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Sowing discord is an age-old concern, written about in scripture, Shakespeare and beyond.

Discord sowing, well, discord, is something new, however.

But that's basically what happened when Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, took to Discord, an online site particularly popular with video gamers, to allegedly leak classified U.S. government documents.

Yet like a lot of online content, it didn't stop there, with the intelligence on adversary and ally alike soon sown on other tech platforms, and then published worldwide.

Now known as the "Discord Leaks" (likely to stick, just as previous breaches are still referred to as the "Pentagon Papers" and "WikiLeaks" cases), they revealed sensitive intelligence on several geopolitical issues, including the war in Ukraine.

Beyond these immediate revelations is a possible compromise of sources and methods, said Alan Rozenshtein, a University of Minnesota associate professor of law who was formerly a Department of Justice official focusing on cybersecurity and foreign intelligence.

"If you're a foreign intelligence agency, you will absolutely try to back out from what is in those documents" about this country's capabilities in intelligence gathering, Rozenshtein said.

The U.S. doesn't "know how big this iceberg is," John O. Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in an interview. "But what we've seen outside of the water so far, it covers such a broad array of issues, of countries, of people, of different types of collection systems and capabilities."

The size of the iceberg of a technologically transformed surveillance environment is already a concern for intelligence professionals. The leak "demonstrates how one individual, because of technology, now has such broad access to such a wide array of things," Brennan said.

Technology, he added, is "a double-edged sword." Citing how U.S. intelligence has "been able to use technology to great advantage" in collecting, controlling and disseminating intelligence, Brennan acknowledged that it's similarly weaponized by America's adversaries.

Of course, tech has already greatly changed the nature of surveillance, said Brennan, who began his CIA career in 1980 (which in tech terms was B.C. — before cellphones).

"If you wanted to get a CIA officer into a denied area you could fabricate a passport, forge the visas, provide disguises, provide them a fistful of $50s and have them be able to then go across borders and operate," Brennan said. "It was still risky and challenging, but you didn't have to worry about that digital environment that monitors almost every move that you make with mobile phones, with the use of credit cards, with closed-circuit televisions, all of that.

"And so what the CIA and others have had to do is find the seams and how to conceal oneself in a very dense digital environment … in a manner that is not going to bring attention to us, either by absence of signals or the signals themselves."

Nowadays, Brennan said that new recruits "already have a digital profile. And then once they joined [the CIA] or any other government agency, how do you ensure that their social media profile as well as their digital profile is consistent with their cover legend?"

Today's cover legend is far from what's between the covers of a John Le Carré novel or between the opening and closing credits of a James Bond movie. Indeed, a modern chronicler of espionage would now need to focus on clicks-and-digits as much as the cloak-and-dagger aspects of surveillance.

Intelligence agencies need to "get savvier about recognizing [tech's] vulnerabilities," said Rozenshtein, who added that they "can't just monitor every Discord channel." What's more important, he added, is "making sure that the internal policies and procedures to keep that information locked down are robust, because once you get that information out, you're in trouble."

Which is where Washington finds itself now, Brennan said.

"There's the issue of dealing with our foreign partners, allies and others. Some will be upset that they maybe didn't have access to certain intelligence that they felt they should have had, some will be upset because of the implication or the inference that there were collection systems directed against them."

Allied intelligence counterparts "wouldn't like the fact that this came out," Brennan said, "but they understand that in the intelligence business, these things happen." But foreign government officials and politicians, he added, "would have their hair on fire about the whole thing because of the political implications of it."

The geopolitical implications of "the digital world [where] most human activity takes place" is a key consideration, too, said Brennan. "We are so dependent on that, the reliability, the integrity, the resilience of it. And we've already seen that there's a lot of malicious actors — not just foreign actors, but domestic actors — that sometimes want to do certain things just to disrupt and to destroy."

While the motivations of the alleged leaker are only coming into focus, the early indication is not that he wanted to disrupt or destroy, but to impress his Discord gaming group.

"I think this for a lot of us is the most head-scratching element of this," said Rozenshtein. "When someone does this for ideological reasons, we can conceive of that. What somebody does for financial reasons, someone is bribed, or paid off, or whatever, we can understand." But the suspect, he said, allegedly did it for "the stupidest reasons imaginable."

If unintelligence is in fact a factor in the Discord leaks, artificial intelligence may be among the next threats to surveillance. "Quantum computing provides a very powerful tool to be able to decrypt encryption systems that we rely on so heavily to protect information," Brennan said.

And ultimately, protecting information helps protect the country, Brennan said.

"The CIA is an imperfect organization; it's made mistakes in the past, I'm sure it's going to make some mistakes in the future," the agency's former director said. "However, at the same time, the world is a challenging place. And the United States has a very important role, I think a unique role," in "trying to advocate for human rights and democratic values and freedoms and liberties."

Intelligence, Brennan said, "is a critically important tool that the United States government has to try to understand the scope, the seriousness, of those threats, those challenges, those risks" from "forces in this world that are designed to prevent [U.S. advocacy] from happening."

In other words, the most dangerous sowers of discord in today's world.