- Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow

Jack Teixeira (lead image, left), the US Air Force national guardsman arrested on espionage allegations in April, is scheduled to appear in a Boston federal court for his arraignment on the prosecution’s charges this Wednesday, June 21.  

Six counts were listed in the grand jury indictment filed in court on June 15. The 10-page paper reveals new evidence contradicting the case against Teixeira which has been published in the mainstream media based on official government leaks to the Bellingcat propaganda organization and the New York Times, which are working together against Teixeira and against the intelligence disclosures attributed to him.  

The new court evidence is now pointing to the likelihood that Teixeira’s access to highly classified documents prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (lead image, right) at the end of February this year had been facilitated for him by senior US Air Force (USAF) officials.

If provable, Teixeira will plead not guilty and his lawyers will prepare the defence case of entrapment. If embarrassing to the Pentagon and the Justice Department, Teixeira may be offered a plea bargain of guilty in exchange for no trial of the evidence and a reduced jail sentence. The section of the Espionage Act which is the basis of Teixeira’s prosecution, 18 United States Code Section 793(e ), provides ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for  conviction  on each count. The 21-year old is facing the equivalent of a life sentence.  

It is not yet known whether Teixeira, who has been ordered to remain in prison without possibility of bail release, will appear in person in court or sign a waiver. His lawyers are also not saying what plea Teixeira will enter.

According to the court case docket, the lead Boston public defender who had been representing Teixeira since his arrest, Joshua Hanye,  has withdrawn from the case and been replaced by Michael Bachrach; he is a New York attorney who specializes in defending in cases involving classified intelligence materials and sources, and unlawful government tactics.   


Source: https://drive.google.com/
This docket and the case number changed once the grand jury returned its indictment on June 15, and the case was then scheduled for arraignment. The new case number is 1:23-cr-10159. From Washington, the Department of Justice issued this press release last week in brief summary of the indictment.  

Follow the case developments and evidence in this story so far in the Pentagon Papers archive.  

The ten JCS documents comprising the first and most important part of the published leaks were reported on April 7. More detail and reproduction of some of the documents followed on April 9;  click for analysis.   Mikhail Podolyak, speaking for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, announced that the documents were “part of a Russian information operation and does not reveal Kyiv’s actual operational plans. ‘Russia is looking for any way to seize the information initiative, to try to influence Ukraine’s counter-offensive plans, to introduce doubts, to compromise plans, to frighten [us] with their ‘awareness’…This is a bluff . . . this has nothing to do with Ukraine’s real plans.”   

The Russian disinformation claim preceded Teixeira’s arrest by five days. The Financial Times reported the leaked documents were genuine but neither sensitive nor secret. “A western defence adviser who works with Ukraine’s army said the documents looked real, but most of the information was not sensitive and ‘could have been worked out’. The documents ‘do not say where the [Ukrainian counter]-attack would take place or when’, he said, nor do they contain information about mobile command units. The leak ‘is more embarrassing than anything’, he added.”

Source: https://www.ft.com/

In the Bellingcat-New York Times version, which appeared in print on April 21,   Teixeira was accused of “the exposure of some of America’s most closely guarded secrets”.  The report claims the leaks had started on or about February 25, 2022, “less than 48 hours into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”, and were numerous over more than the year which followed before Teixeira’s arrest on April 13, 2023.

“How Airman Teixeira obtained the documents that he is accused of posting online has been a key question for investigators,” the Bellingcat group and the newspaper acknowledged – without providing an answer. “They believe he used administrator privileges connected to his information technology job to access documents. In his posts, Airman Teixeira said his job gave him access to material that others could not see. ‘The job I have lets me get privilege’s [sic] above most intel guys,’ he wrote.”

“It is not clear whether authorities are aware of the classified material posted on this additional Discord chat group. The newly discovered information posted on the larger chat group included details about Russian and Ukrainian casualties, activities of Moscow’s spy agencies and updates on aid being provided to Ukraine. The user claimed to be posting information from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies. The additional information raises questions about why authorities did not discover the leaks sooner, particularly since hundreds more people would have been able to see the posts.”

The new evidence in court, not reported so far by Bellingcat, is that the USAF did discover Teixeira was improperly making notes from classified materials he was accessing inside the unit for top secret and sensitive compartmented intelligence (SCI) , and attempting to conceal the notes in his pockets. In three separate incidents Teixeira’s superiors investigated his note-taking — on September 15, 2022; on October 25, 2022; and then on January 30, 2023.

