Newly released memos revealing that Air Force leadership repeatedly warned Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira about inappropriately accessing classified intelligence have left former and current defense personnel baffled at how he retained his security clearance and was able to continue sharing classified information for months.
“This is negligence on the part of the chain of command,” said Jason Kikta, a former Marine Corps Officer and former member of US Cyber Command. “They had a clear pattern of behavior,” adding he “should have been cut off at the second incident.”
Three Air Force memos documenting Teixeira’s misconduct were released publicly on Wednesday as part of the prosecution’s argument in favor keeping him detained pending trial.
The memos showed that Teixeira, a 21-year-old junior enlisted airman who worked within the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, had received a direct order from his superiors to stop taking notes on intelligence, which they found he was ignoring just a month later. And just months before he was arrested for allegedly sharing the intelligence online, a third memo said a supervisor observed him accessing intelligence unrelated to his job.
Teixeira was arrested on April 14 and has been charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials.
Teixeira has not yet entered a formal plea, and a detention hearing is scheduled for Friday. His defense lawyers have argued he didn’t expect classified information that he posted on Discord to be further spread around the internet.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Thursday that the new information was “deeply troubling.”
“You can bet the Senate Intelligence Committee will be following up on it,” he said.
According to one current US service member who handles classified intelligence, the memos read as if Teixeira’s leadership was building a case for disciplinary action against him. It’s unclear, however, where those memos went or who saw them.
‘Observed taking notes’
A memo from September 2022 says Teixeira was “observed taking notes on classified intelligence information” in the unit’s sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, and putting “the note into his pocket.” He was instructed “to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information,” the memo said.
A month later, his supervisors believed he was “potentially ignoring” a cease-and-desist order he was given in September, to stop deep diving into intelligence.
They were made aware of the second infraction when Teixeira started asking “very specific questions” after a weekly intelligence briefing, and was asked if he had been accessing JWICS, a government network for top secret information, to look up classified intelligence.
The current US service member said that typically would have been an immediate red flag to everyone in the room, given that not only had Teixeira been told not to take notes on classified intelligence, but that his job as a cyber systems journeyman wouldn’t require him to know that information.
“If one of our cyber troops showed up at a briefing and started asking detailed questions, everyone in the room is going to be like … What in the world are you doing?’” the service member said. “That is so outside the norm.”
Some understanding, though, could be gleamed by an offer to Teixeira that was recorded in the s