Jack Teixeira: Inside 'Jack the Dripper', 'Thug Shaker Central' and the worst US intelligence leak
NORTH DIGTON, MASSACHUSETTS: FBI has arrested an Air National Guardsman who is suspected to be behind the biggest US intelligence leak in nearly a decade. Jack Teixeira, 21, was a member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard and the ringleader of an online gaming group 'Thug Shaker Central' where he allegedly published top-secret Pentagon documents under the username 'Jack the dripper'.
The 21-year-old was among the eldest in the group of mainly young men and teenagers described as "like-minded" individuals and was dubbed as the 'OG' after he shared nearly 50 to 100 photos related to the war in Ukraine on the chat group in 2022. Teixeira was arrested in North Dighton, Massachusetts on Thursday, April 13, and will be facing charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and that of the "higher end of exposure for years in prison because the leaks were so damaging."
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Andy Vermaut shares:What do the leaked Pentagon documents contain?: Washington-SANA- The recent leaks of Pentagon papers, which the US views as one of the most serious breaches targeting its national security since the leaking by WikiLeaks in… https://t.co/NMe2fvkbsr Thank you. pic.twitter.com/LvRpTy3xu9— Andy Vermaut (@AndyVermaut) April 10, 2023
Who is Jack Teixeira?
US Airman Teixeira is enlisted in the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard at Otis Air National Guard Base. He joined the service in September 2019 and was promoted to airman first class in July. His role involved working as the Cyber Transport Systems journeyman. The Air Force says under this title, the specialists ensure that the service's "vast, global communications network" works properly.
Despite serving in a junior position, he had the highest level of access to top-secret US government information. Teixeira's act first came into light after US President Joe Biden said on the third day of his Ireland trip that investigators were "getting closer" to finding the culprit as the secret dossiers circulated online, reported New York Times.
How was Jack Teixeira's identity unraveled?
Teixeira was identified after photos of sensitive files on US intelligence and the Ukraine war leaked on the forums matched the countertop of his kitchen inside his childhood home in Bristol, Massachusetts. However, the leaked documents gained proper traction after they were reposted into another Discord group dedicated to a 20-year-old British college student and YouTuber known as Wow Mao.
The FBI said in a statement that its officers are "continuing to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at the residence" where the suspect was arrested and vowed to push on with "identifying, pursuing, and holding accountable those who betray our country's trust and put our national security at risk."
The FBI will question his mother Dawn who confirmed Teixeira was an active working member at a base in Cape Cod, frequently doing night shifts. Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department national security prosecutor, now with the law firm Morrison Foerster, said the suspect could face up to 10 years in prison even if he did not intend to cause harm. "I think this is someone who is facing on the higher end of exposure for years in prison because the leaks were so damaging," Van Grack said. Teixeira will appear in a local court in Boston on Friday as part of the investigation into "alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmissions of classified national defense information."
'The political stance on how these classified documents were treated like a game by Jack Teixeira'
Despite the uproar behind the leak of sensitive files pertained to the war in Ukraine, Biden claimed he wasn't "concerned" about the sharing of the documents because the information is not "contemporaneous". He claimed the file included information suggesting Ukraine will soon run out of artillery and potentially risk US intelligence sources around the world. It is reported, the documents were purely informative and that they took no side in the war.
A judgment that was disregarded by Rep Mike Turner of Ohio, who heads the intelligence committee as well as a member of the armed services committee, and said the leaks were "not of consequence," but stated that he understood the president as trying to relate that there were "different types of leaks" and all of them needed to be handled.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated they are going to take extra measures to protect the classified documents in the wake of the leak. He said he would "not hesitate to take any additional measures necessary to safeguard our nation’s secrets," reported Daily Mail. "Every US service member, (Department of Defense) civilian and contractor with access to classified information has a solemn legal and moral obligation to safeguard it and to report any suspicious activity or behavior," he added.
A member of the chat group described Teixeira as a sane-minded individual. "He's fit. He's strong. He's armed. He's trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie," one of the members said, as per The Washington Post. Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder called the leak of classified information a "deliberate, criminal act," whereas Turner, the Republican congressman, vowed to "examine why this happened, why it went unnoticed for weeks, and how to prevent future leaks."
'This is a crime. This is espionage, and this involves real people!'
"Leaking classified information jeopardizes our national security, negatively impacts our relationship with our allies, and places the safety of US military and intelligence personnel at grave risk," said Turner. "While we seek to learn the extent of classified information released and how to mitigate the fallout, the House Intelligence Committee will examine why this happened, why it went unnoticed for weeks, and how to prevent future leaks. Congratulations to law enforcement for locating and apprehending the alleged criminal," he added.
In an interview with MSNBC, Turner called the entire situation "disturbing", noting how these classified documents were treated "like a game" by Teixeira. "This is a crime. This is espionage, and this involves real people," said Turner.
"This could hurt real people and real people could be killed and lose their lives over leaks of classified information. To make this all the way down to where it seems almost like a game to these individuals is certainly very chilling," he said. Turner claimed that the Discord rooms Teixeira was allegedly using could've allowed foreign actors, some who might be "kids." "What do we need to do to make sure our classified information is held more closely? How do we find these people before they do this? Before classified documents are compromised," he wondered.