On the first occasion, two USAF superiors confronted Teixeira and “instructed [him] to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence”. The second time his superiors were “made aware that A1C [Airman First Class] Teixeira was potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order on deep diving into intelligence information”, which he had been given the month before. He was subsequently interrogated on whether he had been accessing the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS); this is a secure intranet system utilized by the Pentagon to store Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.   What Teixeira admitted he had been doing, and why, have been blacked out in the court record. The evidence indicates Teixeira was ordered not to access the JWICS at all, and instead to “focus on his own career duties and not to seek out intelligence products”.

On January 30, a superior spotted Teixeira again “on a JWICS machine”. This was reported upwards.

The prosecutors have yet to disclose how far upwards in the USAF command these incidents and Teixeira’s breach of orders were reported,  and whether the USAF, other US agencies,  or the British were monitoring Teixeira’s social media intelligence claims.

An FBI affidavit in the court file records the comments Teixeira made to his chat group about the extent of his intelligence access. On November 19, 2022, he noted “I’m on JWICS weekly”. On December 6, 2022, he told his contact group — according to the FBI’s affidavit – “I’m breaking a ton of UD regs…all of the shit I’ve told you guys I’m not supposed.” When one of his contacts suggested “maybe you should start a blog, that way you have organized place to post it all”, Teixeira replied: “Shooting myself in the back of the head twice isnt something im fond of…and making a blog would be the equivalent of what chelsea manning did.”

His motive, Teixeira had written on November 19, was that “knowing what happens more than pretty much anyone else is cool,”

Source: https://drive.google.com/
According to the FBI’s investigator, the “social media platform” where Teixeira posted his material had “at least three separate servers” and one of the servers “had at least 150 unique users, some of whom represented that they lived in foreign countries, and some of whom used foreign IP addresses to log on to the Social Media Platform.”  

Bellingcat wrote in the New York Times that in September Teixeira had told his chat group that he “usually worked with GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters] people when I’m looking at foreign countries.” It is clear from the court record that Teixeira did not “work” with GCHQ. However, his access to GCHQ intelligence may have been detected by the British; according to the standard intelligence-sharing practice, they may have warned their US counterpart National Security Agency, which then alerted the US Air Force commanding Teixeira’s unit and other agencies.

The counts charged against Teixeira, made public by the government for the first time last week,  do not (repeat not) include the note-taking, concealment, and repeated violations of orders between September of 2022 and January of 2023.  The first two of the counts refer to Teixeira’s later note-taking. The indictment alleges this amounted to “unauthorized possession…willful retention…and fail[ure] to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it”. His summaries of his notes, excerpts,  and commentaries to others in the chat group amounted to his having “wilfully communicated, delivered and transmitted such information to a person or persons not entitled to receive it.”

Source:  https://drive.google.com/

The Bellingcat-New York Times collaboration has claimed these are “some of America’s most closely guarded secrets”. The brief descriptions provided by the prosecutors in the charge sheet  indicates the information may have been kept secret from the American public, but not from the “foreign adversary” or the US company which had been successfully targeted. Information about US equipment provided to the Ukraine may not have been openly published in the US media, but was it kept secret from the US Congress, the Ukrainian regime in Kiev, or the Russians? Was the “closely guarded secret” Teixeira is now accused of pocketing, then revealing to his social media contacts information which the Biden Administration has tried to keep secret from the Congress and American voters, while publicizing information on the same topics which Administration  officials have known to be false?

If defence attorney Bachrach insists on opening up these two items of classified information, and the prosecutors refuse, the counts may have to be dropped. The Department of Justice has run into this obstacle in the past when it attempted to prosecute alleged Russian election interference operations in the US.   In March 2020, for example, Justice Department prosecutors announced in federal court in Washington, DC, that they were dropping their case against Yevgeny Prigozhin’s companies, Concord Management and Concord Catering, because “a trial of this case risks publicizing sensitive law enforcement information regarding measures used to investigate and protect against foreign influence over the political system”.    Withdrawal of the prosecution had been forced by defence lawyers for the accused Russians who had requested proof of the evidence in the indictment. The prosecutors then admitted in court that this “forces the prosecutors to choose between a materially weaker case and the compromise of classified material”.

In analysis of cases of this kind, US government weakness can be called the Mueller precedent, after the recent Special Counsel, Robert Mueller; chief prosecutor of alleged Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016;  read this.  But there is a much older case of FBI investigation of espionage for the Soviet Union in which the USAF intervened to stop an open trial; that is the Ted Hall precedent.* In that case, the USAF decided its  interest, and also the country’s, was better served by overruling the eagerness of the Justice Department, FBI, and the White House to demonstrate it can catch, convict, and if necessary, kill Russian agents.

