Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

I Oversaw the Massachusetts Air National Guard. I Cannot Fathom How This Happened.

| Apr. 13, 2023

The government may classify too much intelligence, but that doesn't mean a low-level employee should be able to see it.

From 2006 to 2009, as part of my duties as the homeland-security adviser to then–Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, I oversaw the state's Air National Guard. I have no idea why one of its members would even have access to the kind of high-level secrets that recently showed up on a Discord server.

This afternoon, Airman Jack Teixeira was arrested in connection with the recent leak of classified documents about United States intelligence gathering efforts, particularly as they relate to the war in Ukraine. The information in the leak paints a bleak picture of Ukraine's continuing capabilities, particularly in air defense.

In my work for Patrick, the Massachusetts Air National Guard and Army National Guard were part of my portfolio; the governor, of course, was the ultimate boss of the Guard but, as is typical, delegated many of his relevant duties. This meant that I worked with the state’s adjutant general on matters as varied as budgeting, facilities construction, pre-positioning resources for an expected hurricane, and the deployment of personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based on my experience, I am at a loss to explain why a 21-year-old member of the state intelligence wing, who does not appear to have been working in any federal capacity, would need access to the kind of materials whose release has so unnerved the Pentagon and supporters of the Ukrainian war effort. Friends of Teixeira have told reporters that he shared secrets to mainly show off; the Biden administration has downplayed the consequences. Yet the release of the information is a serious crime—and could be a symptom of a broader problem....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Kayyem, Juliette."I Oversaw the Massachusetts Air National Guard. I Cannot Fathom How This Happened." The Atlantic, April 13, 2023.

The Author

Juliette Kayyem Headshot