Air Force Punishes 15 Service Members in Wake of Teixeira Leak at Massachusetts Guard Base

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

The Air Force announced Monday that 15 Air National Guard enlisted troops and officers have been punished in connection to classified information allegedly leaked by a 21-year-old airman at a Massachusetts base earlier this year, citing a "lack of supervision" that enabled the incident.

The announcement coincided with the release of an Air Force inspector general report that found members of Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira's unit failed to take proper action after becoming aware of him seeking the intelligence, but it found no evidence that any of his supervisors knew that he was allegedly leaking the information online.

Teixeira, who worked at Otis Air National Guard Base, was arrested earlier this year following long-running leaks on an online platform used by gamers that disclosed classified information about the war in Ukraine and U.S. relations with allies. He was charged in April with unauthorized retention, removal and transmission of national defense information and classified documents. He faces six counts for the unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and is still awaiting a trial date after having filed a plea of not guilty in June.

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Starting on Sept. 7, "Air National Guard leaders initiated disciplinary and other administrative actions against 15 individuals, ranging in rank from E-5 to O-6, for dereliction in the performance of duties," Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement on Monday.

Punishment ranged from relieving personnel from their positions, including command positions, to nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Col. Sean Riley, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, and Col. Enrique Dovalo, commander of the 102nd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, a subordinate unit at the base, both received administrative action.

Riley was relieved of command for cause, and Dovalo's punishment was not disclosed. Other prior commanders from the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron who were previously suspended in the wake of the Teixeira leak investigation were permanently removed, the Air Force said.

"Every airman and Guardian is entrusted with the solemn duty to safeguard our nation's classified defense information. 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," Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a statement on Monday.

The Air Force said indirect factors that allowed the leaking included "the failure of commanders to adequately inspect areas under their command, inconsistent guidance for reporting security incidents, inconsistent definitions of the 'Need to Know' concept, conflation of classified system access with the 'Need to Know' principle, inefficient and ineffective processes for administering disciplinary actions, lack of supervision/oversight of night shift operations, and a failure to provide security clearance field investigation results."

Teixeira had a top-secret security clearance as well as access to sensitive compartmented information -- 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 last December on Discord.

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."

Military.com reported in April that airmen who served alongside Texeira were stuck with busy work unrelated to their mission as the service investigated the circumstances of his alleged crimes.

In April, the 102nd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group had its mission paused and divided among other units after Teixeira's arrest. The Air Force said Monday that the group's mission is still reassigned to other Air Force organizations.

"The IG investigation found individuals in Teixeira's unit failed to take proper action after becoming aware of his intelligence-seeking activities," the Air Force said in a statement. "However, the investigation did not find evidence that members of Teixeira's supervisory chain were aware of his alleged unauthorized disclosures."

Following the alleged leaks, airmen and Guardians reviewed security guidelines and went through training on how to handle classified materials.

Related: Air National Guard Unit Where Alleged Leaker Worked Sidelined from Intelligence Work

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