In the prosecutors’ case against Teixeira, the dates given in the counts suggest that for almost the full twelve months of last year, when the indictment alleges Teixeira “improperly retained and transmitted National Defense Information”, none of it has been included on the charge sheet —  not even the three series of offences Teixeira’s USAF superiors caught him committing between September 2022 and January 2023; recorded in evidence against him; and then ordered him to “cease and desist”.  

Source: https://drive.google.com/

On October 27, Teixeira’s superiors told him he was not to pursue any classified information of any kind, especially not “deep dives into classified intelligence information.” Instead, he was ordered to “focus on his job as a 1D.” According to the USAF specialty code manual, Teixeira’s job code 1 stands for operations; D stands for cyber security operations.   This means that when Teixeira was telling his chat room contacts he was assigned to working on foreign country intelligence, especially the Ukraine war, he was boasting, not telling the truth.

Source: FBI affidavit by Special Agent Luke Church, May 17, 2023. The acronym “aor” which Teixeria claims to have been his “primary” work stands for “area of responsibility”.

Alternatively, if Teixeira was telling the truth, the USAF reports already in the case file in court are untrue.

In addition to Teixeira’s note-taking, four of the counts refer to single government documents. Although there are ten JCS documents in the published versions of the Teixeira’s leaks, just two in the charges against Teixeira refer to the war in the Ukraine; they are described in counts 3 and 5. Note the dates of these alleged offences – they occurred between February and April 2023. In other words, the offences alleged by the US government represent a fraction of the Pentagon Papers which are public, and an even smaller fraction of the leaks Teixeira is reported to have carried out since January 2022.

This raises fundamental questions about the case which Teixeira himself is unlikely to be able to answer; and which his lawyers led by Bachrach will not discuss with the press. The questions and answers have been covered up by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other media, which have been printing the Bellingcat materials leaked by the government.

These questions direct the focus of investigation of the case on to the USAF and its commanding general, soon to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Brown.   What evidence about Teixeira’s note-taking, concealment, and his weekly access to the JWICS files did Teixeira’s superiors refer to their commanding officers, to USAF counter-intelligence and the Office of Special Investigations? How much of Teixeira’s conversations and summaries of his notes, which he posted throughout 2022, did the USAF follow? Who took the decision to let Teixeira continue accessing JWICS, take photographs of JCS papers, and then publish them? What role, if any, did the British signals interceptions of GCHQ trigger an alert, when, and did the USAF already know?

Not least of all, now that federal prosecutors have disclosed the charges, there is the question: If Teixeira is not being prosecuted for eight of the ten Pentagon Papers which have been leaked, who was responsible for them? Was Teixeira the patsy in a USAF entrapment operation?

For discussion of the entrapment evidence, read this;  and for a review of the entrapment defence in US espionage cases dating back to 1923, click.   

[*] Theodore (Ted) Hall was 19 years old when as the youngest physicist working on the US atomic bomb project at Los Alamos in 1944, he gave Soviet agents in New York details of the first US bomb designs, the names of scientists working at Los Alamos, and the fission science they had developed. In 1951 Hall’s full name and Russian cryptonym Mlad appeared in a secret Soviet cable decrypted by the US military intelligence agency in the code-name VENONA project of the time.  This is the original TOP SECRET cable decrypt translated from the Russian.  The FBI then investigated Hall and proposed prosecution for espionage, with death penalty.  This was blocked by the head of the USAF Office of Special Investigations, General Joseph Carroll -- not because disclosure of the VENONA code breaking would have been revealed publicly in court, but to protect the USAF’s senior missile designer at the time, Edward (Ed) Hall, Ted’s brother. The action of the USAF generals to stop the FBI and the Justice Department did not become known until 1995, when years of official lying about the Ted Hall case were exposed by Freedom of Information Act releases. The full story has summarized here.     Dave Lindorff’s first article reporting the new story of the Ed Hall case appeared in January 2022;  his book on the case will be published later this year.  A new documentary film about Ted Hall, entitled “The Compassionate Spy”, is now screening in the US and Europe. An interview with Lindorff  by Finian Cunningham can be viewed here.   

When Ted Hall and his brother Ed were the FBI’s targets in 1951, Julius Rosenberg (33) and his wife Ethel (35) were prosecuted, convicted and then executed for espionage relating to the Los Alamos atomic bomb. The two Halls (Holtzberg) and the Rosenbergs were all children of Russian Jewish immigrants to the US. Jack Teixeira is the grandson of Portuguese Catholic immigrants to the US.  

Leave a Reply