The 21-year-old man behind the leak of U.S. intelligence documents looks like a guy trying to get some points with his buddies in an online discussion group. Sharing inside information to show off his street cred is of course a very silly thing to do. But Teixeira is not a whistleblower like Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner. He shared the files because he believed they wouldn’t make it beyond his relatively small circle of gamers in Thug Shaker Central, a chat group on his Discord platform.
So how threatening is this?
For all his youth and naivety, Teixeira represents a sizable force of government skepticism working in or near the U.S. government. Many of these right-wing and ultra-liberals can be found in the military. Others are elected representatives—from school boards up to the US Congress—motivated to run for office by Donald Trump or his extremist predecessors. They would never describe themselves as anti-American.But in their view, the government is not part of the United States—it is not Their America, no real U.S.
This nationalism, stripped of love for government, is only part of the ideological picture.
Teixeira is rooted in a right-wing gamer culture that targets women, minorities, and the supposed “deep state” through “trolling” and “doxxing” (false reporting to police and SWAT teams). Right-wing recruitment happens on first-person shooter chats and social media apps like Discord, which has been a platform for gamers since 2015 and a popular hangout for extremists. For example, the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville used Discord to plan events, while the white supremacist behind last year’s Buffalo mass shooting used Discord to convey his thoughts through a personal journal.
Discord: What a perfect name for a communications platform that has divided the country while uniting the right.
Figuring out Teixeira’s actual point is not easy.according to Washington post,
[M]Embers of Teixeira’s server showed The Post a video of Teixeira yelling racist and anti-Semitic slurs before he was shot, and said he referred to government sanctions against Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Wayne, Texas. Koe raids — events that resonated deeply among right-wing anti-government extremists.
Another entry in the paper offers more insight into Teixeira’s worldview:
[H]He spoke of the United States, especially its law enforcement and intelligence communities, as a malevolent force trying to silence its citizens and keep them in the dark. He angrily denounced the “government’s overreach”. [He] Tell his online buddies that the government is hiding the terrible truth from the public. He claimed that, according to members, the government knew in advance that a white supremacist was planning to carry out a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket in May 2022. … [He] Saying federal law enforcement officials let the killings go ahead so they could fight for more funding is a baseless notion the member said he believed and considered an example of the OG’s deep insight into the depths of government corruption.
The links between the U.S. military and the far right go back many years, though it’s hard to know how deep the ties really are. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was a decorated veteran, but his antigovernment views were largely formed outside the military. Between 2001 and 2013, 21 veterans were involved in perpetrating or planning far-right violence, according to the New America Foundation. A Florida National Guard member who co-founded the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen division was convicted in 2018 of possessing explosive materials (after being released from prison, he conspired to blow up a Maryland power station and was arrested again ). Veterans were also overrepresented in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
According to an October 2020 Pentagon report on white supremacist incursions in the military, “U.S. service members and veterans are ‘highly valued’ recruits by supremacist groups whose leaders seek to enlist themselves and keep those already enlisted People enlist their groups. Their goal is to acquire weapons and skills and try to borrow the bravado and prestige of the military.”
Heidi Beirich of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism reported in her 2020 congressional testimony that,
The Armed Forces’ own soldiers know that white supremacy in the ranks is a serious problem. A 2017 Military Times poll found that nearly 25 percent of active-duty service members have encountered white nationalism and racism in the military. There were approximately 1.3 million active-duty military personnel at the time, meaning approximately 325,000 soldiers had encountered some form of white nationalism. Follow-up investigations by the same publication in 2018 and 2019 found roughly the same disturbing results.
Prior to the 1970s, this white nationalism and racism overlapped considerably with official U.S. government policy. But now, with the rise of the civil rights movement, affirmative action and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, this extremism has taken on a decidedly anti-government character. Unlike Germany or New Zealand, the US government has not done much to eliminate this potential fifth column from the military.
Given the ideological affinity, it is no surprise that the far right supports Teixetra. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) endorsed Teixeira as “white, male, Christian and anti-war,” which “makes him an enemy of the Biden regime.” She continued: “Ask yourself who is the real enemy. A young low-ranking National Guard? Or a government waging war in non-NATO Ukraine against a nuclear Russia that has no war powers?”
