports on the documents. It all sounds like stuff that either confirms the admin’s propaganda or is a Pentagon opinion on developments in the multipolar world — neither of which is a secret, and all of which has been publicly available. Surprisingly the leaks also confirm Russian Telegram reports, such as reports of UK special operators on the ground in Ukraine. For its part the UK denies these claims even after the leak (which is good opsec on its part).
What really sticks out to me are the KIA numbers. There’s no way those are true with the Bakhmut meat grinder in mind. Even reports and leaks by UAF commanders belie those numbers: whole battalions have been wiped out multiple times over.
It is politically advantageous to underreport allied losses but these are meant to be internal strategic reports for the whole alliance. They need to be accurate or NATO can’t wage the war effectively. The death count is a big red flag.
Something that came to me is that we don’t know who generated these reports under NATO letterhead. Is this the Dept of state imposing its propaganda line on Dept of Defense? If that is the case then is DoD sick of State interference? Is Defense sick of wasting their materiel for a fantasy scenario?
All this speculation will become more clear when Texeira testifies as to his source. Even if he lies it will expose who benefits from the lie.
Scenario 3: Some things are undeniable
The idea that the leak is a way to launder propaganda to the public – “oh it’s legit NATO says so” is asinine. Anyone who would believe these things because it cones from NATO intelligence would have already believed the Department of State when it was publicly saying the same things over the past year.
My initial feeling on this story was that this leak was the work of a clique in DoD who are powerful (cannot be swept under the rug by the White House when the clique seizes on the docs as legitimate) and want to get out of Biden’s war.
Or else it’s the most humiliating example of how porous and shitty and weak, incredibly weak American Intelligence is. Which is worth denying by claiming a massive conspiracy by someone, anyone: please won’t the conspiracy theorists PLEASE cook up a plausible boogeyman so we can blame something other than our own weakness???
Of course, all three of those points can be true at once. It could be the worst example of leaky opsec yet, it could be that the China Lobby is seizing on it to discredit Biden and turn towards Taiwan, and truth could be that the Empire is too decayed to fight either war.
One report that I have read in full is this one from the right-wing UK tabloid, the Daily Mail: “Leaked Pentagon papers that sparked US intelligence crisis first emerged online in meme message group – as 20-year-old host says the US ‘government should fear these losers’“
This article is either badly edited or taking a savage editorial position:
Ukraine has suggested they’re not real, but Pentagon officials are said to be treating them as genuine, exposing another schism between the US and its costly ally.
According to the Mail, Ukraine’s main characteristic as an ally is that it is expensive.
US cash has been credited for helping the country successfully hold-off Russian advances far longer than anyone thought necessary.
LONGER THAN ANYONE THOUGHT NECESSARY
Leaked documents suggest the U.S. knows more about Putin’s war operations than Zelensky’s, which raises questions over the $200 billion in military aid that has been sent to Ukraine
Really? American intelligence knows everything about the Russian side but is in the dark about their own allies?
Ching Shih: This article does say some things that I didn’t know before, namely that the docs show the positions and preparations for Kyiv’s Spring Offensive. So the leak actually does contain military secrets which are still sensitive… or else it’s a decoy meant to trick the Russians.
Except that the article also reports that Ukraine is scrambling to change their offensive plans in response to the leak, implying that the leaks are genuine military secrets. This could be part of a theatrical act to keep Russia confused, but doesn’t Russia have its own intel sources beyond documents leaked on Discord and vague public statements from Kyiv? Presented with the scenario in the documents and Kyiv’s intent to deviate from that plan wouldn’t Russia simply rely on its own intelligence and ignore the leaks?
Intelligence sharing is caring
Something else which the article points to is that the reason America doesn’t have good intel on the Ukrainian side of the war is that Ukraine is not forthcoming in sharing intelligence, so the US has to spy on them to find out more. This is actually consistent with the documented ideology of Ukrainian nationalists, who want Ukraine to be a strong independent state and not a client of Europe or America or Russia. They want to be in charge of their own war and not act as mere proxies of America. However they must resist sharing intel because NATO doesn’t just hand out $200B in weapons without expecting some operational control.
It seems unanimous that without American backing Ukraine would have folded immediately. Now that these leaks are out the right wing media in the west is openly calling the war effort a waste of money. The tide is turning against continued support.
This may explain why NATO stats show deaths out of alignment with EU numbers and aligned with Kyiv: the Ukrainian government simply isn’t sharing its intel. It’s feeding fake numbers to its fake friends to extract more money and weapons than it would ever get if it admitted the truth.
Part of [EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen’s] speech was posted on Twitter on the morning of Nov. 30, in which she stated, in particular, that Ukraine’s losses in the war with Russia amounted to 100,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Nov. 11 stated that Russia’s losses in the war were ten times greater than Ukraine’s.
President Zelenskyy predicts that by the end of the year, the number of Russians killed in Ukraine will reach 100,000.From Yahoo News, 30 November 2022
Of course, many of these numbers are impossible to confirm amid the chaos of war. Evidence collected by outsiders often falls far short of confirming the claims of officials:
By Ukraine’s count, this brings Russia’s total tank losses to 3,532. The Kyiv authorities have repeatedly shared footage on social media of Russian tanks being destroyed.From Newsweek, 19 March 2023
Many estimates vary, but Dutch open-source verification outlet Oryx has placed Russia’s visually confirmed tank losses at 1,847, as of Sunday. The website lists 1,101 as “destroyed” and 550 as “captured” by Ukrainian forces.
Lark O’Dell: If it is true that NATO has been shut out by Ukrainian intelligence, and that NATO has to do their own investigation rather than rely on their ally’s claims, then we are looking at a massive communication failure.
You can have all the turncoats you want in the Kremlin but if your own intel analysis can’t get you real numbers from your “costly” ally then you can’t wage the war that is actually happening on the ground.
You can give them all the hourly warnings of Russian movements in the world but you can’t actually assist the Ukrainian troops that actually still exist in their actual positions.
And you can’t keep it secret that you fucking blew it and have been stuck fact-checking Ukrainian propaganda like any OSINT nerd with a Telegram account.
It still astounds me how much of the stuff in this leak validates Z-War shitposters. Turns out Telegram really is as reliable as the New York Times.
[ Featured image: a photograph of one page of the documents posted by Pvt Jack Texeira to the Thug Shakerz Discord server. From Semafor. ]