Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Jack Teixeira to plead guilty in massive Discord document leak – The Washington Post

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Jack Teixeira, a young military computer technician accused of leaking highly classified government information, will plead guilty Monday before a judge in federal district court in Boston. Federal prosecutors filed a motion Thursday informing the judge that Teixeira intended to change his previous not guilty plea.

Teixeira was accused of using his top-secret security clearance to access classified government computer networks at an Air Force base on Cape Cod, where he worked with a unit providing security support. intelligence to the army. A Washington Post investigation found that while Teixeira served in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, he shared hundreds of classified documents as well as his own summaries of classified reports on Discord, an online chat platform popular with gamers video.

Teixeira’s leaks revealed information about the Russia-Ukraine war, China’s development of hypersonic spy drones, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, conflicts in the Middle East and sabotage Ukrainian Nord Stream gas pipeline.

Teixeira, 22, was arrested last April and charged with six counts of illegal possession and transmission of national defense information. Had he been convicted at trial, he would have received a prison sentence of 30 years to life, according to federal sentencing guidelines. A guilty plea suggests Teixeira will serve a much shorter sentence.

The leaks are considered one of the most serious breaches of US national security in recent years. Teixeira was sharing information on a small Discord server he created with friends during the covid-19 pandemic. It also posted classified information about the war in Ukraine as early as February 2022 on another, larger server with hundreds of active users. Government authorities did not notice any leaks until spring 2023.

Many of the documents Teixeira was accused of leaking related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Daily intelligence updates — as well as briefing materials prepared for senior leaders — showed that U.S. officials knew that Ukraine was desperately short of munitions and suffering heavy losses. Ukraine’s audacious sabotage missions in Russia have not shaken public resolve or deterred President Vladimir Putin from continuing to feed his troops through a meat grinder. Against this backdrop, prospects for a much-anticipated counteroffensive in 2023 to turn the tide of the war were slim, but U.S. officials remained publicly optimistic.

Those dire forecasts are echoed today as Ukraine faces critical ammunition shortages and Congress deadlocks on a spending measure to provide aid to the beleaguered country. Some U.S. officials fear that without additional support, Ukraine’s defenses risk collapsing.

The Discord leaks were remarkable for their scale. They were also in tune with the times; Reports covering a period from approximately February to March 2023 offered in-depth insights into events developing by the day.

The leaks revealed classified information about an apparent plan by Egypt to supply weapons to Russia, contrary to the wishes of the United States. They revealed the Pentagon’s assessment of Taiwan’s vulnerability to Chinese attacks. Other classified documents revealed previously unseen images of the Chinese spy balloon that entered North American airspace in late January 2023 and assessed that Beijing was preparing a base to deploy high-altitude spy drones capable of traveling at least three times the speed of sound. .

Teixeira’s case also exposed deep weaknesses in how the military protects highly classified information. Some of the intelligence Teixeira shared was so sensitive that U.S. and other government officials said it would endanger human lives if it were widely disclosed.

Teixeira was able to obtain a security clearance despite a history of violent threats. He had been suspended from his high school for threatening to bring weapons to school. A police investigation showed he used racist language and told fellow students he wanted to kill black people.

Discord Leaks, Explained

The Post’s investigation found that the online community in which Teixeira regularly shared classified information was a hotbed of racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, whose members were mostly teenagers united by an interest in military equipment and war , peddled gory videos and exchanged conspiracy theories about the government. agents.

An investigation by the Washington Post and “Frontline” examines Jack Teixeira’s alleged leak of national security secrets. (Video: Frontline (PBS)/The Washington Post)

Teixeira told friends he saw evidence in government intelligence that federal authorities knew in advance of mass shootings and were allowing them to happen to create a pretext for stricter laws. strict on gun control. Some of them believed his unfounded claims, they said, because Teixeira clearly had access to a wide range of government secrets. At work, prosecutors said, Teixeira sought information to prove his flawed conspiracy theories, searching intelligence databases for keywords about mass shootings in Las Vegas, Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.

Teixeira shared classified information with his friends to impress them, they said, and to demonstrate that he had access to information and knowledge about important world events that others did not have. High school friends described Teixeira as being fascinated by anecdotes about military equipment and weapons, and said his interests often became pedantic.

Many members of the Discord group considered Teixeira their leader. His military qualifications and work in an intelligence unit gave him an aura of credibility and authority, friends said. During pandemic isolation, they spent much of their days together online.

Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

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