15 Air National Guardsmen disciplined in Discord server leak

by Tommy Grant

The Air Force has taken action against 15 members of Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira’s chain of command for their roles in a security breakdown that enabled the 21-year-old National Guardsman to remove classified information from his office and post it online.

While the service maintains that Teixeira acted alone, the Air Force’s investigation turned up four separate instances where Teixeira was observed looking at or discussing intelligence a person in his role would have no business accessing. His supervisors were aware of the issues, yet chose not to report them to security officials until months into his activities, according to an investigation released Monday.

“Had any of these members come forward, security officials would likely have facilitated restricting systems/facility access and alerted the appropriate authorities, reducing the length and depth of the unauthorized and unlawful disclosures by several months,” the report reads.

The investigation also found that workspaces were inadequately inspected and there was inconsistent guidance for reporting security breaches. Further, there was reportedly a lack of supervision and insufficient understanding among the command of who could access sensitive information.

The investigation specifically calls out the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron for a weekly intelligence briefing it provided, saying it created “ambiguity” around whether these tech support airmen were meant to be accessing classified material.

Teixeira’s job did not involve handling intelligence but did allow him to access it due to his maintenance of the computer systems on which it was stored and transmitted.

The Massachusetts guardsman is facing six federal criminal charges of unauthorized disclosure under the Espionage Act, to which he’s pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set.

Intelligence-seeking

A coworker first observed Teixeira on a top secret-sensitive compartmented information website in the summer of 2022. His supervisor did not document the incident in writing. In September, another coworker saw Teixeira on the site while he wrote notes on a Post-it. Teixeira was confronted and told to shred the note, but no one checked to see what the note contained or verified that it was shredded, the investigation found.

While Teixeira received a memorandum for record telling him to stop such activities, the incidents were still not reported to security officials.

Then in late October, during one of the now-scrutinized intelligence briefings, Teixeira asked detailed questions and discussed select top-secret information “he did not have a need to know,” the investigation found. There was another memorandum for record drafted, but the incident once again was not reported.

In January 2023, after another coworker observed Teixera accessing intelligence, another memorandum was drawn up and security officials were finally notified, but with a “substantially minimized version of the concerns,” the report said.

Though Teixeira had been regulated at work, his superiors were unaware that he had been posting information he’d accessed on a Discord server called Thug Shaker Central for six months.

That changed in late February, when the information started showing up on other Discord servers, making its way to X, formerly Twitter, in March.

The Pentagon acknowledged in early April it had a serious leak on its hands, and the FBI arrested Teixeira days later.

‘Compliant but lacking’

Teixeira’s unit environment contributed to his ability to remove and leak classified information, the investigation found.

The 15 disciplined airmen included Cols. Sean Riley and Enrique Dovalo — the wing and group commanders relieved of duty in April, soon after Texeira’s arrest — as well as more junior officers and noncommissioned officers.

The investigation found that the intelligence oversight program in the wing overall was “compliant but lacking,” noting many airmen had yet to complete IO training and supervisors were not consistent with reporting violations or enforcing them.

The 102nd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Teixeira’s unit, is no longer handling sensitive information, the Air Force said in a release Monday.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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