Julia COnley, Common Dreams
Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guard member suspected of leaking hundreds of classified Pentagon documents to members of an online forum, was arrested Thursday in Dighton, Massachusetts after The New York Times reported on his alleged identity.
CNN aired footage of Teixeira, who was known as “OG” in the online chat group, being apprehended by the FBI.
In a press briefing, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmedthat Teixeira had been arrested “in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
The person behind a leak of hundreds of classified Pentagon documents related to the war in Ukraine is reportedly a racist young gun enthusiast who spent several months sharing the information with members of an online forum on Discord, a platform that’s popular in the gaming community, according to interviews The Washington Post and investigative journalism collective Bellingcat conducted with another member of the forum.
The New York Times reported Thursday that the alleged leaker’s name is Jack Teixeira and that he served as a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Teixeira is reportedly 21 years old.
Aric Toler of Bellingcat interviewed a teenage member of the private Discord server that Teixeira frequented, known as “Thug Shaker Central,” on Sunday, and the Post published a report based on the source’s story on Wednesday, a week after the Times first reported that the documents had been leaked.
The teenage member said Teixeira was in his early-to-mid 20s and was seen as a leader of the forum, where he was known as OG. The Postviewed a video of the man identified as OG at a shooting range, where he yelled “a series of racial and antisemitic slurs into the camera” before firing several rounds of ammunition at a target. The newspaper reported it had verified details shared by the teenage source with other members of Thug Shaker Central.
The members did not confirm to the Times that Teixeira and OG were one and the same, but the newspaper reported that “a trail of digital evidence compiled by the Times leads to Airman Teixeira.”
According to the teenage member, OG worked at an unnamed “military base” where he was one of thousands of entry- and low-level government employees who had access to classified documents like the ones he allegedly shared with about 25 members of Thug Shaker Central.
OG told the other members that he worked in a secure facility on the base where cellphones and other electronic devices were prohibited to prevent leaks.
The teenage member told the Post that OG frequently knew about major news events before they happened, saying, “Only someone with this kind of high clearance” would have that information.
Late last year, Teixeira began sharing several documents per week on the server, annotating some to translate abbreviations used in the intelligence community, such as “NOFORN” for information that could not be shared with foreign nationals.
The group contained people from “just about every walk of life,” according to the teenage member, including people from Asia and South America as well as Ukrainian and Russian citizens. The source told the Post that members from the “Eastern Bloc and those post-Soviet countries” showed interest in the documents.
The classified documents included charts of battlefields in Ukraine, which has been under attack by Russian forces since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, and “highly classified satellite images of the aftermath of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian electrical facilities,” according to the Post. OG also shared documents that showed the possible path of North Korean ballistic nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S. and photographs of the object that the Biden administration identified as a Chinese spy balloon in February.
OG reportedly “had a dark view of the government” and spoke frequently with other members of the Discord server about “government overreach” and his opposition to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The teenage member was adamant, however, that Teixeira did not leak the documents as a political act.
“I would definitely not call him a whistleblower. I would not call OG a whistleblower in the slightest,” he told the Post, adding that OG “seemed very confused and lost as to what to do” when he spoke to him following the Times‘ reporting on the leaks.
Shortly before the Times reported on the documents on April 6, OG logged into the Discord server and was “frantic, which is unusual for him,” the member said.
Josh Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo, expressed skepticism about OG’s identity.
“If he is [who he claims to be] there seem to be so many breadcrumbs it’s hard to believe everyone involved won’t be arrested in a matter of days,” he tweeted.
On Thursday, CNN reported that the Pentagon has begun limiting access to highly classified documents, which roughly 1.25 million federal employees and contractors have previously had clearance to access.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, told News Nationon Wednesday that the federal government is considering “mitigation measures in terms of what we can do to prevent potential additional unauthorized leaks.”