On Thursday, the FBI agents arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira, Massachusetts Air National Guardsman, at home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, concerning a classified document probe about recent security leaks.
Merrick Garland, Attorney General, said Teixeira, 21, who is being investigated for the “alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
A significant presence of police was seen at the North Dighton home, around 35 miles south of Boston.
According to an internal government document, Teixeira, who worked full-time on military intelligence systems, he had access to classified document systems and security clearance revoked.
In a statement, the National Guard said it is aware of the “alleged role a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman may have played in the recent leak of highly-classified documents” from the U.S. Pentagon.
“The National Guard takes this issue very seriously and will support investigators,” said a statement from the Guard. “National security is our foremost priority, and any attempt to undermine it compromises our values and degrades trust among our members, the public, allies, and partners.”
Brigadier General and Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder called the leaks “a deliberate criminal act” and said that distribution lists for classified information are under review.
“We entrust our members with a lot of responsibility at a very early age,” said Ryder at a Thursday press conference.
“You’ve received training, and you will receive an understanding of the rules and requirements that come along with those responsibilities, and you’re expected to abide by those rules, regulations, and responsibility. It’s called military discipline. And in certain cases. especially when it comes to sensitive information, it also is about the law.”
Teixeira was identified initially by New York Times as the possible leaker
Teixeira was initially identified by the New York Times as the suspected leaker Wednesday evening after reports that he was the leader of a Discord group that consisted of around 20 to 30 young men named Thug Shaker Central.
According to the report, Teixeira allegedly began sharing classified documents within the group in the past few months; however, the leaks gained wide attention after another member shared the documents in a public forum.
Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, sent a memo to Pentagon officials Tuesday warning employees against downloading classified documents and leaking information from unclassified sources.
“Do not access or download documents with classified markings from unclassified websites — either from home or work — as the data may be classified, it may be associated with hostile foreign elements, or it may contain malicious code or embedded capability that could introduce cyber threats into our information system,” wrote Hicks in the memo.
Earlier Thursday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. is “getting close” to finding the individual responsible for leaking Pentagon documents that the Department of Defense has described as containing “sensitive and highly-classified material.”
“I can’t right now [give an update]. A full-blown investigation is going on with the intelligence community and Justice Department, and they are getting close,” said Biden to reporters during his trip to Ireland. “I don’t have an answer for you.”
Biden also said, “I’m concerned that it happened, but there is nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence.”
Last night, the Washington Post first reported that the person behind the leaks worked on a military base and shared the classified information on Discord, the chat app.
The top-secret intel shared online included updates on military forces, detailed charts of battlefield conditions in Ukraine, movements of high-ranking political leaders, and satellite images of the aftermath of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian facilities.
According to the report, other documents included the possible trajectory of North Korean ballistic nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States and information and pictures on the surveillance technology attached to the Chinese spy balloon the administration of Joe Biden allowed to float across the U.S. in February.