Officials said it’s not unusual f0r a young National Guardsman to have access to materials at the highest level of intelligence classification after the FBI arrested a 21 year old for publishing reams of top secret documents online, according to media reports.
It’s unclear how Jack Teixeira’s job in the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron at the Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts offered him ready access to documents that appeared to be those prepared for briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a variety of sensitive global issues, according to The New York Times. Thousands of people across the globe could theoretically view some or all of the classified information at the center of the government’s recent concern over intelligence breaches, Department of Defense (DOD) officials told Politico on condition of anonymity.
“Especially post-Manning and post-Snowden, one of the lessons learned across the military is the greater the number of people that have access to information at any given time, the greater the likelihood of this thing spilling,” one official said.
For example, DOD may activate National Guard and Reserve officers for special duties in a crisis situation, a defense official told Politico on condition of anonymity. Junior servicemembers working in the Pentagon may be tasked with compiling briefing materials for senior leaders, including documents like the ones Teixeira allegedly leaked, another added.
Military members are often asked to perform duties that exceed their authority, defense officials told The Wall Street Journal.
“It is entirely possible he was tasked with creating briefing books or intel briefings for his command,” Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer, told Politico. Often, government employees with access to intelligence are expected to “self-police,” he added.
More than 1.6 million U.S. government employees have security clearances that allow them access to secret or top secret information, according to a 2020 report from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
Let’s be clear. I think this complete traitor shouldn’t have had access to the level of stuff he did. BUT, he did. There is no deeper conspiracy… young, low rank people, have access to intel.
Ask any military member. Us old guys in the military are few… most are young
— Adam Kinzinger #fella (@AdamKinzinger) April 13, 2023
“We entrust our members with a lot of responsibility at a very early age. Think about a young combat platoon sergeant, the responsibility and trust we put into those individuals to lead troops in combat,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said at a press conference Thursday. “You receive training and you will receive an understanding of the rules and requirements that come along with those responsibilities.”
The Air Force released Teixeira’s service records following his arrest Thursday, Politico reported. They showed that he enlisted in 2019 and served in the role of “Cyber Transport Systems Journeyman,” responsible for managing secure network communications, according to the website.
Teixeira is expected to make a first appearance before a Boston court on Friday, although no formal charges have been issued yet, according to Reuters.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has directed DOD to undertake a full review of controls on sensitive materials and held repeated meetings with senior officials on how to mitigate the damage from the leaks and restrict how many people have access to classified information, according to a statement.
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