New court documents in the case against an air national guardsman suspected of leaking classified intelligence documents reveal he had a history of racist and violent behavior. So how did the 21-year-old get top secret security clearance?
Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s intelligence wing, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly leaking documents that include information on Russian and Ukrainian strategies in the ongoing war, as well as intelligence on Canada, China, Israel, South Korea, the Indo-Pacific military theater, and the Middle East. He is believed to have posted them on a Discord server in early March.
In a memo released late Wednesday, ahead of a detention hearing, the Department of Justice revealed that Teixeira had a “troubling” history of making racist and violent comments. He was suspended from high school in March 2018 when a classmate overheard him talking about weapons, “including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats,” the documents said.
The documents also show that later that year, Teixeira applied for a gun license but was denied because local police were concerned over the comments that got him suspended. The military conducted a full background check on Teixeira when he joined, and yet apparently these details raised no red flags when he was granted a high-level top secret security clearance known as TS-SCI (Top Secret—Sensitive Compartmented Information).
The Discord server where Teixeira shared the documents was created for a group he led. The other members were mostly young men and teenagers who had bonded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic over their shared interest in guns, racist memes, and video games.
The Washington Post reported that a video of Teixeira shows him at a shooting range. He shouts a series of racial and antisemitic slurs before firing repeatedly at a target. Even the name of the Discord server, Thug Shaker Central, is a racist reference. Group members were encouraged to “to hurl epithets and crude jokes,” according to the Post.
Teixeira’s arrest has raised questions about how the junior airman was able to access such highly classified information. As more details about his background emerge, the bigger question seems to be why he was able to access any classified information at all.