The Air Force has suspended two commanders from the military unit where Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira worked, who is the suspect in the highly classified documents leak that occurred earlier this month.
The Air Force said that the commander of the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron and a detachment commander were suspended “pending further investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”
Teixeira, who has been charged with possessing classified documents and national defense material, is accused of leaking information through the online forum Discord and taking photos of paper documents that he may have smuggled out of a secure facility.
The leaked documents obtained by NBC News included highly sensitive information on U.S. spying activities in Ukraine and intelligence about America’s allies.
The incident has raised concerns about who has access to classified materials and how they are safeguarded, leading to a review by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. A detention hearing for Teixeira has been postponed at the request of his lawyers and is scheduled for Thursday.
The Intelligencer earlier reported on the general substance of the leaks onto the social media platform Discord.
The Post, in its report on the source of the leaks, said it “reviewed approximately 300 photos of classified documents” as well as text posts that apparently transcribe other intelligence reports. Much of the media coverage has focused on a collection of about 100 documents from the leak. From the Post’s reporting, it appears much more material than that was originally leaked, though most of the documents don’t appear to have been made public.
The surfaced files are photographs of briefing documents and slides, mostly prepared in February and March, based on intel collected by the NSA, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, DEA, and National Reconnaissance Office (which manages U.S. spy satellites). Markings on the documents indicate that some were cleared for sharing with allies, while others were designated for U.S. eyes only — which was a major clue they came from a American source.
As the report notes, “many of the documents appear to have been prepared for Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” although “anyone with a high enough security clearance would have had access to them.”
Former chief of staff at the Pentagon and former deputy director of National Intelligence Kash Patel recently expressed to Breitbart News is how improbable it is that Teixeira acted alone.
“It’s just not possible,” he said. “You can be the biggest IT person in DOD, and you are still compartmented off of the actual information. Almost never does an IT person need to know, as we say, the substance of the intelligence. Their job is to provide the secure information systems around it to protect any disclosures,” he continued.
“This is crazy sensitive stuff,” he added. “Ninety-nine percent of people who have a Top Secret/SCI clearance don’t have access to this information. And me, as the former deputy DNI and chief of staff of the DOD and publisher of the [Presidential Daily Brief], with the highest security classification, knows that, literally, there is not a lot of people in the U.S. that have access to this kind of intel. It’s done for a reason. So this doesn’t happen.”
Patel said while the Joint Chief of Staff’s daily brief produced by its Directorate of Intelligence (J2) goes out to “thousands of people,” there is “underlying contributing information that is compartmented and goes to fewer people.”
“The underlying intel — that’s very sensitive because it exposes how we got it, who we got it from, when we got it, and whether we can get it again, how is that delivered,” he said.
The explanation of Teixeira’s top secret document access at such a young age was reported by the Boston Herald.
“As a ‘cyber defense operations journeyman,’ Teixeira has held a top secret security clearance since 2021,” the report noted. “For this, he had to a sign a lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement, acknowledging that disseminating protected information could result in criminal charges.
“He took advantage of his position, copying that highly classified information and then subsequently photographing it and posting it online,” retired naval Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, the former commander of the USS Cole when the ship was attacked by terrorists, told the Herald on Friday.
“He violated that trust, and he should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, as should his superiors,” said Lippold, who added, “This was a failure by leadership. There was inadequate oversight, and there was a lack of accountability throughout the chain of command for this to happen.”
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.