Pentagon Accidentally Leaked Sensitive Information to Mali for Years
In an alarming display of negligent incompetence, Pentagon has been revealed to accidentally send sensitive military information by email to the West African country of Mali. The number of military documents thus leaked to Mali for years by email is reportedly in millions.
On Monday (July 17), The Financial Times broke the story that was taken up by national and international media, sounding alarm on the repeated negligence of Pentagon in ensuring secure communication. According to the details, the internet company of Dutch citizen Johannes “Joost” Zuurbier, who has been managing the official email domain of Mali – emails ending in .ml – has been receiving Pentagon emails for a decade.
The Pentagon emails reportedly ended up with his company because they had all used the wrong email addresses. Official US military email addresses end in .mil. Thus making an error in a single letter (excluding the i) resulted in the emails misdirected to Mali.
None of the emails sent to Mali over the ten-year period are known to be classified but they contained personal information related to military officers. According to Washington Examiner, one such email contained the details of Gen. James McConville’s trip to Indonesia.
One of the emails sent to the wrong address contained hotel room numbers for the Army chief of staff, Gen. James McConville, and his staff on a trip they took to Indonesia earlier this year.
Media cited Pentagon deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh telling reporters that anyone from Pentagon using their official email wouldn’t be able to send an email out of the system with a .ml outbound address since the system is designed to automatically bounce such emails back.
However, she added, that emails sent from personal accounts would have such an issue despite using personal accounts not being advisable for Pentagon personnel for sending official material.
When a reporter asked National Security Council spokesman John Kirby about the misdirected emails and private military information sent to Mali for a decade, he didn’t call it a serious error or an issue of concern and stated that there wasn’t much the Pentagon could do about it.
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida reacted on Twitter to the news of the Pentagon’s typo-driven leak by questioning the competence of the department.
In November 2022, media reported that the Pentagon failed its fifth audit in a row and was able to account for 3only 9 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft remarked that Pentagon is the only American government agency to have never passed a comprehensive audit.
Republican Congressman from Louisiana Clay Higgins raised this issue during a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing on the DOD’s failed audit on Monday (July 17).