National Guardsmen accused a small group of gamers of leaking classified documents by posting sensitive information to a larger chat group months earlier than previously known, according to online posts reviewed by The New York Times. .
In February 2022, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, user profiles matching Jack Teixeira of the Air Force began posting secret information about the Russian war effort on Discord, a popular social media platform among gamers. The chat group had about 600 members.
The case against 21-year-old Airman Teixeira, who was arrested on April 13, involved leaking classified documents from another Discord group of about 50 members called Thug Shaker Central. From there it began posting sensitive information in October 2022, a member of the group told The Times. While working as an information technology specialist at a Massachusetts Air Force base, he received a top secret clearance.
It is unclear whether the authorities are aware of confidential material posted in these additional Discord chat groups.
Newly discovered information posted in large chat groups included details of Russian and Ukrainian casualties, updates on the activities of Moscow spy agencies and aid being provided to Ukraine. The user claimed that he was posting information from intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The additional information raises questions about why authorities didn’t spot the leak sooner, especially when hundreds of people would have been able to see the post.
As some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets are exposed, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies are learning how to protect classified data, both vetting people for security clearance and applying the mantra That only lay people should have access to the secrets. It has drawn criticism whether it has any weaknesses. As in “need to know”.
The Times learned about the large chat room from users of Discord. Unlike Thug Shaker Central, the second chat room was published on a YouTube channel and was readily available in seconds.
A series of digital evidence collected by The Times links the posting containing sensitive information to Airman Teixeira. The post was written under a username previously linked by The Times to Airman Teixeira. The person who leaked the information said that he works for the intelligence unit of the US Air Force. They shared details from video and photos of matching photographs posted by the family inside the Teixeira home in North Dayton, Massachusetts. Fellow Discord members wished the user a happy birthday on December 21. On the same day, Teixeira’s Air Force sister wished him a happy birthday on Facebook. And he posted a picture of an antique German rifle that the Times found an online receipt with Airman Teixeira’s name on it.
The post itself, reviewed by the Times, appears to be a detailed written description of the classified documents, revealing which intelligence agency they came from. It appears that the user posted pictures of some of the articles, but the pictures have since been removed from the chat group.
Joshua Haney, one of Airman Teixeira’s attorneys at the Boston public defender’s office, declined to comment on the latest revelations. Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department also declined to comment.
The first leak appears to have occurred less than 48 hours after Russia invaded Ukraine. The user wrote, “I saw a report from the Pentagon which said that 1/3rd of the military force is being used for aggression.” Clearly wanting to impress others in the group questioning his analysis, he said: Preference for USAF intelligence units,” he said, referring to the US Air Force.