Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsmen, was arrested this week for allegedly leaking classified documents containing national defense information described by the Department of Defense as being “highly sensitive.” Teixeira was brought into a Boston federal court, where he did not enter a plea. A federal judge ordered that he be detained until his arraignment, which will be on Wednesday, April 26.
Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement on Friday following the arrest of Teixeira, stating that this case is about “both the unlawful retention and the transmission of the documents.” Garland further stated that the transmission of classified documents is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793, and 18 U.S.C. § 1924. “There’s very serious penalties associated with that,” he continued. 18 U.S.C. § 793 pertains to the “gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information,” while 18 U.S.C. § 1924 pertains to the “unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.”
According to a criminal complaint obtained by Fox News, an individual working under a pseudonym, who was later identified as Teixeira, started posting content that appeared to contain highly sensitive and classified information on Discord, an instant messaging social media platform that is popular primarily among people who play video games. The complaint further describes Teixeira as the leader of a Discord group called “Thug Shaker Central,” a group of gamers that initially formed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sophomore computer science major said “it is not a surprise these files ended up online. There is a lot of tech people in the military, and some of them don’t have the best intentions, like Teixeira.”
The classified documents that Teixeira allegedly leaked were primarily comprised of sensitive military information. More specifically, they discuss the status of the Russo-Ukrainian War, describing how the United States and its allies are concerned about certain aspects of the Ukrainian military, including their lack of air defense systems. The documents also discuss potential Ukrainian offenses against the Russians and reveal that there are American troops on the ground stationed at a nearby embassy.
On Friday, President Joe Biden released a statement that he commends the “rapid action taken by law enforcement” to arrest Teixeira. Biden further stated that government officials are still “determining the validity of those documents,” and that he has directed the military and intelligence community to “take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information.”
A senior political science student said on the matter, “With the amount of issues pertaining to classified documents being leaked this year, it is clear that we need to reform the system by which they’re saved because it is not working. National secrets should absolutely not end up in a Discord, and especially not on Twitter.”
According to Politico, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby made similar statements regarding the status of the current situation, saying that “we don’t know, we truly don’t know” when asked whether there was an ongoing threat. Both Russian and Ukrainian officials have indicated that they are skeptical of whether or not the leaked documents are genuine.
According to Fox News, Teixeira joined the Massachusetts Air National Guardsmen in September of 2019, where he worked as a cybersecurity systems journeyman. This position granted him the highest level of security clearance given by the federal government, and thus gave him access to the documents that he allegedly leaked. Teixeira was most recently stationed at Otis National Guard Base in Cape Cod, where he was a member of the 102nd Intelligence Wing. He was promoted to airman first class in July.
Over the past year, a trove of issues has become apparent with the way classified documents are handled. Former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and sitting President Biden all had the FBI search their residences over the past year in a search for uncontained classified documents. With this latest release of classified documents online, there has been a renewed call to review the manner in which these documents are handled, who can access them, and how they’re stored and accessed.