A Low-Level Leak

The worst security breach in many years occurred earlier this year, as top secret documents apparently taken from a high-level intelligence briefing were posted on a sort of group chat and went viral from there. Scott wrote about it here. There have been international repercussions, as several foreign governments, including Israel’s, have denied the accuracy of some of the claims made in the briefing.

So who was the leaker who had access to this top secret briefing? Apparently it was a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman named Jack Teixeira. So many people–including me–are asking, how in the world did this kid have access to a top-secret intelligence briefing?

The New York Post offers several possible answers to this question, none of which is satisfactory:

The Pentagon regularly issues security clearances to troops as young as 18.
Cyber transport systems journeymen can require higher clearance levels.
His unit may have required access to foreign intelligence.
The military runs on the backs of young people.
The Pentagon has previously activated National Guard units to support Ukraine war efforts.

All well and good, but those factors don’t begin to explain why an undistinguished 21-year-old National Guardsman has access to documents that, if leaked, will have international repercussions on multiple fronts. Likely this reflects the general degradation of our military and intelligence branches, as wokism has replaced national security as a guiding principle.

I suspect, too, that the wanton over-classification of information and documents that has prevailed for a long time may be a factor. It seems that just about every piece of paper produced by our government–and there are a great many of them–is confidential, while lots of them are secret and an astonishing number, mostly boring and irrelevant, are “top secret.” The effect of this over-classification is that “top secret” documents are not limited to a handful of senior officials, but rather, must be shared with a large number of underlings, whose loyalties are entirely unknown, in order for the government to function. Apparently including junior National Guardsmen. Thus there is little differentiation between mundane, every day documents that large numbers of employees must see to do their jobs, and the tiny handful of documents and bits of information that are actually, as the public would understand it, top secret.

Maybe we will learn that there is more to this story. Maybe Teixeira is a Chinese spy, or got the documents through some thrilling bit of spycraft. Or maybe he has been falsely accused. But based on what we know now, my guess is that so many documents are over-classified as top secret that it has become impossible to keep a lid on the very few that are actually important.

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