The Air Force is taking steps to improve control over access to classified information following concerns about the handling of sensitive data by a Massachusetts Air National Guard member who leaked confidential and classified documents. Secretary Frank Kendall informed reporters on Monday that there is a need to enforce the rules governing access to classified information based on someone’s security clearance and whether they require access. He said that there is a long-standing principle that an individual must have a legitimate reason to look at classified information and that having clearance does not mean automatic access to all material. The Air Force is reassessing some practices for better enforceability.
Lawyers from the Department of Justice revealed that military superiors voiced worries multiple times about Air Guard member Jack Teixeira’s handling of secret information. The government claims that Teixeira leaked classified national security documents on the gaming forum Discord. Prosecutors urged a magistrate judge to keep Teixeira in jail while awaiting trial in the case stemming from the most significant intelligence leak in years. Teixeira has yet to enter a plea.
As a result of the case, Kendall has given Air Force leaders 30 days to scrutinize their practices and determine if the department is prioritizing the dissemination of information about operations to those who require it and spreading intelligence carefully. The inspector general is conducting an investigation into the matter.
Kendall opined that there are ways to modify digital systems so that not everyone with proper clearance on a system automatically gets access to classified information put online. Prosecutors informed the judge in their filing that Teixeira kept leaking papers after being warned twice by his superiors about “concerning actions” last year involving classified material.
A document from the Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing from September was provided by prosecutors, showing that Teixeira had confidential intelligence information written down and stashed away in his pocket. No notes were to be taken by him on classified information. A memo from late October revealed that a superior was aware that Teixeira was “potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order on deep diving into intelligence information” and was told to focus on his job and not any “deep dives” into classified intelligence information.
The case has prompted questions about why Teixeira continued to have access to classified information despite concerns raised by his military superiors and why further action was not taken.