Fox’s Tucker Carlson also sided with Teixeira and Russia against Ukraine and the Biden administration:
For example, just two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the U.S. Senate that Russia’s military was “declining.” In other words, Russia is losing the war. That’s a lie. He knew it when he said it, but he repeated it during his congressional testimony. That was a crime, but Lloyd Austin wasn’t arrested for committing it. Instead, the only person detained, or possibly permanently, was a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who leaked slides showing Lloyd Austin lying. He exposes the crime, therefore he is a criminal.
The Pentagon has been pessimistic, some of which has even been expressed publicly, about Ukraine’s ability to outright win the war. The leaks have only confirmed this less optimistic view. But that doesn’t mean Russia is winning the war. Quite the opposite. The Kremlin’s attempts to seize the entire Donbass region this winter and early spring ended with only a few square miles of scorched earth.
Of course, Carlson is not interested in the truth, only in Biden’s bashing and the accusations against the US government more generally. Even when Trump is presumptively in charge of the federal government, the far right and its media darlings have managed to maintain their anti-government stance by deflecting their animosity into the “deep state” they invented primarily for this purpose. Watching Trump get indicted but still on the run to capitalize on this extreme liberalism in his 2024 re-election campaign.
what the leak revealed
The main takeaway from Teixeira’s leaked documents was yesterday’s news. Ukraine has few missiles left to fend off Russian air strikes, has limited resources for a long-awaited spring counteroffensive, and Russia is equally struggling to deal with troop losses and divisions within its own ranks.
The leaks did not reveal anything about an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive because the government in Kiev has yet to share that information with Washington — an obvious move given the porous nature of the U.S. intelligence community. The documents did not identify specific sources of Russian intelligence. They didn’t find any significant behind-the-scenes funding for the Kremlin’s war effort, although the Chinese promised some military aid disguised as civilian supplies, and Egypt planned to secretly launch 40,000 rockets.
Some of the revelations beyond the Ukrainian front are indeed new—for example, about China’s supersonic drone capabilities—but others are relatively minor. Allied forces have some special forces on the ground in Ukraine, including 14 from the United States. It’s hard to say what they’re doing, but given that the Biden administration is extremely wary of directly engaging Russian forces, it’s possible they were simply trying to facilitate a quick embassy evacuation should things suddenly turn sour. Israel may change its stance on providing deadly aid to Ukraine — but then again, it probably won’t. The United States has been spying on ally South Korea, but that was not surprising after the Snowden era revealed that Washington tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
Most astonishingly, a 21-year-old pilot who was a lowly computer technician at Sandwich Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts had access to the files and could easily take them home to copy them. For me at least, it was a surprise.But to those familiar with the intelligence community, it’s apparently not surprising that the alleged New York Times“Thousands of military and government civilian personnel are said to have access to top-secret material, including the military’s reliance on many young, inexperienced workers to process the vast intel it collects.” They simply log on to the Joint Global Intelligence Communications System, And then there’s a blast: the secret is within reach.
The sad truth is that the edifice of American intelligence is so vast that it must rely on the services of the young and the restless. Not just the intelligence community. Every government has to deal with relief. The Trump administration is looking for loopholes everywhere and doing everything it can to try to plug them. Considering the sheer amount of opportunity and motivation, it’s surprising that more sensitive material isn’t being circulated on the Internet.
Anti-government sentiment — in the military, in the political sphere, in the public — adds something new to the equation. It happens not so much on the left, which is a feature of the 1960s, but it happens on the far right. Once confined to the fringes of American life, the far right now works to gain power through government agencies such as school boards and the National Guard.
This is what makes Jack Teixeira so threatening. Leakers will come and go. But far-right beauticians and their recruits have long been involved. The next time an extremist president tries to overturn an election or seize power through illegitimate means, the militant military may not stay in barracks to defend the Constitution, and a Congress led by Greene may turn over and die.
[FPIF first published this piece.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.