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Tipsheet

Did Reuters Try to Stir Up Another Russia Hoax?

As the Biden administration deals with the blowback and embarrassment related to a significant leak of classified material — allegedly carried out by a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman in Massachusetts, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland — there are now more questions about how the United States government was caught so "off guard" by the leak.

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As Townhall previously noted, the classified material was posted online for weeks before anyone even noticed, and then it was the news media that caught wind of the leak and began hunting for clues. In the immediate aftermath of revelations that classified intelligence had been leaked, the Biden administration scrambled to show action. It promised a DOJ investigation, said it was considering potential leaker or hacker profiles, and then dispatched its notorious anonymous officials to talk to reporters. 

Now, one report based on such anonymous sources is raising eyebrows. One week ago, on April 7, Reuters ran a piece headlined "Russia likely behind U.S. military document leak, U.S. officials say."

The story's lede explained that "Russia or pro-Russian elements are likely behind the leak of several classified U.S. military documents posted on social media that offer a partial, month-old snapshot of the war in Ukraine, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday, while the Justice Department said separately it was probing the leak."

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Well, on April 13, the FBI arrested a young American in Massachusetts who AG Garland said was taken into custody for his "alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information."

To say that Reuters' report — and its sources' intel — did not age well would be an understatement. Was this another attempt at a "Russia hoax," or just bad news gathering? It's not that Russia deserves defense, it's that Russia has done enough bad things that making up claims about what they're doing only gives the Kremlin's propaganda machinery more ammunition to attack the West and the free press. 

Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell asked the obvious questions:

Within a week, the narrative being pushed by "U.S. officials" and those in the media willing to quote anonymous sources sure seem to have egg all over their face. So why do outlets such as Reuters continue to rely on anonymous sources to write stories on topics of such importance? 

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Sure, there are a few, limited situations in which protecting a source's identity is necessary and worthwhile. But those working for the U.S. government who are running their mouths and seemingly trying to push a narrative should be transparent with their identities so that, when they get things so very wrong, there can be some form of accountability.


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