US Air Force Crackdown: 15 Disciplined Over Intelligence Leaks Investigation

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In the aftermath of an intensive investigation surrounding Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira’s alleged intelligence leaks, the US Air Force took stern actions against 15 individuals, revealing a systemic failure to report concerns regarding Teixeira’s behavior before the leaks occurred.

The Air Force disclosed on Monday that punishments ranging from relief of duties to non-judicial penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were imposed on 15 individuals, spanning ranks from staff sergeant to colonel. Among them, Col. Sean Riley, the commander of Teixeira’s unit within the 102nd Intelligence Wing, was relieved of command. Additionally, leaders from the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron, initially suspended, were permanently removed.

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Although the investigation didn’t find direct knowledge among supervisory figures about Teixeira’s dissemination of information on Discord, it highlighted that individuals within his unit failed to take necessary actions upon discovering his intelligence-seeking activities.

Teixeira, an ex-cyber systems journeyman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, faces six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information related to national defense. He maintains his innocence, as per his lawyer, Michael Bachrach, who refrained from further comment on the matter after reviewing the IG report released on Monday.

The investigation underscored lapses in supervisory oversight, inconsistent security incident reporting guidelines, varying interpretations of the ‘Need to Know’ concept, inadequate night shift supervision, inefficiencies in disciplinary procedures, and a lack of communication of security clearance field investigation results.

Haley Willis/The New York Times

Previously disclosed memos revealed Teixeira’s contravention of direct orders to cease taking notes on intelligence and accessing unrelated intelligence on multiple occasions.

The Air Force report highlighted that a few individuals hesitated to report Teixeira’s activities to security officials, fearing an overreaction. This reluctance significantly prolonged the unauthorized disclosures, indicating missed opportunities for timely intervention.

The investigation timeline traces Teixeira’s alleged posting of classified intelligence on Discord from February 2022, subsequent to his Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI) clearance in June 2021. It details a progression to sharing photos of top-secret intelligence related to ongoing military conflicts by January 2023.

While Teixeira is implicated as the source of the leaks, the report identifies systemic and procedural elements that facilitated his actions. Notably, the report criticizes the “know your why” initiative, providing IT specialists with higher-level classified intelligence, creating ambiguity about the necessity of access.

Several instances of Teixeira’s unauthorized access to intelligence were observed by leadership, with some incidents going undocumented or inadequately reported, indicating a broader failure in the chain of command.

Beyond the lack of reporting, the investigation identified issues like inadequate night shift supervision, misconceptions about ‘need to know’ policies, and misunderstandings about reporting security breaches.

The fallout from Teixeira’s leaks triggered a review of security policies and led to reforms aimed at strengthening accountability and enhancing security measures within the military.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall emphasized the gravity of safeguarding national defense information and pledged strict adherence to laws and policies to ensure accountability.

The imperative to protect critical assets for national security remains a paramount responsibility at every level within the Air Force, as reiterated by Kendall.

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