The Air Force’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, to which the Air National Guardsman suspected of leaking classified documents has been assigned, has been ordered to step down from his intelligence mission while the service’s inspector general conducts an investigation, the Air Force said on Tuesday.
The Air Force also directed each unit to conduct a security-focused retreat over the next 30 days to “re-evaluate our security posture and procedures, validate the need to know each person’s access, and our responsibilities to all Airmen and Guards.” charged with protecting that information and enforcing and enhancing our security requirements,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and other military leaders said in a memo.
The 102nd Intelligence Wing is not currently carrying out its assigned intelligence mission and has been temporarily reassigned to other organizations within the military branch, the Air Force said in a statement.
Federal authorities arrested Jack Teixeira, 21, last week in connection with an investigation into classified documents leaked on the internet. He was accused of possessing classified national security documents and national defense materials. The charges carry a maximum of 10 years behind bars.
NBC News obtained more than 50 of the leaked documents, many of which were marked “Top Secret,” the highest level of classification. They reveal details of US spying on the Russian war machine in Ukraine and secret assessments of Ukraine’s combat capabilities, as well as information about America’s allies, including South Korea and Israel.
Teixeira, an Airman first class with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has been in uniform since September 2019 and was stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod. He was employed as a journeyman for cyber transport systems – essentially an information technology specialist – which enabled him to obtain top-secret clearance for his work.
Teixeira was not required to file a plea in that first court appearance on Friday, and a federal public defender listed as Teixeira’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.
Teixeira’s arrest has raised questions about why a low-level airman had extensive access to classified documents he allegedly shared with a tight-knit online community of fellow gamers.
Teixeira reportedly used Discord, an online forum originally used as a chat platform by video game enthusiasts, to share the leaked information with his small community of online friends, and he took photos of paper documents he might have made out smuggled into a secure facility.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo on Tuesday ordering an immediate review of the handling and safeguarding of classified information. It directs several Pentagon leaders to review procedures and standards and submit an interim report to the Undersecretary for Intelligence and Security by May 2.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also raised national security concerns following Teixeira’s arrest. A staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee told NBC News that Congress would review the clearance system following the recent leaks and the committee would hold hearings on the issue.
Phil McCausland, Ken Dilanian And Courtney Kube contributed.