Jack Teixeira Pleads Guilty in ‘Discord Leaks’ Case

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An image of Jack Teixeira that appears in the FRONTLINE/Washington Post documentary "The Discord Leaks."

An image of Jack Teixeira that appears in the FRONTLINE/Washington Post documentary "The Discord Leaks."

March 4, 2024

The young Air National Guardsman at the center of one of the biggest leaks of government secrets in U.S. history pleaded guilty Monday to all charges against him, admitting to knowingly sharing classified information with unauthorized people on the chat platform Discord.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, according to The Washington Post, Jack Teixeira will face 11 to 16 years in prison, and avert a trial that could have resulted in a longer sentence. The new plea by the 22-year-old, whose online leaking of government secrets on everything from the Ukraine war to Iran’s nuclear program went undetected by authorities for months, is the latest development in a case that raised major questions about the military’s vetting process and how classified information involving U.S. national security is safeguarded.

The Post and FRONTLINE investigated Teixeira and the massive leak of national security secrets in the December 2023 documentary The Discord Leaks.

From an award-winning team that included FRONTLINE directors Thomas Jennings and Annie Wong and Post reporters Shane Harris, Samuel Oakford and Chris Dehghanpoor, the documentary explored how more than 300 pages that included highly classified government information came to be leaked on Discord, a privacy-oriented platform popular with teenage gamers. The film explored in greater detail Teixeira’s online world and his history of violent threats, racism, and conspiracy theories, and examined why a young man with a troubled past was able to get a security clearance.

“Once you start tracking back, you see failure, failure, failure, failure, failure,” Mark Zaid, a national security attorney, said of Teixeira’s case in the documentary. “There were countless missed opportunities, literally from the outset. And as a result, we have one of the worst leak cases in modern times.”

The day before the documentary aired, the Air Force informed Congress that it had disciplined 15 Air National Guard members in connection with failures that helped enable Teixeira to share highly classified information.

The film raised tough questions about how the military’s vetting process addresses applicants’ internet activity.

“The military vetting system is pretty robust and it catches a lot of stuff,” Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard from 2016 until his retirement in 2020, told The Post and FRONTLINE in the documentary. But he acknowledged “it’s not perfect and some things come through.”

Drawing on months of groundbreaking reporting by The Post and new, collaborative reporting with FRONTLINE — including exclusive on-camera interviews with Teixeira’s close online confidantes and with Discord’s VP of trust and safety — the documentary also offers a powerful look at online radicalization, and the role of platforms like Discord in one of the largest leaks of classified information in recent history.

For the full story, watch The Discord Leaks, embedded below, and explore The Washington Post’s related reporting:

The documentary is also available to watch at pbs.org/frontline, washingtonpost.com, in the PBS App, on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel and in the PBS Prime Documentaries Channel.

 

 

 

 


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Senior Digital Writer, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

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