The leak of classified documents leading to Jack Teixeira’s arrest has immediately prompted a wave of conjecture about the perpetrator’s motivations, about the importance of the material now circulating, and about the state of U.S. intelligence agencies.
Theoretically, one might speculate that Jack Texeira was trying to follow in the steps of activists such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who believed there was a need to stop nations from meddling in the lives of their citizens and risked the same consequences for exposing secrets damaging to the United States. However, for the moment and as far as we know, it rather seems that this young computer technician — who has been with the Massachusetts National Guard for the last four years — merely intended to show off to his friends on the Discord group. That would explain the mishmash of subjects that were disclosed without any priority and with no other objective than to share everything that passed through his hands, from images of the Chinese balloon that recently flew across American airspace to news about Ukraine, South Korea and Egypt.
With regard to the disseminated material, Joe Biden himself has been quick to assert that the information is outdated and absolutely irrelevant. The truth is that there are no surprises in the portrait of the U.S. as a nation that spies on its own allies in the presence of NATO members’ special operations units on Ukrainian soil, in acknowledging the difficulties on the part of Kyiv to launch the offensive seeking to disrupt the Russian invasion, or even in the remark about the Wagner mercenary group trying to obtain ammunition from Turkey and about Egypt’s plans to supply rockets to Russia. In short, nothing will change the dynamics of warfare in Ukraine no matter the military casualties acknowledged in those documents, no matter the ammunition and artillery Kyiv may have, or the data on the new brigades supplied with NATO equipment, predictably in charge of playing the lead in the Ukraine offensive.
What seems to be more serious is the effect caused by the leaks in the United States intelligence network, starting with the question of how a low-level technician from a unit that is not meant to intervene outside of Massachusetts has access to such high-level information. An estimated 1.3 million Americans have security clearance to handle classified information, yet beyond debating whether this number is too big or too small, we are left with the lasting impression that there is an obvious mistake with regard to the criteria used to grant such access. The same is true about the mechanism used to control what circulates in social media, since nobody seems to have detected the criminal activity that Teixeira had been engaging in for months nor the leak of documents until very recently. All this shows that the scandals regarding intelligence materials that have added up since the leak to WikiLeaks 13 years ago have apparently failed to lead to improved security.
In any case, pending confirmation that what happened was the result of foolish behavior — for which Teixeira could face a lengthy prison sentence — along with a wealth of instruments used to service and manipulate disinformation, we cannot rule out the possibility that we face a bizarre system of information pollution with purposes that still escape us. We shall see.