The arrest of a youngster with access to a vast slice of US national security information rattles the intelligence community, racing to find out how all of their safeguards were circumvented.
The United States has experienced this tragedy before with the arrest of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2009, and again after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden fled to Russia about four years later.
On Thursday, National Guardsman Jack Douglas Teixeira was arrested in a scandal whose nickname recalled its alleged precursors: “Digileaks”, the disclosure of secret American projections on the bloody invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Documents Teixeira allegedly leaked indicate that the intelligence community expected the war to continue until next year, with neither country likely to take a seat at the negotiating table, the report said. Washington Post.
Attorney General Merrick Garland today announced Teixeira’s arrest in a statement saying the leaked footage includes classified national defense information, a description that would amount to an alleged violation of the Espionage Act.
“Today, the Department of Justice arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into allegations of unauthorized deletion, retention and transmission of classified national defense information,” Garland said.
Like Manning and Snowden, Teixeira has a military or intelligence connection as a member of the Massachusetts Air Force National Guard.
FBI agents arrested him earlier Thursday and he is scheduled to appear in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. No charges have been released at the time of going to press.
For national security attorney Brad Moss, Teixeira’s arrest raises obvious questions.
“Did he have authorized access to any of this, and if so, why?” Moss asked in an interview. “What did he need all that kind of information?”
In Manning’s case, the then 22-year-old Army soldier had a security clearance that gave him broad access to what was known as the SIPRNet database, giving him access to hundreds thousands of diplomatic cables, “war logs” in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and profiles of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
After transferring a virtual library of these files to WikiLeaks, the United States worked to strengthen access to this database.
In Snowden’s case, the NSA’s internal watchdog found little movement toward securing the agency’s vulnerabilities in a 2018 audit, half a decade after the leaks.
It’s still unclear how Teixeira got access to the files he dumped on Discord, a social media site popular with gamers.
If Teixeira was accessing the information through “illicit means,” Moss said that would raise a different question: “What allowed him to succeed without anyone noticing until the New York Times [and] everyone grabbed the docs on Discord? »
The Washington Post described the suspect as a “charismatic young gun enthusiast” who went by the name “OG”. The newspaper reported that “OG” was seen in a video shouting “racial and anti-Semitic slurs” on a firing range while firing multiple rounds from his rifle at a target.
Moss noted that the intelligence community has struggled with the infiltration of those with racist or white supremacist views due to the lack of a “clear vetting” process.
“They don’t really care about your political views or ask you questions,” Moss said. “That’s usually not a relevant consideration.”
Compounding this problem, he said, recruits are unlikely to voluntarily reveal such information.
“So there’s a limit to the capacity when they bring in these people, especially the younger ones, in terms of the ability of these agencies to identify potentially troubling characteristics like this,” Moss added.
The lawyer urged caution in making assumptions about whether Teixeira’s views motivated a pro-Russian motive until more information emerges.
“I don’t think he went into this because his views made him want to get into things that allow him to undermine Ukraine or support Russia,” Moss said. “I think, like a lot of young people, he had rather naive and wacky political and personal views. But so far, it seems it was stupidity and arrogance on his part that played a role in his posting these documents on the Discord chat more than any larger, you know, pro-Russian agenda.
The FBI did not immediately respond to an email requesting information about Teixeira’s alleged motive or how he accesses the information he is suspected of leaking.
The arrest of post ‘Digileaks’ Guardsman prompts the question: What hasn’t the US learned since Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden? first appeared on Law & Crime.
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