Suspected Leaker of Top Secret Pentagon Documents Arrested

From a Washington Post story by Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Samuel Oakford and Devlin Barrett headlined “Suspected leaker of top secret Pentagon documents arrested”:

A young member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard was arrested Thursday afternoon in the investigation into leaks of hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence to an online group of young friends, according to people familiar with the fast-moving probe into how so many government secrets spilled out into the wider world.

The arrest came hours after people familiar with the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity, identified the individual, Jack Teixeira, as the primary focus of the investigation. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the individual who leaked the information shared documents with a small circle of online friends on the Discord chat platform, which is popular with gamers. In that group, these people said, Teixeira’s handle was jackthedripper.

Teixeira told members of the online group Thug Shaker Central that he worked as a technology support staffer for the Massachusetts Air National Guard and at a base on Cape Cod, and this was how he was able to access classified documents, one member of the Discord server told The Post.

A Facebook post from the 102nd Intelligence Wing, with headquarters at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, congratulated an individual by the same name for his promotion to airman first class in July.

An address in North Dighton, Mass., for Teixeira’s relatives found in public records matches the address on a package of body armor Teixeira sent to a member of the Discord server. Members of the group had come together initially because of their shared interest in guns and military gear, the member told The Post.

The fast-moving investigation kicked off in early April when Pentagon officials first became aware that documents about an extraordinary range of subjects exposed how the United States spies on friends and foes alike. The leak of dozens of pages also upset senior Ukrainian officials, who had sought to keep details of their military’s vulnerabilities hidden as Russia’s war with Ukraine grinds on into its second year.

Investigators are likely to probe how Teixeira, from his position at a base in Massachusetts, would have had access to highly classified information, some of which was used to brief senior leaders at the Pentagon. National Guard units perform some support services for active-duty units, including intelligence support for the Joint Staff, one U.S. official said. In that case, Teixeira could have had access to the kinds of highly classified documents that he is alleged to have shared with his fellow members on the server, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a developing investigation.

A Justice Department spokeswoman and FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. Calls to Teixeira’s family were not immediately returned. Teixeira’s name was first reported by the New York Times.

President Biden, speaking in Ireland on Thursday, told reporters that the investigation is “getting close” to a resolution.

Though not as massive as some previous leaks of highly classified material, the disclosure was nonetheless extraordinary for its recency: Some documents were just days old when posted earlier this year on Discord. The files gained wide notice when they began appearing on the social media platforms Telegram and Twitter last week. That meant the public — including Russia’s war planners — had access to sensitive intelligence assessments on Ukraine’s battlefield readiness prepared in late February and early March for top Pentagon officials such as Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The leak has produced remarkable insights into U.S. intelligence activities worldwide, but its revelations about the war in Ukraine have proved particularly illuminating. Some of the material describes weaknesses in Ukraine’s air defenses and documents its lack of ammunition while exposing considerable deficiencies within the Russian military, too. Many of the assessments date to February and March.

The leak was also damaging for what it revealed about the methods the United States uses to gather foreign intelligence, not just on Russia’s military and spy agencies but on partners like Ukraine and Israel, as well as key allies in Asia, such as South Korea. The documents indicated where information and insights were gleaned by “signals intelligence” or “sigint,” essentially wiretapping or eavesdropping on calls or hacking into emails.

In one instance, the files revealed the use of an advanced satellite system that allows for high-resolution imaging of objects on the ground, one of the more closely guarded U.S. intelligence capabilities, and which could now be more susceptible to Russian jamming. In some cases, markings indicate that information was obtained at least in part by human means — perhaps spies.

A day after the Pentagon acknowledged it was probing the leak, the Justice Department announced it had opened an investigation. Over that weekend, the Pentagon announced an “interagency effort” was stood up to assess the impact of the leaks on national security. Officials across the U.S. government worked to determine the scope and significance of the disclosures, and contain diplomatic fallout. State Department officials said they were engaging with allies and partners to reassure them of the U.S. commitment to safeguarding intelligence.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that the Defense Department is working “around-the-clock” to determine the scope and scale of any leaked material, the impact its spread could have, and how to mitigate future leaks.

Much of the information is tactical, a snapshot in time, and so its value “ages off” or diminishes over time, former intelligence officials noted. But that doesn’t mean there is no damage to sources and methods, especially in the near term, they said. And in the meantime, Russia can take advantage of what it learns to adjust its own war plans, they said.

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