Suspected Leaker 'Wasn't a Whistleblower,' Friends Say

They say Airman Jack Teixeira shared information to impress them, not to damage government
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2023 6:16 AM CDT
Suspected Leaker 'Wasn't a Whistleblower,' Friends Say
This image made from video provided by WCVB-TV, shows Jack Teixeira, in T-shirt and shorts, being taken into custody by armed tactical agents on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Dighton, Mass.   (WCVB-TV via AP)

Airman Jack Teixeira, the suspected leaker of military documents who was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, is a Christian and a gun enthusiast but not a whistleblower or foreign agent, according to friends in the close-knit gaming community where he posted the documents. A "Thug Shaker Central" member with the screen name "Vahki" tells the New York Times that the 21-year-old was trying to impress members of the invite-only group of 20 to 30 people and "inform them about what was going on." But Vahki and other members say Teixeira wasn't trying to bring the information to wider attention and the documents were never meant to be shared outside the small group. Vahki says Teixeira shared hundreds of documents and they remained within the group for months until a 17-year-old member shared them in another gaming forum. More:

  • He is due in court Friday. Teixeira, who served in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has been charged with unauthorized removal and transmission of classified information and is due in court in Boston on Friday, the BBC reports. The files Teixeira allegedly leaked include information that could damage the war effort in Ukraine and America's relationships with key allies.
  • Glocks and Catholicism. A friend who knew Teixeira online before the Thug Shaker Central was set up in 2020 tells the Washington Post that they bonded over their shared interest in Glocks and Catholicism. The friend says he met Teixeira on a Discord server that focused on guns and libertarian politics. Other friends say Teixeira had criticized the government and the military in the past and they were surprised when he signed up.

  • His role in the military. The Air Force says Teixeira worked at the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base as a "cyber transport systems specialist." Critics are asking why somebody as young and inexperienced as Teixeira had access to so much classified information, the Guardian reports. "I hope this guy isn't the leaker, because I'm gonna have some questions about how a Mass Air Guard guy got CJCS briefing slides," Atlantic contributor Tom Nichols tweeted Thursday, using an acronym for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Pentagon says young service members are trusted. "We entrust our members with a lot of responsibility at a very early age," Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said when asked why somebody Teixeira's age had access to high-level classified information. "Think about a young combat platoon sergeant, and the responsibility and trust that we put into those individuals to lead troops into combat."
  • He was relatively easy to find. The AP reports that Teixeira left "traceable digital fingerprints" behind that made it relatively easy for federal investigators—and journalists—to track him. He was named by the New York Times and investigative website Bellingcat before the FBI said he was a person of interest.
(More leaked documents stories.)

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