Biden Announces New Actions On Secret Documents After 'Embarrassing' Leak

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

President Joe Biden on Friday announced new actions that restrict access to classified materials in the wake of an embarrassing leak of apparent classified U.S. military intelligence that ended up spreading widely on social media.

President Joe Biden adjusts his microphone during a meeting with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, on April 4, 2023. (Patrick Semansky/ AP Photo)

The suspected leaker, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard named Jack Teixeira, was on Thursday arrested and charged in federal court on two counts, including unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information charges.

I commend the rapid action taken by law enforcement to investigate and respond to the recent dissemination of classified U.S. government documents,” Biden said in a statement.

“While we are still determining the validity of those documents, I have directed our military and intelligence community to take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information, and our national security team is closely coordinating with our partners and allies,” the president added.

Teixeira was an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks, which allowed him to get a higher level security clearance.

The leaked documents include maps and details about deliveries of weapons, with some bearing markings classifying them as “Secret” and “Top Secret.” Some showed what looks like locations for front-line Russian and Ukrainian military units and artillery guns.

Jack Douglas Teixeira poses for a selfie at an unidentified location in a file photo. (Social Media Website via Reuters)

‘Damaging’ Leak

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an appearance on Fox News on Friday that he’s baffled as to why someone like Teixeira would have had access to the sensitive materials.

I don’t understand why a 21-year-old national guardsmen had access to some of the most highly kept secrets in the United States, and in particular, finished products from the Joint Staff or finished products from the CIA operation center,” Esper said. “I just don’t know why he would have access to those.”

Asked about reports that Teixeira worked in IT and needed clearance to work on computer networks and equipment, Esper said that his access should have been more limited and that information carried on military communication systems should have been ring-fenced.

There’s not a need for him to have access to the information on that system, let alone finished products from the Joint Staff and CIA,” Esper replied, adding that an investigation into the leak shows that the Pentagon has a problem “not just over classification, but in this case, over distribution.”

“There’s too many people that have access to this information. It should really only be for the highest levels of our government,” Esper said. “And we need to get that under control.”

It’s not just embarrassing, but it’s damaging,” Esper said, noting that the leak hurt Ukraine’s ability to mount an effective counter-offensive against Russian forces while burning U.S. access to Russian military and intelligence systems.

The leak may also have exposed sources and techniques of collecting intelligence on Chinese operations, he added.

Then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington on July 9, 2020. (Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images)
Then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington on July 9, 2020. (Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images)

Pentagon Takes Action

Besides Biden announcing action to limit access to classified materials, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has vowed to take “any additional measures necessary” to safeguard against national security leaks and has ordered a review of intelligence access.

Austin said during a press conference on Thursday that he’s “directing the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security to conduct a review of our intelligence access, accountability, and control procedures within the Department to inform our efforts to prevent this kind of incident from happening again.”

He said the Department of Defense, in close partnership with the Intelligence Community and its interagency partners, “will continue to review the national security implications of this unauthorized disclosure.”

Austin also stressed that “every U.S. service member, DoD civilian, and contractor with access to classified information has a solemn legal and moral obligation to safeguard it and to report any suspicious activity or behavior.”

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