Austin orders information security review following Discord leak

By Tony Bertuca / April 18, 2023 at 11:34 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a new information security review following the leak of hundreds of classified documents on the Discord online platform and the arrest of an airman charged in connection with the matter, according to a new Pentagon memo.

On April 14, Austin ordered the under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, in coordination with the Pentagon’s chief information officer and the director of administration and management, to lead a comprehensive 45-day review of Defense Department security programs, policies and procedures.

“Leaders must reinforce their expectation that their workforce will immediately report all security incidents to the chain of command and their security manager or the Office of the Inspector General and must ensure individuals in their workforce are empowered to make these reports,” Austin wrote in the memo.

Austin also advises the department to make use of counterintelligence and security teams to provide workforce training.

“This training should address the risks and consequences of unauthorized disclosures, which may include, administrative penalties, such as termination of employment, or criminal prosecution, as appropriate,” Austin wrote. “Adverse security incidents are a stark reminder that adherence to required security procedures underpin all aspects of the Department of Defense (DOD) mission, and we must continually reinforce these requirements to keep pace with evolving threats. It is therefore essential to carefully examine the sufficiency of, and compliance with, all security policies and procedures.”

Last week, 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested and charged with the online leaking of classified documents that included sensitive information on the war in Ukraine and the covert surveillance of U.S. allies.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters yesterday that DOD is reviewing email distribution lists for classified information and has purged a number of unnamed individuals from them.

“We need to make sure that it is on a need-to-know basis,” she said. “A very simple example would be a distribution list that has 10 people on it and one of those people have left the organization but they moved within the department and still have that email. So, it's culling through some of those lists, making sure that people that are sent information actually need to have that information to do their jobs.”