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Jack Teixeira to plead guilty in massive leak of Pentagon secrets

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LA Post: Jack Teixeira to plead guilty in massive leak of Pentagon secrets
Reuters
Nate Raymond
March 04, 2024

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) - Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard charged with leaking classified military documents on a social media platform, is set to plead guilty on Monday to carrying out one of the most serious U.S. national security breaches in years.

Teixeira, who has remained in custody since his arrest last April at his mother's house in North Dighton, Massachusetts, is slated to appear before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston to enter a guilty plea.

The 22-year-old was indicted on six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defense over a leak last year of a trove of classified records to a group of gamers on the messaging app Discord. Each of those counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Prior to his arrest, Teixeira had been an airman 1st class at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where he worked as a cyber defense operations journeyman, or information technology support specialist.

Despite being a low-level airman, Teixeira held a top secret security clearance, and starting in January 2022 began accessing hundreds of classified documents related to topics including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to prosecutors.

He did so even though his superiors admonished him twice in September and October 2022 about his handling of classified information, according to internal Air National Guard records filed in court.

Teixeira at the time led a private server - a kind of chat room - on Discord called "Thug Shaker Central," and prosecutors said he began sharing classified information on three servers while bragging he had access to "stuff for Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iran and China."

The leaked documents held highly classified information on allies and adversaries, with details ranging from Ukraine's air defenses to Israel's Mossad spy agency.

In December, the U.S. Air Force announced it had moved to discipline 15 personnel over the leak and relieved Colonel Sean Riley of the command of the unit to which Teixeira belonged.

It did so after an Air Force inspector general report on the incident found that some members of Teixeria's unit and leadership "had information about as many as four separate instances of his questionable activity."

A smaller number of people had a more complete picture of his intelligence-seeking behavior and "intentionally failed to report the full details of these security concerns/incidents," the report said.

The Air Force following the leaks said it implemented several reforms to improve procedures related to access to classified information.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston, Editing by Will Dunham and Alexia Garamfalvi)

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