While Airman Teixiera currently cools his heels in a jail cell awaiting his transfer to Florence ADX for a lifetime stay, his disclosures have opened up several independent hornet’s nests. For example, publicizing the Pentagon’s take on Ukraine’s long-term combat effectiveness prompted a “HAW HAW!” from Russian state media and “NUH UH!” from Ukrainian government officials — fairly predictable stuff.
Also sadly predictable: US politicians and media figures slotting the intel leaks neatly into the diatribes already in progress. The far right, which has already been extremely enamored of the Russian narrative (this story, from Trumpist site American Greatness, is basically a catch-all retelling of Russian propaganda in English - all Ukrainians are Nazis, Zelensky isn’t a real Jew and probably gay, and America shouldn’t spend money on those guys) supports Teixiera’s right to espionage because Dear Leader doesn’t like Ukraine for personal reasons and the conservative imperative in American politics now is “do whatever the Dear Leader wants”. Very predictable, not very interesting.
More interesting is the reaction from what could be called the “dissident wing” of media reporting - people like Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald, whose political viewpoints are less easily slotted into left/right tropes and more populist vs establishment, essentially arguing that what Teixiera did was a case of classic whistleblowing because… the military shouldn’t have secrets.
From a piece by Taibbi this evening (paywalled):
This isn’t tracking down a serial killer or exposing Enron’s fraud. The alleged “crime” here is releasing true information, information that belongs to the American public and is secret only by official designation.
Pray tell, if what Teixiera leaked (briefing slides prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff detailing the precise order of battle, location, and estimated combat effectiveness of Ukraine’s recent military buildup) isn’t a military secret, what is? By this logic, military secrets do not exist and future JCOS briefings should be published on Tiktok: “18 Powerpoints You Can Dance To”. This is taking an otherwise valid point (that the military overclassifies things), misses the actual story (that an E-3 had access to JCOS briefing slides and could distribute them to his Discord pals) and instead argues that nothing is secret, everything is permitted, let’s levitate the Pentagon.
Taibbi and Greenwald both make a valid point: that the race between national media giants New York Times and Washington Post to chase down the story resulted in a frankly very weird competition to expose the leaker. I agree, that reporters shouldn’t do the police’s job for them exposing leakers. And I hope Greenwald eventually gets right on that apology to Reality Winner.