The Pentagon's humiliation just grew deeper, as it turns out National Guard Airman Jack Teixeira's leaks of classified documents started far earlier than has previously been reported.
Tipped off about a second, 600-member Discord chat group where Teixeira also posted, the New York Times found the Massachusetts Air National Guard information technology specialist started sharing information about the war in Ukraine within 48 hours of Russia's February 2022 invasion. In contrast to the previously reported chat group, this one was far larger and was publicly listed on a YouTube channel.
This development makes the intelligence community's failure to discover the posts all the more embarrassing: The document used to criminally charge Teixeira says he started posting in December 2022, but it turns out his stream of leaks spanned 13 months.
The Times matched Teixeira to the account in the newly-publicized chat room by a variety of means, including the user name, photos he posted that match known photos of his family home's interior, a reference to his birthday, and, not least, the user's declaration that he worked in an Air Force intelligence unit.
The posts reviewed by the Times were detailed descriptions of classified documents, with the user believed to have also posted photos of documents that have since been deleted.
Teixeira jumped into leak mode just two days after the Russian invasion, posting, “Saw a pentagon report saying that ⅓rd of the force is being used to invade." When others in the chat room questioned his information, he wrote, "I have a little more than open source info. Perks of being in a USAF intel unit.”
In a March 27, 2022 post in which he said he was citing "an NSA site," Teixeira told the group Russian forces were about to pull back from Kiev: “Some ‘big’ news. There may be a planned withdrawal of the troops west of Kiev, as in all of them.” Two days later, Russia announced it was doing just that.
“The job I have lets me get privilege’s above most intel guys,” he boasted with imperfect punctuation. When another chat participant cautioned him not to abuse those privileges, Teixeira fittingly replied, "Too late."
Teixeira appears to have made some posts while on duty at the 102nd Intelligence Wing, the unit he was assigned to at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod. Once, he told the chat room he was about to enter a SCIF, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. In the aftermath of the leaks' discovery, the Air Force temporarily stripped the 102nd of its intelligence mission -- (which is pretty bad when "intelligence" is in your unit's name).
In the larger chat group that's been previously reported, Teixeira announced the end of his information-sharing services on March 19: “I was very happy and willing and enthusiastic to have covered this event for the past year and share with all of you something that not many people get to see. I’ve decided to stop with the updates.”
The national security division of the New York Times continues to outdo the FBI. Their new cyber sleuth from Bellingcat helped the NYT uncover a chat group where Jack Teixeira was allegedly posting material since February 2022. The FBI should consider hiring them. pic.twitter.com/Fl7rm7qWQy— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) April 22, 2023
While establishment newspapers are eagerly beating the government to the punch at every turn in this case, the next significant drop of government information could come at a pretrial detention hearing, which on Wednesday was postponed for two weeks to May 3, at defense counsel's request.
So far, Teixeira's been charged with unlawful retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents. Two guilty verdicts could put him in prison for up to 15 years.
In what sounds like it might just be a comically absurd attempt to portray Teixeira as a Russian asset, prosecutors this filed new information with the court, noting that he once shot a vintage Soviet pistol.