Pentagon “Leaks”: 5 ways to tell REAL from FAKE, by Kit Knightly

Sometimes the leaks aren’t leaks at all, just disguised press releases. From Kit Knightly at

We promised a longer take on the Pentagon “leaks”, and here it goes. Regular readers will probably be familiar with my view on leaked documents in general, but if you’re not allow me to quote my own 2019 article on the (absurd) “Afghanistan papers”:

An awful lot of modern “leaks” are no such thing. They are Orwellian exercises in controlling the conversation […] carefully making sure the “establishment” and the “alternative” are joined in the middle, controlled from the same source.

That’s not to say ALL “leaks” are automatically and ubiquitously narrative control exercises, clearly some are real…but it’s usually pretty easy to tell them apart. In fact here’s a little checklist.

1. If your “leak” tells you stuff you already know, it’s probably a fake leak.

“Leaking” widely known, publicly available information is a very common tactic. In the Pentagon “leaks”, for example, it was “revealed” that the US has been spying on South Korea, Israel and Ukraine. But the US spies on everyone – allies included – and we have all known that for literal decades.

Further, everyone spies on everyone, it’s just the way the game is played. Acting like it’s a big reveal, and the performative outrage of the South Korean government, is a hallmark of a fake leak.

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