Stupidgate: lessons from the US Discord intelligence leak

Publication: The Looking Glass

This issue examines the fallout from the recent United States (US) intelligence leak (dubbed ‘Stupidgate’) that saw hundreds of classified documents circulating amongst online gaming communities, after they were allegedly posted by Jack Teixeira, a cyber defence systems journeyman enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The revelation that such a swathe of sensitive materials had been sourced and leaked over a period of time has naturally prompted an urgent rethink of security protocols, including over who has access to classified information.

In addition to being damaging in terms of the optics (it is effectively an ‘own goal’ by the US intelligence community, given the apparent absence of covert operations by a hostile foreign power), the leaks raise questions about the tightness of intelligence sharing between allies and the information gathering activities of US intelligence agencies – notably, amongst friends as well as adversaries.

It is likely that initial fears the leaks would have more impact than the infamous Snowden files are ungrounded. However, the ease with which a low level US serviceman was able to access and then release such sensitive data will require a costly and time consuming review of US data management at a time when intelligence resources are critically required to monitor and thwart myriad threats from hostile actors.


Matthew Sussex
Michael Clarke