President Joe Biden’s White House told journalists not to report on what appear to be leaked secret military documents from the Pentagon because the information therein “has no business in the public domain.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby urged reporters not to cover the documents during a White House press briefing on Monday.
“Without confirming the validity of the documents, this is information that has no business in the public domain,” Kirby said after receiving questions about the documents.
“It has no business — if you don’t mind me saying — on the front pages of newspapers or on television,” he continued. “It is not intended for public consumption and it should not be out there.”
On Sunday, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said the Defense Department “continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material.”
“An interagency effort has been stood up, focused on assessing the impact these photographed documents could have on U.S. national security and on our Allies and partners,” Singh continued. “Over the weekend, U.S. officials have engaged with Allies and partners and have informed relevant congressional committees of jurisdiction about the disclosure. The Department of Defense’s highest priority is the defense of our nation and our national security.”
Singh said the department has referred the leak to the Department of Justice, which opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
Images of the leaked documents started appearing online in recent weeks, apparently revealing secret details relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, worldwide intelligence briefings, and more, according to The Washington Post.
This isn’t the first time the Pentagon has scrambled to contain leaked information. In December, a Defense Department public affairs guidance document revealed that while the military Covid-19 vaccine mandate had ended, the Pentagon had no plans to reinstate thousands of service members who were discharged for refusing to take the vaccine.