back to article Air National Guardsman Teixeira to admit he was Pentagon files leaker

Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman accused of leaking dozens of classified Pentagon documents, is expected to plead guilty in a US court on Monday. Teixeira allegedly shared the top-secret files and photographs via his private Discord server in February 2022, and these classified documents later surfaced on social media …

  1. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    Could someone more familiar with the US legal system explain what he gains, in this case, by changing his plea?

    How much will it reduce his sentence?

    EDIT: just read the .mil article on the discipline measures taken against the perp's chain of command. Yikes! Talk about messing up your life by negligence.Heck, the entire group has a black mark it seems.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Not sure how much it will reduce his sentence, but it will reduce it. There is no point in taking it to trial if you're guilty, unless you are willing to take a shot the government prosecutors screw up somewhere and you can get off on a technicality (and can afford to pay a few million in legal bills for the kind of representation you'd need to pay for representation in a full trial involving classified material)

      And yes, the military does seem to take punishing higher ups for failures a lot more seriously than the business world where at worst an executive lose part of his bonus for one year then everyone forgets about it!

    2. Andy Non Silver badge
      Joke

      It may reduce his sentence from 120 years down to 105 years. With good behaviour he'll be out in 95 years. ;-)

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      There is no simple formula. Prosecutors can request specific sentences that are lower than the expected one at a trial, but they have a lot of control over what they ask for. People who have a lot of useful information to give can often negotiate more significant reductions than those who don't. It could just be that the evidence is so convincing that the defendant sees no chance of getting out of it, especially if they've already admitted guilt in some way or if they have no plan for what they're going to claim happened instead, so they skip what they view, probably correctly, as a forgone conclusion. So if he is going to do it, we don't know what he's expecting to get out of doing so.

    4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      And yes, the military does seem to take punishing higher ups for failures a lot more seriously

      Perhaps it should be the military going after their former commander in-chief for taking classified material and storing them in his pool house, and not the DOJ

  2. Grunchy Silver badge

    Say, where did Assange go?

    Whatever happened to multimillionaire hacker Assange? Say, how do you do nothing worthwhile your whole life, then “eureka!” start stealing worthless American military secrets, of no interest or value to anybody on Earth; and next thing you know you release a little bit publicly a little bit privately, and inexplicably you’re a multimillionaire and some asshole from USA is trying to extradite you there to be assassinated, jailed for life, and executed, all on fake Trump Up charges that any fool sees is phoney baloney x infinity.

    1. t245t Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Say, where did Assange go?

      Assange: Swedes & UK obstructed sex crime investigation

      ‘In August 2010, when the rape claims were first made, Assange voluntarily remained in Sweden and presented himself to the police. After assessing the evidence, the chief prosecutor said “no crime” had been committed and that the file would be “closed.”’

      ‘The case against Assange was reopened a month later by a different local prosecutor. From 8 to 14 September, Assange repeatedly offered to be questioned but no interview was arranged. The prosecutor advised Assange on 15 September that he was free to leave Sweden, which he did.’

      1. Casca Silver badge

        Re: Say, where did Assange go?

        Oh, nice alternative history you got there...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Say, where did Assange go?

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-68361208

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Its his own fault

    He should have demanded his constitutional right to be tried as a rich white politician

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its his own fault

      Did you mean "a rich orange politician"?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Its his own fault

        It's your right to be tried by a jury of your peers and a judge you appointed

  4. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    "National Security"

    Sometimes (many times?) the whole information/document classification system produces nonsensical results, sometimes it's used to cover up embarrassing things or outright wrongdoing by highly-placed politicians and officers, but there is some reasonable sense to why it is in place.

    If you paid taxes which financed your government's many-millions-of-pounds-to-build new Death Star, you don't want the advantage of having that Death Star evaporate because the rebels easily picked up a Hayne's Manual for the thing and found an exploitable weakness in it.

    1. Blofeld's Cat
      Mushroom

      Re: "National Security"

      "... Death Star ... Hayne's Manual ..."

      Chapter 5 - Servicing the reactor.

      ...

      5.04 Replace the covering grate on the exhaust port.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: "National Security"

        "Okay ... completed step 5.03 .." (bell rings) "BREAK TIME!"

      2. Zoopy

        Re: "National Security"

        This is why the Empire stopped outsourcing to Spirit Airways.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    It could be much worse for him

    He could be sharing a remand cell with Donny J Trump.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lets move forward

    If I was working in the Pentagon then detecting an event like this would be useful, instead of prosecuting him I would simply get him to forward documents that would be created to help us by giving the recipients totally false information that helps us, not them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets move forward

      That's solid thinking, except not for this one - some shit-for-brains loser bragging to his gaming mates isn't a reliable way of leaking stuff you want to leak.

