Jack Teixeira is behind the massive U.S. intelligence leak

US authorities have arrested a 21-year-old information technology specialist named Jack Teixeira in connection with the disclosure of highly classified military documents about the Ukraine war and other top national security issues.

The leak is believed to have started on the social media site Discord, where Teixeira posted for years. Here’s a look at the security breach that the Pentagon has called a “very serious risk to national security”.

Jack Teixeira is an airman first class in the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts when he was taken into custody without incident after heavily-armed FBI agents swarmed his home in Dighton, a town about 80km south of Boston.

Jack Teixeira was arrested at a residence in Massachusetts over the leak, which the Pentagon says was a “deliberate, criminal act”.

He is detailed to an Air Force intelligence unit, according to Facebook posts from the 102nd Intelligence Wing based at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.

His specialty in the Air National Guard is as a “cyber transport systems specialist,” which is essentially an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks, including their cabling and hubs.

The documents appear to detail US and NATO aid to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain ties with those nations.

Some show real-time details from February and March of Ukraine’s and Russia’s battlefield positions and precise numbers of battlefield gear lost and newly flowing into Ukraine from its allies.

Assessments of key battles in Ukraine war, air defence and weapons vulnerabilities, the Wagner mercenary group’s activities in Africa and abroad.

Intelligence on US allies and assessments of several countries’ involvement in or positions on the invasion, including South Korea, China, Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil.Details on nuclear activities in Iran and North Korea, Israel’s anti-government protests, British plans in the Indo-Pacific region.

They also reveal just how close Ukraine’s vital air defence systems are to running out of missiles — with stocks expected to be exhausted as soon as late this month or May, absent significant resupply. That would open Ukraine’s skies to more of the Russian air and artillery strikes that already have devastated cities and infrastructure.

Previously unreported sensitive disclosures about South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and others are also included.

There are no clear answers on how many documents were leaked.

Senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration say they are working to stop the flow of classified information onto social media and websites and head off any lasting damage to relationships with allies and strategic partners.

The US intelligence agencies – funded at $US90 billion ($133 billion) annually – have sweeping powers to tap electronic communications, run spies and monitor with satellites. The results of those powers are rarely seen in public, even in limited form.

Discord is a social media platform popular with people playing online games. The Discord site hosts real-time voice, video and text chats for groups and describes itself as a place “where you can belong to a school club, a gaming group, or a worldwide art community”.

The leak of highly classified Pentagon documents has forced defence officials into the online worlds of gamers, meme lords and their leagues of followers, and exposed an unavoidable weakness in US national security.

Teixeira is believed to have posted on the site for years about guns, games, and his favourite memes. Some who chatted with him said he also posted about closely guarded US secrets.

Accounts of those in the online private chat group where the documents were disclosed have depicted Teixeira as motivated more by bravado than ideology.

Discord users skew young — about 38 percent of its web users and nearly half of its Android app users are between the ages of 18 and 24. They are roughly 75 percent male, the research group says.

A defence official told the AP that Teixeira would have had a higher level of security clearance as a cyber transport systems specialist.

With this role, he would have been responsible for accessing military communications networks and ensuring their protection.

The penalty Teixeira would face if he is convicted is unclear at this stage, although Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department national security prosecutor, said the likely charges could carry up to 10 years’ imprisonment, even if Teixeira did not intend to cause harm.

US information about the Ukraine war, North Korean missile tests and more have leaked on social media websites like Discord and 4Chan — here’s what you need to know.

The Pentagon is seen from the air in Washington, U.S., March 3, 2022, more than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Attorney-General Merrick Garland said he would be charged with removing or transmitting classified national defence information, a crime under the Espionage Act.

Any sentence would depend on how many counts a defendant was convicted of and whether they were served consecutively or concurrently.

Teixeira is due to have his initial court appearance in Massachusetts on Friday local time and could also face charges in a military court.

It was not immediately clear if Teixeira had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf, and a phone message left at a number believed to belong to his mother was not returned.

The Pentagon is seen from the air in Washington, U.S., March 3, 2022, more than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.

‘No idea’ of motive behind leaks of thousands of classified Ukraine war documents, US officials say.

© Times of Ukraine

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