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What we know about Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman charged in Pentagon leaks case

Feds detail charges in classified documents leak
Feds detail charges against suspect in Pentagon classified documents leak 03:17

Jack Teixeira could decades in prison if convicted of charges he's facing over his suspected connection to the disclosure of dozens of secret documents that revealed sensitive intelligence and defense information.

Teixeira, a 21-year-old airman in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, made his first court appearance in mid-April as he faces charges of unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents. 

A day before Teixeira's appearance at a hearing on April 27 to determine whether he should be detained before his trial, the Justice Department filed a memo that revealed more about what investigators found out about Teixeira's past, and some of the messages he shared.

Jack Teixeira social media post, Feb. 4, 2023 Government exhibit

What do we know about Teixeira so far?

Teixeira joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in September 2019, according to federal court filings. He was granted Top Secret security clearance in 2021, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI special agent. Teixeira also maintained sensitive compartmented access, or "SCI," to other highly classified programs, according to the affidavit. 

Since May 2022, he has been serving as an E-3 Airman First Class, stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, according to court documents. 

High school suspension, application for firearms ID card

While he was in high school, Teixeira was suspended after a classmate overheard him "make remarks about weapons, including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats," the detention memo said. He claimed his comments were in reference to a video game, but other students said the remarks weren't related to any conversation involving a video game.

The memo also noted that while he was still in high school, Teixeira applied for a firearms identification card — and was denied because of police concerns about the remarks that had led to his suspension. He applied again in 2019. In 2020, he wrote a letter citing his service for the U.S. Air Force and referred to his "Top Secret clearance" as evidence that "I have grown as a person" and that he was more responsible.  

"I hope this letter highlights that I have changed as a person from a sixteen year old in High School to a person with a military career in Intelligence/Cyber Intelligence and a person that now has the national trust to safeguard classified information," Teixeira wrote. "It is my hopes that you will now consider me for my Firearms ID."

Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School superintendent Bill Runey confirmed that Teixeira attended the high school, CBS Boston reported. According to the detention memo, Teixeira graduated from high school in 2019.

Firearms "two feet from his bed"

Investigators found in Teixeira's primary residence in North Dighton, where he lived with his mother and stepfather, a gun locker about "two feet from his bed," according to the detention memo. It contained "multiple weapons," including "handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, an AK-style high-capacity weapon and a gas mask." The FBI also found ammunition and tactical pouches "and what appeared to be a silencer-style accessory in his desk drawer." In the dumpster outside his house were a military-style helmet and mounting bracket, along with a GoPro camera. 

Jack Teixeira's room at his mother's and stepfather's home in North Dighton, Massachusetts Government exhibit

Teixeira "regularly made comments about violence and murder" on social media  

According to the detention memo, investigators also found Teixeira "regularly made comments about violence and murder" on social media. Here are some of them:

  • In November 2022, Teixeira allegedly said if he had his way, he would "kill a [expletive] ton of people" because it would be "culling the weak minded." 
  • In November 2022, he allegedly wrote, "I hope isis goes through with their attack plan and creates a massacre at the World Cup."
  • In February 2023, he allegedly told another user that he was tempted to make a minivan into an "assassination van." 
  • In February 2023, he asked another user about what kind of gun could be utilized from the back of an SUV and said he would carry out a shooting in a "crowded urban or suburban environment." 
Social media post by Jack Teixeira Government exhibit

Teixera's net worth

"As noted in the Pretrial Services Report, prior to arrest, the Defendant's net worth was approximately $19,000—approximately half of which appears to be tied to the value of his guns," the detention memo said.

What do prosecutors allege Teixeira did with that clearance access?

A highly sensitive government document posted on a social media platform was accessible to Teixeira because of his work for the Air National Guard, the earlier affidavit said. According to a U.S. federal agency, which has access to logs of documents he accessed, the 21-year-old accessed a government document in February 2023, about one day before a contact of Teixeira's reposted the information on the internet, according to the affidavit. 

That contact told the FBI the information he reposted was originally posted on a server by an individual the FBI believes to be Teixeira. The FBI affidavit even says Teixeira used his government computer to search classified intelligence reports for the word "leak." 

Physical destruction before arrest

Prosecutors said Teixeira appeared to have tried to destroy evidence before his arrest, according to the detention memo: "A search of the dumpster at the Defendant's residence uncovered a tablet, a laptop, and an Xbox gaming console ... All three devices were physically smashed."

What prison sentence might Teixeira face?

If convicted, Teixeira was told in his court appearance Friday that he could face up to15 years in prison. The first charge, for unlawful retention and transmission of national defense information, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, and the other, unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents, could mean up to five years in prison. 

The Justice Department's detention memo, filed on April 26, however, said that he "currently faces 25 years in prison — and potentially far more — and other serious consequences for his conduct," indicating the department may be considering more charges. 

An undated picture shows Jack Douglas Teixeira who was arrested by the FBI, over the leaks online of classified documents
Undated picture shows Jack Douglas Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the U.S. Air National Guard, who was arrested by the FBI, over his alleged involvement in leaks online of classified documents, posing for a selfie at an unidentified location.  Social Media Website/via Reuters

Questions not answered — yet

Upon his return to the U.S. from Ireland earlier in April, President Biden addressed a couple of questions that have not yet been answered. He told reporters he has asked the Defense Department "to make sure they get to the root of why [Teixeira] had access in the first place, No. 1, and No. 2, to focus extensively on the extent to which it all occurred. And that's going on right now." The president told reporters he didn't think the investigation would take long: "We are getting to the bottom of it quicker than I anticipated."

Earlier in the day, he issued a statement commending "the rapid action taken by law enforcement to investigate and respond to the recent dissemination of classified U.S. government documents." Mr. Biden added: "I have directed our military and intelligence community to take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information, and our national security team is closely coordinating with our partners and allies."

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