      The counter intelligence people would certainly consider doing it if they detected for people who were actively supplying intel to foreign powers, but even that depends on the type of intel that the perp already has access to. If somebody has access to say intel assessments and deployments around Cuba, their handlers would be very suspicious if they suddenly found the supposed blueprints for the next stealth bomber.

      Back in the day, several Soviet aircraft appeared concurrently with Western aircraft, and were just so suspiciously like the Western version that is stretched credibility to assume they were not near copies. However, the Soviet ones didn't have a good start in life, and suspicion was that the Soviets had got plans that weren't quite right, but they didn't know that. Nothing was ever admitted by either side.

      1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        Re: lets move forward

        Some Floridian shit-for-brains loser bragging to his gaming mates wasn't a reliable way of leaking stuff he wanted to leak either, that's not the point. Disregard for the processes that guard sensitive information is a different set of offences to actual espionage, but they're under the same Act because the former facilitates the latter. And they're both criminal acts, so if guilty, similar penalties apply.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: lets move forward

      It's a bit late to start doing that when this person has been caught for releasing classified documents. Nobody would ever trust what he released again because they know that the military would not give him access again. For doing this, you need someone who looks like a plausible source of leaks and someone who is happy to back up your plans. Someone who is weirdly into conspiracy theories doesn't meet the second goal, and someone who actually leaked documents breaks the first.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: lets move forward

        Believe it or not, turning actual spies is actually a thing. Super-dangerous for the spy, but the turning power often "has ways" to make it worthwhile--at least at first.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: lets move forward

          That's when they know the spy is a spy, but everyone else doesn't. If they've already publicly caught the spy and imprisoned them, it generally doesn't work to let them out, say "we were wrong, sorry about that" and expect that everyone will believe the spy just managed to escape and retain their clearance. By the time that you publicly indicate that someone has specifically investigated this person on suspicion of espionage, their trustworthiness has been significantly reduced.

  7. hayzoos

    Well there's your problem

    "was observed viewing intelligence content on TS-SCI websites"

    Who thought making such restricted information so readily available on a system designed to easily "share" information was a good idea? Access control is at best a bolt-on afterthought in an HTML based system. You know damn well that the very same core as the WWW was used as the starting point to build these "TS-SCI websites" using web developers familiar with the current HTML tech so these websites are probably of similar technical quality.

    1. SCP

      Re: Well there's your problem

      Probably the same sort of people who think the best way to run a military meeting to discuss the supply of missiles to [redacted] is a Webex.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Well there's your problem

      You can wrap HTTP in a protocol that does access control and run it on an isolated system. You can put lots of extra restrictions around that; a protocol that separately encrypts your stream using asymmetric keys for identity verification is fully compatible with HTTP, as are many other viable access control methods. It's not that bad to use HTML as the presentation format and HTTP as the retrieval protocol if you do that, and they make developing for the internal part of the system easier since you don't have to reinvent those parts.

      Whether you agree with this or not, and if you don't, I'm curious to hear what your optimal or acceptable protocol would be, this was not responsible for anything in this case. The failure was not that this user was able to break into the insufficiently secured HTTP server. It was that he had been granted access to stuff he probably didn't need access to, his managers knew that he had the access and was using it but did nothing, and he was willing to abuse those things. The one technical failure that I can see in this system is that it seems like it was pretty easy to extract the sensitive documents and get copies out of the secure environment. That's a big problem, but it is unrelated to how the data arrived at his terminal; you could lock down every connection, encrypt every packet ten times, have keys and passwords and iris scans to access them, and if the terminal can still print on paper and the user can take the paper out, then it won't prevent something like this happening.

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: Well there's your problem

        Just because they can, doesn't mean they did.

        Additionally, the military is all about passing the buck, Push the work down to the lowest level. If that person doesn't have the clearance, grant it to them. I've also seen this same nonsense int he private sector.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Well there's your problem

          However, the initial statement implied that using that at all was an indicator of a failure in design. I don't know what their system did look like, and it is quite possible that it has multiple severe security design failures. That websites were involved does not prove it.

    3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Well there's your problem

      An old security book I read documented some military computer security systems (1950s? 1960s?) in which four factors were considered before granting access to a file.

      Factor 0: Classification level of the file.

      Factor 1: Classification level permitted to the user's account.

      Factor 2: Location of the terminal. Terminals located in a physically-secure, on-base room were considered "more secure" than, say, a terminal at the end of a dial-up access line.

