New clues shed light on the identity of the person responsible for the leak of 100 U.S. intelligence documents relating to the Russia-Ukraine war, the Middle East, China, and more. The leaker is a military man in his mid-20s whose primary motivation for sharing the documents was to impress an online group of young men who share his interest in guns, military gear, and video games, according to The Washington Post.
The Post interviewed a fellow participant—a teenage boy—in the Discord server where the documents first appeared. The teenage boy said the leaker goes by the name OG, which is internet slang for “original gangster.” OG was revered as a hero by this online community; he would often share transcripts of confusing and jargon-heavy intelligent reports, annotating them with his own comments, which skewed toward a radical anti-government perspective. The Post reported:
OG told the group he toiled for hours writing up the classified documents to share with his companions in the Discord server he controlled. The gathering spot had been a pandemic refuge, particularly for teen gamers locked in their houses and cut off from their real-world friends. The members swapped memes, offensive jokes and idle chitchat. They watchedmovies together, joked around and prayed.But OG also lectured them about world affairs and secretive government operations. He wanted to “keep us in the loop,” the member said, and seemed to think that his insider knowledge would offer the others protection from the troubled world around them.
“He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind,” the member said.
When interest in the transcripts began to wane, OG decided to publish images of the actual documents.
Late last year, a peeved OG fired off a message to all the members of the server. He had spent nearly an hour every day writing up “these long and drawn-out posts in which he’d often add annotations and explanations for stuff that we normal citizens would not understand,” the member said. His would-be pupils were more interested in YouTube videos about battle gear.
“He got upset, and he said on multiple occasions, if you guys aren’t going to interact with them, I’m going to stop sending them.”
The teenager interviewed by the Post says he knows OG’s real identity, and the paper was able to review a video of OG at a shooting range. The teenager expects he will be contacted by law enforcement but vows not to give up OG because “he was my best friend.”
Assuming that these details are accurate, they present a nonpolitical rationale for the leak. Some have suspected that the ideology of the leaker may have been either pro-Russian or pro-Ukraine; the intelligence lays bare the weakness of the Ukrainian military position, and its publication may have been intended either to provoke more sympathy for Ukraine or to bolster a realist view of Russia’s likely eventual victory. But if the Post report is accurate, then it seems that the leaker’s motivations were much more personal: He wanted to impress his internet buddies.