Air Force Launches Investigation of Teixeira's Guard Unit After Leak Arrest

Entrance sign to Joint Base Cape Cod.
Entrance sign to Joint Base Cape Cod. (Photo by Ktr101 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Air Force says it is launching an investigation into the Massachusetts Air National Guard wing where Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira worked before he was arrested last week following a long-running leak online that disclosed classified information about the war in Ukraine and U.S. relations with allies.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall directed the service's inspector general to probe compliance with classified safeguards at the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, according to a memo to the force on Tuesday that was shared with It also calls for every unit to conduct a stand-down to review their policies.

Jack Douglas Teixeira, 21, was arrested by armed federal authorities on Thursday and is suspected of sharing secret documents he gleaned from his job at the base with a group of friends on the popular video-gaming social messaging platform Discord. The disclosure caused friction with allies such as South Korea and Israel, and was touted by pro-Russian sources online.

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"The Secretary of the Air Force directed the Department of the Air Force inspector general to investigate overall compliance with policy, procedures and standards, including the unit environment and compliance at the 102nd Intelligence Wing related to the release of national security information," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told in an emailed statement.

The Department of the Air Force's review is in addition to the one the Pentagon announced following Teixeira's arrest. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a 45-day review of how access to classified information is handled across the department, and he issued a memo on Monday warning the military to follow detailed requirements for safeguarding the information, such as locked containers and end-of-day security checks.

    The release of the information created a diplomatic headache that required the Pentagon to make days of calls to reassure allies. It also exposed a more candid U.S. assessment of Ukraine's war effort, as well as Russian losses.

    "Some people need to be fired over this," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told ABC News on Sunday.

    The dozens of documents -- the Pentagon has still not determined how many leaked online -- appear to have originated from the 102nd Intelligence Wing, where Teixeira was stationed.

    The wing's mission is to "provide worldwide precision intelligence" mainly "for expeditionary combat support and homeland security." It is more than 100 years old and started as the 101st Observation Squadron of the Massachusetts National Guard in 1921, according to its website.

    The memo detailing the Air Force's independent investigation was released to service members prior to Kendall, Air Force Chief of Staff Charles "CQ" Brown and Chief of Space Operations Chance Saltzman's appearance before a Senate appropriations defense subcommittee hearing on Monday morning.

    Kendall's memo released to the force on Monday said units must complete their stand-down within 30 days.

    During the hearing on Capitol Hill, several Senate appropriators expressed deep concerns over the leak.

    "This is very disturbing," Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and chair of the Defense subcommittee, said. "The fact that it happened is bad enough, and we just got to make sure it doesn't happen again."

    Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and ranking member of the subcommittee, pressed Kendall on whether the service is still operating under a "need-to-know" principle that only allows personnel access to classified information when it is critical to their job function.

    She also pointed out that Teixeira allegedly had access to documents that "had absolutely nothing to do with his job."

    Kendall admitted that Air Force policies need to be reviewed.

    "We need to enforce it much more rigorously than it appears to have been in this case," Kendall told Collins. "There is a full-court press going on about this. We're all disturbed about it, and we're working very, very hard to get to the bottom of it."

    Teixeira was hit with federal charges last week, accused of unauthorized retention, removal and transmission of national defense information and classified documents.

    He not only had a top-secret security clearance but also sensitive compartmented access, a more restrictive designation for some of the government's most closely guarded secrets, since 2021, according to an affidavit from the Justice Department.

    Federal documents allege that Teixeira began posting the classified information as paragraphs of text starting in December.

    By January, federal authorities claim he started posting pictures of the intelligence and secret information, because he was worried he would be discovered making transcripts of the documents at his job. They allege he began taking the documents to his home where he photographed them.

    Leaked information included photos of numerous classified defense documents pertaining to operations in the Ukraine war, as well as U.S. surveillance efforts around the world, federal officials claim.

    As federal investigators closed in on Teixeira, he reportedly called members of the online Discord chat group to tell them he never expected this situation to happen, according to The New York Times. He reportedly claimed the documents were not meant to be widely distributed but only shared with a close-knit group of friends in the private chat.

    "Guys, it's been good -- I love you all," Teixeira said, one listener recounted to The New York Times. "I never wanted it to get like this. I prayed to God that this would never happen. And I prayed and prayed and prayed. Only God can decide what happens from now on."

    Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, decried the flippancy with which Teixeira allegedly treated the documents.

    "It's almost like it was a game, you're in this chat room, which was supposedly with small amounts of people. And, you know, all, this kind of chatter is not a game," Capito said. "You're endangering lives. You're endangering, you know, freedoms, just eroding trust."

    -- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

    Related: Federal Charges Against Air National Guardsman Allege He Spent Months Leaking Highly Sensitive Intelligence

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