Today, a national guardsman accused leaking classified documents will appear in court.
Jack Teixeira is expected to be charged for removing or transmitting classified information about national defence, which is an offense under the National Espionage Act.
The arrest of the 21-year old raises new questions about America’s capability to safeguard its most important secrets. And, the Pentagon has pledged to tighten up security measures.
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The leak was described as a “very grave risk to national safety” but officials have been pressed to explain how a low-ranking, young service member could access these files.
The material was shared in a chat room called Thug Shaker, which was built on Discord, a social media instant messaging app.
About 25 people shared memes and discussed guns, some of which were racist.
Other members of the chat group claim that Teixeira was more motivated by his bravado than his ideology.
Teixeira was an IT specialist who protected military communication networks. According to a defence official, he had a high-level security clearance.
The classified documents contained briefing slides that mapped out Ukrainian vulnerabilities and military position, as well information about the circumstances in which Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons.
In what was believed to be the largest security breach since WikiLeaks published 700,000 documents and videos, including diplomatic cables in 2010, information about allies such as Israel, South Korea, and Turkey were also included.
British authorities claimed that the information was “very inaccurate”.
Officials in the US do not believe that all of these materials are authentic.
Mike Turner, Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has pledged “to examine why this occurred, why it was unnoticed and how to avoid future leaks”.
What does the highly classified document say?
How could someone so young be in possession of such sensitive documents?
The American authorities appear to have reacted badly in this case.
Now they claim to have found their leaker. He will have to go through the legal process.
At least they will be relieved that he does not appear to be an agent of a foreign country.
They have many questions: How did a 21 year old Air National Guardsman get access to the documents?
Did he have the right to access classified documents? Exists any other classified documents? How long did it take to locate him, even with the media’s help?
Pentagon, which called the leak a “deliberate criminal act”, says that the military is reviewing distribution lists to ensure people receiving classified information are in a position to do so.
The documents were uploaded online a month ago, or even earlier. However, they did not reach a wider audience until last week.
The New York Times first reported Teixeira’s identity. Federal officials confirmed later that he was an investigation subject.
Later, news crews from helicopters filmed the arrest of the guardsman in Massachusetts. The young guardsman wore a T shirt and shorts while heavily armed agents took him in custody.
The FBI released a statement saying: “Since last week, the FBI has aggressively pursued investigation leads. Thursday’s arrest is a testament to our commitment to identify, pursue and hold accountable those who betray the trust of our country and put our security at risk.”
Teixeira could also be charged in military court. According to a former prosecutor, he faces up to 10 years of prison time if convicted.
Brandon Van Grack said: “I believe this is a person who faces on the upper end of exposure in prison for years… because the leaks are so damaging.”
While on a three-day trip to Ireland, President Joe Biden told reporters that he was “concerned about the event, but I am not aware of anything contemporaneous.”