Russia-Ukraine War

How Could a 21-Year-Old National Guardsman Gain Access to Top Secret Documents?

Jack Teixeira had top-secret security clearance due to his job in the Massachusetts Air National Guard

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“Actions speak louder than words,” that’s the quote Jack Teixeira, a Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of leaking classified U.S. documents on the internet, chose for his senior yearbook when he graduated from Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School in 2020.

His alleged actions are now at the center of a federal investigation.

Teixeira enlisted in the Massachusetts National Guard out of high school. He was stationed at Otis Air National Guard base in Sandwich, Mass. in May of 2022 and was soon after promoted to cyber defense operations journeyman.

The US Air Force website describes the responsibilities as keeping their communications system up and running. The position requires a minimum education of high school diploma or GED, completion of a single scope background investigation and seven and a half weeks of basic military training.

Federal charging documents indicate a top-secret security clearance is required for this position and was granted to him in 2021.

“Ultimately, I think the concern here is what is the impact to national security,” said Lance Fiondella, director of the Cybersecurity Center at UMass Dartmouth.

“My concern is obviously we need to do a good job of training and preserving and monitoring the mental health of our young guardsmen and providing them with the mentorship to do their jobs in a trustworthy manner,” said Fiondella.

But how could a 21-year-guardsman with less than a year in his role take such top-secret classified documents undetected? Fiondella says more safeguards could be implemented.

“This notion of a security-enhanced operating system or network is certainly possible. If you put a USB drive into a computer and that is not an approved device or a certain person is logged in then certainly there should be a way to track this or prevent it from happening, that is one could with technology prevent people from making bad decisions.”

According to a witness, interviewed by investigators, the leaked documents included a description of the status of the Russia/Ukraine conflict, including troop movements.

“What it means is that our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters or our allies lives could be at increased risk if the enemy that we’re in conflict with is aware and can use that information against us. so this is about protecting our fellow citizens it’s a very serious commitment that anybody undertakes when entrusted with national security secrets.”

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