Photo taken on Feb. 19, 2020 shows the Pentagon seen from an airplane over Washington D.C., the United States. Photo: Xinhua
The Pentagon “leak” could have been deliberately orchestrated to force the removal of US President Joe Biden and/or to expand the power of the US government to regulate anything posted on the Internet, Larry Johnson, retired CIA intelligence officer and ex-State Department official, told Sputnik.
Twenty-one-year-old Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira was arrested on Thursday over the much-discussed Pentagon “leaks”. He was charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents.
In an affidavit accompanying the charges, an FBI special agent revealed that Teixeira had security clearance for the highest level of classification, “top secret/sensitive compartmented information” (TS/SCI).
“It’s not normal. It’s not typical. It’s not easy, particularly for a member of the National Guard [to gain this level of clearance],” Larry Johnson, a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, who provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations task force for 24 years, told Sputnik. “So, this is very unusual and strange. The thing that captures my attention is that the individual was part of the Air Force unit that’s involved with information warfare. At that age and at that low rank the possibilities that he would have unlimited access to highly classified material is just extremely unlikely.”
The trove of documents was initially released on the Discord platform, popular with gamers, weeks ago. Later, the alleged Pentagon files found their way to major social media platforms and eventually were picked by the US mainstream media.
A Deliberate Leak and Here’s Why
Johnson believes that it was a controlled leak, even though initially the former CIA analyst had been inclined to think that the leaked documents were the work of a frustrated whistleblower. What struck Johnson was a document labeled “CIA Operations Center Intelligence Update” in the trove.
“The one document that did capture my attention as far as being highly unlikely that he would ever have access to it was the report from the CIA Operations Center,” Johnson explained. “That document is prepared for internal use only within the CIA. It’s not the kind of document that’s prepared and circulated within the other agencies that are considered part of the intelligence community.”
One might ask why the leak was needed. According to the CIA veteran, those who he claimed tricked Teixeira may have sought to kill several birds with one stone: to smear MAGA conservatives, justify new Internet restrictions and remove Joe Biden from the Oval Office. Thus, Teixeira was immediately described as a right winger, as an anti-Semite, as a racist, a gun lover and a religious extremist: he “checks all the boxes” routinely smeared by the US mainstream press. As Johnson wittingly remarked in his blog earlier in the day, “the only thing lacking is that the fellow, Jack Texeira, was not wearing a MAGA cap.”
“There’s current legislation being proposed that would not only ban Tik-Tok, but would expand the power of the US government to regulate anything posted on the Internet,” So this could be an act designed to help create political support for that kind of authoritarian crackdown on information, a complete violation of the First Amendment.”
“Another possibility is that disclosure of these documents is designed to embarrass the Biden administration, ultimately forcing the removal of Joe Biden,” the CIA veteran suggested.
Another thing that set alarm bells ringing for Johnson was Bellingcat, which is characterized by the former State Department official as “an Open Source Intelligence outfit that has been funded by US and British intelligence.” It was Bellingcat that allegedly managed to trace the “leak” to a Discord server called “WowMao,” which seemed to have been sourced from the Thug Shaker Central channel.
The story about “leaked Pentagon files” was also picked up by the New York Times and the Washington Post which are largely criticized for being in cahoots with the US federal government and its intelligence agencies.
“That’s why I think it’s a disinformation operation,” Johnson said. “Bellingcat has been funded by both MI6 and the CIA and has worked really as what they call an open source intelligence operation. And it has been used as an intelligence entity. And several of the reporters who were involved, both writing for The New York Times, had previously worked with Bellingcat. The timing of this is just very unusual, that all of a sudden it’s just discovered and the documents that are being leaked are very precisely focused on Ukraine, the conflict with Ukraine and Russia’s activities in Ukraine.”
The 21-year old appears to be more of a convenient scapegoat rather than a “hero”, according to Johnson. The former CIA analyst does not rule out that Teixeira will be punished alone – akin to William Calley in the My Lai Massacre case – while his chain of command will be let off the hook.
“I don’t think he had any clear purpose for what he was doing,” said the CIA veteran. “And it’s not clear why he started doing this. And these things are getting posted to this gamer board. Ostensibly, again, that’s the story we’re being told. I don’t know what to believe anymore from the US government. The lies that have been told are so extensive and so massive. I just don’t know what to believe.”
If convicted, Teixeira faces up to 15 years in prison. And if it was indeed a controlled leak, it would send an alarming signal about the extent to which the US government agencies are eager to violate Constitutional rights of a US citizen to reach their objectives. Remarkably, the US mainstream press has not raised the question if Teixeira should be treated as a “whistleblower.”
“The government violating constitutional rights wouldn’t shock me at all,” remarked Johnson. “That’s why I said he’s a convenient scapegoat. They’re using him in this way. He was not working for some foreign intelligence service. He would not have been able just on his own to get access to those documents. I know how really difficult it is, even electronically, when you log into these systems to find some of that information and then to turn it off, then take it out and then decide to photograph and then post it. The story doesn’t add up.”
Touching upon the timing of the “leak” the CIA veteran suggested that “elements in the intelligence community” have eventually “recognized that the prospects for Ukraine in the war with Russia are bleak and hurting and getting more dismal by the day so that Russia is going to prevail and Ukraine is going to lose.”
“And that has really created some great consternation within elements of the intelligence community,” he concluded.