The cautionary tale of Jack Teixeira


Air National Guard/TNS

Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, 21, in an undated photo.

Jacob Repkin, Staff Writer

It was a sunny April afternoon earlier this year when Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested at his Massachusetts home by FBI agents. In the preceding days, the press had gotten ahold of a series of highly classified Pentagon documents leaked by Teixeira, detailing everything from the progress of the war in Ukraine to political developments in Israel.


In the weeks since his arrest, a bizarre story has been revealed.


By far the most striking thing about Teixeira is how incredibly young he is — just 21 years old. As an information technology specialist for the 102nd Intelligence Wing, he was granted “top secret security clearance,” allowing him access to restricted government records and servers. At the same time, Teixeira was running a small Discord server containing somewhere between twenty and thirty members. They spent their time playing video games (mostly war games), sharing racist memes, and talking about guns and the war in Ukraine.


Among the members of his server, Teixeira was considered the de facto leader. Most of them were teenagers, and looked up to him as one of the oldest. In simpler terms, there were no real adults in the room. In late 2022, Teixeira began sharing classified information from his job on the server in “paragraphs of text.” Ironically enough, the server’s members didn’t much care at first, but took interest when the information evolved from text to photographs of government documents. Though he apparently didn’t want the information to spread, it naturally did, and once it reached the press, his fate was sealed.


When classified information is intentionally leaked, the goal of the leaker is usually to get that information out to as many people as possible. Teixeira, however, wanted the opposite. Where past leakers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning revealed classified information because they saw injustice and wanted the American people to know, Teixeira’s goal was far simpler. All he really wanted to do was to impress the members of his Discord server and to boost his own ego.


There is a vast online subculture of people who like to imagine themselves as being “anti-war,” but only when it suits them. They’re only “anti-war” insofar as it allows them to pontificate about the supposed evils of American foreign policy, and these are typically the same people that one can find trying to justify Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Teixeira and his online friends fit squarely into this category of people, and this manner of faux anti-war politics is largely what unified them. For them, politics is not about tangible policy or social change, but simply entertainment — something to posture about to seem self-righteous and enlightened to their friends. Teixeira’s leaks essentially amount to a joke gone much too far.


Jack Teixeira is not the victim in this story. He is young, but not so young that he shouldn’t be able to exercise basic common sense. However, he embodies something which has gone very wrong in the younger generation – our generation – as well as the odious and often superficial nature of modern American politics. Teixeira was radicalized by an online subculture which thrives on toxicity and orients itself exclusively on what and who it’s against. In practice, groups like these are little more than glorified social clubs, but because they intertwine themselves with politics, they often end up having serious, real-world consequences.


And then, of course, came the apologists.


Just after news broke of Teixeira’s arrest, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted that he is “white, male, christian, [sic] and antiwar,” and that that “makes him an enemy to the Biden regime.” Later that night, now-disgraced Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on his show that Teixeira was being treated “like Osama bin Laden” by the news media, or “maybe even worse.” As Teixeira faces up to 15 years in prison, prominent figures on the far right are making him out to be a martyr.


There were no adults in the room when Teixeira leaked classified government documents to his small Discord server of fellow online radicals, and there are still no adults in the room now that this has all come to light. Teixeira will likely go to prison for his crime, and all the while, people who should know better will use him to score cheap political points.


The tale of Jack Teixeira is equal parts tragedy and farce. It is a warning to our generation not to be taken in by the empty spectacle of culture war politics, and to think before they act. He is not the first of his kind, and regrettably, he probably won’t be the last.


Don’t let the next one be you.