Tag Archives: Department of Defense

Discord Cooperates In Probe Of Classified Material Breach

Instant messaging platform Discord said on Wednesday that it was cooperating with U.S. law enforcement’s investigation into a leak of secret U.S. documents that has grabbed attention around the world, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, the statement comes as questions continue to swirl over who leaked the documents, whether they are genuine and whether the intelligence assessments are reliable. The documents, which carry markings suggesting that they are highly classified, have led to a string of stories about the war in Ukraine, protests in Israel, and how the U.S. surveils friend and foe alike.

The source of the documents is not publicly known, but reporting by the open-source investigative site Bellingcat has traced their earliest appearance to Discord, a communications platform popular with gamers.

Discord’s statement suggested it was already in touch with investigators:

“In regard to the apparent breach of classified material, we are cooperating with law enforcement,” the statement said. “As this remains an active investigation, we cannot provide further comment at this time.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government is treating the apparent disclosure of classified material surrounding the war in Ukraine as an insider’s leak, people familiar with the matter say, and is working to identify and apprehend a key suspect in a massive intelligence breach that exposed the challenges of safeguarding sensitive U.S. information and tested ties with some of America’s closest allies.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the bulk of the more than 60 documents, if genuine, appear to originate from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Operations Center and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such documents are typically briefed to senior-level decision makers at the Pentagon in an environment protected from electronic surveillance and secured against leaks.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is using clues in the images that have circulated online in recent weeks to aid its criminal investigation, law-enforcement officials said. The Defense Department has extensive procedures around the handling of classified documents in both digital form and on paper, according to interviews with former intelligence community and Pentagon officials.

The leaked documents appear to have been printed and folded twice. In some images, there are items clearly visible in the background, including a hunting magazine, a knife, and a tube of Gorilla-brand glue. All could be clues as to how and by whom the documents came to be initially posted with a small group of individuals on Discord, a social-media outlet popularized by videogame enthusiasts where users chat about games, investing, and other topics in the mostly private, invitation-only, groups called servers.

In my opinion, it appears that someone copied classified documents. The clues mentioned by The Wall Street Journal could potentially lead to the person who not only took the classified documents, but also printed them out and published them online.

Pentagon Canceled JEDI Project with Microsoft

The U.S. Pentagon has canceled the JEDI cloud contract that it awarded to Microsoft in 2019, CNBC reported. JEDI stands for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The Pentagon stated in a press release that “due to evolving requirements, increased cloud conversancy and industry advances, the JEDI Cloud contract no longer meets its needs.”

As you may recall, Microsoft and Amazon were both seeking to obtain the $10 billion JEDI project. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense selected Microsoft and Amazon got really annoyed about that, going so far as to declare that it would continue protesting this decision.

In a press release the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) stated: “… The Department continues to have unmet cloud capability gaps for enterprise-wide, commercial cloud services at all three classification levels that work at the tactical edge, at scale — these needs have only advanced in recent years with efforts such as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Acceleration (ADA) initiative.”

Microsoft posted the following on its blog: “…The 20 months since DoD selected Microsoft as its JEDI partner highlights issues that warrant the attention of policymakers: when one company can delay, for years, critical technology upgrades for those who defend our nation, the protest process needs reform. Amazon filed its protest in November of 2019 and its case was expected to take at least another year to litigate and yield a decision, with potential appeals afterward.”

In its press release, the DoD announced a new contract for its cloud efforts. The Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC) will be a multi-cloud/multi-vendor Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. DoD will seek proposals from a limited number of sources, including Microsoft Corporation and Amazon Web Services.

Based on past events, I think that if Microsoft wins the contract, Amazon will continue complain and litigate about it.

Pentagon Watchdog Says White House Didn’t Influence Decision on JEDI

The Defense Department’s inspector general found that the White House “doesn’t appear to have influenced” the decision on which company to award the JEDI contract to, CNBC
reported. According to CNBC, the inspector general noted in the report that it had limited cooperation from White House officials throughout its review, and could not complete its assessment of allegations of ethical misconduct.

Bloomberg reported that the 317-page report issued by the DoD’s inspector general’s office found that giving the JEDI contract to a single company – Microsoft – rather than dividing it among competitors was “consistent with applicable acquisition standards.”

Bloomberg also said that the report stated that the White House had limited cooperation with the inquiry. According to Bloomberg, the inspector general said the assertion of a “presidential communications privilege” resulted in the Defense Department general counsel instructing officials “not to answer questions about potential communication between White House and DoD officials about JEDI.”

Here’s some background for those who haven’t been following along:

Microsoft was selected over Amazon for the JEDI contract in October of 2019. JEDI stands for “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure”. The contract, from the Department of Defense, could be worth over $10 billion over a decade.

In November of 2019, Amazon filed a notice that it will formally protest the decision on JEDI.

In February of 2020, a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told CNBC (to paraphrase) that Amazon felt the President should not be allowed to use the budget of the DoD “to pursue his own personal and political ends”. A few days later, a federal judge put a temporary block on the JEDI cloud contract.

In March of 2020, Amazon asked a federal court to require the Pentagon to broaden its scope of a reevaluation of its decision to award Microsoft the JEDI contract.

Overall, I don’t see how Amazon can come out ahead on this situation at this point. I’m also confused about why a company with so much money is concerned about a contract that could be worth over $10 billion dollars over a decade.