This piece was originally published in Foreign Policy.
The recent leaks of classified U.S. military documents on the Russian-Ukrainian war count among the worst Western intelligence failures in recent history. Veteran intelligence officials, however, are shocked for a different reason: The particular way the top-secret documents spread—and the apparent motivation for the leaker. The information was not disclosed to a foreign intelligence agency or sympathetic media outlet but posted to an online gaming chat server dedicated to memes, video games, and internet camaraderie. The leak had nothing to do with traditional espionage or hacktivism but appears to have been motivated by clout-chasing on an obscure internet forum.