The FBI detained a guy, age 21, on Thursday in connection with a probe into the disclosure of multiple private papers obtained by American intelligence agents. The highly-classified documents, which also included information regarding US espionage against allies and other topics, were discovered floating around on social media platforms like Twitter and Telegram.
According to a brief statement posted on its website, the FBI "today took 21-year-old Jack Douglas Teixeira into custody at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts, without incident for his alleged involvement in leaking classified US government and military documents." "The FBI has aggressively pursued investigative leads since late last week, and today's arrest exemplifies our continued commitment to identifying, pursuing, and holding accountable those who betray our country's trust and threaten our national security," the FBI said in a statement.
Here is what we currently know about the individual who was arrested.
Who is Jack Teixeira, exactly?
According to a story in The Washington Post, Jack Douglas Teixeira has been identified as an airman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard who is stationed at the Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. According to local media, he is a "cyber transport systems specialist." The duties of this position are comparable to those of an IT professional and include upkeep of hubs and cabling for military communications networks. According to a defense official who spoke to the Associated Press, Teixeira would have had a higher level of security clearance than an entry-level worker since he was responsible for securing the networks.
Teixeira hails from a family of former soldiers. His stepfather had retired after 34 years of service at the same military installation where he was working, according to an article in the Cape Cod Times. According to it, his stepbrother is presently employed there as well, according to Teixeira's step-uncle.
According to local media, Teixeira's mother has a flower shop in Dighton and wrote a message on Facebook wishing him well in his upcoming military career. The company's Facebook page shared images of a "Welcome home" balloon tied to a mailbox and said on June 20, 2021, "Jack is on his way home today, tech school complete, ready to start his career in the Air National Guard!"
One of his online pals characterized Teixeira as a knowledgeable, gun-interested, patriotic, and devout Catholic. He is intelligent. Of course, when he shared these materials, he was aware of what he was doing. These leaks were not inadvertent in any way, the buddy told The Washington Post. He's healthy. He is robust. He has a gun. He's trained," the unidentified friend said.
How was the information leaked?
According to local media sources, Teixeira was a frequent user of the Thug Shaker Central secret Discord server, which is a famous gaming website. Teixeira used the screen name OG. The 24 or so members of the invitation-only organization, who were largely teenagers interested in weapons, military equipment, and God, served as a community for them. The Covid-19 pandemic's seclusion had drawn them together.
According to reports, Teixeira began distributing the highly-classified documents with the group—which included individuals from non-US countries—months ago, first transcribing private information and then disseminating images of the actual documents. The images were subsequently posted on other Discord groups before making their way to Twitter and other more popular social media platforms. Over 300 secret papers are thought to have been transferred in this way, however the precise quantity is unknown.
One of Teixeira's internet pals told the New York Times that Teixeira seemed panicked during one of their most recent discussions. "I never intended for it to become this. I asked God to prevent this from happening. And I prayed again and over again. What transpires moving forward is entirely up to God, he allegedly remarked.
How could a 21-year-old, though, have access to these?
It seems like a lot of people are asking this question. According to a story by The Associated Press, slides from secret briefings like the ones that were leaked are normally exchanged via secure computer terminals or specialized tablets that are given out during briefings and given back when they are finished.
Furthermore, if these were printed (as Teixeira is accused of doing), it would have gone through secure printers that record the information of each employee who requests a reprint. The provision of security clearance for handling sensitive materials is based on the completion of required training.
A security clearance may be necessary when you join the service, depending on your employment, according to Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder. And you will undergo the necessary screening if you work in the intelligence community and need a security clearance. Each service member who has security clearance must sign a non-disclosure agreement and undergo training on the rigorous rules the military has for handling sensitive information, he continued. The disclosures were "a deliberate criminal act, a violation of those guidelines," he claimed.
A second Snowden?
While comparisons to US whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are unavoidable, Teixeira's pals claim that he shared the records with his online network of friends for educational purposes and had no intention of leaking them to the general public. According to a member of the online forum who went by the name Vahki and told The New York Times that the man "just wanted to inform some of his friends about what's going on,"
Thousands of papers were leaked to a small group of journalists by Snowden, who was accused of breaking the Espionage Act but was never put on trial in the US. He was born in Russia and presently resides there.
In 2010, Manning was found guilty of breaking the Espionage Act after sharing more than 7.5 lakh secret documents with Wikileaks. Despite receiving a 35-year jail term, her sentence was eventually reduced. 2017 saw Manning's release.
What is going to happen to him?
The 21-year-old will be prosecuted with taking or transferring sensitive national security material, a violation under the Espionage Act, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.