The U.S. Air Force says the intelligence unit at the center of one of the largest national security leaks in modern history has been ordered to halt its mission.
Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Airman 1st Class serving in the 102nd Intelligence Wing with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was charged Friday with two counts related to retaining and distributing classified and national defense information after hundreds of pages of intelligence documents appeared online in recent months.
Now the entire wing will stand down amid a comprehensive review of the military’s security programs, policies, and procedures, Air Force Spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement.
“The 102nd Intelligence Wing is not currently performing its assigned intelligence mission,” she said. “The mission has been temporarily reassigned to other organizations within the Air Force.”
Teixeira is accused of showing off his access to classified intelligence on obscure video game chatroom servers on the Discord application to group members largely composed of teenagers. It remains unclear how Teixeira, a junior enlisted National Guard member, was able to take and distribute such sensitive classified material for such an extended amount of time. Teixeira worked as a cyber transport systems journeymen, which entails repairing communication systems, according to his military records released by the National Guard.
Stefanek said “the Secretary of the Air Force directed the Department of the Air Force Inspector General to investigate overall compliance with policy, procedures, and standards, including the unit environment and compliance at the 102nd Intelligence Wing related to the release of national security information.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a top-to-bottom analysis of security protocols this week in response to the massive leak. The disclosures triggered national embarrassment and worldwide headlines after highly classified documents involving U.S. military and intelligence assessments sat on online for more than a month. The initial findings of the Pentagon review are due in 45 days.
Austin was first briefed on the leaks on April 6, according to the Pentagon, the same day their existence was first reported by the New York Times and a day after the documents began circulating on mainstream social platforms. The Pentagon referred the matter to the Justice Department, which opened a formal criminal probe last week. Defense and State Department officials are still assessing the damage that may have been wrought by the leak.
Teixeira was stationed with the 102nd Intelligence Wing, headquartered at Otis Air National Guard Base located on Cape Cod. Since enlisting in September 2019, he has only received a single award, the Air Force Achievement Medal, in his more than three years in service.
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