Guardsman in leaked documents spoke of violence, may still hold secrets, FBI say
WORCESTER, Mass. — The Massachusetts Air National guardsman accused of leaking top-secret military documents kept an arsenal of weapons, spoke of “violence and murder” on a social media platform and a “kill bus,” prosecutors wrote ahead of the hearing of Thursday for 21-year-old Jack Teixeira.
The court documents raise new questions about why Teixeira had such a high security clearance and had access to some of the country’s top secrets. They said he may still have material that has not been released, which could be of “tremendous value to hostile nation-states that could provide him with a safe haven and try to facilitate his escape from the United States.”
Late Wednesday, the Air Force announced it had suspended the commander of the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron, where Teixeira worked, and the administrative commander “overseeing support for the unit mobilized under federal orders” pending further investigation . It also temporarily removed any leader’s access to classified systems and information.
Court papers urging a federal judge to keep Teixeira in custody detail a disturbing history dating back to high school, where he was suspended when a classmate overheard him talking about Molotov cocktails and other weapons, as well as racial threats. More recently, prosecutors said, he used his government computer to investigate past mass shootings and standoffs with federal agents.
He remains a serious threat to national security and a flight risk, prosecutors wrote, and investigators are still trying to determine whether he kept physical or digital copies of classified information, including files that have not yet been made public.
“There is simply no single condition or combination of conditions that can prevent the defendant from disclosing further information that he or she knows or possesses,” the prosecutors wrote. “The damage that the defendant has already done to American national security is immense. The damage that the suspect can still do is extraordinary.”
Teixeira has been in jail since his arrest earlier this month on charges of the biggest known intelligence leak in years.
Teixeira has been charged with the unauthorized retention and disclosure of secret national defense information under the Espionage Act. He has not yet filed a plea.
His lawyers are urging the judge to release him from prison, saying in court documents filed Thursday that appropriate conditions could be put in place even if the court finds he poses a flight risk, such as confinement in his father’s house and location surveillance.
The defense said Teixeira no longer has access to top secret information and accused prosecutors of “doing little more than speculate that a foreign adversary will seduce Mr. Teixeira and orchestrate his clandestine escape from the United States.”
“The government’s allegations … do not support that Mr. Teixeira, at this time or at any time, intended to distribute information to the private social media server,” they wrote. “So the argument that Mr. Teixeira will continue to release information or destroy evidence if he is not detained rings hollow.”
He is accused of distributing top secret documents on important national security issues in a chat room on Discord, a social media platform that started out as a hangout for gamers. The leak stunned military officials, caused an international uproar and raised new questions about America’s ability to protect its secrets.
The leaked documents appear to detail US and NATO assistance to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain ties with those countries. Some show real-time February and March details of the battlefield positions of Ukraine and Russia and the exact number of battlefield equipment lost and newly poured into Ukraine from its allies.
Prosecutors wrote that Teixeira, who owned multiple guns, repeatedly had “detailed and disturbing discussions of violence and murder” on the platform where authorities say he shared the documents. In February, he told someone else he was tempted to turn a minivan into a “murder van,” prosecutors wrote.
The Justice Department’s report traces a pattern of disturbing behavior that officials say began long before he joined the military and has continued in recent months, even as his position afforded him access to government secrets.
Prosecutors allege Teixeira was suspended in 2018 after a classmate “heard him make comments about guns, including Molotov cocktails, guns at school and racial threats.” His first application for a firearms identification card that same year was rejected due to police concerns about those comments.
He reapplied the next two years, and in his 2020 filing after joining the Guard, cited “his position of trust in the U.S. government as a reason why he could be trusted to own a firearm,” prosecutors wrote. .
The Justice Department said it also learned through its investigation that Teixeira used its government computer in July to look up a series of mass shootings and standoffs in the US, including the terms “Ruby Ridge”, “Las Vegas shooting” , “Mandalay Bay shooting”, “Uvalde” and “Buffalo tops shooting” – a clear reference to the 2022 racist mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.
Searching mass shootings on a government computer should have triggered the computer to generate an immediate reference to security, which could then have led to a more in-depth review of Teixeira’s file, according to Dan Meyer, a lawyer who specializes in military matters. Affairs. federal employment and security clearance issues. The Air Force’s investigation will likely determine whether a referral was generated — and whether security agents did anything with the information.
Teixeira’s lawyers noted that he has no criminal history and would not have access to guns if released. The incident at his high school was “thoroughly investigated” and he was allowed to return after a few days and a professional psychological evaluation, they wrote. That investigation was “fully publicized and vetted” by the Air National Guard before he enlisted and when he got his top-secret security clearance, they said.
Months later, after news outlets began reporting document leaks, Teixeira took steps to destroy evidence after news outlets began reporting on document leaks. Authorities searching a dumpster at his home found a broken laptop, tablet and Xbox game console, they said.
Authorities have not named a motive. Members of the Discord group have described Teixeira as someone who wants to show off, rather than being motivated by a desire to inform the public about US military operations or influence US policy.
Billing information the FBI obtained from Discord was some of the things that led authorities to Teixeira, who enlisted in the Air National Guard in September 2019. A Discord user told the FBI that a username linked to Teixeira was about December.
Teixeira was discovered on April 6 — the day The New York Times first published a story about the document breach — searching for the word “leak” in a secret system, according to court documents. The FBI says that was reason to believe Teixeira was trying to find information about the investigation into who was responsible for the leaks.