The unauthorized disclosure of a trove of classified Pentagon intelligence documents was a “deliberate criminal act.”
“It is important to understand that we do have stringent guidelines in place for safeguarding classified and sensitive information. This was a deliberate criminal act,” Defense Department spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters.
Ryder acknowledged that in wake of the unauthorized disclosures, which have sent the US into damage control mode with its close international allies and partners, the Pentagon has tightened the number of people allowed to access classified materials.
“We continue to review those distribution lists, update them, make sure there’s a need to know,” he said.
“Each of us signs a nondisclosure agreement, anybody that has as a security clearance. And so all indications are again, this is a criminal act, a willful violation of those and again, another reason why we’re continuing to investigate and support DOJ’s investigation,” he added.
The comments came after 21-year-old Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was taken into custody in Massachusetts by federal agents in connection with the ongoing investigation. Ryder declined to comment on the report. Garland minutes later made his announcement, officially acknowledging the arrest.
The New York Times newspaper first identified Teixeira as the leader of the Discord chat group on which the documents had initially been shared.
In interviews with four members of the Thug Shaker Central chat group, the New York Times said the group’s leader was described as older than the young men and teenagers who made up the group, and had access to US intelligence documents through his job.
The group members did not identify the leader by name, but the Times said an analysis of online activity and information, including a gamer profile, led them to determine the individual is Teixeira.
Many of the apparent classified US documents that circulated online were crudely taken photos of documents with markings bearing varying levels of classification and appear to be folded.
The Times said the photos included background details that matched photos of Teixeira’s childhood home that were posted on social media.
Teixeira mother, Dawn, confirmed her son serves in the Air National Guard, and said he had recently changed his telephone number during an interview outside her home.
A man whom the Times said appeared to be Teixeira later drove on to the property and was seen standing with Dawn in the driveway. When asked if Airman Teixeira could speak, the man said, “He needs to get an attorney if things are flowing the way they are going right now. The Feds will be around soon, I’m sure.”
CURRENTPH NEWS SERVICE