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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Michael Sainato

US air force removes commander of Pentagon leak suspect’s unit

Jack Teixeira takes a selfie in a mirror.
Jack Teixeira, a member of the US air national guard, in an undated photograph. Photograph: via Reuters

The US air force has removed the commander of the unit where a low-ranking national guard member accused of leaking highly classified military documents worked.

Col Sean Riley’s removal as commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis air national guard base in Massachusetts was announced along with a report containing the results of an internal investigation into the classified materials leak which led to federal charges against 21-year-old Jack Teixeira.

The investigation found officials in Teixeira’s unit failed to properly take action after they became aware that he was seeking intelligence outside the scope of his duties as a member of the air national guard. Investigators have concluded that Teixeira was acting alone.

“Every [military member] is entrusted with the solemn duty to safeguard our nation’s classified defense information,” the secretary of the air force, Frank Kendall, said in a press release announcing the investigation’s results. “When there is a breach of that sacred trust, for any reason, we will act in accordance with our laws and policies to hold responsible individuals accountable.

“Our national security demands leaders at every level protect critical assets, ensuring they do not fall into the hands of those who would do the United States or our allies and partners harm.”

The investigative report notes Riley was among 15 people reprimanded with disciplinary and other administrative actions. Those disciplined included both enlisted members as well as officers with the air national guard.

Riley’s removal as commander was for cause, the military branch said, which implies he lost his superiors’ confidence for having failed in his duties.

Additionally, the air force said, the Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group commander, Col Enrique Dovalo, was subjected to unspecified administrative action for concerns with culture and compliance of his unit.

Teixeira pleaded not guilty in June 2023 to federal felony charges alleging he leaked the classified information at the center of the case on social media platform. A federal grand jury had previously indicted him on six counts of willful retention and transmission of national defense information, with each count punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He is accused of sharing classified military documents on Discord about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other national security topics.

Authorities allege he began sharing classified documents in a Discord chat group, including typing out documents and sharing photographs, and continued to do so even after being warned by superiors about his activities in accessing intelligence information.

Teixeira allegedly bragged about the scope of information to which he had access, writing that what he had presented was “less than half of what’s available”.

“All of the shit I’ve told you guys I’m not supposed to,” federal prosecutors have alleged he said.

Pundits consider the leak attributed to Teixeira to be one of the worst in US intelligence in at least a decade.

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