2 Air Guard Leaders in Accused Pentagon Leaker's Massachusetts Unit Suspended

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

Two leaders of the Massachusetts Air National Guard unit that is home to a 21-year-old airman charged with leaking classified documents online have been suspended, the Air Force said Thursday.

The 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron's operational commander and federal orders administrative commander have been suspended during an ongoing investigation into the alleged leaking by Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. They will be suspended until the Air Force inspector general finishes the investigation.

"Also, the Department of Air Force has temporarily removed these individuals' access to classified systems and information," Stefanek said in an emailed statement. "Commanders are taking appropriate action as information becomes available."

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The suspensions were ordered by the commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing, which includes the support squadron, at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.

Teixeira, who helped maintain classified communication systems in the Air Guard, is charged with unauthorized retention, removal and transmission of national defense information and classified documents that he allegedly leaked to an online forum popular with video gamers.

The airman had another court hearing Thursday in which prosecutors introduced new allegations, including that he was suspended in high school for making violent threats, had traded messages online that appeared to be planning for a public shooting from an SUV, and had a trove of weapons.

Prosecutors argued that Teixeira is a flight risk because he may still have classified documents and U.S. adversaries abroad may attempt to help him abscond if he is released pending trial. His case is being handled by the Justice Department, with an assist from the Defense Department; so far, he has not been charged under military law.

Notably, Teixeira has been on federal Title 10 orders since October, National Guard officials previously told Military.com, meaning he had been on active-duty status performing military duties as opposed to more sporadic drill weekends in Massachusetts.

Because he was on active duty, Teixeira could also face military charges separate from Justice Department prosecution. Guardsmen, who spend the bulk of their service under different duty statuses working part time, often fall out of military justice jurisdiction.

The leak case involves dozens of classified documents -- the total number has still not been made public -- turning up in recent months on the Discord social media site, where Teixeira allegedly posted them to a group of online friends.

The sensitive information in the documents was meant as briefing materials for defense officials such as the Joint Chiefs and included concerns about Ukraine's ability to defend against Russia and also U.S. spying on allies South Korea and Israel. When the leak became public earlier this month, defense officials spent days reaching out to allies to reassure them.

The Air Force said last week it was launching an investigation into how the leak occurred.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall called in the inspector general to probe classified safeguards at the wing. All units across the force were also ordered to conduct a stand-down to review their policies.

-- Travis Tritten can be reached at travis.tritten@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Tritten.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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

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