      Factor 3: Time of day. 3AM access via dial-up line for Private Pettygrove to a Top Secret file?? Computer said, 'No', the access attempt was logged, and sent to the security operator's console. Private Pettygrove would soon have some 'splainin' to do to the security team.

  8. t245t Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Classified top-secret intelligence files stored on websites :o

    Top-secret and websites don't go in the same sentence.

    Teixeira "was observed viewing intelligence content on TS-SCI websites" in August 2022

    Presumably that was six months after he shared them on a ‘private’ Discord server.

    A month later Teixeira was caught viewing intelligence documents while scribbling on a Post-It note.

    Jezus tap-dancing Christ on roller-skates :o

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Writing on Post-It Notes

      Nothing wrong with making notes about secure materials one is viewing as required for the execution of one's job tasks.

      Failing to treat those notes as classified material is a different kettle of worms.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patriotic vs. Idiotic

    He probably assumed that because his name is almost "Tex", that everything he felt and did was by definition patriotic. But it fact it was not for his fatherland, but for his own id - the definition of idiotic.

    (No offense meant to Texans, my own father was a born Texan).

  10. Phiphi in SoCal

    Espionage is still a capital crime.

    As it should be.

    Time to make an example.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

      What about espionage via gross stupidity?

      - Asking for a guy in Florida.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

        He may be gross, but he's not stupid in his own frame of reference where only one person counts.

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

        Dance on the train tracks, get hit by a locomotive, and you're dead. Everyone understands this aspect of locomotives and trains. If a stupid person makes a stupid choice, that's regrettable, but we don't blame the train's engineer, nor ban trains.

    2. Ideasource Bronze badge

      Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

      If they wouldn't create secrets in the first place they wouldn't have this problem.

      accountability for being sneaky and underhanded is broken and excepted for government because everyone's scared to to take them off the pedestal.

      Which is reasonable enough.

      You piss them off they send goons with guns as well as weaponizing general society against you through poisoning of records.

      The common brutality and avoidance of natural consequence ought to be considered horrific.

      The ability of humans to normalize unfair treatment and avoidance of responsibility regarding natural consequence of methodology regarding deception/secrecy is truly impressive.

      Might makes right still remains the defacto backing of government power.

      1. Ideasource Bronze badge

        Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

        When gambling for an outcome with external forces and entities, is poor sportsmanship and irresponsible thinking to do not accept the possibility of failure as a natural consequence of choice of effort l.

        It would be more honest if they would take responsibility for that loss as natural fallout of trying to control the uncontrollable.

        When it comes to winning outcomes in this world, governments are spoiled little babies attitude-wise.

        Always blaming others for the failure of their predicted strategies as if they were entitled to their goals rather than honestly regarding themselves high stakes gamblers trying to suspend reality in favor of a dream.

        I just wish they would take their losses with dignity rather than lash out.

        Its sets a very bad example for humanity.

        What if we all treated each other that way?

        There would be no peace or love in this world at all.

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

        everyone's scared to to take them off the pedestal.

        That's part of news media's role: to document what was done, to let everyone know, and in sufficiently-severe cases, the public outrage will be enough that the "old boys' club" will no longer protect their misbehaving member, and ~some sort~ of justice will be done. It's not perfect, but the news media does serve as a sort of counterbalance to the misuse of power by the state, or individuals-within-the-state misusing the power of the state.

        1. Ideasource Bronze badge

          Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

          On a humorous note.

          Picture this.

          All the politicians show up for work

          And find that nobody pays attention to them anymore.

          Every time they tried communicate anything everyone says no thank you and walks away including their own subordinates.

          That would be hilarious.

          They would fume and makes words all day to no avail.

          That is if they ever stopped arguing with each other to notice that no one was paying attention.

          A fantasy I know.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Espionage is still a capital crime.

            Where they can appear to themselves every day

            On closed circuit T.V. ?

            To make sure they're still real.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still not as stupid as our British "Official Secrets Act"

    Someone got done for publishing an "Official Secret" that was a publicity available document in the rest of Europe.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Still not as stupid as our British "Official Secrets Act"

      When Snowden's revelation of America spying on Americans was on every new outlet, military personnel were told not to watch TV news in case it revealed information about activities that they weren't cleared to know about.

  12. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    ...if a tycoon born into immense privilege and wealth can avoid a stretch behind bars awaiting a similar trial, so should I...

    Not the sharpest tool in the box, is he?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I always file to run for election before I go out criming

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Was it Mark Twain that observed that politicians are the only native criminal class in the US?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Yes - I saw his Tweet about it

  13. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Know the rules

    If you are going to mishandle state secrets without consequence in the US, you must be one of the following: Secretary of State, Vice President, President, or former of any of the former.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like